.- The Pontifical Commission for Latin America has made public its annual message for Hispanic-American Day, which is celebrated annually in the dioceses of Spain. This year the Day falls on March 4 and has as its theme: "Called to be disciples and missionaries in America."
In the message, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re and Archbishop Luis Robles Diaz, respectively president and vice-president of the pontifical commission, write that the theme of the Day is inspired by that of the 5th Conference of the Latin-American Episcopate, which is due to be held in Brazil in May, "an event of great importance that invites us to reflect upon the identity of Christians, who are called to put Jesus Christ, light of the world, at the center of their lives and to transmit a love that turns people into His faithful disciples and committed missionaries."
"The extraordinary generosity of the first disciples cannot be explained save by the strength of their personal love for Christ, which brought them even to give their own lives. ... To be a follower of Christ thus means to be in living harmony with Him, so as to burn with zeal and to feel the urgent need to announce Him."
At the end of His earthly life, Jesus told His disciples "to announce Him to all people," in other words in "all those areas in which human beings express their culture; taking the message to the frontiers of life, the family, the workplace, culture, the economy and politics. Yet an undertaking of this magnitude cannot be carried out if not with the supernatural power of charity which is made manifest in the witness of missionary activity."
Cardinal Re and Archbishop Robles - in the name of the pontifical commission - express their gratitude to Spanish Catholics for "the pastoral efforts they have made on behalf of South America over more than 500 years of evangelization." And they encourage them "to continue to work with great missionary commitment in favor of the continent which has been called 'the continent of hope,' a hope founded on its invincible faith."
"Of course," the prelates write, "there are countless shortcomings afflicting that land," but these can be faced with the "living religiosity that today, more than ever, needs to be awoken and nourished with decision and courage."
In order to face this challenge, the message concludes, "the Pontifical Commission for Latin America again encourages Spanish Catholics to commit themselves to this great enterprise, each in their own way, either by prayer or by helping to support missionaries and their works, ... but above all through real participation in missionary activity. In celebrating the Hispanic-American Day, the Commission invites you to experience a real impulse of evangelization, in the knowledge that love 'has been and remains the driving force of mission, ... the principle which must direct every action, and end to which that action must be directed'."