11/16/2007, 00.00
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The mission to announce the Gospel is “only at the beginning,” says the Pope

In meeting officials from 21 missionary societies of apostolic life, Benedict XVI stressed the “continuing vitality of the missionary impulse in the Church;” he thanked all those who today as in the past left their families and homes, often at great cost, for the purpose of proclaiming the God news.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The mission of announcing the Gospel to all the nations “is still only beginning, and the Lord is summoning us, all of us, to be committed wholeheartedly to its service” because the “harvest is great.”

In repeating the exhortation of the Redemptoris Missio Benedict XVI evoked the meaning of missionaries’ choice as he received today in the Sala del Concistoro the participants to the meeting of the superiors general of the 21 missionary societies of apostolic life, a meeting promoted by the invitation of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of People.

Calling the meeting an “eloquent witness to the continuing vitality of the missionary impulse in the Church and the spirit of communion uniting” the missionaries, Benedict XVI noted that “[t]oday, as in the past, missionaries continue to leave their families and homes, often at great sacrifice, for the sole purpose of proclaiming the Good News of Christ and serving him in their brothers and sisters. Many of them, also in our time, have heroically confirmed their preaching by the shedding of their blood, and contributed to establishing the Church in distant lands.”

Looking upon the reality of today’s missions, the Pope said that if, on the one hand, “changed circumstances have led in many cases to a decrease in the number of young people who are attracted to missionary societies;” on the other, one “of the promising indications of a renewal in the Church’s missionary consciousness in recent decades has been the growing desire of many lay men and women, whether single or married, to cooperate generously in the missio ad gentes.”

If though for some missionary societies, working with the laity is an old tradition, for others this type of contribution should be welcomed, promoted, given greater importance and a wider berth, used in its “proper forms.”

As the Council stressed, the work of evangelisation is a fundamental duty incumbent upon the whole People of God, and all the baptised are called to ‘a lively awareness of their personal responsibility for the spreading of the Gospel,’” said the Pope.

Lastly, he urged those present to follow “faithfully in the footsteps of your founders, and to stir into flame the charisms and apostolic zeal which you have inherited from them, confident that Christ will continue to work with you and to confirm your preaching with signs of his presence.”

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