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|Ioannes Paulus PP. II|
Ecclesia in Africa
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The Church's mission
55. "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mk 16:15). Such is the mandate that the Risen Christ, before returning to his Father, gave to his Apostles: "And they went forth and preached everywhere" (Mk 16:20).
"The task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church ... Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize".69 Born of the evangelizing mission of Jesus and the Twelve, she is in turn sent forth. "Depositary of the Good News to be proclaimed ... having been sent and evangelized, the Church herself sends out evangelizers. She puts on their lips the saving Word".70 Like the Apostle to the Gentiles, the Church can say: "I preach the Gospel ... For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1 Cor 9:16).
The Church proclaims the Good News of Christ not only by the proclamation of the Word which she has received from the Lord, but also by the witness of life, thanks to which Christ's disciples bear witness to the faith, hope and love which dwell in them (cf. 1 Pet 2:15).
This testimony which the Christian bears to Christ and the Gospel can lead even to the supreme sacrifice: martyrdom (cf. Mk 8:35). For the Church and the Christian proclaim the One who is "a sign of contradiction" (cf. Lk 2:34). They preach "Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles" (1 Cor 1:23). As I said earlier, besides honouring the illustrious Martyrs of the first centuries, Africa can glory in its Martyrs and Saints of the modern age.
The purpose of evangelization is "transforming humanity from within and making it new".71 In and through the Only Son the relations of people with God, one another and all creation will be renewed. For this reason the proclamation of the Gospel can contribute to the interior transformation of all people of good will whose hearts are open to the Holy Spirit's action.
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