VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Cardinal Josef Tomko, the prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization, has published a new book on the vital role of missionary work in the life of the Church.

      In his book, The Mission Toward the Year 2000, the cardinal underlines the fact that the Church has, from her inception, been involved in missionary work. This work is not a supplement to the ordinary life of the Church, he insists, but an intrinsic aspect of Christian existence. "The Church was born missionary," he writes.

      Cardinal Tomko points to the continent of Asia as the greatest challenge for missionaries today, since that continent is home to 85 percent of the world's non-Christian population. Latin America poses a different problem, he notes, because although the culture is overwhelmingly Catholic, many people still do not know Christ. In Europe, he stressed the need for a "new evangelization" in the very cradle of Christian culture.

      Africa is a particularly interesting continent today, the cardinal mentioned in an interview with the Italian daily Avvenire. He said that the high point of the Pope's recent trip to Nigeria was the beatification of Blessed Michael Tansi, who now serves as a model for African priests. Africa has shown a dramatic increase in the number of priestly and religious vocations in recent years, he observed, and inevitably these priests and religious will become missionaries to other countries on other continents.

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April 6, 1998 volume 9, no. 68         DAILY CATHOLIC