POPE JOHN PAUL has called for "vigorous missionary renewal" and a new commitment to the missions by Catholics, particularly the bishops, in his Sunday message for this year's World Mission Day.
In a powerful and invigorating homily, the Pope referred to the fact that this year was the 25th anniversary of the encyclical Fidei Donum (Gift of Faith) produced by Pope Pius XII.
Talking about the experiences of the last 25 years, he said that, despite all the achievements in the missions, "one began to notice some signs of weariness, due on the one hand to the drop in vocations and on the other to the urgency to confront the crisis that many Christian communities of ancient tradition are debating. Before the phenomenon of dechristianisation, a temptation to retreat into oneself, to close oneself in one's own problems, to exhaust the missionary impulse within oneself, can be born."
The Pope's message stressed the importance of the encyclical, saying that it contained clear directives for all missionary activity which are still valid today.
Each bishop, the message said, as head and guide of the local Church, must commit his energies towards a vigorous missionary impulse in his own diocese.
"Because one of the most serious obstacles to the spreading of the mission of Christ is the shortage of `workers in the vineyard of the Lord," the Pope said, "I would like to take this opportunity to exhort all bishops, in their work of aid and promotion of the work of evengelisation, to generously send their own priests to those regions that urgently need them, even if their dioceses do not have a superabundance of clergy."
Mission Sunday Extra, pages 7-9