06/01/2018, 17.58
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For Pope, the whole Church needs a ‘missionary conversion’

The Pontifical Missionary Societies need to renew themselves ahead of the Extraordinary Missionary Month set for October 2019. “It is not simply a matter of rethinking the motivations to do better what you already do. The missionary conversion of Church structures requires personal holiness and spiritual creativity, so as not to only renew the old but to allow the Holy Spirit to create the new.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Church must undergo a “missionary conversion” so that “we [. . . redevelop ourselves starting from the mission of Jesus” and achieve an “authentic, creative and effective” renewal of the Pontifical Missionary Societies (POM), said Pope Francis in his address to the POM's national directors with a view to the Extraordinary Missionary Month set for October 2019.

“Things must always be renewed: renew the heart, renew the works, renew organisations, because otherwise, we would all end up in a museum. We must be renewed so as not to end up in the museum. You are well aware of my concern of the danger that your work will be reduced to the mere monetary dimension of material aid – that is a real concern – turning you into an agency like many others, albeit one of Christian inspiration.”

For the pontiff, “This common goal can and must help the Pontifical Mission Societies to live a communion of spirit, reciprocal collaboration, and mutual support. If renewal is to be authentic, creative and effective, reforming your Societies will consist of re-foundation and redevelopment in accordance with the needs of the Gospel. It is not simply a matter of rethinking the motivations to do better what you already do. The missionary conversion of Church structures (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 27) requires personal holiness and spiritual creativity, so as not to only renew the old but to allow the Holy Spirit to create the new. Not us: The Holy Spirit. Make room for the Holy Spirit, let the Holy Spirit create the new, make all things new (see Psalm 104: 30; Mt 9: 17, 2; Pt 3: 13; Rev 21: 5). He is the protagonist of the mission: He is the ‘office manager’ of the Pontifical Mission Societies. It is He, not us. Fear not the novelty that comes from the Crucified and Risen Lord: These changes are beautiful. Fear other novelties: these don’t work! Those that do not come from over there. Be bold and courageous in the mission, working with the Holy Spirit, always in communion with Christ’s Church (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 131). Such boldness means going out with courage, with the fervour of the first ones who proclaimed the Gospel. Your usual book of prayer and meditation is the Acts of the Apostles. Go there to find inspiration. And the protagonist of that book is the Holy Spirit.”

Preparing the Extraordinary Missionary Month “simply means a missionary conversion”, i.e.  ‘Baptised and sent out: The Church of Christ on a mission in the world’. This is the theme we have chosen for the Missionary Month of October 2019. It emphasises that being sent on mission is a call inherent in Baptism and is for every baptised. Thus, the mission is sending salvation that performs conversion of the envoy and the recipient: Our life is, in Christ, a mission! We ourselves are mission because we are God’s communicated love, we are God’s holiness created in His image. The mission is, therefore, our own sanctification and that of the whole world, ever since creation (cf. Eph 1: 3-6). The missionary dimension of our Baptism thus translates into a testimony of holiness that gives life and beauty to the world.

“Renewing the Pontifical Mission Societies means, therefore, to take to heart, with serious and courageous commitment, the sanctity of each person and of the Church as a family and a community. Let me ask you to renew with creativity the nature and action of the Pontifical Mission Societies, placing them at the service of the mission, so that the holiness of the life of missionary disciples may be at the heart of our concerns. Indeed, in order to collaborate in the world’s salvation, we need to love it (cf. Jn 3:16) and to be willing to give life by serving Christ, the only Saviour of the world. We do not have a product to sell – it has nothing to do with proselytism, we do not have a product to sell – but a life to communicate: God, His divine life, His merciful love, His holiness! And it is the Holy Spirit who sends us, accompanies us, inspires us: He is the author of mission. It is He who brings forward the Church, not us. Not even the institution of the Pontifical Mission Societies. Do I leave it to Him – we can ask ourselves – do I leave him to be the protagonist? Or do I want to tame it, cage it, in the many worldly structures that, in the end, lead us to conceive the Pontifical Mission Societies as a company, as a business, a thing of our own, but with God’s blessing? No, this is not right. We have to ask ourselves this question: Do I leave it to Him or cage it cage? He, the Holy Spirit, does everything; we are merely His servants.

“As you well know, in October 2019, during the Extraordinary Missionary Month, we will hold the Synod for Amazonia. Welcoming the concerns of many faithful, laity and pastors, I wanted to meet to pray and reflect on the challenges of evangelisation of these South American lands where important particular Churches live. I feel that this coincidence will helps us focus our gaze on Jesus Christ in dealing with problems, challenges, wealth, and poverty; it will help us to renew our commitment to serving the Gospel for the salvation of the men and women who live in those lands. Let us pray that the Synod for the Amazonia may evangelically renew the mission in this region of the world that is so tried, unjustly exploited and in need of the salvation of Jesus.”

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