the beatification of John Paul II on 1 May 2011 will pass to the story as one of the most followed media events of the Catholic Church in all the world. second the Police Headquarters of Rome, about one and a half million faithful were in St. Peter's Square, Via della Conciliazione and adjacent streets; in the Circus Maximus tens of thousands more had slept in sacks and fur, after the night's prayer vigil. the television channels that broadcast the ceremony were 1,300 from every part of the world, journalists accredited to the Vatican for their ceremony 2,300.

all this shows how the holiness of a Christian – that is, his likeness to Christ – touches the hearts of all the men who meet, moved, points the way that leads to God. Karol Wojtyla was the representative of Christ on earth, the highest authority of the Catholic Church, but what brought the crowds to Rome and in front of the televisions is been his scent of holiness. We have all seen Christ in him.

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Not it is easy to talk again about John Paul II, after all that it has been said and written in recent times, but in this catechesis of mine, as a missionary and member of a missionary institute, I want to perhaps the most important aspect of this great Pope. It is the man who introduced the Church in the third millennium and indicated with his own life the goal to be pursued and realized: mission to the people, that is, to proclaim and witness to Christ to all peoples and cultures of humanity. In other words, he was a missionary Pope and all of us who believe in Christ must nourish the openness missionary life of mind and heart and to realize in our little universal mission to all peoples, each according to his or her own charisms and its possibilities.

three parts of my catechesis:

  1. John Paul II the Missionary Pope.
  2. because travelled so much?
  3. thing says his missionary encyclical "Redemptoris Missio".

I) – The Missionary Pope: open the doors to Christ!

pope John Paul II was beatified six years after his death (2005-2011) as well as Mother Teresa (1997-2003). Beatifications very rapid given the severe slowness of the Roman trials to become Blessed. But not without meaning. In fact, I believe that it is precisely the Polish Pope and the Albanian Mother Teresa, at the end of the second millennium and at the beginning of the third, best represent the faith of the christ in the world, to all men and peoples: on the one hand, supreme authority in the Church that assures fidelity to Christ and to the 2,000-year tradition of his faithful, on the other the humble nun who, living heroically and entirely, christian life is become the most convincing icon of Christianity even in the greater India and Asia, where Christians, all together, are only 3% of the approximately four billion Asians (in turn, the 62% of humanity); Mother Teresa is the charity of Christ who has given his life for men, John Paul II the paternal face and merciful of God who calls everyone to follow Christ.

John Paul II experienced the longest pontificate in history (27 years), surpassed only by Pius IX who ruled the Church for 32 years (1846-1878). It has achieved such a multiplicity of interventions and features that it is not easy to briefly describe the new Blessed.

for give a concise definition of his pontificate, I would say that it is been a missionary Pope. In fact, all the Popes of the twentieth century have been since Benedict XV with his "Maximum Illud", the first encyclical missionary mission that in 1919, immediately after the end of the First world, opened up to the Christian West the vision and of the non-Christian world to which Christ should proclaim and witness. but John Paul II was, as it were, more globally and personal journeys, especially with his missionary journeys to the extremes of boundaries of the earth, of which we will say in the second part of this catechesis and his encyclical on missions.

in an increasingly globalised world, with a humanity increasingly in crisis because of its own contradictions, its fears and its problems, the Polish Pope understood that he had to indicate a global solution, a very clear goal. Thus, from the beginning of his pontificate in October 1978, the blessed presented himself to the world as an Apostle who was being from Galilee. Those two of his impetuous and toned imperatives: "Don't Afraid! Open the doors to Christ!", said indeed shouted at the beginning of his pontificate, were addressed to the world where man is afraid of man, he is afraid of life and death, fear of his own inventions that can also Destroy. The crisis is overcome only by returning to Christ, loving and praying to the Savior of man.

here what the Pope said in his homily of 22 October 1978, the of his pontificate in which the Day of world missionary:

" Brothers and Sisters! Do not be afraid to welcome Christ. Don't be afraid! Open the doors to Christ wide open! Open the borders of states, economic systems such as political ones, fields of culture, civilization and development. Not Afraid! Christ knows "what is inside man". Only he Know!Today so often man does not know what he carries inside, in the deep in his soul, of his heart. It is uncertain of the meaning of the his life on this earth. It is invaded by doubt that it sometimes becomes despair. Allow me, therefore – please, I implore you humbly and with confidence – allow christ to speak to man. Only he has words of life, yes! of eternal life.own today the whole Church celebrates her "Missionary Day world", he prays, that is, meditates, acts because the words of Christ's life reach all men and women and be welcomed as a message of hope, salvation and liberation total"." 

In teaching of John Paul II the central point is Christ, the God made man to save all men. The most organic document in this line is its first encyclical "Salvator Hominis", presenting Christ as "the centre of the cosmos of history", as foundation of every reflection on the Church and on man. The encyclical reads (n. 10): "The man who wants to understand himself to the end, with his restlessness and uncertainty and also with his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, he must approach Christ…. Christ Redeemer fully reveals man to man himself."

Has revolutionized the Latin American Church

I am was with John Paul II in Santo Domingo in 1992 for the Fourth Assembly of Celam (the Episcopal Conferences of Latin America). Difficult times for the latin American continent because of dictatorships, "guerrilla warfare of liberation", injustice and poverty; and crisis times for the Catholic Church, divided on the judgment to be given to the "theology of liberation" and to the "basic ecclesial communities", for the choices to be made in the political and social field for the benefit of the poor.

the long and participated preparation for the Assembly, discussed and matured at the base, had been made starting from the scheme: "see-judge-act": that is, to see situations of misery and injustice in which the peoples lived; judge these situations and then decide what it does the Church. The House was prepared to discuss the problems of church starting from this scheme and from the various problems it aroused. The scheme did not please John Paul II, who in his first speech said in summary this:

  1. He has reminded the bishops of the Council and that have given a boost to pastoral renewal in order to evangelization of Latin America and the promotion of man Latin American in its integrity; especially Medellìn (II Assembly of Celam 1968) was an appeal "of hope towards more humane and more Christian".
  2. Then recalled to the authenticity of the mission: "You gather here not as a Parliament of politicians, not as a congress of scientists or technicians. But as pastors of the Church and as such "your main duty is to be Masters of truth." And he said to priests: "You cannot lend a true service to man, without rooted convictions about your identity as priests of Christ… You are priests and religious, you're not political leaders or even officials of a power time." And it recalled the duty of unity and fidelity christ and the Church, who are the essential condition for being able to do the good of the Latin American people.
  3. Finally, the Pope has overturned the scheme of discussion of the Assembly: not "see-judge-act" which immediately leads to problems of nature political-social-economic, but "Let's start again from Christ!" The situation in Latin America must be studied in relation to the gospel and the model of Christ and the Church also helps the people with educational and social works, but above all bringing it imitation of Christ, authentic Christian families, a most livable society for all.

In the his first speech in Santo Domingo, the Pope condemned the "vision of horizontalist" of the previous scheme, which led to see the action of the Church restricted to the field political-economic-social. The Pope said: "For you the true news of life lies in returning to Christ and to the Gospel, the only hope for Latin America. The true prophecy is Jesus Christ, he is the true salvation".

I remember that among the participants in the Assembly were hours of tension and concern: how to invent in a few days a new The house's approach? It was thanks above all to the bishop Luciano Mendes de Almeida, Head of the Commission for drafting of the texts, if all came to a successful end. The results of the Assembly, with God's help, were excellent. of I remember three:

1) Without abandoning or tarnishing the commitment to the poor, the Latin American Churches have given a new approach to the church work for the poor, according to the "Social Doctrine of church", an expression that Paul VI no longer used because it was contested by many who said: the political and social field is not that of church, we must receive enlightened by scientific theories about society, which were those derived from Marxism. Starting from Christ, assembly reaches an "alternative theology of liberation" decisions that include all the positive values of the "Liberation Theology", while this theological current (ideologically polluted in several of its expressions) is practically outdated.

2) I Latin American bishops realized that an accent too marked on the "preferential option for the poor" and the " church of the poor" risked to give the Church herself a sectarian image, which closed the leads to the upper-middle classes of society: no longer the "home common" for all the faithful, but a kind of party ideological-political. While the Church wants to proclaim Christ to all social classes, wants to revangelize the whole of society, even the Rich.

3) The Assembly of Santo Domingo brought to the fore the so-called "popular religiosity" and the value of the sacred, of the pilgrimages, devotion to Mary and the Rosary. A vision of Christian life had been established in Latin America too limited to the urgency of social problems and too dependent on Marxist ideology, which defined religion "opium of peoples". So they had to limit and almost abolish devotions to Our Lady and the Rosary, to the saints, to the shrines, relics, pilgrimages, etc. The Shareholders' Meeting of Santo Domingo affirms the value of popular religiosity to direct the minds and choirs of men to Christ and to God. and enhances the active participation of the laity in the Church and the apostolate of the laity, a theme that will be extensively dealt with at the V Celam Assembly in Aparecida (Brazil) in May 2007.

John Paul II and the young Churches

The example of how John Paul II was prophetic and innovative in Latin America with the Assembly of Santo Domingo, is worth for many other cases of relaunching and renewing the mission to the people, who we don't have the time and space to exhibit. Some examples,

  • Not be afraid to declare themselves Christians, to promote conversions to christ, to ask governments to respect religious freedom human rights.
  • the dialogue with non-Christian religions (we remember Assisi in 1986).
  • the values of non-Christian cultures in which the Church must Incarnate.
  • the promotion of local churches with the increase of indigenous bishops and the multiplication of dioceses.
  • The accent on the task of local Churches to promote human rights and social justice. How many times have you protested oppression of the poorest!
  • Approval so-called "lay movements", which have contributed to declericalize the Church and to give due importance to the task of missionary mission of the laity, fundamental in the young Churches for the announcement of Christ.

the missionary vision that the Pope had of the Church is clearly expressed in the Missio Redemptoris, where he writes. "The activity missionary mission is only just beginning" (No. 30) and in n. 37 states that there are vast territories, "entire peoples and cultural areas of great importance not yet evangelized… especially in Asia, but also in Africa, Latin America and Oceania". And then he adds (n. 40): "The activity mission is still today the greatest challenge for the Church".

the church cannot but be missionary. But how? Speaking to young people in Manila in January 1995 the Pope said that missionary understood in two ways:

1) First of all, towards non-Christians, the human masses of Asia above all, who are still waiting to meet the Savior. The Pope addressed young Filipinos and all young people catholics of the world, pointing to the mission in Asia as the challenge priority for the Church today. The mission to non-Christians is the youth of the Church. The family and the parish in which he was born missionary vocation have made the greatest contribution to the salvation of man and of peoples.

2) There is a second way of accomplishing the mission: "To be missionaries in our society." John Paul II told young people: there is a "mission in everyday life" to which we must educate ourselves and allow ourselves to be educated: to witness and proclaim Christ with our life in the family, in society, in in school, at work, in politics. But for this we need to go counter-current with respect to the spirit and fashions of the world. then warned young people forcefully: "Beware of false masters! They belong to the intellectual elites of science, culture and the mass media. They present an anti-gospel that declares every ideal dead. And so contribute to the profound moral crisis that affects society, which led to the exaltation of forms of behaviour that the moral conscience and common sense once abhorrence. They want you be like them: doubtful and cynical."

II) The Pope's travels proclaim christ to the peoples

John Paul II experienced the longest pontificate in history (27 years), passed only by Pius IX who ruled the Church for 32 years (1846-1878). Has achieved such a multiplicity of interventions that it is not easy briefly describe the new Blessed. He was a Pope missionary mission, projected towards the ends of the earth. in the his 27 years of pontificate, has made more than 200 trips to Rome and Italy and 105 trips international markets, visiting 136 countries, in many of which came back several times: 9 times in Poland, 8 in France, 7 in the United States, 5 in Spain and Mexico, 4 in Portugal, Brazil and Switzerland. On average, more than three international trips the year, in all the countries he could visit. It was impossible for him to go in China, Russia, Vietnam and other communist countries; in Arabia, in Afghanistan, Iran and other Islamists.

"I my travels have a missionary purpose"

that travelled so much? Many people were asking. Here's his answer in "Redemptoris Missio" (#1): "Already from the beginning of my pontificate I chose to travel to the extreme borders of the earth to manifest the concern missionary mission, and it is precisely direct contact with peoples who ignore Christ that has even more convinced of the urgency of this activity". When he went in Pakistan (February 16, 1981), the Bishop of Rawalpindi said to me: "In all our Christian history, which has now been centuries, there is no other missionary event comparable to these six hours that the Pope has spent with us. We are a small minority in an Islamic sea. John Paul II succeeded in involve muslim crowds and the leaders of Islam, breaking the wall indifference and also of the hostility that surrounds us".

John Paul II made a precise pastoral choice. "I my travels in Latin America, Asia and Africa – wrote in the message for the missionary day of 1981 – they an eminently missionary purpose. I wanted to announce

same gospel, somehow making me a travelling catechist and encourage all those who are at his service."

Deserves truly the qualification of "Missionary Pope". No one else character in the world had such a strong call on the crowds of any religious belief. He used his charism to proclaim Christ and the values of the gospel: love to God and man, peace, fraternity and solidarity among the peoples, help to the smallest and poorest, give their lives for others as Jesus did. The Anglican Archbishop of Harare in Zimbabwe (Burroughs) said to me: "When John Paul II comes to Africa represents all of us Christians. I'm so glad you're proclaiming the gospel to our peoples on behalf of all the Churches!".

in Mexico the force of popular Catholicism

Yes it is calculated that John Paul II spent about two years of his 26 years as Pontificate. Not a few said: travel too much, he spends too much, he makes too many speeches. But it is said by those who have not seen up close what a visit by the Pope in terms of faith, popular enthusiasm, hope, solidarity among men. I accompanied the Pope (as journalist) on some international trips. I remember that in Mexico (January 1979), the Mexican Government had done its best to keeping people at home: transport blockade, schools and offices open, frequent television broadcasts, continuous recommendations not to move from home, the newspapers expected unrest. when John Paul II arrived in Mexico City to receive him not only there were neither the head of state nor the prime minister, just minor authorities.

the pope's journey by car discovered on the freeway from Città del Mexico to Puebla (110 km.) takes place within a calculated human wall from 9 to 10 million people and in his few days stay in the country a third of the Mexicans (l8-20 out of 56 million) managed to see it for themselves! In those days the strength of religiosity was manifested popular, which impressed everyone and also sent ideology into crisis secularist of the Mexican state. Everywhere he went there was a crowd of people who had been waiting for hours to see him pass. But it wasn't just folklore. I recall that in Puebla, where I attended the Celam meeting, a taxi driver simply tells me: "I too am a Christian believer, but too ignorant. The Pope has shaken my faith: now I want to read the gospel and pray with my family. Not I would have believed that I could live such intense days of faith and love to God!".

in Mexico the Pope solemnly defended the Indians. In Oaxaca an Indian tells him: "Your Holiness, we live worse than cows and pigs. We have lost our lands, we who were free, now we are slaves." John Paul II clenches his head in his hands and, responding, says: "The Pope is with these masses of Indians and peasants, abandoned to an unworthy level of life, sometimes exploited hard. still once we cry out loud: respect man! He is the image of god! Evangelized so that this may become a reality, so that the Lord may transform the hearts and humanizes political and economic systems, starting from responsible commitment of man." The daily maximum "Excelsior", exponent of secularism and Mexican Freemasonry, which had opposed the Pope's visit, commented: "After five centuries of oppression of our Indians and peasants, the Pope had to come from Rome to tell us these things. It has shamed to belong to the Mexican ruling classes.

"Who want to bring the fine to the Pope?"

when the Pope left Mexico City to return to Rome, to ossequiarlo at the airport there were all the most important political and military authorities. By now he had entered the hearts of mexicans; Present. There had been a complete identification between the Pope and the people with a moment of intensity that they move. Mexico secular, Freemason, socialist, radical and anticlerical was displaced by the choral waves of participation in the functions religious, by the tide of small people coming from all over the despite the (not complete) blockade of public transport. No one expected such overwhelming success, unprecedented in Mexico. I am left for Italy on the day he came to visit Mexico US President Jimmy Carter: the airport was barely full, outside almost none. and this is despite the invitations of the authorities to the people, of the parties, trade unions, the press and the day off given to employees of the state to go and welcome the American guest!

The strength of popular Catholicism was such as to break all the barriers and to involve the highest authorities of the state, and then even the press, But it has a following. I stopped in Mexico one more twenty days and newspapers to see how the controversy against the visit of the Pope, who were surprised during the days of his presence, returned to to the fore after his departure. Why did the President receive the head of a nation not recognized by our country?. because bishops, priests and nuns were able to walk the streets with their sacred clothes, when the law forbids "anachronistic disguises"? Because whole cities have been upset by outdoor ceremonies, prohibited by the Constitution? And away from this step.

the President Lopez Portillo waited a while before answering. Then, in a speech to the governors of mexico's 29 federal states, answered for rhymes, snatching applause from the assembled families in front of the televisions. I witnessed this broadcast in the house of Mexican nuns of whom I was a guest. They clapped warmly and an elderly nun crying with emotion tells me, "She doesn't know what does it mean for us Mexicans to hear our President who says things like that, never heard before."

thing josé lopez portillo, president of Mexico from 1976 to 1982? Start with this declaration of secularism and disbelief: "Since the age of 14 I have not believed in the dogma and rites of the Church", then admits that the Constitution and laws have been violated Mexicans; but he adds: "Gentlemen, it was all the Mexican people who violated them! No law and no Constitution could prevent the President from staying from the part of the people… As for the law that is likely to priests and nuns to bring their dress in public well the first one who violated it was the Pope himself. I therefore propose that we apply the penalty to everyone, a fine of 50 pesos (2,000 lire in 1979). who of you feel like bringing the contravention to Rome and handing it over to the Pope?"

Del rest, even the major newspapers that at first had a hostile or detached attitude, were overwhelmed by the consent popular and in the end they recognized the importance of the Pope's visit for Mexico. On January 30, 1979, "Excelsior" wrote: "Regardless of religious significance, the visit of the pontiff is assuming for our country a character of singular relief Never before a universal leader of any gender, social or religious politician, had used Mexico as a scenario to proclaim his thesis and dictate his norms to more of 700 million of his followers… Our country has in these days a great space in the world press. John Paul II popularized and this translates into the greater tourist propaganda that Mexico has ever had in all its history." Here, to those who said: "The Pope travels too much", we must remember a event like this.

and i could repeat the same speech for the two trips of the Pope in the eighties to Uruguay, the other country officially secularist and anticlerical of America Latina, where newspapers write God with tiny "ds." in the 1992, the Italian Dehonian fathers of whom I was a guest told me that after the Pope's visits the atmosphere of aversion against the Church and the clergy was changing radically and positively.

the most successful snowstorm in Japan

On the four-day trip to Japan (23-26 February 1981), a pime, Father Pino Cazzaniga (on the spot since 1959), written1: "The Pope's visit was a great success, which no one had foreseen and that not even the most optimistic thought possible. I have the intervention of Providence for a journey that is reasonably should have been negative." And it explains the various reasons for this forecast, also because the announcement of the arrival of the Pope was given only two months earlier.

in Japan Catholics are 0.3% of Japanese, but in the city of Nagasaki are a community of a certain consistency. when John Paul II was to celebrate Mass at nagasaki stadium, for two days the whole region had been troubled by a blizzard, that blocked all transportation. Card. Satowaki and the organizers thought they would make the Pope in the Catholic cathedral, but early in the morning in the stadium the faithful and ordinary people equipped with high mountain, someone had arrived at five in the morning! For the Mass the stadium was full. The Pope celebrates with a polar cold and the sharp wind, but he was 61 years old and could sustain three hours of Mass and various ceremonies. Television broadcasts throughout the country.

" So – writes Cazzaniga – the whole of Japan sees the scene of storm, of the gagliardo wind that causes the sleet to grind, of the Pope who every now and then he blows on his fingers to warm them up. but also sees those tens of thousands of people, trembling and eye-to-eye closed, clutching each other to seek warmth and support. No one moves until the end of the ceremony. It is a moving resistance, makes it clear that underneath there is much more than a simple rush for a "Wojtyla Show". So that villain time, which seemed like a joke of the goddess Amaterasu, turns out instead a providential intervention that highlights in the eyes of all what matters to the Christian faith in life".

father Cazzaniga wonders "what did the Pope's visit mean for the non-Christians? Meanwhile, this visit "makes an era" in history japan itself. All the serious newspapers have talked about it in this sense. For the Catholic Church it is a unique fact. in my opinion seeing the reactions of Christians and non-Christians, is the greatest gift that the Lord has done to the Japanese Church, at least in this century."

and then he literally quotes a passage from the editorial of most Japanese newspaper "Asahi Shimbun" (eight million copies!) entitled "The Pope's thought and his visit to Japan", with the subtitle: "Yes the conversion of the heart, the only way to overcome the crisis current level"." And he says that the Pope comes to Japan to invite us to see in ourselves… From this visit comes in a clear and demanding way a i invite you to reflect on what the true conversion of the heart, will and feeling… The meeting of the intense desire for peace that was born in the heart of the Japanese… with the Pope whose strength lies not in the power of weapons, but in wisdom human conscience and moral conscience, can only bring abundant fruits for world peace"."

"Superfluous to point out – continues Father Cazzaniga – the importance of texts like this (and so many other similar) read by millions of Japanese, in a society where man is caught in the vortex of an activism that often takes away his time and willingness to meditate the deepest aspects of life."

John Paul II was a man of faith, deeply in love with Jesus Christ, of whom he spoke not in a detached way, in theological terms as if it were a doctrine to be conveyed, but as a living person who he had met and fell in love with. He often expressed strongly this conviction (which is from experience): you you are truly a man to the extent that you let yourself penetrate, involve, enlighten, change from the love of Christ. Being Christian is not an external formalism, a sum of things to be do or not to do, but to love and imitate Christ: "In him, only in him – he told German Catholics – we are liberated from all alienation and bewilderment, from slavery to the powers of the sin and death." And to the Poles, on his last trip to Poland, cried forcefully, improvising and waving like a clava the sheets he had in his hand: "Poles, sinners, convert!".

the message that it transmits on every journey is first and foremost a message of faith and an appeal for conversion: "Men, repent of the your sins and convert to Jesus Christ," he said to Paris. A message that is not purely "spiritual", but that tends to transform people, families, societies from within, nations. Us President Jimmy Carter, receiving him at the White House in 1979, she told him, "She forced us to re-examine ourselves. It reminded us of the value of human life and that spiritual strength is people's most vital resource and nations"." And he added, "Taking care of others makes us stronger and gives us courage while the blind run behind ends selfish — having more instead of being more — leaves us empty, pessimists, lonely, fearful." The "New York Times" wrote: "This man has a charismatic power unknown to all the other leaders of the world. It is as if Christ has returned to us". It's the most beautiful eulogy that we can make of Peter's successor.

the Pope traveled to give a message, as well as of faith and conversion to Christ, of fraternity and solidarity at the level of universal; travelled to bring to the fore all peoples and all the sufferings and injustices of the world. He travelled to remind the peoples of the rich world to be brothers and sisters of the poor ones.

III) – "Mission to the people is only just beginning"

the line of the pontificate of John Paul II, we seen, was the missionary one, which manifests itself above all in the encyclical "Redemptoris Missio", published in 1990, 25 years after the conciliar decree "Ad Gentes".

Of the 16 documents of the Second Vatican Council the Polish Pope published one encyclical for solemnly confirm one of them: precisely the Ad Gentes with the "Redemptoris Missio." Many in the Roman Curia were against it, an "apostolic letter" was enough. Who strongly wanted it, in agreement with the Pope, was the card. Joseph Tomko, Prefect of Propaganda Fide, which coordinated the preparatory work.

I am been called by the Pope to write the encyclical, according to his directions. On October 3, 1989 he said to me at lunch: "You write me the encyclical. You are a missionary and a journalist and I I want a document written in a journalistic way, for young people and young Churches". From October 1989 to July 1990 I wrote it and rewritten three times, according to the will of the Pope himself and others counselors questioned by him. The meetings with John Paul II I remember with emotion: paternal and authoritative, I felt comfortable, he asked questions and listened patiently, he saw the story with his eyes god's.

The only encyclical on a Vatican document II

John Paul II explains why the encyclical: "It is precisely the contact direct with the peoples who ignore Christ convinced me even more the urgency of this missionary activity" (n. 1); and adds: "We want to confirm once again that the mandate to evangelize all peoples… constitutes the mission essential part of the Church" (no.14); "The ad gentes mission is a primary activity of the church, essential and never concluded" (. 31); "The activity mission is still today the greatest challenge for the Church… The mission to the people is still in its infancy" (n. 14).

The "Redemptoris Missio" is the most significant of the many documents of his pontificate, because he represents the Pope well John Paul II, all projected outwards of the Church, to witness christ to all the peoples of the world. It is necessary to remember what was the atmosphere that reigned at that time among the missionaries on the ground: "Missions are abandoned, forgotten, we missionaries we are increasingly irrelevant and in our country we do not understand more why we came here." The time of the Council is enthusiasm for the universal mission, the council has spread doubts and uncertainties, dampening the appeals of the mobilization of believers in Christ in order to bring the gospel to the peoples.

the Card. Joseph Tomko, in his report to the International Congress on "Salvation today", held at the beginning of 1988 at the University of Urbaniana of Rome, had set out the doubts and objections which the missionaries felt that a wound to their vocation and commitment of all life: that sense is to proclaim Christ, if men are saved even without he? if Christian Revelation is one of the many expressions of the will of God? If other religions can equally bring to God and the dialogue can replace the announcement? If evangelization consists mainly in the promotion of social justice? if are missionaries no longer accepted or welcomed? Tomko then confided that the Pope, reading that text, tells him: "The time has come that I say something about all this."

So Redemptoris Missio was born: to clarify the theological confusion built around the mission to the people, dialogue with non-Christian religions and the relationship between proclaiming Christ and the development of man and peoples. thing says the Missio Redemptoris? Unable to synthesize an encyclical in a few bars. I shall confine myself to enucleating the most current and decisive decisions of the papal text, in order to relaunch in the Church the mission of to the people and to respond to the most common objections that have missionary impetus, as John Paul himself writes, has been blocked by the II: "In this new spring of Christianity, it is not hide a negative trend that this document is intended to help overcome: the specific mission ad gentes seems to be slowing down, not certainly in line with the indications of the Council and the Magisterium following. Internal and external difficulties have weakened the missionary impetus of the Church towards non-Christians and it is a fact this must worry all believers in Christ" (n. 2). Here are some points to note:

"The church is missionary by her nature, since Christ's mandate it's not something contingent and outward, but it reaches the heart church's own. It follows that the whole Church and each Church (particular) is sent to the people" (n. 62). The mission comes from the two doctrines christianity: the Trinity and the Incarnation of of Jesus Christ. God gives himself to all men, through Christ and the Church he founded. Reading the first three chapters of the Redemptoris Missio also serves the simple faithful to return sources of faith and to understand in depth why the Church is Missionary. Here's a nutshell:

the fundamental points of the Missio Redemptoris

1) Jesus Christ the sole Saviour. It responds to those theologians who in various express the idea that Jesus is one of the ways that leads to God. Mission communicates to people salvation in Christ, faith and love for Christ, man's only Saviour, because "Christ is the only mediator between God and men… Men therefore do not can enter into communion with God if not through Christ, under the action of the Spirit" (R.M. 5). The encyclical reaffirms christ's centrality in the mission to the people, in order to condemn those who claim that there are many parallel and complementary ways to go to God, according to the Hindu conception, which compares religions rivers that all flow into the sea of the Absolute, theory also taken in some way by a theological tendency of our time.

2) The Kingdom of God. Jesus came to proclaim the Kingdom of God, which gives the messianic sense of Christianity, because it will be fully realized beyond history, in life eternal life of Paradise. It is an escatological Kingdom, which "already exists and not yet." The Church's mission proclaims the Kingdom of God and works for its progressive realization in individual men, in the people's lives and in human society. This is the doctrine of the Council and the Redemptoris Missio. But the encyclical notices a way wrong to conceive of the Kingdom: to separate the Kingdom from Christ and from the church, as if it were a different reality. So we talk about the "values kingdom" (love, justice, peace, fraternity) which are accepted by all, but Christ makes a problem, is the "stumbling stone" that it's difficult. The encyclical clearly says: "If you detach the Kingdom from Jesus, you no longer have the Kingdom of God revealed by him, but you end up distort the sense of the Kingdom that risks turning into a purely human and ideological objective" (RM 17). The contents of the kingdom are above all spiritual: faith, new life in Christ, conversion, love, forgiveness, etc. These spiritual values, with the grace of God, gradually transform human societies: they are the revolution brought about by Christ.

The "liberation theology", for example, had the tendency to talk about the liberation of peoples in an essentially political-social, end up marrying the Marxist theory of underdevelopment and development, forgetting to be inspired by Christ for the liberation of man from personal sin.

3) The Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the mission. This truth, which is also a theological novelty, gives the mission a dimension contemplative. If it is the Spirit who makes the mission, the missionary must pray much in order to be obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit. The mission is not of the missionary, but of the Spirit who guides and enlightens the Church; it is therefore essential to obey the Church, not to build Churches and parallel groups. And then, the Holy Spirit gives a dimension of optimism and hope. The missionary must never be discouraged because he often doesn't see the fruits of his work, but if he sowed well the Spirit will carry out his work and will fruitfulness and his sacrifices, his martyrdom.

4) Where's the mission to the people? Is it also here in Italy? Three criteria for judging:

(a) Territorial-geographical criterion, i.e. countries and peoples not Christians, that "although not very precise and always provisional, always applies" (Point 37). Above all, the Pope puts three times the emphasis on mission to Gentes in Asia, where Christians, all together, reach 3% of (62% of humanity!).

(b) New social phenomena to evangelize: metropolises, emigrants, political refugees, non-COMMUNITY, young people who are the majority of the population in non-Christian countries.

(c) Modern "aeropaghi", media, culture and science, international bodies and bodies (UN), peace and development, human and women's rights, justice young people, the modern culture created by communication, new techniques and new ways of communicating a message, etc. Fields Immense!

5) The ways of mission, that is, how and how the mission: formation of the local Church, inculturation, dialogue interreligious, human promotion and the development of peoples.

Stopping a moment on this point. The encyclical closely links the mission of proclaiming Christ humanization. In issues 58 and 59 John Paul II develops this concept: with the mission to the people, the Church helps peoples to develop, certainly also with economic and material aid, with health and education, but above all by proclaiming Christ, so that "the development of man comes from God and from the model of Jesus man-God and must lead to God. That is why between evangelical mission and man there is a close connection" (n. 59). And he adds that "the contribution of the Church and her evangelizing work to the development of peoples concerns not only the south of the world, in order to to combat them material misery and underdevelopment, but also the north, which is exposed to the moral and spiritual misery caused by the super-development"."

This is the message is fundamental to understand the mechanisms of the development of one people (no. 58): "The development of a people does not derive primarily from either money aid, nor by technical structures, but by the formation of consciences, from the maturation of mentality and costumes." These words are revolutionary to understand the development and the underdevelopment of peoples, which is not just or almost just money, of machines, of techniques, of trade, but of formation with the Gospel, that makes man more man and develops him in all senses.

" The mission to the people is only just beginning" (R.M. 30)

the Card. Daneels, archbishop of Brussels, said the MRI. "is the Magna Carta of the Church at the end of the second millennium"; and card. Tomko said: "It can cause a beneficial revolution in the Church of our time." In fact, John Paul II strongly reaffirms the perennial validity of the mission to the people (today many doubt this), inviting "the Church to a renewed missionary commitment" (n. 2); and introduces the concept that going to non-Christians is the solution to disbelief of our peoples: "Faith is strengthened by giving it!… The new evangelization will find inspiration and support commitment to the universal mission" (R.m. 2). A proposal which, if it were transposed and implemented, could revolutionise our churches. the Card. Tomko said: "It can cause a beneficial revolution in the church".

John Paul II managed the transition "from foreign missions to local Church", valuing local forces also for the mission to the people. the universal Church, without us noticing, is changing precisely influence of the young Churches. I don't have the space to illustrate these themes: variety and brilliance of lay ministries (I am thinking of parishes in Korea and Vietnam); the "theology of liberation" which, with all its limits and errors, is extremely positive for the universal Church; local theology and the inculturation of the Christian message in the various cultures, even these very positive facts despite the contrasts and the problems they create; interreligious dialogue that the Pope has promoted oriented to descend from a level of summit and theological debate, to the "dialogue of life", that is, the collaboration between the members of the various religions for peace and human rights. How many interesting examples could I tell that demonstrate the pope's drive: but space is the cheer.

between baptized young people, the enthusiasm of faith is the engine of life christianity that is maturing. the Pope was brilliant when he wrote (R.M. 2) that wants to commit "the particular Churches, especially the young ones, to send and receive missionaries" (n. 2); and gave full confidence to the young Churches by stimulating them with these words: "You are today the hope of our Church, which is two thousand years old; being young people in the faith, you must be like the first Christians and radiate enthusiasm and courage, in generous dedication to God and to neighbour… and you will also be a leaven of missionary spirit for the most ancient ones" (R.m. 91).

the greatness of this intuition is witnessed by many examples. Mons. Cesare Bonivento, Bishop of Pime in Vanimo in Papua New Guinea said: "Our Christians feel preaching in their blood, they want to proclaim, tell. We must give the people a formation and content, but the missionary office has spontaneously. As a bishop I try to moderate and prepare. You have to be careful because they would do everything. The announcements in church must give them the laity, but then when they take the floor it is difficult to stop them. If they could put the priest aside they would be Happy. And in fact they do because in most Sunday services speak to them: the priest has difficulties for the language, indeed languages. In Jubilee 2000 we had a kind of "popular mission" with prayer meetings, songs and proclamation of the Word of God. They went on for hours. I'll tired, but they don't get tired."

One scenario that for us Westerners is difficult even to imagine: young peoples who discover the value of faith can teach us A lot. Not in concrete forms, but in spirit. It will never repeat itself enough that out of six and a half billion men and women at least the half have never heard of Jesus Christ. Amazing, but it's thus. From a rigorous investigation in the early 1960s (of the magazine "Christ au Monde") it was found that in the "world of catholic" there were 359,000 priests for the assistance of 510 millions of faithful and in missions 33,000 priests for 70 million Catholics; but priests dedicated directly to the two billion and more of non-Christians were only 1,900 in all!

here because exclusively missionary institutes are still "absolutely necessary" (R.m. 66) and the bishops of the young Churches ask them precisely to make their He asked, their clergy. The R.M. (n. 66): "The vocation of missionaries ad vitam remains valid: it represents the paradigm of missionary commitment of the Church, who always needs to be radical donations, of new and bold impulses".

Today the imperative for missionaries is to really be missionaries, that is, go to non-Christians, gradually limiting the task of supplementary to the care of Christian communities. John Paul II and also Benedict XVI often recall this specific charism of missionaries for life: receiving the representatives of their institutes, urge them to "dedicate themselves to non-Christians", because the local bishops Ask.

1 Pino Cazzaniga, "As the Japanese saw the Pope". in "World and Mission, June-July 1981, pp. 367-394.

Father Gaddafi on Radio Maria (2011)

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