AFRICA/NIGER - A missionary: "The challenge of Pope Francis: a border Church without borders"

Tuesday, 24 October 2017 extraordinary missionary month   pope francis   missionary animation  

Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - "The words used in the Letter from Pope Francis to Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on the occasion of the Centenary of Pope Benedict's Missionary Encyclical XV are particularly eloquent, seen from our point of view", writes to Agenzia Fides Fr. Mauro Armanino, missionary of the Society of African Missions (SMA) who works in Niger, commenting on the Letter that the Holy Father released on Sunday October 22, in which, to celebrate the centenary of Benedict XV's Maximum Illud encyclical (1919) announces an "Extraordinary Missionary Month" in October 2019. "The proposal of a special missionary month for October 2019 puts itself as an alternative view to current political closure and control of identities", says Fr. Mauro, who explains: "Here, in Niger, the borders have become explosive. In fact, they are closely watched, they are the subject of humanitarian trade". "For some, unnecessary paradox and for others, border areas to be controlled to reduce at all costs the number of migrants who would dare to pass them with impunity. Armed borders, sold and literally transformed into 'hunting zone' for migrants".
Fr. Mauro was struck by the passage of Pope Francis's letter which says: 'Transcend national boundaries... self-referential retreat into comfort be open to the joyful newness of the Gospel... In these, our troubled times, rent by the tragedies of war and menaced by the baneful tendency to accentuate differences and to incite conflict".
"What is written in the letter is what Francis says repeatedly: to build bridges instead of walls", the missionary commented. "An unarmed mission in words, purposes and method. A mission free from interests, nationalisms and desire of power".
"A border Church, but without borders, here is the challenge that from now on Francis invites to take on. He, who came 'from the end of the world,' the first migrant Pope in the recent history of the Church", concludes Fr. Mauro. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 24/10/2017)