Holy Spirit gives Church authority to evangelize, Pope explains

"The conversion of the world to Christ is not something we produce, but something given to us," the Holy Father told representatives of the Pontifical Mission Societies on Friday morning. Evangelization, he underscored, is reliant on the work of the Holy Spirit and needs missionaries "with their hands raised towards God."

On Friday morning, the Holy Father met with members of the Superior Council of the Pontifical Mission Societies on the final day of their Ordinary Assembly in Rome, which has been in session since Monday.

The Pope remarked to them that the mission of evangelization is "immense," especially today when "humanity suffers a certain lack of reflection and wisdom" and a God-excluding humanism has become so widespread.

"For this reason, it is urgently necessary to illuminate emerging problems with the unchanging light of the Gospel," Benedict XVI said.

Referring to the preaching of the Word of God as an "inestimable service the Church can offer to all of humanity," he described evangelization as "the call to liberty of the children of God” as well as a plea “for the construction of more just and united society to prepare us for eternal life."

Pope Benedict noted that the person who participates in Christ's mission "must inevitably face trials, contrasts and suffering because they clash with the powers of this world." Following St. Paul's example, "persecution is also proof of the authenticity of our apostolic mission," he explained.

Facing the daunting task of such a mission is possible, he added, through the work of the Holy Spirit, which "unites and preserves the Church, giving her the force to expand, filling the disciples of Christ with an overflowing wealth of charisms.

"It is from the Holy Spirit that the Church's announcement and apostolic ministry receive authority."

And, for this reason, continued Pope Benedict, "evangelization needs Christians with their arms raised to God in prayer, Christians aware that conversion of the world to Christ is not something we produce, but something given to us."

Present at the audience were consecrated and lay members of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples including its prefect Cardinal Ivan Dias. The cardinal gave an address outlining the results of the congregation's meetings, underscoring that "we are further convinced that the effectiveness of our evangelizing activity depends solely on the potency of the Holy Spirit, and on the testimony of life that must accompany the announcement of the Kingdom of God."

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