Before more than 3,000 people gathered together for the II American Missionary Congress, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, said, ““The Church is either missionary or she is not the Church.”
“This is a theological reality,” the Cardinal said during the first CAM2 conference entitled, “The Mission of Today.” “The Magisterium of both the Pontiff and the Bishops affirms it. Christians are missionaries in virtue of our Baptism.” The Cardinal was interrupted frequently with warm applause for his comments, especially when he mentioned that in the 25 years of his pontificate, John Paul II has insisted that the Church is essentially missionary.
According to the Cardinal, the Pope has embodied this himself, become a traveling catechist and visiting particular churches around the world.
Cardinal Sepe also pointed out that in various Church documents, especially Redemptoris Missio and Novo Millennio Ineunte, the Pope has highlighted the validity of the Church’s missionary mandate.
In explaining the contemporary profile of a missionary, Cardinal Sepe emphasized that, particularly in Redemptoris Missio, the Pope has given guidelines for a fervent new evangelization.
He added that in the intense discussion that followed Vatican II, the work of the missionary in the modern world was not sufficiently analyzed.
Later in statements to the Vatican news agency, Fides, Cardinal Sepe said, “The fruit of the arduous work that has been done in preparation for CAM2 can already be seen,” and he emphasized the importance of promoting meetings such as this on other continents in order to renew “the missionary commitment on a world-wide level.”