The commitment of the laity to the work of evangelization is changing ecclesial life, while particular churches are more willing to meet with the members of other Christian churches and other religions, and to enter into dialogue and cooperation with them.
Difficulties both internal and external have weakened the Church's missionary thrust toward non-Christians, a fact which must arouse concern among all who believe in Christ.For in the Church's history, missionary drive has always been a sign of vitality, just as its lessening is a sign of a crisis of faith.Twenty-five years after the conclusion of the Council and the publication of the Decree on Missionary Activity Ad Gentes, fifteen years after the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi issued by Pope Paul VI, and in continuity with the magisterial teaching of my predecessors, I wish to invite the Church to renew her missionary commitment.The Council emphasized the Church's "missionary nature," basing it in a dynamic way on the Trinitarian mission itself.The missionary thrust therefore belongs to the very nature of the Christian life, and is also the inspiration behind ecumenism: "that they may all be one..that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn ). The Council has already borne much fruit in the realm of missionary activity.
There has been an increase of local churches with their own bishops, clergy and workers in the apostolate.The presence of Christian communities is more evident in the life of nations, and communion between the churches has led to a lively exchange of spiritual benefits and gifts.Blessing Venerable Brothers, Beloved Sons and Daughters, Health and the Apostolic Blessing! The mission of Christ the Redeemer, which is entrusted to the Church, is still very far from completion.As the second millennium after Christ's coming draws to an end, an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only beginning and that we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service. " (1 Cor 9: 16) In the name of the whole Church, I sense an urgent duty to repeat this cry of St. From the beginning of my Pontificate I have chosen to travel to the ends of the earth in order to show this missionary concern.It is the Spirit who impels us to proclaim the great works of God: "For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. My direct contact with peoples who do not know Christ has convinced me even more of the urgency of missionary activity, a subject to which I am devoting the present encyclical.The Second Vatican Council sought to renew the Church's life and activity in the light of the needs of the contemporary world.