Mission Is Church's "Greatest Concern" Now, Says Cardinal Sepe
Addresses Missiology Congress in Congo
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KINSHASA, Congo, JULY 15, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Formation and pastoral solidarity are emerging as the keys to give the Church a new missionary impetus, says Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe
The prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples delivered that message when opening the weeklong Tertio Millennio International Missiology Congress here. The congregation is sponsoring the meeting.
The mission is "the greatest concern of the universal Church," Cardinal Sepe said Sunday.
It doesn't require inventing a new program, he said. Rather, it calls for establishing "in a way appropriate to the times and culture of today … new ways and new models of missionizing for the Church," he added.
To this end, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples has articulated some guidelines, the cardinal announced.
The Church will give new emphasis to formation, "which is its plan of action after the Great Jubilee," the prefect said. The mission now needs "evangelization agents of quality and authentic witnesses of the faith, real living stones on which the Church can be built."
These witnesses, whether bishops, priests, religious or laity, must form and be formed continually, the cardinal emphasized.
In addition, the evangelizing mission of the Church presupposes and calls for "pastoral solidarity, fruit of fraternal and ecclesial communion" which is necessary and indispensable among priests themselves and between priests and the laity, the cardinal continued.
Likewise, the challenges of evangelization make ever more imperative the existence of "liaison and coordination structures" to "observe, analyze and study the different problems and issues that concern the Church in order to propose solutions and offer thought-out and appropriate answers," he added.
In this context, organic pastoral solidarity also requires collaboration and communion between the various local Churches, the prefect added.
Cardinal Sepe added that global ecclesial rapprochement, which evidences the catholic essence of the Church, must never make one lose sight of the particularities of each local Church.
The Church in Africa "has specific problems that require adequate and appropriate solutions in keeping with the African context," he said.
Moreover, he added, "It must overcome certain challenges, such as sects, Muslim extremism, at least in certain countries, and economic underdevelopment," without neglecting the fact that "for a profound evangelizing mission, it is important that the Church in Africa resolve the thorny problem of financial resources and implement an incisive pastoral program."