Rome (Agenzia Fides) – “The Holy Spirit and the signs of the times of the same Spirit, urge us to go beyond ecclesial distinction and separation, today out-dated, between mission lands and traditionally Christian countries, between missionary sending Churches and missionary receiving Churches. Evangelisation in its various stages, from first announcement to the most advanced in ordinary evangelising pastoral, involves all our Churches everywhere, north, south, east and west”. This was said by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples in his address to the General Annual Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies PMS which opened yesterday in Rome (see Fides 28/05/2016).
Referring to the theme of the Assembly - “Awakening mission awareness today. The PMS at the Service of Young Churches” - Cardinal Filoni said “our young Churches, to which the PMS strive always to ensure adequate mission service, represent a now indispensable source for awakening awareness of mission among all Christians”.
The General Assembly this year coincides with the centenary of the foundation of one of the four Pontifical Mission Societies, the Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU), an inspiration of PIME missionary Father Paolo Manna, today Blessed. “The PMU’s charismatic missionary intuition, still today, provides a valid source for the rethinking and radical reforming which was and still is its intrinsic goal: to help all the faithful, the whole People of God, by virtue of Baptism, to be responsible for universal mission and the Church’s ad gentes missions”.
The centenary of the PMU, besides being a prayerful pilgrimage to the tomb of Blessed Father Manna, should also mark the beginning of a process of rethinking the Pontifical Missionary Union : “we should not fear the urgent necessity to reform the Pontifical Missionary Union and thus doing give new impulse to the other three Pontifical Mission Societies” said the Cardinal, remarking that “the weakening of its nature and role are part of a concerning ecclesial cooling regarding mission and missionary formation and evangelisation as such ”. And he explained: “Churches of long Christian tradition today have difficulty arousing sufficient passion and interest for announcing the Gospel in countries and churches beyond their borders. In turn, younger Churches appear, at times, to be too preoccupied with their own administrative organisation looking excessively inwards. We all, faithful and clergy, struggling with present day cultural, economic and religious challenges, find it increasingly difficult to feel ready and strong enough to go out to existential and territorial peripheries which go far beyond the usual sociological and economic classifications.”
In this reawakening of missionary consciousness today the PMU could assume “tasks of on-going missionary formation at the service of the young Churches in their diverse instances. Bodies, at the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, whose finalities have always regarded mission formation, could serve in new ways for mission animation also in the long established Churches, thanks to the work of on-going missionary formation which the PMU, together with the other three Mission Societies, of which it is the ‘soul’, can offer the young Churches”.
Cardinal Filoni concluded with the hope that “the activity of the General Assembly may bear fruit in view of new commitment to reawakening mission awareness and consciousness today, thanks also to our service as the PMS for the young Churches”. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 31/05/2016)