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All About Mary

Magisterial Documents: Redemptoris Missio

John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, Encyclical on the Permanent Validity of the Church's Missionary Mandate
December 7, 1990
The full document is available on the internet.

Brief Introduction

The encyclical commemorates the twenty-fifth anniversary of Vatican II’s Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, Ad gentes. John Paul II stressed "the urgency of missionary activity" and invited "the Church to renew her missionary commitment."

The encyclical differentiates three areas of evangelization (33-34):

  • Missio ad gentes, directed to people who do not yet believe in Christ
  • Re-evangelization, aimed at rekindling Christian faith
  • Pastoral care, the deeper insertion of the gospel in the hearts and minds of faithful Christians

Marian Aspects

Just as the nascent church gathered around the Blessed Virgin Mary in the cenacle, so Christians of the third millennium, the church as a whole, need to recognize in the Mother of Jesus Christ the one who is both model and nurturer of each Christian and of the church. Missionary in particular, are encouraged to minister under Mary’s protection. 

Core Marian Passages

92 Like the apostles after Christ's Ascension, the Church must gather in the Upper Room "together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus" (Acts 1:14), in order to pray for the Spirit and to gain strength and courage to carry out the missionary mandate. We too, like the apostles, need to be transformed and guided by the Spirit.

On the eve of the third millennium the whole Church is invited to live more intensely the mystery of Christ by gratefully cooperating in the work of salvation. The Church does this together with Mary and following the example of Mary, the Church's Mother and model: Mary is the model of that maternal love which should inspire all who cooperate in the Church's apostolic mission for the rebirth of humanity. Therefore, "strengthened by the presence of Christ, the Church journeys through time toward the consummation of the ages and goes to meet the Lord who comes. But on this journey ...she proceeds along the path already trodden by the Virgin Mary."

To "Mary's mediation, wholly oriented toward Christ and tending to the revelation of his salvific power," I entrust the Church and, in particular, those who commit themselves to carrying out the missionary mandate in today's world. As Christ sent forth his apostles in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, so too, renewing that same mandate, I extend to all of you my apostolic blessing, in the name of the same Most Holy Trinity. Amen.


Introduction (1-3)

Chapter I:  Jesus Christ, the Only Savior (4-11)
No one comes to the Father, but by me" (Jn 14:6) (5-6)
Faith in Christ Is Directed to Man's Freedom (7-8)
The Church As Sign and Instrument of Salvation (9)
Salvation in Christ Is Offered to All (10)
"We cannot but speak" (Acts 4:20) (11)

Chapter II: The Kingdom of God (12-20)
Christ Makes the Kingdom Present (13)
Characteristics of the Kingdom and Its Demands (14-15)
In the Risen Christ God's Kingdom Is Fulfilled and Proclaimed (16)
The Kingdom in Relation to Christ and the Church (17-19)
The Church at the Service of the Kingdom (20)

Chapter III: The Holy Spirit, the Principal Agent of Mission (21-30)
Sent Forth "to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8) (22-23)
The Spirit Directs the Church's Mission (24-25)
The Holy Spirit Makes the Whole Church Missionary (26-27)
The Spirit Is Present and Active in Every Time and Place (28-29)
Missionary Activity Is Only Beginning (30)

Chapter IV: The Vast Horizons of the Mission Ad Gentes (31-40)
A Complex and Ever-Changing Religious Picture (32)
Mission Ad Gentes Retains Its Value (33-34)
To All Peoples, In Spite of Difficulties (35-36)
Parameters of the Church's Mission Ad Gentes (37-38)
Fidelity to Christ and the Promotion of Human Freedom (39)
Directing Attention Toward the South and the East (40)

Chapter V: The Paths of Mission (41-60)
The First Form of Evangelization Is Witness (42-43)
The Initial Proclamation of Christ the Savior (44-45)
Conversion and Baptism (46-47)
Forming Local Churches (48-50)
"Ecclesial Basic Communities" As a Force for Evangelization (51)
Incarnating the Gospel in Peoples' Culture (52-54)
Dialogue with Our Brothers and Sisters of Other Religions (55-57)
Promoting Development by Forming Consciences (58-59)
Charity: Source and Criterion of Mission (60)

Chapter VI: Leaders and Workers in the Missionary Apostolate (61-76)
Those Primarily Responsible for Missionary Activity (63-64)
Missionaries and Religious Institutes Ad Gentes (65-66)
Diocesan Priests for the Universal Mission (67-68)
The Missionary Fruitfulness of Consecrated Life (69-70)
All the Laity Are Missionaries by baptism (71-72)
The Work of Catechists and the Variety of Ministries (73-74)
The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Other Structures for Missionary Activity (75-76)

Chapter VII: Cooperation in Missionary Activity (77-86)
Prayer and Sacrifice for Missionaries (78)
Here I am, Lord! I am ready! Send me!" (cf. Is 6:8) (79-80)
It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35) (81)
New Forms of Missionary Cooperation (82)
Missionary Promotion and Formation Among the People of God (83)
The Primary Responsibility of the Pontifical Mission Societies (84)
Not Only Giving to the Missions But Receiving From Them As Well (85)
God Is Preparing a New Springtime for the Gospel (86)

Chapter VIII: Missionary Spirituality (87-91)
Being Led by the Spirit (87)
Living the Mystery of Christ, "the One who was sent" (88)
Loving the Church and Humanity As Jesus Did (89)
The True Missionary Is the Saint (90-91)

Conclusion (92)

© This material has been compiled by Danielle M. Peters, S.T.D.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.
Most recently updated in 2019.

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