VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2002 ( The missionary character of Christianity is God´s gift to globalized humanity, the preacher at the papal retreat told his listeners today.

The mission is not a violation of freedom of conscience but a gift offered to postmodern man who seeks happiness, explained Cardinal Claudio Hummes, on the sixth day of the Spiritual Exercises attended by the Pope and officials of the Roman Curia.

The mission helps man surmount the prevailing materialism and consumerism which cannot satisfy him, the Brazilian cardinal explained.

"The radical novelty of the life brought by Christ and lived by his disciples is a gift that comes from the love of God for us, which offers us an opportunity of complete happiness and fulfillment," said the archbishop of Sao Paulo.

"Therefore, the Church must proclaim and witness to Christ, in full respect of consciences, without violating the freedom of the one being evangelized," the cardinal clarified.

"The multitudes have the right to know the richness of the mystery of Christ, in which we believe the whole of humanity can find the unexpected fullness it hesitantly seeks in regard to God, man and his destiny, and life and death," the cardinal said in Italian.

Cardinal Hummes posited inculturation as a condition for the proclamation of the Gospel, which he described as one of today´s challenges.

Given the above, the real protagonist of the mission is the Holy Spirit, the cardinal emphasized.

Today, he added, this Spirit not only acts among missionaries, individuals dedicated full time to the proclamation of the Gospel, but also among many lay people through the new ecclesial movements and communities.