BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, JULY 22, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Church in Brazil just concluded its first National Missionary Congress, which focused on extending its mission of evangelization beyond its own borders.
Father Daniel Lagni, president of the Pontifical Missionary Works in Brazil, explained on Vatican Radio the works carried out by the congress, which ended Sunday.
The initiative was promoted by the National Missionary Council, to study the contribution the Church in Brazil can make to the 2nd American Missionary Congress and the 7th Latin American Missionary Congress (CAM 2 and COMLA VII), which Guatemala City will host this November.
Some 400 participants attended the Brazilian congress, including members of the diocesan missionary councils, and congregations and institutes from all over the country.
“During these four days we have tried to study in-depth the topic of the mission in three very important areas for us: poverty, diversity — other cultures and other peoples — and martyrdom, the reality that is very alive and present throughout the Church in Latin America and in the universal Church,” Father Lagni said.
In the message sent by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which was read at the opening of the congress, the cardinal recalled that in CAM 1, held in Argentina in 1999, the Church in America decisively assumed “the missionary responsibility ‘ad gentes’ (to the nations).”
He quoted from the postsynodal apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in America,” in which John Paul II stated, “The particular Churches in America are called to extend their missionary efforts beyond the bounds of the continent. They cannot keep for themselves the immense riches of their Christian heritage” (No. 74).
These are resolutions whose realization requires “a journey in holiness, personal and communal,” as the “guarantee of effective and evangelizing pastoral action, also in its dimension ‘ad gentes,’ is the holiness of the evangelizers,” Cardinal Sepe wrote.
“‘To awaken a new longing for holiness’: this is the great pastoral challenge that we have before us, if we want to be faithful to God’s plan and also to respond to the yearnings and hopes of the peoples of America and of all peoples on earth,” he said.
The challenge of evangelization also includes Amazonia, which represents virtually 40% of the national territory, the president of the Pontifical Missionary Works in Brazil pointed out.
“Last May, the episcopal conference elaborated a plan for the Church in Amazonia, approved in the last general assembly, inviting all to contribute to the new evangelization,” he explained.