John Paul II Appeals To Catholics To Be Missionaries Of Forgiveness

Forgiveness "Challenges and Opens Hearts," He Says

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2002 (Zenit.org).-John Paul II appeals to Catholics to be missionaries of Christ´s Gospel in the new world context through dialogue and forgiveness.



The Holy Father made this appeal in his message for World Mission Day, to take place on Sunday, October 20, with the theme "Mission Is Proclamation of Forgiveness."

Urgency of Mission

Given certain theological currents regarding the salvific value of religion, the Pope begins his message by stating that at "the beginning of the third Christian millennium, the missionary duty is ever more urgent."

"Only God´s love, able to make brothers and sisters of all people of all races and cultures, can heal the painful divisions, ideological conflict, economic unbalance, and violence which still oppresses humanity," the papal message explains.

According to the Pope, this commitment is not simple philanthropy but a response to Jesus´ love. "Through evangelization, believers help people to realize that we are brothers and sisters and, as pilgrims on this earth, although on different paths, we are all on our way to the common Homeland which God, through ways known only to Him, does not cease to indicate to us," he stresses.

Dialogue

Hence, the "main road of mission is sincere dialogue; dialogue does not originate from tactical concerns of self-interest nor is it an end in itself," the Pontiff clarified.

"Dialogue, instead, speaks to others with respect and understanding, stating the principles in which we believe and proclaiming with love the most profound truths of the faith which are joy, hope, and meaning of life," the Pope continues.

Therefore, commitment "for attentive and respectful dialogue is a conditio sine qua non (an essential condition) for authentic witness of God´s saving love."

Forgiveness

"This dialogue is closely linked with readiness to forgive, because a person who forgives opens the hearts of others and learns to love and understand others entering into harmony with them," the Pope adds.

"Because the act of pardoning, after the example of Jesus, challenges and opens hearts, heals the wounds of sin and division, and creates real communion," John Paul II explains.

The papal message for World Mission Sunday ends with an invitation to the earth´s one billion Catholics to "never be ashamed of the Gospel."

"Never be afraid of proclaiming that we are Christians, hiding our faith. Instead, we must continue to speak to extend the spaces for proclaiming salvation, because Jesus has promised to be with us for ever and he is always in the midst of his disciples," the message concludes.