In a letter to the president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, Francis calls on the school that trains the Vatican’s diplomatic staff to add a year of missionary work. For the pontiff, “the missionary experience we wish to promote will be useful not only to the young students but also to the individual Churches with whom they will work.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has sent a letter to Mgr Joseph Marino, the President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the Vatican’s diplomatic service school, saying that future Vatican diplomats should undertake a one-year missionary experience in a diocese other than their own.
In the letter, dated 11 February, Francis writes: “I expressed the desire that priests, who are preparing for the Holy See’s diplomatic service, train for a year doing missionary work in a [different] diocese. [. . .] I am convinced that such an experience will be useful to all young men training for or starting priestly service. This is especially true for those who will be called in the future to work with pontifical representatives and, later, be sent by the Holy See to the nations and individual Churches.”
Citing his own speech to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, Francis adds that “The mission that you will be called to carry out one day will take you to all parts of the world: to a Europe that needs to awaken; to an Africa thirsty for reconciliation; to a Latin America hungry for nourishment and interiority; to a North America seeking to rediscover the roots of an identity that is not defined through exclusion; to Asia and Oceania, challenged by the capacity to stir in the diaspora and engage in dialogue with its many ancestral cultures.”
The letter goes on to say that “To positively address these growing challenges for the Church and the world, it is also necessary that future Holy See diplomats acquire – beyond a solid priestly and pastoral education, as well as the one specifically offered by this Academy – a personal missionary experience outside their native dioceses, walking together with the missionary Churches and their communities, [as well as] taking part in their daily activity of evangelisation.”
The Pope wants to see a richer “academic curriculum” that includes “a year dedicated entirely to the missionary service in individual Churches around the world. Such a new experience will start with the new [cohort of] students who will start their education in the coming Academic Year 2020/2021.
“To work on this project with greater depth and to start it well, it is necessary first of all to work closely with the Secretariat of State, most notably with the Holy See’s Section for Diplomatic Staff (the third section), as well as with the [Office of the Delegate for] Pontifical Representations, who certainly will not fail to give proper help in choosing individual Churches that are ready to take on students and closely monitor their experience.”
“I am certain that – by overcoming initial concerns that might arise from this new style of training future Holy See diplomats – the missionary experience we wish to promote will be useful not only to the young students but also to the individual Churches with whom they will work. I hope that this will awaken in other priests of the universal Church the desire to make themselves available for a period of missionary service outside their own diocese.”