ROME, NOV. 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Missionaries today need not search far for lands to evangelize, since the principal mission now is the human person, says a Vatican official.
Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, made this affirmation to Vatican Radio as he reported on that dicastery’s plenary assembly, which ended today.
The prelate, who is the retired archbishop of Conakry, Guinea, said that “the mission ad gentes today is everywhere.”
“The young Churches, young peoples need to rediscover Jesus Christ,” he added. “It is no longer a question of territories, but it is man whom we must take back to God.”
“Today, men and women live without God, or want to live without God,” the 64-year-old prelate continued. “Yet, man has need of God because we cannot live without God. Therefore, there are territories today to which the Gospel must be taken, but I believe that today the most important place is man.”
Archbishop Sarah reported that the congregation has looked at St. Paul as a model during the plenary assembly. The theme this year is “St. Paul and the New Areopagi.”
“The first thing we want to insist on is the priest, who must also be a friend in love with Christ to be able to give this love to others,” the archbishop said. “If he isn’t convinced, he won’t be able to be a missionary.
“This means that priests must do everything to know Christ: and this is the essential principle because, as St. John says in his First Letter, ‘What we have seen, what we have touched with our hands, we proclaim.'”
In other words, the Vatican official explained, a personal experience of Christ is necessary for someone who wants to share the Gospel with others.
Not just priests
Archbishop Sarah noted that participants in the plenary assembly “looked at many places in which we must insist on taking the Word of God, the Gospel.”
He included: “the family, the media, the great pockets of poverty in the world, that is, those places where politics must be evangelized; the economy.”
However, the prelate clarified, it is not only the priest who must be a missionary, but every Christian: “Formation in the seminaries is important, but also the formation of the whole people of God.
“It means giving each one the possibility of knowing the Word of God, of knowing the Bible. Not just knowing it at the intellectual level, but attempting to live the Word of God in one’s life, in one’s commitments, in one’s family, etc.”
The prelate stressed the need for “a more profound formation of catechists, not only intellectual but also spiritual,” as they are “the most important support for a missionary.”
And seminarians, too, must be well formed so that they are “not only experts but persons who have discovered Christ,” Archbishop Sarah observed. “The priesthood must not be made into a profession, but truly a commitment to Christ who sends a person to take his love to other places: to mankind.”