We Can Make a Difference

 “We are all missionaries and together we can make a difference.”

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - As Catholics, we have a wonderful responsibility, by reason of our baptism, to bring about change for the good in our world. But in order to do that, we need to become aware of the necessity to bring about change, first of all in ourselves, and then in our local parish communities. This is what we are asked to do this by the Holy Father, because people today, either consciously or unconsciously wish for change and they also want “to see Jesus”.

This is part of the central theme of the message: “Building Ecclesial Communion is the key to Mission” for the celebration of World Mission Sunday on the 24th of October. It encourages all of us at diocesan and parish level as well as the Institutes of Consecrated Life, Ecclesial Movements, and the entire People of God, to renew our commitment to proclaim the Gospel and give pastoral activity a greater missionary character.

The Holy Father says that each one of us should enrich our lives by an ever-greater awareness of God’s unconditional love for us and its experience, which transforms our lives. Then through us, our ever more divided societies can be changed into an ecclesial communion. We do this by our own active and creative support within the community and by inviting others, so that together we may promote “a new humanism, founded on Jesus’ Gospel”. “He Himself tells us: “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14:21). “It is only from this encounter with the Love of God that transforms our existence, that we can live in communion with Him and among ourselves and offer our brethren a credible testimony, giving reason for our hope (cf. 1 Pet 3:15)”.

Today people are searching for something different in the everyday confusion of our world and many of them want to “see Jesus”. As a Christian community we can, and should, give them witness of our hope, “but that cannot be fulfilled in a credible manner without a profound personal, communal, and pastoral conversion”. The messages goes on to thank missionaries for their witness and asks all of us to help to bring about an “integral renewal and to an ever greater openness to missionary cooperation among the Churches, to promote the proclamation of the Gospel in the heart of every person, every people, culture, race, nationality, in every place.”

As Secretary General of the Propagation of the Faith, I am privileged to promote this Mission Sunday of the Holy Father and I would like to thank everybody who is cooperating, with our National and Diocesan Directors, in the successful realization of our special Mission Solidarity Collection to be taken up on that day. As I travel through Zambia on this missionary month of October, I can see at first hand how our missionaries, who do great work, are grateful, and I can see how poorer local churches need our help. Together we are Church and we are missionary by reason of our baptism; we are all missionaries and together we can make a difference.

Know that your kindness, generosity and prayers truly make a difference and it is greatly appreciate as I can see here in Zambia how the money you gave last year has been put to good use. Our Local Churches throughout the world could not survive without your support. So let us, “in spite of our economic difficulties” give generously on this Mission Sunday and may we continue, as one family in mission, to achieve by “prayer, meditation on the Word of God, and study of the truths of the faith” an ever-greater awareness of God’s unconditional love for all of us as brothers and sisters. Fr. Timothy Lehane Barrett, SVD, Secretary General of the Propagation of the Faith (Agenzia Fides 20/10/2010)

U.S. Catholics in Mission

Mission Congress 2010: “God’s Mission, Many Faces: A Portrait of U.S. Catholics in Mission”

Washington, DC (Agenzia Fides) – “God’s Mission, Many Faces: A Portrait of U.S. Catholics in Mission” is the theme of Mission Congress 2010, which will meet this October 28-31, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The congress will include panel discussions, group dialogue and workshops on topics ranging from mission work in the U.S. to global trends, mission in other traditions, ecumenical perspectives on mission, international missionaries serving in the United States and other issues.

This year’s congress will feature keynote addresses by Father Gary Riebe-Estrella, SVD, associated professor of practical theology and Hispanic ministry at the Catholic Theological Union and president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians (ACHTUS); Sister Janice McLaughlin, MM, president of the Maryknoll Sisters; and Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, president of Caritas International and past president of CELAM (Council of Latin American Bishops’ Conferences). At least 16 U.S. bishops are scheduled to attend the meeting and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, USCCB vice-president, will open the 2010 Congress with a liturgy.

The Mission Congress meets every five years and this is its third edition. It is sponsored by the Catholic Mission Forum, an umbrella organization of leading US Catholic mission organizations, including the Pontifical Mission Societies. (AR) (Agenzia Fides 14/10/2010)

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Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization instituted

VATICAN - Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization instituted: “The whole Church presents herself to the contemporary world with a missionary thrust capable of promoting a new evangelization.”

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - “The Church has the duty to proclaim always and everywhere the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” These are the opening lines of the Apostolic Letter written in “motu proprio” entitled “Ubicumque et semper” of the Holy Father Benedict XVI with which he instituted the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. Although it was made public today, the Letter is dated September 21, 2010, Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.

Faithful to the mandate entrusted to her by the Lord prior to His Ascension to the Father, the Church since Pentecost “has never tired of making known to the whole world the beauty of the Gospel, proclaiming Jesus Christ, true God and true man...Hence, the evangelizing mission, continuation of the work desired by the Lord Jesus, is for the Church necessary and irreplaceable, expression of her very nature.”

“This mission has taken on in history ever new forms and modalities according to the times, the situations and the historical moments,” the Pope continues. “In our time, one of its singular features has been to be confronted with the phenomenon of estrangement from the faith, which has manifested itself progressively in societies and cultures that for centuries seemed permeated by the Gospel.” The Pope then cited the social transformations that in recent decades “have modified profoundly the perception of our world”: progress of science and technology, of the expansion of the possibilities of life and the areas of individual liberty, the profound changes in the economic field, the process of ethnic and cultural mixes caused by massive migratory phenomena, the growing interdependence among peoples. “All this has not happened without consequences also for the religious dimension of man's life,” highlights Benedict XVI. Along with the the undeniable benefits of these transformations there is also “a worrying loss of the sense of the sacred, even calling into question those foundations that seem indisputable.”

The II Vatican Council, and later Paul VI and John Paul II, reflected further “on the need to find adequate ways to enable our contemporaries to continue to hear the living and eternal Word of the Lord.” Thus, Benedict XVI proceeds: “Assuming, therefore, the concern of my venerable Predecessors, I consider it opportune to offer adequate answers so that the whole Church, allowing herself to be regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, present herself to the contemporary world with a missionary thrust capable of promoting a new evangelization. The latter makes reference above all to the Churches of ancient foundation, which however, live very different realities, to which different needs correspond, which await different impulses of evangelization.”

It is precisely the diversity of the situations that call for an intent discernment, the Letter says. To speak of "new evangelization" does not mean, in fact, to have to elaborate a single equal formula for all the circumstances. “And yet, it is not difficult to realize what all the Churches need that live in traditionally Christian territories, which is a renewed missionary drive, expression of a new generous openness to the gift of grace.”

The Pontifical Council has several specific tasks: to reflect on the theological and pastoral meaning of the new evangelization; to promote and foster the study, diffusion and realization of the papal Magisterium related to topics connected with the new evangelization; to make known initiatives linked to the new evangelization already under way in the various particular Churches and to promote their new realization, involving actively also the resources present in the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as well as the aggregations of faithful and in the new communities; to study and foster the use of modern forms of communication, as instruments for the new evangelization; to promote the use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 12/10/2010)

Image and Reality

To Participants of a Congress on Catholic Press, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in an audience with Benedict XVI on October 7.

"Help your contempoaries to be oriented to Christ, only Savior, to keep burning the flame of hope in the world. Renew your personal choice for Christ, drinking from those spiritual resources that the worldly mentality underestimates, despite the fact they are valuable, more than that, indispensable.”

In his address, the Holy Father has revealed the profound transformations taking place in the world of mass media, especially with the development of new technologies and multimedia products, which “seems to call into question the role of the more traditional and consolidated media.” Today, in communications there is a growing emphasis on the world of images, and the Pope mentioned the risk that this implies: “image can also become independent of reality; it can give life to a virtual world, with several consequences, the first of which is the risk of indifference to truth...the recording of an event, joyful or sad, can be consumed as a spectacle and not as an occasion for reflection. The search for the paths of an authentic promotion of man then takes second place, because the event is presented primarily to arouse emotions. These aspects sound like an alarm bell: They invite consideration of the danger that the virtual draws away from reality and does not stimulate the search for the true, for the truth. In this context, the Catholic press is called, in a new way, to express to the heights its potential and to give a reason day in and day out for its mission that can never be given up.”

"The Christian faith has in common with communication a fundamental structure: the fact that the means and the message coincide; indeed, the Son of God, the Incarnate Word, is at the same time message of salvation and means through which salvation is realized...Moreover the Church, Mystical Body of Christ, present at the same time everywhere, nourishes the capacity of more fraternal and more human relations, being a place of communion among believers and, at the same time, a sign and instrument of everyone's vocation to communion. 

After recalling that the press evokes “the value of the written word,” and that “the Word of God has come to ua and has been given to us through a book, the Bible. The word continues to be the fundamental instrument and, in a certain sense, the constitutive instrument of communication.”

“The communicative challenge is, for the Church and for all those who share her mission, very involved. Christians cannot ignore the crisis of faith that has come to society, or simply trust that the patrimony of the values transmitted in the course of past centuries can continue inspiring and shaping the future of the human family.”

He then concluded, saying: “whoever works in the media, if he does not wish to be 'a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal' (1 Corinthians 13:1) -- as Saint Paul would say -- must have well-rooted in himself the underlying option that enables him to deal with the things of the world placing God always at the top of the scale of values.” (SL) (Agenzia Fides 8/10/2010)

Mission must start from the Eucharist and lead to the Eucharist

VATICAN - “The call to mission...is addressed to all the baptized, an essential element of their vocation,” Benedict XVI tells Brazilian Bishops

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - “The call to mission is not directed exclusively to a restricted group of members of the Church; rather, it is an imperative addressed to all the baptized, an essential element of their vocation.”

In his address, the Pope praised the efforts made by the Bishops in these regions “to bring the Good News of Jesus to all corners of the Amazon jungle” and addressing certain critique regarding “violation of religious freedom” with claims of “imposing” the truth of the Gospel, he mentioned what Paul VI affirmed in Evangelii Nuntiandi (no. 80): “It would, of course, be a mistake to impose anything on the conscience of our brothers and sisters, but propounding knowledge of the truth of the Gospel and the salvation of Jesus Christ, with absolute clarity and full respect for the free choice of conscience (hence without coercion or dishonest persuasion), ... far from being an attack on religious freedom, is a homage to that freedom, which can choose a route that even non-believers consider noble and edifying. ... To present Christ and His kingdom in a respectful way, more than a right, is a duty of evangelization. It is likewise the right of his fellow men to receive from him the proclamation of the Good News of salvation.”

“The will to preach the Gospel is born from a heart that has fallen in love with Jesus, that ardently desires that more people can receive the invitation to attend the wedding feast of the Son of God." One of the central commitments of the Fifth Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Aparecida in 2007, was precisely to "raise awareness among Christians of the need to become disciples and missionaries," and that has enhanced the missionary dimension of Church, called to the Continental Mission.

The Holy Father mentioned Blessed José de Anchieta, "who made sure that the Word of God was spread among Indians and Portuguese alike," as an example to help local churches to find the most appropriate means for the training of missionary disciples in the spirit of the Conference of Aparecida. In his speech to the Brazilian Bishops, Benedict XVI continued to focus on the mission: "The mission cannot be limited to a mere search for new ways to make the Church more attractive and capable of overcoming the competition of other religious groups or relativist ideologies. The Church does not work for herself. She is at the service of Jesus Christ and exists to ensure the Good News is accessible to everyone. The Church is catholic precisely because she invites all human beings to experience new life in Christ. Mission, then, is neither more nor less than the natural consequence of the very essence of the Church, a service of the ministry of unity which Christ wished to achieve in His crucified body.”

The Pope warned of the possible weakening of the missionary spirit, which "may not be due, so much, to the limitations and weaknesses of the external forms of traditional missionary activity, as to having forgotten that the mission must be nourished by a deeper core. This core is the Eucharist. As the presence of the human and divine love of Jesus Christ, the Eucharist always implies a continual shift from Jesus to the people who are his members, who will themselves become Eucharist. In summary, to be truly effective, the Continental Mission must start from the Eucharist and lead to the Eucharist." (SL) (Agenzia Fides 10/5/2010)

Full text of the speech of the Holy Father, in Portuguese