Pope Calls Church in the Americas to Evangelize Beyond Its Borders

Message to 2nd All-America Mission Congress

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 27, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Highlighting the link between holiness and mission, John Paul II called the particular Churches of the American continent to extend their evangelizing drive beyond


their borders.

The Pope made this appeal in his message to the 2nd All-America Mission Congress (CAM2) which opened Tuesday in Guatemala. The message was sent to Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruño, archbishop of Guatemala and president of CAM2.

The mission Church extending from Alaska to the southern tip of Chile will meet until Sunday in this "continental mission cenacle," to quote the Holy Father. More than 3,000 delegates are attending. The papal envoy to the event is Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

The papal message says that, from the beginning of evangelization, "the Spirit of the Lord has inspired in those blessed lands fruits of holiness in men and women who, faithful to the missionary mandate of the Lord, have dedicated their lives to the proclamation of the Christian message, even in heroic circumstances and conditions."

"At the root of this marvelous missionary dynamism was, without a doubt, their personal holiness and also that of their communities," the Pope said. Consequently, "a renewed impulse of the mission 'ad gentes,' in America and from America, also calls today for holy missionaries and holy ecclesial communities."

John Paul II explained that the call to the mission "is joined to holiness, ... a fundamental assumption and irreplaceable condition to realize the salvific mission of the Church."

The way of holiness is the foundation "on which the pastoral program of each particular Church should be based," he said.

This calls for a "pedagogy of holiness" which should be characterized by the "primacy given to the person of Jesus Christ, to the hearing and proclamation of his Word, to full and active participation in the sacraments, and to the cultivation of prayer as a personal encounter with the Lord," the Holy Father continued.

The object of the mission is "humanity that longs for or feels nostalgia for the beauty of Christ," he said. Millions of people suffer, without the faith, "the most acute poverty" and for them "the proclamation of the Good News is a vital and unrenounceable task," the Pope said.

"This congress is oriented toward such a task. Respond, then, with promptness to the Lord's call," the Pontiff exhorted.

"The particular Churches of the continent are called to extend their evangelizing drive beyond their continental borders. They cannot keep for themselves the riches of the Christian heritage," John Paul II continued, quoting from his postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in America."

"Great is the responsibility of your particular Churches in the work of evangelization of the contemporary world," he added. "Great is the fruit that they will be able to give in this new missionary spring if all Christians and, in particular, missionaries and the young Churches respond with generosity and holiness to the requests and challenges of our time."