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ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) -- Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl urged participants at the "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of The Gospel in America" to take a look at each other in the hotel ballroom and realize that they, as lay leaders in the church, are responsible for spreading the Gospel message and they shouldn't waste the moment.
"This is not something new that we haven't heard before," he told the delegates in Orlando in a July 2 keynote address.
The cardinal stressed the sense of urgency of evangelizing and inviting others to Christ, stressing that Catholics have a perfect role model for this in Pope Francis, who has continually presented the church as inviting and open.
Cardinal Wuerl also acknowledged that Catholics are not always comfortable with the idea of evangelizing but they need to be willing to step out of themselves and talk with people about their faith as part of an encounter often spoken of by Pope Francis.
An encounter is not meant to tell people "they can be as wonderful as we are," the cardinal said. It is about telling them about Christ. He also noted that as people take this Gospel message out to the peripheries that doesn't just mean economic peripheries either but spiritual ones as well.
People need to be asked about their faith and encouraged in it, he added.