Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – On Saturday, June 4, the Holy Father received in audience the participants at the Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies, to whom he addressed the following speech:
Your Eminence, Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, dear brothers and sisters,
We welcome all of you, National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies and collaborators of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. I thank Cardinal Fernando Filoni for the words addressed to me, and all of you for your valuable service to the Church's mission which is to bring the Gospel "to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
This year our meeting is taking place in the centenary of the founding of the Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU). The work is inspired by the Blessed Paolo Manna, a missionary priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. Backed by St. Guido Maria Conforti, it was approved by Pope Benedict XV October 31, 1916; and forty years later the Venerable Pius XII qualified it as "Pontifical". Through the intuition of Blessed Paolo Manna and the mediation of the Apostolic See, the Holy Spirit has led the Church to have a greater awareness of her missionary nature, then brought to fruition by the Second Vatican Council.
Blessed Paolo Manna understood very well that forming and educating IN the mystery of the Church and its inherent missionary vocation is a purpose that concerns the entire holy People of God, in various states of life and ministries. "Of the tasks Missionary Union some are of a cultural nature, more of a spiritual nature, others finally, practical and organizational. The Missionary Union has the duty to enlighten, to inflame, to act organizing the priests, and for them all the faithful for the missions”, as the founder of the Pontifical Missionary Union expressed himself in 1936 in his historic speech, made at the second International PMU Congress.
However, forming bishops and priests for mission did not mean reducing the Pontifical Missionary Union to a simply clerical reality, but supporting the hierarchy in its service to the missionary nature of the Church, which is proper to everyone, in their own way: the faithful and pastors, married and consecrated virgins, the universal Church and Churches details. By implementing this service with their own charity, Pastors maintain the Church always and everywhere in a state of mission, which is always ultimately the work of God, and belongs, through Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, to all believers.
Dear National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies, mission makes the Church and keeps her faithful to the salvific will of God. For this reason, while it is important to worry about the collection and distribution of economic aid that is diligently administered in favor of the many churches and many needy Christians, a service for which I thank you, I urge you to not just limit yourself to that. Mystique is necessary. We need to grow in evangelical passion. I fear - I confess - that your work remains very organizational, organized perfectly, but lacking passion. This it can also make an NGO, but you are not an NGO! Your Union without passion is not needed; without the "mystical" element it is not needed. And if we have to sacrifice something, let us sacrifice the organization, and move forward with the mystique of the Saints.
Today, your missionary Union needs this: the mystique of Saints and Martyrs. And this is the generous work of ongoing formation in the mission that you have to do; which is not only an intellectual course, but inserted within this wave of missionary passion, the witness of martyrs. The recently founded Churches, served by you for their missionary formation, can transmit to the already established Churches, sometimes burdened by their history and a little 'tired, the ardor of young faith, the witness of Christian hope, sustained by the admirable courage of martyrdom. I encourage you to serve with great love the Churches in which, thanks to their martyrs, we witness how the Gospel makes us participants in the life of God, and how they do this by attraction and not by proselytizing.
In this Holy Year of Mercy, the missionary zeal that consumed the Blessed Paolo Manna, and from which sprang the Pontifical Missionary Union, still continues today to inflame, excite, renew, rethink and reform the service that this work is called to offer to the whole Church. Your Union must not be the same next year as this year it has to change in this direction, it must convert with this missionary passion.
While we thank the Lord for his one hundred years, I hope that the passion for God and for the mission of the Church lead the Pontifical Missionary Union to also rethink its docility to the Holy Spirit for a proper reform of its methods - appropriate reform, that is conversion and reform - and implementation of an authentic renewal for the sake of ongoing formation in the mission of all the Churches. To the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Missions, to the saints Peter and Paul, to St. Guido Maria Conforti and Blessed Paolo Manna we entrust your service with gratitude. I cordially bless you and ask you to please pray for me, so I do not slip into a "blissful tranquility"; so I always have the missionary zeal to move forward.
And now let us pray the Angelus together. (Agenzia Fides 06/06/2016)