The Holy Father went on to describe the Church as a mother who knows how to raise her children. “The great challenge faced by the Church is that of being a mother”, he said, “not a well-organised NGO full of pastoral plans. … The Church needs to rediscover her maternity. She must be a mother; maternity is the grace that we must now ask of the Holy Spirit in order to go ahead in our pastoral and missionary conversion. However, the Church grows not by proselytism but by maternal attraction, through tenderness, through the testimony of her many children”.
The Pontiff added that this means recovering the memory of the Church. In a world in which there exists little sense of history and fear of time, a world in which the present reigns supreme, in which language is increasingly abbreviated and everything becomes rapid, making us slaves to our situation, we must recover the memory of God's patience. “God is not hasty during our history of salvation, and has accompanied us throughout history”.
“People hope to find Jesus' gaze in us, often without realising it; they seek a serene and joyful gaze that enters the heart. But the whole parish must transform into a welcoming place, not only the priests and catechists”. The Pope encouraged those present to ask themselves whether their parishes were truly welcoming, whether their celebrations were scheduled to favour the participation of the young, if they spoke the language of youth and if their communities kept their doors open.
Before concluding, the Pope acknowledged that the work carried out by priests is not easy. “It is easier to be a bishop”, he affirmed, “because we can always maintain a distance and hide ourselves behind the title of 'Your excellency', and defend ourselves in this way. But being a priest, when the parishioners knock on the door, when they talk to you about their problems … it is not easy”.