Pope: October 2019, an Extraordinary Missionary Month for evangelisation ad gentes

During the Angelus Pope Francis mentioned World Mission Day, entrusting “the mission of the Church in the world" to Saint John Paul II. A Letter by the pontiff about the centennial of Benedict XV's ‘Maximum Illud’ is released. "Contrasting God to Caesar would be fundamentalism." More than a hundred Claretians are canonised, martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, "to support Christians who event nowadays are subjected to discrimination and persecution in different parts of the world." The pope calls for prayers for peace in the world and Kenya.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis wants to promote an Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 2019 "in order to nourish the ardour of the evangelising activity of the Church ad gentes," said the pontiff himself today after the Angelus prayer, noting that today, the penultimate Sunday of the month, World Mission Day is celebrated.

Francis had talked about the idea of ​​a Extraordinary Missionary Month devoted to evangelisation ad gentes a few months ago, during an audience with members of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the Pontifical Missionary Works. October 2019 was chosen because it is the centennial of the promulgation of Maximum Illud, the Apostolic Letter by Benedict XV that deals precisely with the activity of missionaries in the world.

At the same time, the Vatican Press Office made public a letter by Pope Francis addressed to Card Fernando Filoni, Prefect of Propaganda fide, "on the occasion of the Centenary of the Promulgation of the Apostolic Letter Maximum illud on the activity carried out by missionaries in the world," which we analyse in another article.

The pontiff noted the theme of 91st Mission Day, "The Mission at the Heart of the Church," which he commented in a Message released months ago. "I urge everyone to experience the joy of the mission by bearing witness to the Gospel in the environments in which each one lives and works. At the same time, we are called upon to support with affection, concrete help and prayers the missionaries who have gone out to proclaim Christ to those who do not yet know him. . . On the day of the liturgical memory of Saint John Paul II, the missionary pope, we entrust the mission of the Church in the world to his intercession."

Earlier, the pope had commented the Gospel in today's Mass (Liturgical Year A, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 22:15-21), which includes the famous question ‘Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?’, 17). As we know, Jesus answered: ‘Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God’ (cf. 19-21).

"On the one hand," said Francis, "by ordering the return to the emperor of what belongs to him, Jesus says that paying the tax is not an act of idolatry, but an act due to earthly authority; on the other, and it is here that Jesus is inspired, by noting God's primacy, he calls on people to give Him what is owed to Him as Lord of mankind’s life and history.”

"The reference to Caesar's image, engraved in coins, suggests that it is right to feel entitled – with rights and duties – as citizens of the state; but symbolically it makes us think about the other image that is imprinted in every man: the image of God. He is the Lord of all, and we who have been created "in his image" belong first and foremost to Him. Responding to the question raised by the Pharisees, Jesus draws a more radical and vital question for each of us: to whom do I belong? To my family, city, friends, school, work, politics, the state? Yes, of course. But first of all, Jesus reminds us, we belong to God. He is the one who gave us everything we are and what we have. "

"Christians are called to become engaged concretely in human and social realities without contrasting 'God' to 'Caesar'. Instead, they must put the light on earthly realities with the light that comes from God. Contrasting God to Caesar would be fundamentalism. Entrusting ourselves to God as a priority and hope in him do not entail a flight from reality, but they rather actively give back to God what belongs to Him. For this reason, believers look at the future reality, that of God, in order to live the earthly life in full, and meet with courage its challenges."

After the Marian prayer, Francis mentioned the beatification yesterday in Barcelona of "Mateo Casals, Teofilo Casajús, Fernando Saperas and 106 other martyrs from the Claretian order who were killed in hatred of the faith during the Spanish Civil War. [. . .] May their heroic example,” he added, “and their intercession support Christians who event nowadays are subjected to discrimination and persecution in different parts of the world."

Before greeting those present, at least 20,000 people, the Holy Father called for a joint prayer "for peace in the world", especially Kenya, where a presidential election will be held on 26 October, after the previous poll was cancelled on 8 August by the Supreme Court. On the eve of the election there are many acts of violence, apparently by the opposition, led by Raila Odinga, who has even pulled out of the race.