Pope Francis greets participants in the General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies Pope Francis greets participants in the General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope to Mission Societies: Mission is about preaching Christ, not distributing money

Pope Francis receives in audience the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) gathered near Rome for their Annual General Assembly, and invites them to continue the work of Jesus to bring God’s infinite love and mercy to all, while fostering the missionary spirit among all the people of God.

By Lisa Zengarini

Addressing the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) on Saturday, Pope Francis encouraged them to continue to bring  the mercy and compassion flowing from Jesus’ Heart to everyone, remembering that “the Christian community is missionary by its very nature”.

“In fact”, he said “every Christian has received the gift of the Holy Spirit and is sent forth to continue the work of Jesus, announcing the joy of the Gospel to all and bringing his consolation to the various situations of our often wounded history.”

Every apostolic mission is born from the Heart of Christ

The Pope first invited them to reflect on the charism and mission of the Mission Societies by contemplating Jesus’ merciful and compassionate Heart, which inspired Blessed Pauline Marie Jaricot, the foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.   

By doing so, he said, “we discover the greatness of God's plan for humanity” and "the infinite measure of His love”. Jesus shows us this love “in His compassion for those who are wounded, in His concern when faced with suffering, in the mercy with which He anoints sinners, in His sacrifice for the sins of the world.”

The “heart” of the evangelical mission of the Church is, therefore, “to reach all through the gift of God’s infinite love, to seek all, to welcome all, to offer our lives for all, excluding no one.”

“Every mission of ours, then, is born from the heart of Christ in order that he may draw all to Himself. This was the mystical and missionary spirit of Blessed Pauline Marie Jaricot, the foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, who was very devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

Fostering the missionary spirit among all the People of God

Given this premise, Pope Francis reiterated that the vocation of the Pontifical Mission Societies is to be “instruments for promoting responsibility for the missions on the part of all the baptized", as expressed in his Apostolic Constitution “Praedicate Evangelium” reforming the Roman Curia.

He recalled that they are not “a mere agency for the distribution of funds for those in need of help”, but a reality called to support the “mission of evangelization in the Church fostering the missionary spirit among the people of God.”

The Pope therefore urged the PMS to intensify, "with the boldness and creativity of the Holy Spirit,” their missionary efforts  not only in the newly evangelized countries, but also in those of ancient Christian tradition “marked by a serious crisis of faith”.

Mission is not about money, but about spirituality

He remarked, that while they may need financial resources, money must not become the be-all and end-all of their missionary work: “If it becomes a business, corruption takes over,” he warned, speaking off-the-cuff.

Looking to the future, Pope Francis expressed the dream of “an ever-closer and more coordinated missionary cooperation among all members of the Church,” as called a century ago by Father Paolo Manna, the founder of the Pontifical Missionary Union of the Clergy.

Achieving this goal, said the Pope, requires “a particular aptitude for cultivating communion and fraternity”, and is also “realized through the structures established in all Episcopal Conferences and Dioceses for the good of the entire people of God.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis thanked the members of the Pontifical Mission Societies for their generous service, which is “often performed behind the scenes and amid many difficulties.”

“I wish you always to burn with apostolic zeal and to be animated by a passion for evangelization.”


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03 June 2023, 12:16