05/14/2010, 00.00

Pope: new challenges for the Church that "can only be missionary"

In Oporto, the last leg of his visit to Portugal, Benedict XVI emphasizes that every Christian must give witness to Christ in every sector of society. "How much time we have lost, how must work has been set back, on account of our lack of attention to this point! Everything is to be defined starting with Christ. " Dialogue with different religions and cultures to try to build the peaceful coexistence of peoples.

Porto (AsiaNews) - The Church "can only be a missionary," " impose nothing, propose ceaselessly" and every Christian should be a missionary, who must bear witness to Jesus in the world in which they live. Because " if you do not become his witnesses in your daily lives, who will do so in your place?". Mission today has in fact changed, it not only looks to distant lands, but also to various social and cultural realities. And there are "challenges" that the Church must face, even in pursuit of dialogue with different religions to try to build the peaceful coexistence of peoples. During mass the Pope recalled that after the Ascension, “One must become a witness with us to his resurrection”, said Peter.  “His Successor now repeats to each of you: My brothers and sisters, you need to become witnesses with me to the resurrection of Jesus. In effect, if you do not become his witnesses in your daily lives, who will do so in your place? Christians are, in the Church and with the Church, missionaries of Christ sent into the world. This is the indispensable mission of every ecclesial community: to receive from God and to offer to the world the Risen Christ, so that every situation of weakness and of death may be transformed, through the Holy Spirit, into an opportunity for growth and life.”.

Mission, conceived primarily as a witness of Jesus, marked the final stage of Benedict XVI's visit to Portugal, ahead of his return to Rome this afternoon. The Pope is in Oporto. Following his pilgrimage to Fatima, where he was received with the same great warmth that defined his encounter in the Marian city. Thousands of people thronged the road that leads to the city centre, the large square of Avenida dos Aliados where Mass was celebrated. Crowds even gathered in front of giant-screen TV’s located in nearby areas to experience the event. For Benedict XVI, this trip has been a "one of great joy" according to the director of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi.  

It is the duty of every Christian. “We impose nothing, yet we propose ceaselessly, as Peter recommends in one of his Letters: “In your hearts, reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15). And everyone, in the end, asks this of us, even those who seem not to. From personal and communal experience, we know well that it is Jesus whom everyone awaits. In fact, the most profound expectations of the world and the great certainties of the Gospel meet in the ineluctable mission which is ours, for “without God man neither knows which way to go, nor even understands who he is. In the face of the enormous problems surrounding the development of peoples, which almost make us yield to discouragement, we find solace in the sayings of our Lord Jesus Christ, who teaches us: ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ (Jn 15:5) and who encourages us: ‘I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Mt 28:20)” (Caritas in Veritate, 78).”

“Yet even though this certainty consoles and calms us, it does not exempt us from going forth to others. We must overcome the temptation to restrict ourselves to what we already have, or think we have, safely in our possession: it would be sure death in terms of the Church’s presence in the world; the Church, for that matter, can only be missionary, in the outward movement of the Spirit. From its origins, the Christian people has clearly recognized the importance of communicating the Good News of Jesus to those who did not yet know him. In recent years the anthropological, cultural, social and religious framework of humanity has changed; today the Church is called to face new challenges and is ready to dialogue with different cultures and religions, in the search for ways of building, along with all people of good will, the peaceful coexistence of peoples. The field of the mission ad gentes appears much broader today, and no longer to be defined on the basis of geographic considerations alone; in effect, not only non-Christian peoples and those who are far distant await us, but so do social and cultural milieux, and above all human hearts, which are the real goal of the missionary activity of the People of God.”.

“This is the mandate whose faithful fulfilment “must follow the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and of self-sacrifice even unto death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection” (Ad Gentes, 5). Yes! We are called to serve the humanity of our own time, trusting in Jesus alone, letting ourselves be enlightened by his word: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15:16). How much time we have lost, how must work has been set back, on account of our lack of attention to this point! Everything is to be defined starting with Christ, as far as the origins and effectiveness of mission is concerned: we receive mission always from Christ, who has made known to us what he has heard from his Father, and we are appointed to mission through the Spirit, in the Church. Like the Church herself, which is the work of Christ and his Spirit, it is a question of renewing the face of the earth starting from God, God always and alone.”.



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See also
Pope: Portugal, keeping alive the search for God in modern culture is a “priority”
In Portugal, Pope says Church to work with those who do not reduce faith to the private sphere
In Fatima Pope says the world needs the witness of “faithful” priests
A final farewell to Sr Lucia, the last visionary of Fatima
Pope: Church's universality and missionary effectiveness flow from Spirit