Pope Prods Catholics: Time to Evangelize

source:  The Trumpet, June 4, 2007

In support of his drive to increase the global influence of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict xvi is calling upon all baptized members of the church to participate in the church’s missionary work.


« Pope Benedict XVI (Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty

In his message for World Mission Day, to be held October 21, Pope Benedict xvi calls on all Catholic dioceses to join forces in combating an increasingly secularized society. In the text of the message, released by the Vatican last week, Benedict calls on local churches on all continents to be aware “of the urgent need to relaunch missionary activity to meet the many grave challenges of our time.”

Missionary work, the pope states, is “the church’s primary service to humanity today”—in other words, he considers the church’s most important job to be to convert the world.

Lest one confuse the church’s universal missionary duty of conversion with merely humanitarian goals, Benedict “stressed that the mission cannot be reduced to some kind of humanitarian voluntary service or social work. Often the fight against hunger and injustice overshadows the task of proclaiming Christ and the specifically Christian quality of the missionary service, sometimes done in the name of a given religious relativism based on the view that ‘after all, all religions are the same’” (AsiaNews, May 29). In other words, for Benedict, humanitarian work is more a means to an end: conversion of peoples to, not just any religion, but Catholicism.

Universal conversion was also a focus in Benedict’s public audience on Sunday, May 27, in which he reminded his audience that one of the four essential marks of the church was that it is catholic because “the gospel is addressed to all peoples.” He said the Catholic Church is characterized by a missionary impulse.

Earlier in May, Benedict wrote a similarly themed letter to the prefect for the evangelization of peoples in which he urged priests of the World Mission Congress to renew the “missionary effort promoted 50 years ago by Pope Pius xii ….”

As converting the world becomes a more urgent priority for Benedict, let us not forget what such missionary efforts of the Roman Catholic Church have led to in past centuries.

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