Cardinal Sepe Closes Missionary Congress With a Plea

"Do Not Be Afraid to Be Holy," He Tells Gathering in Guatemala

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GUATEMALA CITY, DEC. 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe closed the 2nd American Mission Congress with a strong call to holiness and evangelization.



"Church in America, 'duc in altum!' (put out into the deep!)" exhorted the cardinal in his homily Sunday at the congress's closing Mass. The Mass, celebrated in Guatemala's National Stadium, attracted cardinals, bishops, hundreds of priests, and some 22,000 faithful.

"Stemming from your faith in Jesus Christ, your life is mission!" the cardinal said. "Church in America, do not be afraid to be holy, do not hesitate to leave your land, with Christ, to go to all peoples and cultures!"

The six-day congress attracted 3,000 missionaries of the Church from Alaska to Chile. Cardinal Sepe, the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, was John Paul II's envoy to the congress.

Noting that the congress, or CAM2 as it is known, coincided with the start of Advent, Cardinal Sepe invited his listeners to prepare to receive "the Lord who will come … prolonging on earth the Redeemer's mission" and "taking the fire of his love to all peoples and cultures."

He urged the congress "not to hesitate to fulfill the mission 'ad gentes' [to the nations], the first task the apostles received from Christ after his resurrection."

The cardinal exhorted the "sons and daughters of the Church in America" to be "the architects of evangelization in the third millennium," and reminded them of John Paul II's words, in which he urged Latin America, the "evangelized continent," to become "an evangelizing continent that looks at Europe, Africa and the peoples of Asia."

Aware that the task is not easy, but knowing that the Lord "grants us the necessary means to carry it out," Cardinal Sepe told the faithful they must learn from the testimony of the saints of America, and they must support "the growing number of vocations to the priesthood, the consecrated life, and the mission 'ad gentes,' which are born in not a few particular Churches of the continent, with prayer and sacrifice."

Another indispensable group for the mission is the "consoling reality of the laity," of so many catechists, and of ecclesial movements and new communities, as well as "charisms inspired by the Spirit which invade as an impetuous wind," carrying missionaries "to new paths of commitment," the cardinal continued.

"Rejoice at the growing commitment of many dioceses which send, even from their poverty, 'fidei donum' diocesan priests," in aid of other sister Churches, he said.

Bishop Julio Cabrera Ovalle, of the Guatemalan diocese of Jalapa, announced that Ecuador will be the venue for the 3rd American Mission Congress and the 8th Latin American Mission Congress, in 2007.