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Pope Francis: ‘I continue to dream of a completely missionary Church’

Writing in his World Mission Day message, released on Jan. 6, the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the pope called for renewed efforts to spread the Gospel.
Pope Francis at the general audience on Aug. 18, 2021. (Photo: Vatican Media)

Pope Francis said that he continued to “dream of a completely missionary Church” in a message published on Thursday.

Writing in his World Mission Day message, released on Jan. 6, the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the pope called for renewed efforts to spread the Gospel.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I continue to dream of a completely missionary Church, and a new era of missionary activity among Christian communities,” he wrote.

World Mission Day — also known as World Mission Sunday — was established by Pope Pius XI in 1926. It is usually observed on the third Sunday of October and will be celebrated this year on Sunday, Oct. 23.

This year’s theme is “You shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). The pope described Christ’s words in the Acts of the Apostles as “the heart of Jesus’ teaching to the disciples.”

In his message, Pope Francis emphasized that every member of the Church has a shared responsibility to witness to Christ.

He drew on Pope Paul VI’s 1975 document Evangelii Nuntiandi, which sought to give a new momentum to evangelization.

Describing the apostolic exhortation as “a document dear to my heart,” he cited its much-quoted line that “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”

Pope Francis wrote: “In evangelization, then, the example of a Christian life and the proclamation of Christ are inseparable. One is at the service of the other. They are the two lungs with which any community must breathe, if it is to be missionary.”

“This kind of complete, consistent, and joyful witness to Christ will surely be a force of attraction also for the growth of the Church in the third millennium.”

He recalled that St. Paul VI underlined the responsibility of immigrants to evangelize the countries that receive them.

“More and more, we are seeing how the presence of faithful of various nationalities enriches the face of parishes and makes them more universal, more Catholic,” Pope Francis said.

“Consequently, the pastoral care of migrants should be valued as an important missionary activity that can also help the local faithful to rediscover the joy of the Christian faith they have received.”

The pope noted that 2022 marks several significant missionary anniversaries. It is the fourth centenary of the founding of the Congregation de Propaganda Fide, which oversaw the dramatic expansion of the Catholic world following its foundation by Pope Gregory XV.

The body is known today as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and is led by the Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

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