Vatican City (Fides Service) – “Evangelisation, the new saints teach us, besides interventions of human promotion, sometimes dangerous as we see from the experience of many missionaries, always entails explicit proclamation of Christ. This is the example and precious heritage left particularly to their religious families by the three Saints raised today to the glory of the altars. The first task of missionary Institutes is mission ad gentes which must never be postponed for any other commitment, however necessary, of a social or humanitarian character.” This was the recommendation made by Pope John Paul II during the Mass celebrated on Sunday 5 October in St Peter’s Square during which he canonised Daniele Comboni, Arnold Janssen and Josef Freinademetz. The solemn liturgy celebrated in a square overflowing with visitors from all over the world, was enhanced by typical African and Asian liturgical singing and dancing.
During the homily the Pope stressed the urgency of mission ad gentes “even in our times…we need evangelisers with the enthusiasm and the apostolic passion of Bishop Daniele Comboni, apostle of Christ among Africans. He put the resources of his rich personality and his spiritual solidarity to make Christ known and accepted in Africa a continent he loved deeply”. The Holy Father made an appeal for the peoples of Africa: “A land rich in human and spiritual resources, Africa is still marked by many problems and difficulties. May the international community help actively to build a future of hope”.
Recalling the “life and tireless apostolate of Saint Arnold Janssen” the Pope said: “His priestly activity was full of zeal to spread the Word of God using the new means of mass communications, the press in particular. He was not deterred by obstacles…now from heaven he helps his religious family to follow faithfully the path he traced, which testifies the permanent validity of the Church’s evangelising mission”.
Referring to Saint Freinademetz the Pope said: “with the tenacity typical of mountain people, this generous <witness of love> made a gift of himself to the people of China in southern Shandong. He embraced with love and out of love their living conditions, according to the advice he gave his own missionaries: “Missionary work is useless unless we love and are loved”. An exemplary model of evangelical inculturation, this Saint imitated Jesus who saved mankind by sharing human life to the full”.
Lastly the Pope recalled the common Christian missionary vocation: “the three new Saints, whom we have honoured today with joy, remind us of the missionary calling of every baptised person. Every Christian is sent on mission, but to be an authentic witnesses of Christ we must strive for holiness constantly ”.
At the end of the Mass, before reciting the midday Angelus prayer, speaking in various languages the Pope greeted those present urging them to pray for peace to Mary, Queen of Peace and Queen of the Rosary, “looking towards Pompei where, God willing, I will go on pilgrimage on Tuesday”.
SL (Fides Service 6/10/2003 EM lines 37 Words: 496)