It has been a week and it appears Pope Francis is directing the Catholic Church in a progressive-return (oxymoron?) to the church’s roots and existence.
A New York Times article reports the Pope has struck a tone of radical humility that has already become his trademark, when offering a passionate pledge in his installation Mass on Tuesday to serve “the poorest, the weakest, the least important,” urging world leaders to protect human life and the environment and use tenderness to inspire hope.
National Missionary Lillian Brown (SCD) says she is excited about the new Pope and where his leadership could take the church, especially since so much of her international work as Field Superintendent for COCHUSA ( Caribbean, Central & South America) requires challenging those who are merely acquainted with the Catholic faith.
“In every country that we’ve traveled to in the Caribbean and South America- the Catholic Church is the prevailing faith. As we evangelize, we always encounter people who take comfort in merely ‘I’m a Catholic,’ but many times not really having a relationship with Christ or taking on the lifestyle of Christ.”
Brown has been able to break through to those same individuals who possess a “surface” religion while ministering, partly due to her first-hand experience as a Catholic.
A native of Puerto Rico, Brown attended St. Luke Catholic Church in New York City until she was 17, then attended Holy Trinity Catholic Church when her family moved back to Puerto Rico. It was at the age of 21 that she attended a Catholic Retreat for youth and received Christ.
“I still have friends in the Catholic Church. What excites me about the new Pope – is when I read news reports about how he walks the streets of Buenos Aires [Argentina]ministering to people; how he even stops to wash and kiss the feet of the homeless or those with AIDS to show his humility and demonstrate the servant hood of Christ. He has a heart for the ‘least of these’.”
Brown hopes the Pope will challenge “pew warmers” who identify as Catholic to live an active faith, holy lifestyle, and know their eternal salvation rests on Christ’s victory on the Cross- not membership in a church.