Holy Father calls for prayer,
sacrifice and support for the Church's missionary activity
"Your presence brings me confirmation of the affection
you have shown me these last few days, offering me comfort and support", the
Holy Father told those gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus on 20
October, less than a week after coming out of hospital. Here is a
translation of his reflection, which was given in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I am pleased to be able to recite this Angelus prayer with you again
from this window, from which I can gaze at the dome that Michelangelo's
genius built over the tomb of the Apostle Peter. I thank you for
participating in this Marian gathering. Your presence brings me confirmation
of the affection you have shown me these last few days, offering me comfort
In fact, during my recent hospital stay, I felt the solidarity not only
of a large number of brothers and sisters in Christ, but also of many
members of other religions and even people who are far from the faith. I am
deeply touched and thank you with all my heart.
2. Today we are celebrating World Mission Day. Actually, the whole of
October is a missionary month, since the particular Churches are involved in
heightening missionary awareness at the grass-roots level, because
"missionary activity is a matter for all Dioceses and parishes, Church
institutions and associations" (Redemptoris missio, n. 2). It must be
a central conviction in the life of every believer, as it was for
Marie-Pauline Jaricot, who in the last century founded the Society for the
Propagation of the Faith in Lyons, a work based on commitment to prayer,
sacrifice and material support. Her invitation received an immediate and
very broad response.
Today I wish to thank all who generously contribute to missionary
activity: "Their sacrifices and sharing are indispensable for building up
the Church and for showing love" (ibid., n. 81). May God bless them all and
amply reward them.
3. Nevertheless, the mission of Christ the Redeemer, entrusted to the
Church, is very far from completion. That is why the Church is inviting
everyone to continue the work of missionary co-operation: prayer, witness of
Christian life, promotion of missionary vocations and effective support are
also urgently needed by the Christian generation appearing on the horizon of
the new millennium.
How can we not be grateful to all who, in response to the Lord's call,
offer themselves for service to their brothers and sisters in situations
which are sometimes very difficult, even to the point of risking their
lives? I am thinking at this moment of the Trappists of Tibhirine, of Bishop
Claverie of Oran, Algeria, of Archbishop Ruhuna of Gitega, Burundi, and of
many others. Thanks to their sacrifice, the Gospel message is advancing in
May Mary, Mother of Jesus, grant us to labour with renewed zeal in the
work of salvation which the Father, in his love, has put into our hands.
After reciting the Angelus the Holy Father had a few words in Polish
for his compatriots.
Today Kraków and Poland are celebrating the solemnity of St John
Kanty. I greet my compatriots present in St Peter's Square and those who are
listening to us on radio and television.
I thank you for your prayers and good wishes on the occasion of the
anniversary of my election to the See of Peter, as well as for all the signs
of spiritual closeness during my hospital stay.
In this context, I also think with gratitude of my compatriots who are
vigorously defending the right to life of the most innocent and defenceless.
Let us pray for our homeland, so that the right to life of every person,
from conception to natural death, will be respected. Allow me at this moment
to repeat what I said on 1 September this year: "A people which kills its
own children is a people without a future"(L'Osservatore Romano
English edition, 4 September, p. 1).
God forbid! God forbid! Praised be Jesus Christ!