Europe becoming a “mission territory” says Vatican cardinal

Europe becoming a "mission territory"

The head of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of People, and one of Asia’s most important Church figures says Europe is becoming a “mission territory.”

On Thursday, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said, “We are really concerned, not only for Europe but for all the world, regarding evangelization.”

Speaking with reporters during the presentation of World Mission Sunday, the prelate admitted that he’s not an “expert” when it comes to the Church in Europe. So, he chose instead to speak more about his home continent.

“Asia is a world of mission, and now they say that Europe is also becoming a mission territory,” he said.

“Our experience in Asia is that, though the Holy Spirit is always the major agent in evangelization, we also need living witnesses. Those who through their witness of life, quality of relationship, compassion for the poor, give a living announcement of the Gospel.”

Cardinal Tagle’s comments have been confirmed in the latest Vatican census that shows Catholicism is growing in Africa, Asia and the America’s, but is declining in Europe.

The number of Catholics in the world grew by more than 15 million from 2018 to 2019, according to a census by the Vatican news agency Fides published on 21 Oct.

“The increase applies to all continents, except Europe,” which saw the number of Catholic faithful decrease by almost 300,000, the survey found.

The Fides data accounts for all Catholics until 31 Dec, 2019. Given the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent church closures and deaths, experts at a Vatican news conference on Thursday admitted the numbers may have changed substantially during 2020.

The theme chosen for the 2021 celebration of the World Mission Sunday is taken from the Acts of the Apostles: “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard.”

Speaking at the news conference, Cardinal Tagle encouraged the faithful to become “missionaries fueled by compassion and hope.”

Mentioning his experience living in Asia, where Catholics represent a minority of the population, the cardinal warned that “if we keep the faith to ourselves, we will become weak. If we keep the faith to a small group, it might become an elite group.”

Instead, he continued, Christians and missionaries are called “to reach all the nations, the geographical and existential spaces.”


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