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The Church's centre and horizon

· The Pope relaunches the urgent need of the mission for a new evangelization of the world ·

In the perspective of the Year of Faith and the upcoming Synod of Bishops

The proclamation of the faith is at the heart of the Church's life and is the horizon of every one of her projects and activities. On the day of the Conversion of St Paul – the Apostle “who worked, suffered and struggled, sparing no energy, time or means to make Christ's message known”, the Pope relaunches “the need and urgency of the evangelization ad gentes ”.

“This is a task”, he explained at the General Audience on Wednesday morning, 25 January, in the Paul VI Hall, that Jesus himself entrusted to the disciples with the prayer he addressed to the Father at the hour of his glorification. And which – the Pope writes in his Message for World Mission Day released at the same time – is presented anew today “to promote a New Evangelization of communities and countries with a long-standing Christian tradition, which are losing their reference to God, in such a way as to rediscover the joy of believing”.

The Pontiff asks  “all those who are part of the great mosaic of the Church”, bishops, priests, deacons,  men and women religious and lay people, “to recover the same apostolic zeal as that of the first early Christian communities”, going beyond short-term projects and looking in particular at the upcoming ecclesial events that will characterize this year 2012: the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, scheduled to take place from 7 to 28 October, and the Year of Faith, that will be inaugurated on 11 October on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

Precisely in referring to that extraordinary experience of “participation” and “universality”, the Pope proposes anew the timeliness of the conciliar vision which put back “in the centre of ecclesiology the Church's missionary nature”. It is a vision, the Message says, which “is not lacking today; on the contrary it has experienced a fruitful theological and pastoral reflection and at the same time is presented again with renewed urgency so that the number of those who do not yet know Christ may be increased”. Moreover, the “duty” of mission stems from the very mandate of Jesus, who sent his disciples out among the people “to lead the 'world' out of  the alienation of men and women from God and from themselves, out of sin, so that they might return to being the world of God”. In this way, the Pope explained in his Catechesis at the General Audience, Christians witness to the effectiveness of their unity and become capable of “loving others more and more, those near and far”.

The proclamation of the faith thus becomes an interpretation of history, “in order to glimpse humanity's problems, aspirations and hopes”. And it is transformed into a testimony of “the joy of believing” in the face of a world which, Benedict VI notes in his Message, “is going through a “crisis of faith” but continues “to hunger and thirst for God”. This is demonstrated by the many missionaries who gp to other Churches from every part of the world in order to proclaim the newness of the Gospel and to bring a message of solidarity and justice above all to the poor, the suffering and the marginalized.

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