Eucharist Source of Church's Growth, Says Pope

Sends Message to Pontifical Mission Societies

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2005 ( Benedict XVI hopes that the Pontifical Mission Societies will «revive missionary ardor» among Christians, he said in a message sent to their assembly.

The Holy Father also said that he would like to see, in particular, the societies leading young people «to announce the Gospel and salvation which comes from the one Savior,» Jesus Christ.

Written in French, the message was sent in the name of the Bishop of Rome by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, and published by Fides news agency.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, read the Pope’s message May 5 during the Mass for the opening of the assembly, being held in Lyon, France, May 4-13.

In the message, the Pope mentioned that Pauline Marie Jaricot (1799-1862), founder of the Association for the Propagation of the Faith, drew from the Eucharist «the power of faith and a profoundly missionary conviction.»

For this reason, the Holy Father invites Catholics to base their «life and deeds on contemplation of the mystery of the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of the Church’s growth.»

In his homily, Cardinal Sepe said that the «mission is not optional, nor is it a personal undertaking; it is a specific command from Jesus.»

«Every one of Christ’s disciples, no one excluded, is affected by this command,» stressed the cardinal.

Founded in Lyon in 1822 by a group of lay people, including Pauline-Marie Jaricot, whose cause of beatification is underway, the Pontifical Mission Society for the Propagation of the Faith spread to different countries and continents. In 1922 it was recognized as a Pontifical Society by Pius XI.

The general assembly, usually held in Rome, but on this occasion in France, has gathered 120 national directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies from all over the world, with their president, Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser, who is also assistant secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Its objective is to study requests for aid and the needs and activities of the young Churches.

On May 5, feast of the Ascension, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, inaugurated the restored house where Pauline-Marie Jaricot was born, now a house of prayer and missionary formation.

During the assembly, Cardinal Sepe signed the new statutes of the Pontifical Mission Societies, updating those of 1980.

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