AMERICA/BRAZIL - Cardinal Filoni to Brazilian Bishops: The II Vatican Council and the missionary dimension of the Church

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Rio de Janeiro (Agenzia Fides) - The annual course of study for Brazilian Bishops (see Fides 03/02/2014) opened yesterday afternoon, February 3, in Rio de Janeiro. This morning, the first conference was held by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, who dealt with the theme "The Second Vatican Council and the missionary dimension of the Church".
"On 7 December 1965, the Council Fathers of the II Vatican Council promulgated the Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church 'Ad Gentes'.
In his extensive report, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization focused on explaining the foundations of mission in the light of the Council, the need "that every Particular Church must not forget its missionary and Catholic vocation", the changes brought about in theology and practice of the mission: "Often mission was largely conceived in terms of absolute religious expansion.
Speaking of the theological foundations of the "missio ad gentes", Cardinal Filoni noted among other things that "many seminaries and Catholic theological teaching centers do not offer courses on the theology of mission. There is little interest in the missio ad intra, and still less for the mission ad extra". Therefore he stressed: "We need a clear vision of God's mission in the world, of the place of dialogue, inculturation, of human development, of the promotion of 'kingdom values ', but in a clear Christological and soteriological theology".
Proposing some considerations on mission in today's multi-religious and multicultural world, the Prefect of the Congregation pointed out that "dialogue is now an integral part of the missio ad gentes.
Even in today's world of postmodernity, there are difficult situations of confrontation or clear ambiguity; this world is often impervious to the Christian faith, since it rejects transcendent experiences".
Tracing therefore future prospects, Cardinal Filoni reiterated that "a paradigm change in the world and in the Church has occurred. Culture has become a crucial element for future mission. In the same way, even human development , dialogue and service are important elements in the missio Ad Gentes". However, even taking into account these aspects, we must never forget "that mission makes no sense without Christ and without the Church". (SL) (Agenzia Fides 04/02/2014)