continues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of
Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the Church, urged
on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself
walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacri-
fice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by
So it is that “the blood of martyrs is the seed
On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the “discrep-
ancy existing between the message she proclaims and the human weak-
ness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted.”
Only by taking
the “way of penance and renewal,” the “narrow way of the cross,” can the
People of God extend Christ’s reign.
For “just as Christ carried out the
work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the Church is called to
follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to
By her very mission, “the Church . . . travels the same journey as
all humanity and shares the same earthly lot with the world: she is to be a
leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society in its renewal by Christ
and transformation into the family of God.”
It begins with the proclamation of the Gospel to peoples
and groups who do not yet believe in Christ,
continues with the
establishment of Christian communities that are “a sign of God’s presence
in the world,”
and leads to the foundation of local churches.
involve a process of inculturation if the Gospel is to take flesh in each
There will be times of defeat. “With regard to indi
viduals, groups, and peoples it is only by degrees that [the Church] touches
and penetrates them, and so receives them into a fullness which is Catho-
The Church’s mission stimulates efforts
Indeed, “divisions among Christians prevent the Church from
realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her
sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full
communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more
difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects.”
50, 13: PL 1, 603.
43 § 6.
8 § 3; 15;
1 § 3; cf.
8 § 3.
40 § 2.
15 § 1.
6 § 2.
4 § 8.