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226

Part One

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

his resurrection.”

346

So it is that “the blood of martyrs is the seed

of Christians.”

347

853

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.”

348

Only by taking

the “way of penance and renewal,” the “narrow way of the cross,” can the

People of God extend Christ’s reign.

349

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

men.”

350

854

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.”

351

Missionary endeavor

requires

patience.

It begins with the proclamation of the Gospel to peoples

and groups who do not yet believe in Christ,

352

continues with the

establishment of Christian communities that are “a sign of God’s presence

in the world,”

353

and leads to the foundation of local churches.

354

It must

involve a process of inculturation if the Gospel is to take flesh in each

people’s culture.

355

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-

lic.”

356

855

The Church’s mission stimulates efforts

towards Christian

unity.

357

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.”

358

346

AG

5.

347 Tertullian,

Apol.

50, 13: PL 1, 603.

348

GS

43 § 6.

349

LG

8 § 3; 15;

AG

1 § 3; cf.

RMiss

12-20.

350

LG

8 § 3.

351

GS

40 § 2.

352 Cf.

RMiss

42-47.

353

AG

15 § 1.

354 Cf.

RMiss

48-49.

355 Cf.

RMiss

52-54.

356

AG

6 § 2.

357 Cf.

RMiss

50.

358

UR

4 § 8.

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