Pope Francis says "Evangelizing is the mission of the Church, evangelizing is the joy of the Church." to Missionaries of Africa

Clementina room
Monday, June 13, 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!
I thank the Superior General for the words with which he introduced our meeting.
Unfortunately, with great regret, I had to postpone the trip to Congo and South Sudan. In fact, at my age it's not that easy to go on a mission! But your prayers and your example give me courage, and I am confident of being able to visit these peoples, whom I carry in my heart. Next Sunday, I will try to celebrate Mass with the Congolese Roman community. Not next, July 3, the day I was supposed to celebrate in Kinshasa.

We will take Kinshasa to St. Peter's, and there we will celebrate with all the Roman Congolese, who are many!
I remember the celebration of your 150th anniversary, which we lived three years ago together with your Missionary sisters. Please give them my greeting too!
For this General Chapter you have chosen to work on mission as a prophetic witness. We will make a brief reflection on this. But first I want to tell you that I really enjoyed hearing that you lived these days "with gratitude" and "with hope". That's beautiful. Looking back with gratitude is a sign of good spiritual health; it is the "deuteronomic" attitude that God taught his people (cf. Dt chap. 8). Cultivate the grateful memory of the journey that the Lord has made us take. And this gratitude is what feeds the flame of hope. Anyone who does not know how to thank God for the gifts he sowed along the way - although tiring and at times painful - does not even have a hopeful soul, open to God's surprises and trusting in his providence. In particular, this spiritual attitude is decisive so that the seeds of vocation that the Lord raises up with his Spirit and his Word can mature. A community in which one knows how to say “thank you” to God and to the brothers, and in which one helps each other to hope in the Risen Lord is a community that attracts and supports those who are called. So, go on like this: with gratitude and hope.
We now come to the theme of mission as a prophetic witness. Here fidelity to your roots is at stake, to the charism that the Spirit has entrusted to Cardinal Lavigerie. The world changes, Africa also changes, but that gift retains its charge of meaning and strength. And it keeps it in you to the extent that it is always brought back to Christ and to the Gospel. If the salt loses its flavor, what is it for? (cf Mt 5:13). Father General recalled the exhortation that the Founder repeated: "Be apostles, nothing but apostles!". And the apostle of Jesus Christ is not one who proselytizes. He has nothing to do with the proclamation of the Gospel with proselytism. If at any time any of you find yourself proselytizing, please stop, convert and then continue. The announcement is another thing. The apostle is not a manager, he is not a learned lecturer, he is not a "wizard" of information technology, the apostle is a witness. This is true always and everywhere in the Church, but it is especially true for those who, like you, are often called to live the mission in contexts of early evangelization or of prevailing Islamic religion.
Witness essentially means two things: prayer and fraternity. Heart open to God and heart open to brothers and sisters. First of all, being in the presence of God, letting yourself be looked at by him, every day, in adoration. There we draw the lymph, in that "remaining in him", in Christ, which is the condition for being apostles (cf. Jn 15: 1-9). It is the paradox of the mission: you can only go if you stay. If you are unable to remain in the Lord, you cannot go.
Recently the testimony of Charles de Foucauld was proposed to the veneration of the universal Church: it is another charism, certainly, but it has a lot to say to you too, as to all Christians of our time. He, "starting from his intense experience of God, undertook a journey of transformation to the point of feeling himself to be the brother of all" (Enc. Fratelli tutti, 286). Prayer and fraternity: the Church must return to this essential nucleus, to this radiant simplicity, naturally not in a uniform way, but in the variety of her charisms, her ministries, her institutions; but everything must reveal this original nucleus, which dates back to Pentecost and to the first community, described in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2,42-47; 4,32-35).
We are often led to think of prophecy as an individual reality - and this is a dimension that always remains true, on the model of the prophets of Israel -. But prophecy is also and I would say above all community: it is the community that gives prophetic witness. I am thinking of your fraternities, made up of people from many countries, from different cultures. It is not easy, it is a challenge that can only be accepted by counting on the help of the Holy Spirit. And then this little community of yours, which lives in prayer and fraternity, is called in turn to dialogue with the environment in which it lives, with the people, with the local culture. In these contexts, where, in addition to poverty, insecurity and precariousness are often experienced, you are sent to live the sweet joy of evangelizing. This word is used by Saint Paul VI in his Evangelii nuntiandi. Evangelizing is the mission of the Church, evangelizing is the joy of the Church. Incidentally: take Evangelii nuntiandi, which is still in force today, and will give you many, many ideas for reflection and mission. I thank the Lord with you for this great gift of evangelization.
May Our Lady, our Lady of Africa, accompany you and protect you. I pray for you, I give you my blessing; bring it also to the brothers and faithful of your communities. And please don't forget to pray for me. Thank you!