VATICAN - The expectations of the missionary world at the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council

Tuesday, 11 October 2022 ii vatican council   missionary animation   local churches   missionaries  

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "One of the main fruits that everyone expects from the Council is a more massive participation of the entire Catholic world in the work of the missions. Until now, the shortage of missionaries has prevented a more abundant harvest. No one expects miraculous solutions, but if the clergy, bishops and priests of Christian countries were invited to spread a missionary spirit with greater zeal, perhaps more vocations would arise to give new energy to the missionary Church. If our Christianity were educated in the future to a more clearly apostolic sense, not only in families, but also in dioceses and religious institutes, new heralds of the Gospel could be recruited". This is what Fides Agency wrote on October 10, 1962. Commenting on the missionary intention in the language of the time, it identified the expectations of the missionary world in the face of this historic ecclesial event.
In addition, "another contribution from the Council to the holy cause of the missions is expected - continued Fides -. According to the words of the Supreme Pontiff, the first and immediate purpose of the Council is to present the Church to the world in her perennial vigor of life and truth and with her legislation updated to the current circumstances. These vows refer especially to the mission territories, where the climate and temperament and customs of the people differ so much from other Christian environments. You can be sure, therefore, that this Council will give rise to the norms and guidelines that will allow a real and practical application of the principles of adaptation, so that the Church can be presented in a way that is neither foreign nor unrelated to those particular elements, but with jealous piety and understandable pride, guarded by each people and considered as a private heritage".
Fides pointed out a peculiarity of the Council: for the first time in the history of the Church, "some 600 bishops of the mission territories" gathered "around the Vicar of Christ and in immediate contact with the Bishops of Christianity from other territories where the largest number of Catholics live". "In the countries that the new Apostles represent at the Council, there are a few million Catholics and more than a third of the world population, which today has exceeded three billion. The presence of the missionary bishops in the conciliar assemblies shows the whole world, already Catholic for centuries, and especially its pastors, this tragic situation, thus putting the entire episcopate in immediate contact with the problems of the universal Church".
In its summary of the "Missionary Year 1961-1962", published in the edition of August 4, 1962, Fides pointed out the important number of new bishops appointed in the mission territories. "From September 1961 to the end of July 1962, the Holy Father elevated 40 priests to the Episcopate for the territories of the S.C. 'De Propaganda Fide'. Of these, 11 are African, 18 European, 6 Asian, 3 American and 2 from Oceania. According to the positions they occupy, they are distributed as follows: 5 residential archbishops, 24 residential bishops, 2 coadjutors, 7 auxiliaries and 2 apostolic vicars. The territories - dioceses or vicariates - at the head of which the aforementioned prelates have been placed, are 23 in Africa, 11 in Asia, 4 in Oceania, 1 in Europe and 1 in South America. The titulars appointed this year for the 10 vacant metropolitan sees located in the territories of the S.C. 'de Propaganda Fide' are 6 Africans, 2 Asians, 1 American (USA) and 1 French".
On the occasion of World Mission Sunday 1962, celebrated Sunday, October 21, a few days after the opening of the Council, Archbishop Pietro Sigismondi, Secretary of the S.C. de Propaganda Fide and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, published a message, reported by Fides on August 22, 1962, which said, among other things: "World Mission Day, destined to stimulate the fervor and generosity of Catholics to provide assistance of all kinds to the work of the missionaries, this year coincides with an event of historical importance, around which gravitate universal attention and interest: the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. That same year, May 3 marked the fortieth anniversary of the promulgation of Pius XI's Motu Proprio 'Romanorum Pontificum', which is like the Magna Carta of missionary cooperation organized and centered on the Pontifical Societies for the Propagation of the Faith, of St. Peter Apostle for the indigenous clergy, of the Holy Childhood and of the Missionary Union of the clergy".
While waiting the Ecumenical Council, Archbishop Sigismondi continued, "the missionary horizon is colored with new hopes. In fact, according to the Holy Father, it is an event whose luminous irradiation in the world promises to be full of joy and promises for the apostolate in the Missions; It is to be hoped that the faithful will find in the next solemn ecumenical assembly, a greater impulse and encouragement to dedicate themselves to the expansion of the Catholic faith. (...)
That is why, while in Rome, mother and teacher of all peoples, in the greatest temple of Christianity, bishops from all over the globe are gathered, men of all colors, white, black and yellow, who speak all languages, but united in the universal Latin language, brothers in Christ and in the episcopate, members of the same Episcopal College, forming one under the infallible guide of the Successor of Peter, will offer the grandiose and moving vision of catholicity and unity of the Church, the faithful from all the world, on the annual missionary day, moved by an irrepressible emotion of joy, enthusiasm, admiration and generosity, with renewed apostolic zeal, will raise prayers of supplication to the Lord of the harvest and offer the gift of charity". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 11/10/2022)