Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – “The Church is missionary by nature”. Church teaching illustrates this paradigm: starting with Maximum Illud by Pope Benedict XV; then the Council decree Ad Gentes; confirming it with the Evangelii Nutiandi by Pope Paul VI and Redemptoris Missio by Pope John Paul II. Moreover Pope Francis in his Evangelii Gaudium, at number 27 says “I dream of a “missionary option”, that is a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything”: with these words Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples this morning at the Vatican Press Room presented ‘October 2019, an Extraordinary Mission Month” as announced by Pope Francis at the Angelus prayer on 22 October 2017, “to nourish the Church’s evangelising activity ad gentes”.
The occasion stems from the centenary, 30 November 2019, of the promulgation of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud with which Pope Benedict XV gave new impulse to the missionary responsibility of all the baptised to announce the Gospel, a duty of the whole Church not only of religious men and women, and he stressed that at the centre of missionary commitment there must be always and only the Gospel and its announcement, free of any cultural or economic aspect.
The preparation of this Extraordinary Mission Month MMS has been entrusted to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the Pontifical Mission Societies PMS. This morning at the Holy See Press Room, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Missionary Congregation, Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, PMS President, and Fr. Fabrizio Meroni, Secretary General of the Pontifical Missionary Union PMU, Director of CIAM International Centre for Missionary Animation and Fides Agency, presented the handbooks prepared to offer inspiration and encouragement for preparations for the event in the local Churches and among all baptised Christians.
Missionary work is in fact “ a paradigm of every type of Church”, and from this aspect Bishops’ Conferences, parishes, dioceses all over the world and also church Movements must be in a “permanent state of mission”, so that our activity in every field cannot fail to refer to mission, said Cardinal Filoni.
The theme of the MMS is “Baptised and Sent: the Church of Christ and mission in the world”, therefore mission understood as a call to faith, as proposed by God to mankind. Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso explained: “We cannot decline mission solely as a proposal of faith which stems from God who comes to us through his Son Jesus Christ, entrusting himself to human freedom. God does not impose he proposes,”. To speak today of Christians “baptised and sent” means that “every single baptised Christian can be a missionary, a channel of the proposal that God offers mankind, through personal testimony, prayer and offerings”, the Archbishop said.
“The content of mission– the President dell PMS explained – is sharing the News that Christ saves mankind. The missionary dimension is inherent to Baptism. Mission today consists not only of the traditional North-South movement, with missionaries sent to distant lands. Today, in the present of our life, in our Western countries to bear witness to the Gospel in our own personal walks in life, is to be missionaries”. (Agenzia Fides 30/11/2018)