Children Are Also Missionaries, Pope Says

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2003 (Zenit.org).- If every baptized person is called to be a missionary, children and adolescents must also respond to this challenge in their own environment, John Paul II said.



The Holy Father spoke about the fundamental elements of the missionary vocation when he met with the 150 participants in the General Assembly of the Higher Council of General Directors of the Pontifical Missionary Works, among them Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, a Vatican organization responsible for the missionary works.

This institution has among its principal objectives to "awaken vocations 'ad gentes' and for life, both in the old churches as well as in the younger ones," he said.

John Paul II recalled that this year is the 160th anniversary of the Pontifical Missionary Society of Holy Childhood. So he highlighted "the great commitment to activity and sensitization that this work carries out 'from childhood' to promote the missionary cause."

When expressing his "appreciation for these 'missionary children,'" the Holy Father revealed how happy he will be to receive a very "numerous and lively" delegation of these "missionary boys and girls from all over the world who will come to Rome to celebrate the significant anniversary of their noteworthy work."

The Pope will meet with the Pontifical Missionary Society of Holy Childhood on June 14.

He recommended that these boys and girls pray "the missionary Rosary," where each decade has a color that represents a different continent.

--White, he explained, "for old Europe, so that it will be able to recover the evangelizing strength it has generated in so many Churches";

--Yellow "for Asia, full of life and youth";

--Green "for Africa, subjected to the trial of suffering";

--Red "for America, seedbed of new missionary energies';

-- Blue for "Oceania, which awaits a more capillary diffusion of the Gospel."

The Pontifical Missionary Society of Holy Childhood, founded in 1843, "defends the rights of children to grow in their dignity of men and women."