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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis at Synod closing Mass: Let us preach the Gospel, not our ideas

The closing Synod Mass began with a procession, including the young auditors who participated in the three-week assembly.

The pope walked in with the wooden staff that the young Italians gave him in August in a huge gathering at the Circus Maximus.

In his homily, Pope Francis asked forgiveness for the many times adults have not taken young people seriously.

"I would like to tell the young people, on behalf of us adults: forgive us if we have not often listened to you. If instead of opening your hearts, we have filled your ears."

Pope Francis said that in addition to listening, a Christian must give concrete help, not only theoretical. He also warned against the extreme of reducing faith to a social activism.

"When faith purely concentrates on doctrinal formulations, it risks speaking only to the head, without touching the heart. Instead, when one concentrates only on 'doing,' there is the risk of reducing oneself to only social activities. Faith, instead, is life. We cannot be neither 'doctrinalists' nor 'activists.'"

The pope said when it comes to giving help or speaking about God, one must also take into account another danger: that of preaching one's own ideas and not those of Christ.

"How many times, instead of giving this liberating message of salvation, do we carry ourselves, our 'recipes,' our 'labels,' in the Church? How many times, instead of making our words, the words of the Lord, we have passed our ideas through His word. How many times have people felt the pressure of our institutions more than the friendly presence of Jesus?"

The pope closed the synod by launching a missionary message. He asked the young people and the whole Church to follow the following scheme: listen, give concrete help and preach Christ, not oneself. Pope Francis stressed the need to be close to one's neighbor because it helps a person remain aligned with Christ and to bear witness with his own life. Faith, he said, is an encounter, not a theory.