Background: World Mission Sunday
October 21, 2011
On October 23, the Church around the world will commemorate World Mission Sunday. The theme of Pope Benedict’s message for the day is “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn. 20:21).
“We cannot reconcile ourselves to the thought that after 2,000 years there are still people who do not know Christ and have never heard his message of salvation,” the Pontiff wrote in his message, which was released in January. “And this is not all: an increasing number of people, although they have received the Gospel proclamation, have forgotten or abandoned it and no longer recognize that they belong to the Church; and in many contemporary contexts, even in traditionally Christian societies, people are averse to opening themselves to the word of faith.”
“A cultural change nourished by globalization, by currents of thought and by the prevalent relativism, is taking place,” he continued. “This change is leading to a mindset and lifestyle that ignore the Gospel message, as though God did not exist, and exalt the quest for well-being, easy earnings, a career and success as life’s purpose, even to the detriment of moral values.”
World Mission Sunday was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926 and first commemorated in 1927. As Blessed John Paul II explained in 2001, Pope Pius “accepted a request by the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith to ‘establish a day of prayer and propaganda for the missions’ to be celebrated on the same day in every diocese, parish and institute of the Catholic world ... and to encourage offerings for the missions.”
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