In a message sent to Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruño, Archbishop of Guatemala and president of the second American Missionary Congress, Pope John Paul II said the Continent needs a new outpouring of holiness to carry out the new evangelization.
The Congress, known as CAM2, is gathering together 3,000 delegates from all over the Americas from November 25-30 in Guatemala City.
In the message, the Pope recalls his trip to the American continent in 2002 and the canonization of Pedro de San Jose de Betancourt.
“The canonization of this extraordinary missionary was in a certain way,” writes the Pope, “a prelude to the present congress since its theme is ‘The Church in America, your life is mission.’ The renewed impulse to the mission ‘ad gentes’,” he continues, “demands holy missionaries and holy ecclesiastical communities in America and from America.”
“The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission, which is a ‘fundamental presupposition and an irreplaceable condition for everyone in fulfilling the mission of salvation in the Church.”
“In the face of this universal call, we must be aware of our own responsibility to spread the Gospel,” writes the Pontiff, saying that millions of men and women who do not know Christ “live in the hope, which is perhaps unconscious, of discovering the truth about man and God, about the path that leads to liberation from sin and death. For these people who yearn or feel nostalgia for Christ’s beauty, the proclamation of the Good News is a vital and necessary duty.”
“This congress is focused on that duty,” emphasizes the Holy Father, recalling that “all pastoral activity must be centered on Christian initiation and formation which represents a greater guarantee that local Churches in America develop effective projects of cooperation and missionary impetus, while helping to mature and reinforce the faith of those who have already become close to the Church and attracting those who are still far away.”
“Your local Churches have the great responsibility of evangelizing the modern world,” he concludes. “Great is the fruit that they will be able to give to the new missionary age, ‘if all Christians, and missionaries and young churches in particular, respond with generosity and holiness to the calls and challenges of our time’.”