AMERICA/COLOMBIA - "The Christian mission is a dynamic reality": Cardinal Tagle at the Centenary of the first National Missionary Congress

Tuesday, 9 July 2024

Bogotà (Agenzia Fides) - "This is a moment to give thanks to our merciful God, to listen again to the call to mission in our time and to respond with generosity, courage and creativity". This i show Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Pro-Prefect of the section for the First Evangelization and the New Particular Churches of the Dicastery for Evangelization, began his speech at the opening of the XIII National Missionary Congress organized by the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) and the Episcopal Conference of Colombia (CEC), which concluded on Monday, July 8, 2024 in Bogotà.

The Cardinal also wanted to highlight the importance of the Congress that this year commemorates the centenary of the first national missionary congress in the world, held in Colombia in 1924.

Starting from the motto of the Congress "you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8), the Cardinal in his speech "The Missio ad gentes in the local Church", focused in particular on missionary discipleship, highlighting that the Christian mission is a dynamic reality that involves movement and going out towards different peoples and places. "Go to Jesus, stay with Jesus and go to others to share Jesus. It is a continuous movement.
This makes Christianity dynamic and exciting. You are always staying and moving", Tagle told the more than one thousand participants who gathered at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in the capital.

"In many cultures, life is often represented as a pilgrimage. Each person walks, falls, gets up, runs, crawls, turns right or left, or turns around to reach a destination. Some give up and stop moving forward. But no one goes on a pilgrimage alone – the Pro-prefect continued in his speech, starting from the idea that we are all pilgrims in this life, and evangelization takes place in the context of this shared pilgrimage. We walk along paths traveled by previous generations. We create new paths with people of our generation. Our footprints today are our legacy to the pilgrims of the future. A pilgrimage speaks of hope. Without hope there is no pilgrimage, but only aimless movement."

Next, the Cardinal wanted to specify that each Christian is called to participate in the evangelizing mission, not as a trained professional, but as someone who shares the good news naturally, because evangelization must be an extension of the personal experience of transformation. Tagle recalled that according to Pope Francis, all Christians have the challenge of actively engaging in evangelization and that ordinary dialogue can be understood as a missionary encounter. Sharing the good news of the Gospel does not require advanced training, but rather the willingness to share what one has experienced and learned. On the other hand, he reflected on the inculturation of the Gospel, remembering that " grace supposes culture, and God’s gift becomes flesh in the culture of those who receive it" (EG 115). Each culture has the potential to enrich evangelization if it is open to transformation and communion with other cultures. Likewise - as a conclusion to his speech - the Cardinal presented several examples of cultures with which the Church must interact: "First of all, the cultures of indigenous peoples in various parts of the world. Their sense of community and harmony with creation it is necessary to purify the dominant culture of individualism, consumerism and waste. Secondly, since the Synod on Youth of 2018, we encounter the cultures of today's youth with which the Church needs to walk and from which it needs to learn. Youth Cultures reveal the changing cultures of families in our contemporary time. Thirdly, how can we ignore the culture generated by the digital revolution, with the internet present everywhere, increasingly smaller and more powerful sensors, artificial intelligence and machine learning?... When we walk within the culture of artificial intelligence, Evangelization could take the form of awakening other forms of intelligence. Fourthly, I also draw your attention to the culture of people with disabilities or people with different abilities. Communicating with them requires learning a new language and developing sensitivity. Fifth is the dramatic pilgrimage called forced migration, a topic close to the heart of Pope Francis."

There were some anecdotes and among these the Cardinal mentioned the meeting with a Filipino woman who works as a nanny for an Italian family, in order to be able to send her children to good schools in the Philippines. "The woman told me: 'When I see the two beautiful Italian children in front of me, I know they are my children too. I give them the same love I have for my children.'
The children of Italy and those remaining in the Philippines are blessed to have in her a common missionary mother. The Church is, in effect, a holy people with many faces."
In preparation for the XIII National Missionary Congress, four pre-congresses were held in 2022 organized by the Episcopal Commission of the Missions of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia (CEC), the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) and the National Missionary Council (CONAMI).

Attached the complete speech of Cardinal Tagle

(AP) (Agenzia Fides, 9/7/2024)