The proposal, made by Propaganda Fide, coincides with the 100th anniversary of Benedict XV's Maximum Illud on the universal missionary activity of the Church. The pope suggests using the Blessed Paul VI’s Evangelii nuntiandi, the “magna carta of the post-Conciliar missionary effort.” He also expressed concerns that missionary works not be “reduced to an organization that collects and distributes, on behalf of the Pope, economic aid for the neediest Churches.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – This morning, Pope Francis received in audience in the Clementine Hall, Vatican, the participants in the Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies. In his address, the Holy Father said that, following a suggestion from the Congregation for the evangelisation of peoples, October 2019 will be “The extraordinary month of prayer and reflection on the mission”.
Such an event, which will provide an opportunity “to renew ardour and passion, the spiritual motor of the apostolic action of countless missionary saints and martyrs”, also coincides with the centenary of Maximum Illud, the Apostolic Letter issued by Benedict XV on 30 November 1919 on the missionary activity of the Church. In it, the pope set out the guidelines of the Church’s, increasingly independent of the colonialist past, through the localisation of the clergy and episcopate engaged its universal mission.
“In this very important document of his Magisterium on the mission, the Pope recalls how necessary the holiness of life is to the efficacy of the apostolate, he recommends, therefore, an ever-stronger union with Christ and a more convinced and joyful involvement in his divine passion for announcing the Gospel to all, loving and employing mercy towards everyone. Men and women, ‘distinguished by zeal and holiness’, are increasingly necessary to the Church and to the mission. ‘May he who preaches God be a man of God’, exhorted Benedict XV (cf. Apostolic Letter Maximum illud, 30 November 1919; AAS XI , 449).
Francis also expressed concerns that the Pontifical Mission Societies, which Benedict XV cites in his Letter, are far too “often reduced to an organization that collects and distributes, on behalf of the Pope, economic aid for the neediest Churches.”
For him, the living mission of the Church has to be “an ongoing opportunity to proclaim Christ, to let Him be encountered by bearing witness and making others participants in our personal encounter with Him. I hope that your spiritual and material assistance to the Church makes it increasingly based upon the Gospel and the baptismal involvement of all the faithful, lay and clerical, in the single mission of the Church: bringing God’s love to every man, especially those most in need of His mercy. The extraordinary month of prayer and reflection on the mission as first evangelization will serve for this renewal of ecclesial faith, so that the Easter of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour, Lord and bridegroom of His Church, always be and remain in her heart.”
In order to “be a Church increasingly in mission, Francis suggests heeding the words of the “Blessed Paul VI, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, magna carta of the post-Conciliar missionary effort.”
“In the spirit of the teaching of Blessed Paul VI, it is my wish that the celebration of the centenary of Maximum illud, in the month of October 2019, be a favourable time for prayer, the witness of many saints and martyrs of the mission, biblical and theological reflection, catechesis and missionary charity to contribute to evangelizing, first and foremost, the Church, so that having rediscovered the freshness and zeal of the first love for the crucified and risen Lord, she may evangelize the world with credibility and evangelical efficacy.
“I bless you all in this day before the Solemnity of Pentecost. I ask the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles and Mother of the Church, always to inspire us with the testimony of her faith and the reassuring guarantee of her motherly intercession. May the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, the holy martyrs Carlo Lwanga and his companions, and Blessed Paolo Manna never cease to pray to God for all of us, His missionaries.”