“The Gospel is interested first of all in the person and his conversion, but, in turn, a person lives in a context that must be purified by the presence of the Gospel,” said Monsignor Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, Assistant Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and President of the Pontifical Missionary Works.
Monsignor Dal Toso was speaking to “Vatican News” in Italian, at the end of the 5th American Missionary Congress (CAM5), which closed on July 14, 2018, at Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia.
For six days, more than 2,500 participants in the Congress, whose theme was “America on Mission, the Gospel Is Joy,” reflected on the proclamation of the Gospel, American countries in difficulty and the situation of migrants. Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Pope Francis’ special envoy to the congress, delivered a homily in the course of the opening Mass of the Continental missionary event.
“The Church lives and shares people’s life. Christians don’t live on another planet when it comes to the difficulties that so many of their fellow citizens live. They certainly bring a particular message: considerations that help people to look to peace, to what unites us and not to what divides us, to reconciliation, which helps them to turn to the most needy and those that suffer most.”
Monsignor Dal Toso highlighted the important aspects that marked this American Missionary Congress: sharing, joy and the “desire to go out” of America’s Church.
“This Congress gathered over 2,500 persons from the whole American Continent, for “a meeting” on the theme of the mission, hence also to share their faith. This event marks an important stage for the Churches, here, in Latin America, because the Conference was prepared over five years, first at the local level, then at the diocesan and national level, and now at the Continental level, with this great meeting,” he explained.
The second aspect highlighted by the Assistant Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples was “the atmosphere of joy” that he noticed, not only in the vocabulary chosen — the Gospel is in fact “joy,” happiness — but also among the participants where an atmosphere of friendship prevailed.”
“And the third aspect was the desire of this Church to “go forth,” as the event itself showed. The desire to be a Church that “goes out’ as Pope Francis would say. A Church that wishes to share the Gospel, that wants to go out and look at the people around her to bring them the faith,” he added.
According to Monsignor Dal Toso, “certain questions emerged during the works” of the Congress, which are also important for the universal Church: we are having another appointment, which is the Synod for Amazonia, where the theme of the proclamation of the Gospel, of evangelization, will also have an important place. And there will be another important appointment for the universal Church, the “October 2019 Missionary.”
By way of conclusion, Monsignor Dal Toso wished to “stress what the Pope also pointed out personally: here, in Latin America, there is a great treasure, which is popular religiosity. This religiosity is an excellent point of departure to graft the Gospel’s message of man’s opening to transcendence. Hence, there are already elements that must be valued, as the presence of numerous Movements and realities must be valued, which also made their appearance in Latin America.”