By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service
RIO DE JANEIRO (CNS) — Acknowledging the Catholic Church’s heavy loss of members in Brazil over recent decades, Pope Francis told the country’s bishops that they must learn to understand and sympathize with the reasons for people’s disaffection and speak to them in a simpler language of beauty, mystery and love.
“We need a church capable of walking at people’s side, of doing more than simply listening to them, a church which accompanies them on their journey,” he said.
The pope made his remarks July 27 at a meeting with 300 active and retired Brazilian cardinals and bishops. According to the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the five-page speech was the longest to date of his young pontificate.
While counseling hope, the pope painted a grim picture of the church’s state in Brazil.