Vatican official: There is a clear link between Amazon synod, missionary month

Giampietro Dal Toso  BPetrik   CNA 8 Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso. | Bo Petrik / CNA.

According to the president of the Pontifical Mission Societies, there is a clear link between next October's focus on missionary work and the synod on the Amazon that makes the convergence of the two events fortuitous.

Pope Francis "underlined this connection between the Extraordinary Missionary Month and the synod for the Amazon," Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso told EWTN Friday. "This connection is not a casual one."

"It will help [us], I believe, also to live the missionary dimension of the synod on the Amazon," he added. "Therefore, the reflection that the Synod Fathers make on the Amazon will also reflect the task of the Church in bringing the Gospel to that region of the earth."

Pope Francis announced last year that the month of October 2019 would be dedicated to reflection and prayer for the missionary work of the Church. The theme will be "Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on a Mission in the World."

The Extraordinary Missionary Month is based on a proposal by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, to dedicate time to pray and reflect on Ad gentes, a Second Vatican Council decree on the missionary activity of the Church, promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1965.

The month of October 2019 was also chosen because of its proximity to the 100th anniversary of the publication of Pope Benedict XV's apostolic letter, Maximum Illud, which is also a focus of the month's reflections.

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, who heads the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, told journalists in a press conference Nov. 30 that Benedict XV's letter, though written almost 100 years ago, remains relevant for Catholic missionary work.

In particular, he said Maximum Illud is important for its teaching against colonialism and nationalism – lessons which still need to be heeded today.

A special assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on the topic of the Pan-Amazonian region, will also take place in October next year.

Francis recalled the convergence of the two events in a speech June 1, saying he convoked the synod on the Amazon in order "to pray and reflect on the challenges faced in the evangelization of these South American lands."

"I hope that the conjuncture of these two events may help us fix our gaze on Jesus Christ while
addressing problems and issues, resources and needs," he continued. "May it also help us renew our commitment of service to the Gospel for the salvation of the men and women living in those lands."

Speaking to journalists Nov. 30, Archbishop Dal Toso emphasized that every baptized person is called to be a missionary and to spread the Gospel. He encouraged all Catholics to participate in the Missionary Month with prayer and offerings.

Organizing groups have suggested four ways to "live" the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019: the first is by fostering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ "through the Eucharist, the Word of God, personal and communal prayer."

The second is by reading about the lives of missionary saints and martyrs of the faith. Biblical, catechetical, spiritual, and theological formation constitute the third way to live out the month, and giving financially to the Church's missions is a fourth way.

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