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Diminution and aging of the clergy challenge for missionary work, Pope says

.- On Saturday morning, Pope Benedict XVI met with participants of the meeting of the senior council of the Pontifical Missionary Works and the World Congress of Missionaries, Fidei Donum, and he recalled the importance of cooperation between “the 'ancient' Christian communities and those just born or taking their first steps.”

The Pope recalled that the aim of Pius XII in writing the Encyclical Fidei Donum, , “He wanted to encourage, alongside traditional forms, another kind of missionary cooperation between so-called 'ancient' Christian communities and those just born or taking their first steps in recently evangelized territories."

Likewise, he noted, Pope Pius' aim was, "on the one hand, to awaken a renewed missionary 'flame' in all Christian people and, on the other, to promote more conscious collaboration between dioceses of ancient tradition and regions of primary evangelization."

In considering the difficulties faced by the missions, Benedict XVI referred to the "diminution and aging of the clergy in dioceses that once used to send missionaries to distant lands. Within the context of a widespread vocational crisis, this clearly represents a challenge that has to be faced," he said.

The Pontiff went on to say that despite such problems, however, "we must look with trust to the future" because "all over the world signs of hope bear witness to the encouraging missionary vitality of Christian people. ... The Lord, before leaving His disciples for heaven, in sending them out to announce His Gospel in all corners of the earth, said: 'Remember I am with you always, to the end of the age'."

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