Extraordinary Mission Month
Pope Francis has set October 2019 as an Extraordinary Missionary Month to foster greater awareness of Missio Ad Gentes and to animate the missionary transformation of Church life and pastoral activity.
A 100th Anniversary
Pope Benedict XV, the “missionary pope” wrote the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, in 1919. Pope Francis wants the Church to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this foundational mission document.
In 1919, in the wake of a tragic global conflict that he himself called a “useless slaughter,” the Pope recognized the need for a more evangelical approach to missionary work in the world, so that it would be purified of any colonial overtones and kept far away from the nationalistic and expansionistic aims that had proved so disastrous.
Pope Francis goes on to quote and comment on Pope Benedict’s prophetic insight into the centrality of mission for the Church; a Church that just survived the rigors of World War I and was forty years away from Vatican II.
The Church of God is universal; she is not alien to any people,” he wrote, firmly calling for the rejection of any form of particular interest, inasmuch as the proclamation and the love of the Lord Jesus, spread by holiness of one’s life and good works, are the sole purpose of missionary activity. Benedict XV thus laid special emphasis on the Missio Ad Agentes, employing the concepts and language of the time, in an effort to revive, particularly among the clergy, a sense of duty towards the missions.
The Holy Father outlined the rational for this celebration of the 100th anniversary to Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, in a letter dated October 22, 2017, the Memorial of St. John Paul II and World Mission Sunday.
Resources on the Life of Pope Benedict XV
The 'Unknown Pope' - How Benedict XV is relevant today
World War I's Pope Benedict XV and the pursuit of peace
Rev. Thomas J. Craig
Director of Propagation of the Faith
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