Pontifical Missionary Societies: opening up to geographic and human boundaries
Vatican City, 5 June 2015 (VIS) – Missionary activity is the paradigm of all the work of the Church, said Pope Francis to the participants in the general assembly of the Pontifical Missionary Societies (PMS), and reiterated that the announcement of the Gospel is “the first and constant concern of the Church, her essential task, her greatest challenge, and the source of her renewal. … Without the restlessness and anxiety of evangelisation it is not possible to develop a credible and effective pastoral ministry uniting proclamation and human promotion”.
Therefore, the members of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the national directors of the PMS have the difficult task of opening up to “the broad and universal horizons of humanity, its geographical and above all human boundaries”, accompanying the life of the young Churches throughout the world and encouraging the People of God to fully live the universal mission. “You know the wonders that the Holy Spirit works for humanity through these Churches, often with scarce resources and even through the difficulties and persecutions they suffer for their faith and their witness to the Word of God and in defence of humanity. In those human peripheries the Church is required to go into the streets, towards the many brothers and sisters of ours who live without the strength, light and consolation of Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to welcome them, without horizons of meaning and of life”.
The Pope emphasised that the PMS, on account of their characteristic charism, are attentive and sensitive to the needs of mission territories and, in particular, the poorest human groups. “They are instruments of communion between Churches, promoting and implementing the sharing of people and economic resources. They are committed to supporting seminarians, presbyters and women religious of the young Churches in mission territories in the Pontifical Colleges. Faced with such a beautiful and important task, faith and love of Christ have the capacity to lead us everywhere to announce the Gospel of love, fraternity and justice. This is achieved through prayer, evangelical courage and the witness of the beatitudes”.
However, he warned, “be careful not to give in to the temptation to become a non-governmental organisation, an office for the distribution of ordinary and extraordinary aid. Money helps but can also become the ruin of the Mission. Functionalism, when it is placed in the centre or occupies a major space, as if it were the most important issue, will lead you to ruin, as the first way to die is to take the 'sources' for granted – that is, He Who inspires the Mission. Please, with all your plans and programmes, do not cut Jesus Christ out of missionary work, which is His work. A Church that is reduced to pursuing efficiency of the party apparatus at all costs is already dead, even though the structures and programmes in favour of the clergy and 'self-employed' laity could last for centuries”.
“True evangelisation is not possible without the sanctifying energy of the Holy Spirit, the only one able to renew, revive and give impetus to the Church in her bold outreach to evangelise all peoples”, concluded the Pope.