In anticipation of World Mission Sunday, the Holy Father released his message on missions today. Benedict’s call to the Church is to respond to, “the urgent need to re-launch missionary activity to meet the many grave challenges of our time."
Pope Benedict also recalls, that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Servant of God Pius XII's Encyclical "Fidei donum," which "promoted and encouraged cooperation between Churches for the mission 'ad gentes,'” or to the nations.
Contrary to those that claim that the Church is one that is humanitarian only, Benedict insightfully asserts that evangelizing efforts necessarily impact the whole of society.
"Missionary commitment, then, remains ... the Church's primary service to humanity today, in order to guide and evangelize cultural, social and ethical transformations, and to offer Christ's salvation to modern mankind, humiliated and oppressed in so many parts of the world because of endemic poverty, violence, and the systematic negation of human rights."
The Holy Father also highlights how "all Christian communities are born missionary." Hence, "for the individual faithful it is not just a matter of collaborating in evangelizing activity, but of being protagonists in and jointly responsible for the mission of the Church."
The experience of the Church shows that when the faithful share in the mission of the Church collectively it, "brings about the growth of communion between communities and an increase of reciprocal aid, both in terms of personnel (priest, religious and lay volunteers) and of the means necessary to evangelize today."
Nonetheless, the Pope continues, it must not be forgotten that "the first and principal contribution we are called to make to the Church's missionary activity is prayer. ... May all communities join in the choral invocation to 'Our Father Who art in heaven,' that His kingdom may come on earth!
The Holy Father makes his final appeal to the young and the infirm. "I appeal particularly to children and young people, always ready for generous missionary commitment, ... to the sick and suffering, recognizing the value of their collaboration, so mysterious and indispensable for the work of salvation, ... and to consecrated people."
Benedict XVI concludes by calling on the Virgin "to guide our footsteps" to "a Pentecost of love. In particular, may she make us aware that we are all missionaries, ... called by the Lord to be His witnesses in every moment of our lives."
The full text of the Holy Father's letter is available only in Italian at: http://126.96.36.199/news_services/bulletin/news/20316.php?index=20316&lang=en