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Pope Francis at the general audience in the Vatican on May 23. Pope Francis at the general audience in the Vatican on May 23.  (Vatican Media)

Pope urges evangelical renewal of Church’s missionary commitment

Pope Francis on Friday met the national directors of the Pontifical Missionary Societies (PMS) who are holding their annual general assembly, May 28 – June 2, just outside Rome.

By Robin Gomes

Pope Francis on Friday called for the renewal of the Church’s missionary commitment which he said consists in growth in personal holiness and spiritual creativity in openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. 

Pope Francis made the remark during an encounter with the national directors of the four Pontifical Missionary Societies (PMS) who are holding their annual general assembly, May 28 – June 2.

The PMS include the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, the Holy Childhood Association and the Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU) of Priests and Religious, and operate under the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. 

Evangelical missionary renewal

His talk to the group focused on the preparation for the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October, 2019, which he said should be a great opportunity to renew the missionary commitment throughout the Church. 

The theme of the Extraordinary Missionary Month is “Baptized and sent: the Church of Christ on Mission in the World.

Expressing concern that the work of the PMS could risk being “reduced to the merely financial aspect of material assistance,” turning them into “agencies like any others,”  the Pope called for a missionary conversion of the structures of the Church through  personal holiness and spiritual creativity. 

Holy Spirit – author and protagonist of mission

He said it is not merely about renewing the old, but about letting the Holy Spirit, create newness, making all things new.

Proselytism has nothing to do with mission, the Pope said.  We do not have a product to sell but a life to communicate - that of  God, his divine life, his merciful love, his holiness!  

It is the Holy spirit, not the PMS, who is the protagonist and author of mission who carries the Church forward.  Hence , the Pope said, it is wrong that we try to tame Him by putting Him into the many worldly structures which ultimately will lead us to think that the PMS are an enterprise, a business, something ours with the blessing of God. 

Synod on Amazon

Recalling that the Synod for the Amazon will be held during Extraordinary Missionary Month of October, Pope Francis urged prayers that the Synod help in proving a more evangelical approach to missionary work in this area of the world which he said “so troubled, so unjustly exploited and so much in need of the salvation of Jesus Christ.”

01 June 2018, 14:14