“I dream of a ‘missionary option,’ that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”—Pope Francis
In Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis laid out a vision for the missionary reform of the church. Mission, in his view, is not just something extra that the church does on the frontiers. It is the church’s very life and reason for being. For that reason, all renewal and reform must be vitally related to the cause of mission—a challenge not just for Rome, but for all Christians.
Drawn from Francis’s speeches, homilies, and other writings, “Go Forth” makes it clear that the missionary reform of the church is the integrating theme of his papacy. Simply put, Pope Francis is a missionary pope who is calling the church to follow its true missionary calling.
William P. Gregory is an associate professor of religious studies at Clarke University, Dubuque, IA. A past president of the Association of Professors of Mission (APM), he serves on the board of Missiology.