Pope Francis says church is called to frankness, courage

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The church today is called to be frank and courageous, just as the apostles were after the Resurrection, said Pope Francis at his first daily Mass after a two-week break for Holy Week and Easter.

"Even today, the message of the church is the message of frankness and Christian courage," the pope said Monday. In attendance at Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae were the nine members of the pope's advisory Council of Cardinals, who were to begin another round of meetings that day.

Reflecting on the day's first reading (Acts 4:23-31), the pope said the apostles Peter and John were simple men, without a formal education. But by the Holy Spirit, they were granted strength and courage.

"And from fear they moved to frankness, to saying things with freedom," he said.

Reflecting on the day's Gospel reading (John 3:1-8), the pope reiterated that only the Holy Spirit "can give us the grace of courage to proclaim Jesus Christ."

"And this courage to proclaim is what distinguishes us from simple proselytism. We do not do advertising, says Jesus Christ, to have more members in our spiritual association," he said. "This is not useful, it is not Christian. A Christian proclaims with courage. And the proclamation of Jesus Christ provokes, through the Holy Spirit, that wonder that impels us to go forward."

When Jesus in the day's Gospel passage speaks of being born anew, the pope said, he teaches that "only the Holy Spirit can change our attitude, the story of our life."

"The path of Christian courage is a grace the Holy Spirit gives," he said. "If the Spirit is not present, we can do many things, much work, but it serves nothing."

After Easter, the church prepares to receive the Holy Spirit, the pope continued, inviting those present at Mass "to ask for the grace to receive the Spirit so that he gives us the true courage to proclaim Jesus Christ."

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