Bookmark and Share

"God has opened the door of faith to pagans" (Acts 14:27). The mission of Paul and Barnabas and the council of Jerusalem

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Acts of the Apostles (13)
General Audience, Wednesday 23 October 2019 - also in Arabic, Croatian, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
The Book of the Acts of the Apostles recounts that after that transformative encounter with Jesus, Saint Paul is welcomed by the Church of Jerusalem thanks to the mediation of Barnabas, and he begins to proclaim Christ. However, due to the hostility of some, he is forced to move on to Tarsus, his native city, where Barnabas joins him in order to engage him in the long journey of the Word of God. We can say that the Book of the Acts of the Apostles on which we are commenting in these catecheses is the Book of the long journey of the Word of God: the Word of God is to be proclaimed, and to be proclaimed everywhere. This journey begins in the wake of severe persecution (cf. Acts 11:19); but instead of provoking a setback for evangelization, it becomes an opportunity to expand the field on which to sow the good seed of the Word. The Christians do not feel afraid. They must flee, but they flee with the Word and they spread the Word somewhat everywhere.

Paul and Barnabas arrive first in Antioch, Syria, where they stay for a whole year to teach and help the community to put down roots (cf. Acts 11:26). They proclaimed to the Hebrew community, to the Jews. Antioch thus becomes the centre of missionary impulse, thanks to the preaching of the two evangelizers — Paul and Barnabas — which impresses the hearts of believers who, here in Antioch, are called “Christians” for the first time (cf. Acts 11:26).

The nature of the Church appears from the Book of the Acts; she is not a fortress but a tent able to enlarge her space (cf. Is 54:2) and give access to all. Either the Church “goes forth” or she is not a Church; either she is on a journey always widening her space so that everyone can enter, or she is not a Church. A “Church whose doors are open” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 46), always with open doors. When I see a small church here, in this city, or when I would see one in the other diocese that I come from, with closed doors, this is a bad sign. Churches should always have their doors open because this is the sign of what a church is: always open. The Church is always “called to be the house of the Father... so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door” (ibid., 47).

But this novelty of doors open to whom? To the Gentiles, because the Apostles were preaching to the Jews, but the Gentiles came to knock at the Church’s doors; and this novelty of doors open to the Gentiles triggers a very lively controversy. Several Jews affirm the need to become Jewish through circumcision in order to be saved, and then to receive Baptism. They say: “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1), that is, you cannot receive Baptism afterwards. First the Jewish rite and then Baptism: this was their position. And to resolve the issue, Paul and Barnabas seek the advice of the Apostles and of the elders of Jerusalem, and what takes place is what is held to be the First Council in the history of the Church, the Council or Assembly of Jerusalem, to which Paul refers in the Letter to the Galatians (2:1-10).

A very delicate theological, spiritual and disciplinary issue is addressed, that is, the relationship between faith in Christ and observance of the Law of Moses. During the Assembly, the discourses of Peter and James — “pillars” of the Mother Church — are decisive (cf. Acts 15:7-21; Gal 2:9). They exhort not imposing circumcision on the Gentiles but, instead, asking them only to reject idolatry and all its expressions. From the discussion emerges the common path, and this decision was ratified with the so-called Apostolic Letter sent to Antioch.

The Assembly of Jerusalem sheds important light on the way to face differences and to seek the “truth in love” (Eph 4:15). It reminds us that the ecclesial method for resolving conflict is based on dialogue made of careful and patient listening and on discernment undertaken in the light of the Spirit. Indeed, it is the Spirit who helps to overcome closure and tension, and works within hearts so that they may achieve unity in truth and goodness. This text helps us understand synodality. It is interesting how they write the Letter: the Apostles begin by saying: “The Holy spirit and we believe that...”. The presence of the Holy Spirit is proper to synodality, otherwise it is not synodality. It is the parlour, parliament, something else....

Let us ask the Lord to strengthen in all Christians, particularly in presbyters, the desire and the responsibility of communion. May he help us to experience dialogue, listening and encounter with our brothers and sisters in faith and with those afar, in order to savour and manifest the fruitfulness of the Church which is called to be, in every age, the “joyous mother” of many children (cf. Ps 113[112]:9)."


"Je salue cordialement les personnes de langue française, en particulier les pèlerins du diocèse de Séez, accompagnés par Monseigneur Habert, et ceux du diocèse de Coutances, avec Monseigneur Le Boulc’h ; les directeurs de l’enseignement catholique de Vendée avec Monseigneur Jacolin et ceux du diocèse du Mans avec Monseigneur Le Saux ; les confirmés du diocèse de Bayeux-Lisieux avec Monseigneur Boulanger ; les lycéens du diocèse de Saint Etienne, avec Monseigneur Bataille. Demandons au Seigneur de vivre entre chrétiens le dialogue, l’écoute et la rencontre afin de manifester au monde la fécondité de l’Eglise appelée à être la mère d’une multitude de fils. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

[Saluto cordialmente i francofoni, in particolare i pellegrini della Diocesi di Seez, accompagnati da Monsignor Habert e quelli della Diocesi di Coutances, con Monsignor Le Boulc'h; i direttori dell'insegnamento cattolico della Vandea, con Monsignor Jacolin e quelli della Diocesi di Le Mans, con Monsignor Le Saux; i confermati della Diocesi di Bayeux-Lisieux, con Monsignor Boulanger; e gli studenti delle scuole superiori della Diocesi di Saint Etienne, con Monsignor Bataille. Chiediamo al Signore di vivere tra i cristiani il dialogo, l'ascolto e l'incontro, al fine di manifestare al mondo la fecondità della Chiesa, chiamata ad essere madre di una moltitudine di figli. Dio vi benedica!]

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups from England, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you!

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’odierna Udienza, specialmente i gruppi provenienti da Inghilterra, Ungheria, Malta, Paesi Bassi, Norvegia, Indonesia, Israele, Malesia, Filippine, e Stati Uniti d’America. Su di voi e sulle vostre famiglie invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore Gesù Cristo. Dio vi benedica!]

Herzlich grüße ich die Pilger und Besucher deutscher Sprache, insbesondere die Gruppe der Gläubigen aus Enniger und die Studenten der Hochschule der Polizei in Münster. Mit der Feier des außerordentlichen Missionsmonats bitten wir den Heiligen Geist, uns zu befähigen, die Tore des Evangeliums für alle Völker zu öffnen und uns zu authentischen Zeugen der göttlichen Liebe zu machen. Der Herr begleite euch auf euren Wegen!

[Saluto di cuore i pellegrini di lingua tedesca, in particolare il gruppo di fedeli da Enniger e gli studenti dell’Accademia di Polizia da Münster. Celebrando il mese missionario straordinario chiediamo allo Spirito Santo di renderci capaci di aprire le porte del Vangelo a tutti i popoli e di essere testimoni autentici dell’amore divino. Il Signor vi accompagni sul vostro cammino!]

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española. Pido al Señor que refuerce en nosotros y en todos los cristianos, especialmente en los obispos y presbíteros, el deseo y la responsabilidad por la comunión, el diálogo y el encuentro con todos los hermanos, sin excepción, para manifestar la fecundidad de la Iglesia, llamada a ser Madre feliz de muchos hijos. Que Dios los bendiga.

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, saúdo-vos cordialmente a todos, em particular os diversos grupos vindos de Portugal e do Brasil.Possa a vossa peregrinação a Roma ajudar-vos a estar prontos a fazer parte da Igreja em saída, dando um testemunho alegre do Evangelho e do amor de Deus por todos os seus filhos. A Virgem Santa vos guie e proteja!

[Carissimi pellegrini di lingua portoghese, vi saluto cordialmente tutti, in particolare i diversi gruppi venuti dal Portogallo e dal Brasile. Il vostro pellegrinaggio a Roma vi aiuti a essere pronti a far parte della Chiesa in uscita, dando una testimonianza gioiosa del Vangelo e dell’amore di Dio per tutti i suoi figli. La Vergine Santa vi guidi e protegga!]

أرحبُ بالحاضرينَ الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصةً بالقادمين من مصر، ومن الشرق الأوسط. إن الكنيسة ليست معقلًا مغلقًا، ولكنها خيمة قادرة على توسيع رحابها لتسمح للجميع بدخولها. إنها "كنيسةٌ مُشرَّعة الأبواب"، والكل مدعو لأن يشع نور المسيح في جميع أنحاء المعمورة. ليُبارِكْكُم الرب جميعًا ويَحرُسْكُم دائمًا من الشرير!

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua araba, in particolare a quelli provenienti dall’Egitto e dal Medio Oriente. La Chiesa non è una roccaforte, ma una tenda capace di allargare il suo spazio e di dare accesso a tutti. È una Chiesa con "le porte aperte", e ciascuno è chiamato a irradiare la luce di Cristo in tutto il mondo. Il Signore vi benedica tutti e vi protegga ‎sempre dal maligno‎‎‎‏!]

Pozdrawiam serdecznie Polaków, a szczególnie Organizatorów wystawy, poświęconej kardynałowi Adamowi Kozłowieckiemu, otwartej wczoraj w Papieskim Uniwersytecie Gregoriańskim. W latach II wojny światowej był więźniem obozów koncentracyjnych w Auschwitz i Dachau. Później ponad 60 lat pełnił posługę misyjną w Zambii. Odważnie głosił Ewangelię, niezłomnie walczył o godność i prawa dla Afrykanów, inicjował budowę kościołów, szkół, szpitali i domów opieki. Niech dzieło tego wybitnego polskiego ewangelizatora otworzy nasze serca na potrzeby braci żyjących w krajach misyjnych. Z serca wam błogosławię.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini polacchi e in modo speciale gli Organizzatori della mostra dedicata al cardinale Adam Kozłowiecki, inaugurata ieri alla Pontificia Università Gregoriana. Negli anni della seconda guerra mondiale Egli fu prigioniero dei campi di concentramento di Auschwitz e di Dachau. In seguito, per oltre 60 anni, svolse il ministero missionario in Zambia. Con coraggio annunziava il Vangelo, intrepido lottò per la dignità e i diritti degli abitanti dell’Africa, promosse la costruzione di chiese, di scuole, di ospedali e di case di cura. L’opera di questo instancabile evangelizzatore polacco, possa aprire i nostri cuori alle necessità dei fratelli che vivono nei paesi di missione. Vi benedico di cuore.]"


"Seguo con preoccupazione quanto sta accadendo in Cile. Mi auguro che, ponendo fine alle violente manifestazioni, attraverso il dialogo ci si adoperi per trovare soluzioni alla crisi e far fronte alle difficoltà che l’hanno generata, per il bene dell’intera popolazione.

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, saluto le Suore Agostiniane Missionarie, che celebrano il loro capitolo generale e le incoraggio a seguire il Vangelo con rinnovato entusiasmo, sostenute e illuminate sempre dalla grazia del Signore. Saluto la delegazione del Comune di Accumoli e i gruppi parrocchiali, in particolare quelli di San Martino in Pensilis e di Avigliano.

Saluto infine i giovani, gli anziani, gli ammalati e gli sposi novelli. Ieri abbiamo celebrato la memoria liturgica di San Giovanni Paolo II; imitiamolo questo maestro di fede e di vita evangelica, esempio di amore a Cristo e all’uomo."