Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "Only God sends on mission, involving us in His Son’s Pasqual mystery. Nobody receives the mission except he who, in faith, discovers himself being sent, involved in the merciful love that saves and transforms. The overcoming of the geographical distinction of Churches that send and of the Churches that receive requires, therefore, the overcoming of the inadequate distinction between pastoral action and mission". This is what Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, emphasized in his speech yesterday afternoon at the General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) being held in Rome (see Fides 26/05/2017).
The Prefect reiterated: "No Christian community is definitely established. No local Church is ever perfectly established. The Gospel is never fully announced. Our hearts will never be completely converted and saved, except in the fullness of the resurrection. Mission is therefore the heart of faith because the movement of God's Redeeming Love never ends. Every Church always needs renewal, to rejuvenate in her heart, because every son will always be in need of conversion, each daughter in need of redemption".
In the light of Pope Francis' exhortation to the Pontifical Mission Societies "to revive the ardor and passion of saints and martyrs, without whom we would be reduced to being an NGO for collecting and distributing material aids and subsidies" Cardinal Filoni proposed some considerations.
First of all "personal testimony remains crucial for the mission. If faith consists in the personal encounter with Christ, the living encounter with Christ's witnesses is crucial for the mission ... Missionary animation activity should facilitate the knowledge, encounter and vocational involvement with these witnesses of mission".
The centenary of Pope Benedict XV's "Maximum Illud" Apostolic Letter published on November 30, 1919 will be an occasion not only to commemorate this text of the Pope's Magisterium, "so crucial for the missionary nature of the whole Church, but above all to rekindle in all a true missionary conversion and an authentic pastoral discernment so that all, faithful and pastors, live in a permanent state of mission". Therefore, October 2019 will be "for the whole Church, an Extraordinary Month dedicated to prayer, charity, catechesis, and theological reflection on the Mission".
The Prefect continued: "The new ecclesial and cultural circumstances require us to rethink of the methods of action and work of the Four Pontifical Mission Societies so that the Churches are placed in a constant mission movement. It is necessary to find ways to ensure that projects and requests for economic aid can also be evaluated in their capacity to put the Churches that request and Churches that donate in a permanent state of mission".
In this context, Cardinal Filoni invited to help "Churches in our mission territories economically self-sufficient to offer part of their subsidies to support the local Churches most in need", reiterating that "the true purpose must always be the proclamation of the Gospel". He therefore exhorted to "grow in the inclusive ecclesial spirit of the only mission. The PMS in their national directorates, in their international secretariats, in their foundations, are all and together needed for the Pope's only missionary solicitude, who, as a Universal Shepherd, is interested in and cares for the Churches thanks to the help of Christians all over the world. Everyone gives so that everyone can universally receive".
While the work for the creation of a single technological digital center of information of the PMS, including Agenzia Fides, Omnis Terra magazine and the PMS Portal continues, which "must become increasingly integrated into a single, diversified digital information service", also the path of reform of the International Secretariat of the Pontifical Mission Union (PUM) and CIAM (International Center for Missionary Animation) continues "in the line of permanent formation service to the mission of the local Churches called to open their formative needs more and more to Catholic universality". "Reforming oneself in listening and collaborating with local churches, the PMU, the thinking heart of the PMS, will be able to offer a stimulus for renewal to all the other PMS", said the Cardinal, citing in particular the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood which "could rediscover, through the collaboration with the PMU, a formative service in favor and in union with the local Churches, on child-related issues such as the family, maternity and paternity, human life, education and school, young people". Following the indications of Pope Francis, particularly sensitive to the protection of children, "we must be very active, especially through the education of parents, formators, parish priests, etc". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 30/5/2017)