10/24/2004, 00.00
VATICAN – WORLD MISSIONARY DAY

The Pope expresses his gratitude to missioners and martyrs

John Paul II calls for "the gift of more vocations for the missionary life".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – A "deep thanks" to all the missionary men and women who are on the forefront of evangelisation and "special thoughts" for those "who crowned their lives as witness of Christ at the service of man by sacrificing their lives". This is how John Paul II remembered in this Sunday's Angelus the devoted missioners who gave their lives in martyrdom. Today is World Missionary Day, a day to remember those who die for the faith. Vatican sources confirm that at least 30 missioners, men and women, are killed every year. But the number of believers who die because of their faith is much higher; it runs in the tens of thousands.

The Holy Father invited the faithful to breathe new life in their duty to announce the Gospel to others and asked the Most Holy Mary, Queen of Missions, "the gift of more vocations for the missionary life".

Here are John Paul II's remarks before the Angelus:

Today we celebrate World Missionary Day, a day devoted to prayer and tangible help for missions. On this day believers are invited to breathe new life in their duty to announce the Gospel to others.

I thank the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the Pontifical Missionary Works who are promoting this day in my name and encouraging similarly oriented initiatives in dioceses and parishes.

I send cordial greetings and deep thanks to the missionary men and women who are on the forefront of evangelisation. I promise a special thought for them in my prayers. My thoughts go especially to those who crowned their lives as witness of Christ at the service of man by sacrificing their lives.

Most Holy Mary, Queen of Missions, may you gain for the Church everywhere the gift of more vocations for the missionary life.

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