Missionary Pope Calls Catholics to Preach the Gospel and Bring all Nations to Jesus
We have had six years of Pope Benedict XVI and it appears to this Deacon that he is leading the Catholic Church into a New Missionary Age
"The mission ad gentes (to the gentiles, or unbelievers) should be, also today, the constant horizon and paradigm of every ecclesial activity, because the very identity of the Church is constituted by faith in the Mystery of God, who revealed himself in Christ to bring us salvation, and by the mission to witness and proclaim him to the world, until his return. Like St. Paul, we should care for those who are far away, those who still do not know Christ and have not experienced God's paternity."
Pope Benedict XVI bowing before an Icon of Jesus Christ
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Shortly after Pope Benedict XVI's election I wrote an article quoting from Alisdair MacIntyre's book "After Virtue": "It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the Epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages.
"Nonetheless, certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman Imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of the Imperium.
"What they set themselves to achieve instead- often not recognizing fully what they were doing- was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point...
"...This time however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another-doubtless very different- St. Benedict."
I suggested that "another Benedict" was here in the person of Pope Benedict XVI. I am more convinced of it now. I suggested back then, "This will be a pontificate that emphasizes and vigorously contends for the truth; one that recognizes the loss of the soul of contemporary culture and proclaims the ever fresh yet ancient truths of classical Christianity to an emerging new paganism. This will be a prophetic as well as a pastoral Papacy. We will witness a resurgence of Christianity that is rightly "orthodox" in both faith and practice.
"Because of that, many will try to "claim" Benedict. Some, pining for the past, will watch for what they hope will be a return to some perceived pre-conciliar "purity." Others will try to squeeze the clarity of his commitment to the dignity and sanctity of every human life, his unwavering insistence on the unchangeable truth concerning marriage and family, and his love for human freedom into their particular political mold.
"However, he will not fit any political mold. He will not lead the Church backwards but rather forward to a future of hope and into a true and desperately needed reform. Under his leadership we will see new forms of Christian life and community emerging in an analogous way to what happened to the world at the time of St. Benedict."
"From those Benedictine monasteries, an entire monastic movement was birthed which led to the evangelization of Europe and the emergence of an authentically Christian culture. This led to the birth and flourishing of the academy, the arts and the emergence of what later became known as Christendom. One of the greatest hopes of Pope John Paul II, and of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger- now Pope Benedict, was for Europe to rediscover her Christian roots as it did at the time of St Benedict. Now we have "another Benedict" to lead the recovery and reform."
I continued "Pope Benedict XVI will surprise many, particularly in the area of ecumenism, reaching to heal the divide between eastern and western Christianity so that the "two lungs" of the full Christian Church can breathe together again and animate the entire Church so that she can become again the soul of the world. ...
"We will witness the beginnings of the coming full communion of the Church during his pontificate. We will witness the recovery of the authentically Catholic academy through the rebuilding of some institutions almost lost to the Church and the building of new ones. We will see the flourishing of good, solid theological and philosophical work alongside of a flourishing of the arts and human culture, led by the Church, as it has been in ages past. He will be like his namesake and help to bring the Christian influence back to Europe and beyond."
I believe all of this - and much more - has resulted from the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. He turned 84 years old on April 16, 2011. Some early observers indicated his age would make him some sort of caretaker Pope. His pace has demonstrated the observers were wrong. He has proven to be an indefatigable and tireless missionary of a Pope.
He has continued the pastoral visits of his predecessor with amazingly fruitful travels around the world. The youth of the world still flock to World Youth days and his genuine love for them - and they for him - is evident. He has pastorally and decisively dealt with serious matters concerning the need for a purification of the Church. ...
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