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Church's mission is everyone's concern

 October 20, 1996

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 and support.

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 the world.

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!

Teachings of the Magisterium on Abortion

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