In 2019, the Societies distributed around $130 million from the World Mission Sunday collection. But the pandemic is likely to have significantly reduced the collection in 2020, with potentially serious consequences for missionary territories that depend on it.
The pope said in his message that, like the first Apostles, Catholics today were living in difficult times.
"The pandemic has brought to the fore and amplified the pain, the solitude, the poverty and the injustices experienced by so many people," he wrote.
"It has unmasked our false sense of security and revealed the brokenness and polarization quietly growing in our midst. Those who are most frail and vulnerable have come to feel even more so."
"We have experienced discouragement, disillusionment and fatigue; nor have we been immune from a growing negativity that stifles hope."
Nevertheless, he said, the resurrection of Jesus still proclaims a "powerful message of life."
"'What we have seen and heard,' the mercy we have experienced, can thus become a point of reference and a source of credibility, enabling us to recover a shared passion for building 'a community of belonging and solidarity worthy of our time, our energy and our resources,'" he said, referring again to "Fratelli tutti."
"The Lord's word daily rescues and saves us from the excuses that can plunge us into the worst kind of skepticism: 'Nothing changes, everything stays the same.'"
Citing his 2013 apostolic exhortation "Evangelii gaudium," he continued: "To those who wonder why they should give up their security, comforts and pleasures if they can see no important result, our answer will always remain the same: 'Jesus Christ has triumphed over sin and death and is now almighty. Jesus Christ is truly alive' and wants us to be alive, fraternal, and capable of cherishing and sharing this message of hope."
"In our present circumstances, there is an urgent need for missionaries of hope who, anointed by the Lord, can provide a prophetic reminder that no one is saved by himself."
The pope concluded his message by invoking the Virgin Mary.
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"May Mary, the first missionary disciple, increase in all the baptized the desire to be salt and light in our lands," he wrote.