EUROPE/SPAIN - Cardinal Filoni in Burgos: "Can we say that the people of God today are missionary people?"

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Burgos (Agenzia Fides) - "The celebration of the most beautiful and dreamed of conciliar Decree, and of all the Council as a whole, is to be able to note that the Decree has aged as a written document, but is still alive because is welcomed and normally implemented in the ecclesial experience. Can we apply this to the 'Ad Gentes' Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, in practice?". This question was the starting point of the inaugural conference of the 68th Week of Missiology in Burgos, held by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The Week, which opened yesterday afternoon, July 6, and will end on Thursday 9 July, will be held at the Faculty of Theology of Burgos, and this year's theme is "Meaning and challenges of the mission today. 50 years after the Ad Gentes Decree".
In his extensive report on "The Ad Gentes Decree: a theological and pastoral vision of the mission", Cardinal Filoni emphasized above all that we are not celebrating an anniversary of something significant of the past, this does not happen for "the Vatican II, because it is a live event, which has not finished". After highlighting the missionary definition of the Church given by the Decree, expressed through principles and theological definitions of great importance, the Prefect of the Congregation stressed how in our times it is "clear that the definition of the Missionary Church has been assumed in all the official documents of the magisterium", but wondered:"can we say that the people of God today are missionary people?".
Cardinal Filoni then stressed: "There is no doubt that the missionary nature has occupied the pastoral reflection of numerous Episcopal Conferences, with different results ... Other bishoprics are now trying to get out of the long missionary hibernation in which they have lived for centuries. Perhaps for this reason, Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium, centered his speech on the conversion to mission on pastors: if they do not change, it will be very difficult for the people of God to become aware of it". To reach the image of "a Church in a mission state, of a whole missionary Church", the road is still long, but "there is no doubt that in the post-conciliar era little was done to reach it. The missionary Church continues to belong to the missionaries ad gentes and inter gentes", said the Cardinal.
Focusing on the development of the missionary nature, he recalled: "A clear evidence of a new missionary consciousness is found in the concrete field of missionary activity, in the missionary nature of the Christian community. It is an act where everyone has something to give and something to receive, both within churches, and to bring the Gospel to non-Christians. Therefore, both the internal mission, and the mission ad gentes have global dimensions, of the whole Church throughout the world".
In the last part of his speech, the Cardinal spoke of missionary cooperation: "the result of missionary consciousness is not confined to individual participation in the variety of missionary actions; it is an involvement of the entire People. We always talk about the subject that cooperates by donating; he is the protagonist because he is donor. On the other side we find he who receives and is never seen as a cooperator. He who gives cooperates, he who receives is a mere passive subject. However, this does not show a genuine communal Christian structure. In this, all give and all receive".
In his conclusions Cardinal Filoni said among other things: "From the publication of the Ad Gentes Decree to the Exhortation Evengelii gaudium, half a century has gone by, in which the Church's missionary activity has not stopped. In reality, the Church cannot do anything else if not proclaim the Good News. However, the solemn conciliar proclamation on the nature of the missionary Church has not yet been welcomed in its fullness by all the People of God". (SL) (Agenzia Fides 07/07/2015)