Pope Francis and the Joy of the Gospel: the Social Dimension

Cardinal Peter Turkson delivered the Annual St. Brigid’s Lecture in the Diocese of Down & Connor on 4th March 2015.

Cardinal Turkson is the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

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Extract

In giving this lecture in honour of St Brigid, Mary of the Gael and patroness of Ireland, I am conscious that I have come to a country which, since the time of St Patrick, has given much to the rest of the world in terms of “proclaiming the Gospel in a missionary tone”. May God bless you for that living flame of missionary faith which so ignited the hearts of Christians here in Ireland. Please count on the solidarity and support of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace as you work and pray for a renewal of evangelical zeal in every Christian heart. I encourage you to return again and again to Evangelii Gaudium as a deep reservoir of wisdom and light offered by Pope Francis. It reminds us that the words of Gospel are ever fresh and ever new. It reminds us of the blessing of peacemakers. “How beautiful on the mountains,” the Prophet Isaiah declared and St Paul repeated, “are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Is 52:7).

Yes, the Good News of reconciliation, justice, love and peace is It transforms, it heals, it renews, it brings hope. One messenger who was fired up with the joy of the Gospel, eager to bring the beauty and peace of the Gospel to far-off lands, was Saint Columbanus. With his monastic companions he left from Bangor, not far from here, on the shores of Belfast Lough. His feet brought the good news of the Gospel and sowed seeds of the great peace project we know today as the European Union. This year Christians in Bobbio and across Europe, in Ireland and this Diocese of Down and Connor, will commemorate the 1400th anniversary of his death. In his fifth letter to Pope Boniface, Saint Columbanus anticipates the sentiments of Pope Francis. He places the work of peace, first and foremost, in the encounter with Christ who takes us beyond our self-centredness to the peaceful encounter with the other, in the tenderness and joy of the Gospel. Let me make his words our prayer in conclusion:

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