VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Church’s missionary dimension cannot be the “Cinderella of the experience of faith or of the pastoral practice of bishops and priests,” says Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe.
The prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples was presenting the papal message for this year’s World Mission Day, to be observed on Oct. 19. He said a Christian faith that is not evangelizing is not authentic.
“The mission forms part of the nucleus of the itinerary of each Christian community,” the cardinal added, lamenting that some Catholics regard the missionary dimension as an appendix to Christian life.
Cardinal Sepe explained that the Holy Father wished to bring forward the presentation of the message for World Mission Day “so that communities will have more time to integrate the text in their concrete pastoral” program. From now on, it will no longer be published at Pentecost, as in previous years, but on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, in January.
The cardinal said that after “Sept. 11 and other problems, donations for the missions have decreased.” But he added: “There are already signs of an improvement, not only in the United States but throughout the planet.”
“A war in Iraq would have effects on all and, therefore, also on missionaries, but we hope this eventuality will not take place; if it does, it will be necessary to assist in particular those who are in mission countries,” he said.
The papal message for Mission Day stresses the need for a more contemplative, holy and missionary Church. According to Cardinal Sepe, a missionary Church is to be understood as “a Church that tells about and bears witnesses to Christ,” something that is not exclusive to Catholics, but is part of the identity of all Christians.
“The secret of the mission is to work, to fix one’s gaze on Mary, and to pray the rosary,” the cardinal concluded.