Pope: Evangelization connects to solidarity for oppressed
To not be concerned with life's temporal problems would be to forget the Gospel teaching to love one's neighbor who is suffering and in need and "it would not be in harmony with Jesus' life," which combined proclaiming the Good News and curing people of disease and illness, the pope said in his message for World Mission Sunday 2011.
The annual observance will be marked Oct. 23 at the Vatican and in most countries.
In his message, the pope focused on the responsibility of every baptized Christian to announce the Gospel message to all men and women in every corner of the world.
"We cannot remain untroubled by the fact that after 2,000 years, there are still people who don't know Christ and still have not heard his message of salvation," the pope said.
Just as important is the cultural transformation of traditionally Christian countries that have forgotten or abandoned the Christian faith and are now "resistant to opening themselves up" to the dimension of religion and belief, it said.
Globalization and relativism have fueled the spread of a mentality and a lifestyle that "exalts the search for well-being and easy money and having one's career and success be the goals of life, even at the expense of moral values," the papal message said.
Bringing the Gospel to everyone is "the most precious service the church can give to humanity and to every individual on a quest for profound reasons to live life to the full," it said.
But evangelization is "a complex process" that includes solidarity with those in need, the papal message said.
Catholics are called to support foreign missions and to promote the human person, it said.
Pope Paul VI underlined that is was "unacceptable that evangelization would ignore questions concerning human development, justice and liberation from every form of oppression, obviously with respect for autonomy in the political sphere," it said.
Supporting the church's work in missionary lands with their prayers and their financial contributions, Catholics also improve the lives of the poor and promote dialogue, said the new prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
"Evangelization always promotes the development of peoples," Archbishop Fernando Filoni told L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Oct. 2.
"The proclamation of the Gospel brings and creates solidarity," said the archbishop, who was appointed in May to head the Vatican congregation responsible for the church in mission territories.
The Vatican newspaper interviewed him about the importance of the church's observation of October as a month dedicated to the missions. World Mission Sunday is Oct. 23.
Archbishop Filoni said all of the baptized have a responsibility for mission; besides being a command of Jesus, being blessed with the gift of faith naturally should lead people to want to share it.
Sharing the good news of God's love and of salvation offered through Jesus, he said, helps people live with greater dignity and instills in them the values they need to improve their societies.
"In defending the principles of the Gospel, one must speak of justice," which many of the countries in the mission lands need, he said.
While the first obligation of Christians is to tell others about Jesus, reaching out to them also includes concretely recognizing their human dignity by supporting education, health care and government and social networks that protect their human rights, he said.
"Evangelization also promotes ecology, helping make known and increasing respect for the environment both on the part of the local population as well as on our own," the archbishop said.
Archbishop Filoni, who served in the Vatican diplomatic corps in Iraq, Jordan and the Philippines, said the church's activity in mission lands also can promote dialogue with members of other religions.
"If the church is esteemed, it's clear that it always will be able to have a role anywhere, including in the Islamic world. I lived for a long time in the Muslim world and saw how our schools, for example, were very often frequented by Muslim students, which is a sign that their families valued and appreciated our service. Often," he said, "they asked that their children be formed in our principles of justice, truth and good.
"Esteem allows for dialogue, and with dialogue it is possible to coexist with all," the archbishop said.
While financial support for the missions is very important, he said, "we hope the generosity of Christians always will be accompanied by a great love for the missions and by fervent daily prayer in support of missionaries and the proclamation of the Gospel."