By CAROL GLATZ, CNS | Published April 21, 2005
In his last message published to the world, Pope John Paul II called on the faithful to be “generous evangelizers” by fighting injustice and poverty while spreading the Gospel.
On April 15 the Vatican released the pope’s annual World Mission Sunday message, which was written in six languages, including Chinese.
The message was signed by the late pope and dated Feb. 22, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter.
“In our day human society appears to be shrouded in dark shadows while it is shaken by tragic events and shattered by catastrophic natural disasters,” the late pope wrote. He said the eucharistic celebration is “bread from heaven, which gives eternal life and opens the human heart to a great hope.”
The Vatican said Pope John Paul wished the message to be made public April 15 so that bishops’ conferences around the world had time to prepare for World Mission Sunday, which will be celebrated Oct. 23 in most dioceses.
Addressing this year’s theme, “Mission: Bread Broken for the World,” the pope highlighted the task of pastoral workers and missionaries who “travel unexplored paths to carry the bread of salvation to all.”
The Eucharist is not meant just for oneself, he wrote; it is a gift that must be shared with all people.
“Passionate love for Christ leads to courageous proclamation of Christ, proclamation which, with martyrdom, becomes the supreme offering of love for God and mankind,” he wrote.
Pope John Paul wrote that the “Eucharist leads us to be generous evangelizers, actively committed to building a just and more fraternal world.”
He said he wished this year of the Eucharist would help inspire all Christians to show concern for and solidarity with those suffering from “the many forms of poverty present in our world.”
In his message, the pope said he hoped the many missionaries who died in paying witness to the Gospel would serve as examples that will help attract “numerous men and women to tread the path of heroic fidelity to Christ.”
Editor’s note: The full text of Pope John Paul II’s message can be obtained at www.vatican.va/gpII/bulletin/B0217-XX.01.pdf.