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ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) -- Being Christian is more than accepting Jesus as savior, but requires the faithful to go to the peripheries of society where people are struggling materially and spiritually, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles told the "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America."
"Jesus calls us to follow him. That is an action, a decision that implies a way of life," Archbishop Gomez said during a plenary session July 3, the third day of the convocation.
He said Pope Francis has focused the mission of the church on going to people on the sidelines of society, he said, calling it a responsibility not just for bishops, clergy and church professionals, but for the entire church.
The pope, the archbishop explained, sees the peripheries as both a physical place and existential. They are places that reflect a society that has determined that some people can be pushed aside or discarded.
"They are places on a map, places where people live. The peripheries are parts of our cities and the rural areas that we never visit. The other side of the tracks. They are where the poor live. They are the prisons and the tent cities in our public spaces. The peripheries are the bitter fruits of neglect, exploitation and injustice. They are all the places our society is ashamed of and would rather forget about," he said.