In his Wednesday audience, the pope warned that it is possible to have “misdirected zeal” that is “doggedly persistent in the observance of purely human and obsolete norms for the Christian community.”
“We cannot ignore the solicitude with which some devote themselves to the wrong pursuits even within the Christian community itself; one can boast of a false evangelical zeal while actually pursuing vainglory or one’s own convictions,” he said.
As part of the pope’s cycle of catechesis on “passion for evangelization,” Francis offered a reflection on two lines from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians: “Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.”
Pilgrims at the pope's Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s Square on April 12, 2023. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA
Pope Francis noted that St. Paul connects zeal for the Gospel with footwear “because one who goes to proclaim must move, must walk.”
“Evangelical zeal is the support on which proclamation is based, and heralds are somewhat like the feet of the body of Christ that is the Church,” he said.
At the end of the audience, Pope Francis marked the 60th anniversary of the publication of St. John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris, calling the document a “true blessing” for the world when it was published in 1963 amid the tensions of the Cold War.
Pope Francis at his Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s Square on April 12, 2023. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA
Pope Francis added that the encyclical remains relevant today, encouraging people to read Pacem in Terris.
“For example, this passage will suffice: ‘Relationships between political communities, like those between individual human beings, must be regulated not by resorting to the force of arms, but in the light of reason, that is, in truth, in justice, in active solidarity,’” he said, quoting paragraph 62 of the document.