10/02/2019, 18.09
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Mgr Hinder on the missionary month: like Saint Francis, Christians can bear witness to Christ among Muslims

The Vicar of Arabia reiterated that the call to go into the world for the Church is not "an option", but an "essential task". At a time of war, tragedies and conflicts the word of God "defeats death". Being missionaries in predominantly Muslim territory means showing a "spirituality that does not go unnoticed.”

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) - Announcing the Gospel by obeying "the missionary mandate of the Lord Jesus to go into the world [. . .] is not an option for the Church ", but rather "an essential task" because "it is missionary by nature,” says Mgr Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen), in a video message posted yesterday at the start of the Extraordinary Missionary Month, in which he reiterates Pope Francis who calls "to go out of oneself” and “be a gift".

Citing the Pope's intentions, the apostolic vicar mentions the 100th anniversary of Benedict XV's Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, promulgated in the wake of the First World War to give “new impetus to the mission".

Proclaiming the Gospel must be purified of the elements that do not belong to it, namely colonialism, nationalism, expansionism. The mission rejects “any particular interest" but has as its sole objective "to carry the word of God" and to renew the "activity" of bearing witness and proclaiming the Word of God.

In these "troubled" times, said the prelate who lives in one of the hottest places on the planet, "rent by tragedies of war and various forms of divisions and conflicts", it is essential to assert the Word of Christ, which “defeats death, and asserts the “love [that] conquers fear” and instils “trust and hope in everyone”.

In his message, the Archbishop cites Pope Francis’s four dimensions: the personal encounter with Jesus in the life of the Church, the witness of saints and martyrs of the mission, missionary training, and missionary charity.

"I asked that practical steps to implement these various dimensions be taken on the level of our parishes, institutions, pious associations, movements and prayers groups so that every member of our church can discover their own role,” he says.

The prelate ends his message urging people to be "courageous" witnesses to the Gospel in order to bring "light to the world" so that everyone can "experience the saving love and mercy of Jesus Christ.”

The Vicariate of Arabia covers an area with a huge Muslim majority. However, encouraging signals have come from the region in terms of dialogue and exchange.

In February the United Arab Emirates (UAE) welcomed for the first time a pontiff to a Gulf country. More than 120,000 worshippers crowded the stands and lawn of the Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, to take part in a Mass led by Pope Francis, an historic event recently made into a documentary by a local TV station.

For Christians, the visit is but one of other important events, such as the re-opening of the oldest Christian site in the region. As the Vicar of Arabia suggests, the local Church relies on the laity to continue her mission.

Another event was the recent opening of a new parish in the Sultanate of Oman, a festive occasion for the whole community.

Speaking to AsiaNews about the value of the mission among Muslims, Mgr Hinder cited as a role model the example of Saint Francis of Assisi.

"With respect to our situation,” he explained, “we leave it to the Lord and his grace that it may bear fruit" for "I have personally seen how simply showing our spirituality in their [Muslim] midst does not go unnoticed".

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