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Moving is the password

· The conclusions of the Fourth National Missionary Congress in Argentina ·

Going out, walking, moving about, listening to people, especially the young who came to the meeting in such large numbers, and doing so together: priests, consecrated and lay people. With these words Auxiliary Bishop Vicente Bokalic Iglic of Buenos Aires, who is also President of the Episcopal Commission for Missions, sums up   the chief challenges that from now on await those who took part in the Fourth National Missionary Congress in San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca which ended Monday, 19 August. It is a challenge which more generally awaits the whole of the Church in Argentina. The reason  is that this time, as the Bishop explained in declarations reported by the news agency AICA, it is Pope Francis who has directly pointed out the objective, route and goal. “When he was Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he would often tell us that we are called to go out of the temple to meet the people. This is the Church's great challenge. It is her conversion, for with these encounters the Church changes. It means no longer being afraid or ashamed. It means stepping out of our securities, Bishop Bokalic Iglic repeated, to go and find our brethren who have drifted away from our community or who have never had an important experience of Church”.

Pope Francis wrote this in the message he sent to the Congress that was read by Bishop Luis Urbanč:  “I urge you”, he says among other things, “to come out of yourselves to go to the geographical and existential outskirts, to proclaim Jesus and to make his message known”. An “impelling need”, is how Fr Dante  De Sanzzi, Argentine National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, described it.  The Pope wants the Catamarca meeting “to help you all to develop a missionary spirit”. Bishop Bokalic Iglic confirms that the participants in this Fourth National Missionary Congress (on the theme: Argentina misionera, comparte tu fe [Missionary Argentina, share your faith], have fully understood the Pope's invitation: “In these days they have realized that in order to revive and enliven the missionary spirit they must be more involved and move about more. The mission must be active, it must not consist only in words, and our faith must be a little stronger if it is to be passed on to our brothers and sisters”.

Yesterday instead was the day of  conclusions to the topics addressed during the work: The Church in a state of mission – the new evangelization, interculturality,  multiculturality and secularization, the mission ad gentes. A note affirmed that “the ongoing mission proposed in the Aparecida Document is 'in gestation' and is taking its first steps. However, it is still in the theoretical phase and difficulties are surfacing such as the lack of enthusiasm, of pastoral guidance, of methodological proposals and of unity”. “Forms of cultural diversity” exist “that are present in our communities: migrants, indigenous peoples, urban tribes, intergenerational differences and the prevalence of technology”. In the midst of a secularized context positive aspects are identified through which Gospel proclamation may be strengthened: the quest for the transcendent, popular piety, the existence of human and fraternal values and a greater relational facility. “Let us discover our mission in the personal encounter with Christ, in his word, in prayer, in daily life, in witnessing and in the joy of service”; and “let us recognize”, we read further in the Final Document, “that the mission ad gentes is within the reach of all of us who must cross our existential boundaries. This demands personal and community discernment, because we are not all called nor do we feel adequately prepared for a mission ad extra ”.

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