Benedict XVI: Baptized Must Be Missionaries

Releases Message for 81st World Day

VATICAN CITY, MAY 29, 2007 ( Faced with an increasingly secularized culture, every baptized person must become active in the Church’s missionary activity, says Benedict XVI.

This appeal was made in the Pope’s message for the 81st World Mission Day, which will be celebrated on Oct. 21 with the theme: “All the Churches for All the World.”

In the text, published today by the Vatican press office, the Holy Father “invites local Churches on all continents to a joint awareness of the urgent need to relaunch missionary activity to meet the many grave challenges of our time.”

The Pontiff directed his remarks to all “the Churches of ancient tradition that, in the past, have supplied the missions not only with material resources but also with consistent numbers of priests, religious and lay people, thus engendering effective cooperation between Christian communities.”

“Faced with an increasingly secularized culture, which seems to be penetrating Western societies more and more, in light of the crisis of the family, the lack of vocations and a progressively aging clergy,” the Pope explained, these ancient Churches “run the risk of closing in on themselves, of looking to the future with reduced hope and of lessening their missionary efforts.”

“Yet this is precisely the moment to open trustingly to the providence of God, who never abandons his people and who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, guides them towards the accomplishment of his eternal plan of salvation,” the Holy Father said.

Exchange of gifts

The papal message addresses recently evangelized Churches, “though beset by many difficulties and obstacles in their development, these communities are constantly growing.”

Benedict XVI added: “Some have an abundance of priests and consecrated persons, many of them, despite the many local needs, are still sent to carry out their pastoral ministry and their apostolic work abroad, even to the lands of ancient evangelization.

“We witness a providential ‘exchange of gifts’ that benefits the entire Mystical Body of Christ. I pray that missionary cooperation may intensify, making full use of everyone’s potentials and charisms.”

The message, signed by the Pope on May 27, Pentecost Sunday, points out that the missionary challenge of today “is no longer simply to collaborate in the activity of evangelization, but to make people feel that that they are protagonists and share responsibility for the Church’s mission.”

“This shared responsibility,” the Holy Father concluded, “requires greater communion between communities and an increase in reciprocal help for priests, religious and lay volunteers, in using the means necessary today to evangelize.”

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