John Paul II´s Address Before the Angelus

Children, Too, Must Be Missionaries, Pope Says

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2002 ( Following a Mass during which 10 new bishops were consecrated, John Paul II prayed the Angelus from his library window with several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square. Here is a translation of the Pope´s Angelus address, which he gave in Italian.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. The solemnity of Epiphany emphasizes the universality of the Church and her missionary vocation. The Church exults today because «the true light that enlightens every man» has been manifested to all peoples (John 1:9).

Like Mary, she rejoices to see people of all races, nations and cultures enter the humble cave of Bethlehem to adore the Son of God. At the same time, increasingly she feels the urgency to be «light,» to spread the salvific message to all peoples. The missionary mandate is for all believers, called to proclaim and witness to the mystery of salvation that was fulfilled in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ.

2. Today the Church entrusts the task of evangelization especially to children. This is the meaning of Children´s World Missionary Day, which this year has the motto «Enkindle Hope,» and commits «missionary children» to spread the light of solidarity especially where the darkness of poverty, suffering and war are particularly dense. Children´s missionary support is particularly dear to the numerous missionaries who, faithful to Christ´s mandate, work to spread the Good News to the furthest corners of the earth. Our gratitude, coupled with our constant prayer to the Lord, is directed to each one of these intrepid evangelizers.

The bishops whom I had the joy of consecrating this morning will be dedicated with special attention to the exacting missionary task. I renew my cordial greetings to them, their families and all those who are united to their spiritual joy. Dear brothers and sisters, we will support their ministry with prayer so that they will be sure guides of the flock that the Lord has entrusted to them.

3. Some Eastern Churches, such as the Russian Orthodox Church and the venerable Oriental Churches, such as the Coptic, Ethiopian and Armenian, today celebrate the Nativity of Jesus Christ. I address my best wishes to them and assure them of my constant prayer. May the celebration of the coming of the Word of God among men be the source of new spiritual vigor, of new strength in him, and of communion among all of us, who acknowledge him as Lord and Savior. May it be a source of joy in proclaiming him to all the peoples of our time.

May the heavenly Mother of God, on whose lap is the Wisdom of the Father, obtain for all Christians the gift of full communion, and the gift of peace for all. Thanks to her intercession, may every person of good will be illuminated by the vivifying light of the mystery of the Lord´s Nativity.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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