VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2003 (VIS) - Today at midday the Holy Father received participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples during which they are reflecting upon "Formation in mission territories."
The Pope affirmed that "thorough formation is necessary, capable of preparing competent and holy evangelizers who are up to the level of their mission. This implies a long and painstaking process in which every biblical, theological, philosophical and pastoral examination finds its strength in one's personal relationship with Christ "the Way, the Truth and the Life."
"The Church, especially in mission countries," he continued, "needs people who are prepared to serve the Gospel freely and generously, ready for this reason to promote the values of justice and peace, breaking every cultural, racial, tribal and ethnic barrier, able to read the 'signs of the times' and to discover 'seeds of the Word', without indulging in curtailment or relativism."
"For this," John Paul II continued, "these persons must be in the first place 'experts' and they must be 'in love' with God. ... Along with personal intimacy with Christ, it is necessary to foster constant growth in love and service of the Church." For this reason, he added, a priest, "in his spiritual life, is called to relive the love of Christ, Spouse of the Church which is His bride."
The Holy Father thanked those who "are dedicated to the task of education in missionary territories." He concluded by recalling the numerous "seminarians, priests, nuns, religious and lay people from missionary territories who are completing their plan of formatiion here in Rome in colleges and centers, many of whom depend on your dicastery."
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