“Every year the Church is growing, like a forest, not making noise,” the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, said at the University of Dallas Oct. 25.
“There is more noise of a tree that is falling down, but not noise of a full forest that is growing up. This is the situation of the Church.”
Archbishop Rodriguez, who is also the coordinator of the group of eight cardinals advising Pope Francis on the reform of the Roman Curia, spoke on the importance of the New Evangelization to several thousand participants at a ministry conference hosted by the university.
“(N)ot everything is gloom, not everything is scandal and sin. No! Here, the Gospel of Christ is also alive and effective,” he said, citing the 200,000 Americans who joined the Catholic Church in 2002.
“We need to radiate our faith,” he urged. “We have to make a step forward.”
Cardinal Rodriguez suggested that Pope Francis’ pontificate is “the beginning of a new, dynamic period in the history of Catholicism, where the Church will constitute a missionary movement for the conversion of culture.”
Such a movement would include a “very active” and committed laity whose parishes “understand faith as a firebrand that should shine around.”
He said that the Church, to become authentic, “needs only to return to Jesus. Every day.”
“There is no possible reform of the Church without a return to Jesus. The Church only has a future and can only consider herself great by humbly trying to follow Jesus.”
The cardinal outlined several priorities for the Church, saying it should work in “a spirit of service to humanity.”
“Too many times she gives the impression of having too much certitude and too little doubt, freedom, dissension or dialogue. No more excommunicating the world, then, or trying to solve the world’s problems by returning to authoritarianism, rigidity and moralism, but instead keeping always the message of Jesus as her sole source of inspiration.”
Cardinal Rodriguez said the Church must be “open” and in “constant dialogue,” following the Second Vatican Council’s example in rejecting attitudes of “arrogance and superiority.”
“Instead, she should go out into the common arena, plainly and humbly, and share in the common search for truth.”
“We are called to share the treasures we have. To evangelize means to share the treasures, to give them freely as we have received them.”
The Church will convert the world “not by argument, but by example.”
“There is no doubt that doctrinal argument is important, but people will be attracted by the humanity of Christians, those who live by the faith, who live in a human way, who irradiate the joy of living, the consistency in their behavior.”
Cardinal Rodríguez said the Gospel is the standard to discern infidelity and abuse within the Church.
“Many of the traditions established in the Church could lead her to a veritable self-imprisonment. The truth will set us free; humility will give us wings and will open new horizons for us.”