Written by Sherry
Sunday, 13 July 2008 11:42
Per John Allen, this welcome message from Pope Benedict:
The Vatican today released the pope’s message for the annual World Day for Missions, to be celebrated on October 19. In it, Benedict returns to a recurrent motif in his approach to evangelization, by now familiar from his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, as well as his book Jesus of Nazareth: Preaching the gospel is not a distraction from working for justice, it is working for justice, because ultimately the world cannot be just without Him who is Just.
The heart of Benedict’s argument is that these seemingly secular concerns cannot be adequately addressed without laying the proper spiritual foundations in the heart of the human person. Building a better world, in other words, means bringing people to Christ.
Preaching the gospel, the pope argues, is what creates “the spiritual energy capable of nourishing within the human family the harmony, justice, and communion among persons, races and peoples for which everyone longs.”
“Only from this source,” the pope writes, referring to Christ, “can the necessary attention, tenderness, compassion, welcome, openness, and commitment to solving people’s problems be generated, as well as those other virtues needed by messengers of the gospel in order to let everything else go and to dedicate themselves completely and unconditionally to spreading the sweet perfume of the love of Christ throughout the world.”
For that reason, Benedict insists, “no reason can justify a slow-down or stagnation” in missionary efforts, including concerns such as “the scarcity of clergy or the absence of vocations.” Quoting Pope Paul VI in his 1975 encyclical Evangelii nuntiandi, Benedict calls evangelization “the life and essential mission of the church.”
Benedict closes the message by calling upon various groups in the church to redouble their missionary efforts, including bishops, priests, and women and men religious.
The pope also has a message for laity: “A complex and multiform areopagus of evangelization is open before you – the world. Testify with your lives that Christians belong to a new society, towards which they’re on the way, and which is already anticipated in their pilgrimage,” the pope writes, quoting his own encyclical Spe Salvi.