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Faced with news reports which, for some time now, have been circulating with regards the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (formerly known as "De Propaganda Fide"), it has been deemed necessary to recall some objective facts to protect the reputation of this important body of the Holy See and the Catholic Church.
The Congregation is the organ responsible for directing and coordinating worldwide the work of evangelization and missionary cooperation (cf. Apostolic Constitution. Pastor Bonus, 85).
The first and fundamental aim is therefore to guide and support young churches, located in areas of recent or poor evangelization, territories which, according to a long tradition, are subject to the jurisdiction of the Congregation for all aspects of church life.
Therefore, it coordinates the presence and action of missionaries in the world, submits candidates to the episcopate to the Holy Father and is responsible for the formation of local clergy, catechists, and pastoral workers.
This function is exerted by members of the congregation of the highest level, mostly cardinals, many of whom come from the same mission countries, and who meet regularly. In ordinary management, the Congregation is directed by the Cardinal Prefect and other Superiors, in accordance with their duties.
In order to fulfil their duties, the Congregation manages and maintains a wide range of structures for the purpose of formation in Rome, among which the Pontifical Urbaniana University (about 1,400 students in the current academic year) and several colleges, where an estimated 150 seminarians, 360 priests, 150 religious and lay people sent from the five continents are currently studying.
This vast work, which requires a considerable amount of financial resources, is only part of the commitment of the congregation. It is known that it bestows each year to the churches of the territories subject to it (1,080 districts) an ordinary financial subsidy, which in many cases is the main or a major source of revenue for the diocese, apostolic vicariates, prefectures, the sui iuris missions etc. Besides this, the congregation sends annual subsidies for the formation of local clergy. For the Holy See, this is an indispensable instrument for growth and maturation of these churches, which are among the most vital and promising for the future of the Catholic Church. With the help of the congregation and many other works of mission support by Catholics around the world a significant number of priests, seminarians and other pastoral workers can study in Rome, close to the Successor of Peter, living a unique educational experience, characteristic of Catholicism, that is capable of indelibly marking their future service in their communities.
Moreover, every year funding is given to aid projects for the construction of new churches and pastoral institutions, for literacy projects, healthcare and hospitals, particularly for childhood and education, often in regions that are among the world's poorest. This entire series of initiatives, and numerous others, are promoted and coordinated by the Pontifical Mission Societies, which is part of the Dicastery. If we consider the relationship between the quantity of personnel and resources deployed, it can be easily verified that the operating costs are much lower than any international organization engaged in the field of cooperation (and this is thanks to the direct and free cooperation worldwide, from Bishops, Apostolic Nunciatures, Catholic organizations).
The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples derives its resources mainly from the collections of World Mission Sunday, all distributed through the national Pontifical Mission Societies, and, secondly, the income of its financial assets and real estate. This patrimony has been formed over decades through numerous donations from benefactors from all walks of life, who intended that part of their property be bequeathed to serve the cause of evangelization.
The effective management of this patrimony is of course a complex and challenging task, one which requires the advice of experts from different professional backgrounds and who, like all financial transactions, may also be exposed to errors of assessment and to fluctuations in the international market.
Nevertheless, reflecting efforts towards a sound administration and the growing generosity of Catholics, this legacy has continued to increase. At the same time, in recent years the awareness has gradually emerged of the need to improve profitability and to this end structures and procedures to ensure a professional management that is in line with the highest standards, have been established.
This note aims to recall the identity, value and great significance of an institution vital to the Holy See and the entire Catholic Church, responding to Jesus' command: "Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature "(Mark, 16:15). It has earned and deserves the support of all Catholics and those who care about the good of man and his integral development.