Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "Let us pray so that the Church may always follow the model of the Acts of the Apostles. Let us be inspired by the strength of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit; let us come out of our narrow enclosures and emigrate from the territories where we are are at times tempted to close ourselves away". This is what the the Holy Father said during the Plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who were received in audience on December 3.
After the greetings of Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation, the Holy Father referred to his recent apostolic trip to Africa, just concluded, "where I saw the spiritual and pastoral dynamism of the continent's many young Churches - he said - as well as the grave difficulties experienced by a large part of the population. I saw that where there is the need, the Church is almost always present to heal the wounds of those most in need, in whom She recognises the afflicted and crucified body of the Lord Jesus. How many works of charity, of human promotion! How many anonymous good Samaritans work every day in the missions!"
The Plenary Assembly of the Congregation inspired its work to the 50th anniversary of the Conciliar decree Ad Gentes and the 25th encyclical Redemptoris missio, and, referring to these documents, the Pope said that "the mission is not principally a response to human initiatives; the Holy Spirit is the protagonist. And the Church is servant of the mission. It is not the Church who makes the mission, but the mission that makes the Church. Therefore, the mission is not a tool, but rather a starting point and aim".
The secularised world, indeed, "even when it is welcoming towards the Gospel values of love, justice, peace and sobriety, does not show similar openness to the figure of Jesus; it considers Him neither the Messiah nor the Son of God", continued Pope, who stressed: "In this situation of separation, the missio ad gentes serves as a motor and horizon for faith... The mission, in fact, is a force capable of transforming the Church from within, before transforming the life of peoples and cultures".
The Pope recalled that neither Paul nor Barnabas "had a missionary Dicastery to support them. Yet they announced the Word, bringing to life various communities and shedding their blood for the Gospel". Pope Francis encouraged:" 'Going forth is innate in our Baptism, and its boundaries are those of the world. Therefore, continue to work so that the spirit of the missio ad gentes may inspire the journey of the Church, so that she may always know how to listen to the cry of the poor and the distant, to meet all and to announce the joy of the Gospel". (SL) (Agenzia Fides 04/12/2015)