01/17/2018, 14.25
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Card Filoni celebrates the feast of Fr Paolo Manna at PIME in Rome

by Bernardo Cervellera

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples met PIME missionaries and the Missionaries of the Immaculate. Without proclamation the mission reduces the Church's work to that of an NGO.  The mission ad gentes must be reawakened. A Missionary Month will be held in 2019.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Card Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation of Propaganda Fide, led the Mass last evening in the chapel of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in Rome.

During the service, he touched on a number of issues, thanking the Institute for its work in favour of evangelisation in Asia and elsewhere, and inviting it to support the mission ad gentes to non-Christians, which sometimes can get forgotten and side-lined by the slogan "everything is mission".

After dinner he had a conversation with the missionaries of the institute, the Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception, some priests, friends and guests of PIME. The feast of the blessed Paul Manna (1872-1952) provided the opportunity.

The latter was a PIME missionary beatified by John Paul II. He was also the founder and president of the Pontifical Missionary Union, one of the Pontifical Works under Propaganda Fide, which deals with missionary outreach among priests, men and women religious, and lay people.

Paolo Manna, often called "a fiery soul" was among the forerunners of some trends that developed decades later, at the Second Vatican Council. He urged the Church to understand that everyone must desire the mission and participate in the work of evangelisation.

He strongly criticised the missions based on the power provided by the many charitable and social works. He worked to prevent Christians on mission from competing with one another, but show instead unity as the first element of the witness of faith.

In his homily, Card Filoni compared Fr Manna to the "first missionary ad gentes", Saint Paul, who was tireless in proclaiming the Word, whether in a timely or untimely fashion, as well as admonishing, reproaching, exhorting (cf. 2 Tim, 4:2), all the while keeping the faith (2 Tim, 4:7).

He stressed that above all the mission always includes the proclamation. Without it, missionary work is reduced to that of "an NGO".

When Card Filoni spoke with the missionaries, both men and women, he pointed out that the image of the mission ad gentes is changing. As a result of migration, non-Christians are also present in countries of ancient evangelisation. Churches in the countries with old missions are now adult communities and feel less the need of missionaries for their work.

Yet, the mission ad gentes, the proclamation to non-Christians, has been forgotten or shunted aside in the Churches of both ancient and recent evangelisation. Thus, it is paramount to keep alive the charism of the missionary institutes ad gentes without reducing the "mission" to any diocesan involvement in pastoral outreach, charity, or new evangelisation.

Card Filoni also noted that that the Missionary Month that will be launched in 2019 can awaken the urgency of the mission ad gentes in the Church.

Before saying goodbye to the PIME missionaries, he left a message in the guest-book and signed it (picture 3).

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”