10/18/2009, 00.00
VATICAN
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Pope: World Mission Day to proclaim the Gospel to those who do not know

Benedict XVI recalls the missionaries who suffer persecution, especially Don Ruggero Ruvoletto, killed in Brazil, and Fr. Michael Sinnot, kidnapped in the Philippines. All must share "materially and spiritually" with the needs of the young poorer Churches. Prayers for the African Synod, currently underway.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Tens of thousands of faithful from all over the world attended the Angelus with the pope in St. Peter's Square. To them, on the occasion of World Mission Day, Benedict XVI addressed these words:  

Dear brothers and sisters! Today, the third Sunday of October, we celebrate World Mission Sunday, which is, for every ecclesial community and each Christian a strong call to commitment to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to everyone, especially those who still do not know about it. In the message, which I wrote for this occasion, I was inspired by an expression from the Book of Revelation, which in turn echoes the prophecy of Isaiah: "The nations will walk by its light" (Rev 21.24). The light of which we speak is that of God, revealed by the Messiah and reflected on the face of the Church, represented as the New Jerusalem, a wonderful city where the full glory of God is resplendent.  It is 'the light of the Gospel’, that guides people towards the realization of one great family, in justice and peace, under the fatherhood of one good and merciful God. The Church exists to proclaim this message of hope to all humanity, which in our time "has experienced marvellous achievements but which seems to have lost its sense of ultimate realities and of existence itself" (John Paul II, Enc. Redemptoris Missio, 2).  

In October, especially this Sunday, the universal Church emphasizes its missionary vocation. Guided by the Holy Spirit, she knows she is called to continue the work of Jesus himself proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit "(Romans 14:17). This kingdom is already present in the world as a force of love, freedom, solidarity, respect for the dignity of every man, and the Church community feels in its heart the urgency of working to ensure that the sovereignty of Christ is fully realized. All of its members and articulations cooperate in this project, according to the different states of life and charismas. On this World Mission Sunday I remember the missionaries - priests, religious and lay volunteers - who devote their lives to bringing the Gospel into the world, also facing hardships and difficulties and sometimes even real persecution. I think, among others, of Don Roger Ruvoletto, a fidei donum priest, recently killed in Brazil, Father Michael Sinnot, a religious, kidnapped a few days ago in the Philippines. How can I not but think of what is emerging from the Synod of Bishops for Africa in terms of ultimate sacrifice and love for Christ and his Church? I thank the Pontifical Missions for the valuable service rendered in animation and education to mission. I also urge all Christians to a gesture of sharing, in material and spiritual help of the young churches of the poorest countries.

Dear friends, today, October 18, is also the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, in addition to the Gospel, he wrote the Acts of the Apostles, to narrate the spread of the Christian message to the ends of the known world. Let us invoke his intercession, together with that of St. Francis Xavier and Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, patroness of missions, and the Virgin Mary, so that the Church may continue to spread the light of Christ among all peoples. I ask you also to pray for the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which in recent weeks is taking place here in the Vatican. (Photo: CPP)

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