(Superior General, Society of African Missions, S.M.A.)
The Vatican Council reminds us that each local Church, under the leadership of its Bishop, has a responsibility for the evangelisation of the world. The encyclical Redemptoris Missio, in taking up this theme, also underlines that persons and institutions known as "missionaries" and "missionary institutes" have a "special vocation" and that their vocation ad vita is the "model" of the Church?s commitment. Their contribution of going to people who have not yet heard of Christ?s message, the building up of Christian communities, the awakening and stimulation of the missionary commitment. Their contribution of going to people who have not yet heard of Christ?s message, the building up of Christian communities, the awakening and stimulation of their missionary spirit in the local Churches, and the welcoming of missionary vocations by inculturating their own charisms, is as valid today as it ever was. Indeed, the mission of Christ which is "still in its infancy" and which demands "new and bold endeavours" requires all the charisms available in the Church.
Relations between the African Bishops, missionary institutes and the other agents of evangelisation are generally good. But it is precisely because of the huge potential for the Church in Africa and the need to define and respect various roles and charisms, that new inculturated structures for dialogue are required. There is an urgent need for all involved in missionary activity - male and female, clerical and lay - to discuss, analyse and plan together in a true "dialogue of life". With a revised Mutuae Relationes (1978) and Canon Law providing a basic framework, it is possible to elaborate structures for dialogue based on partnership, solidarity, the fostering of relations among evangelisers, flexibility and a sense of community.
The participation of all of us in
Christ?s mission is born from the demands of being His disciples. Like
St. Paul, we have no right to keep this Good News to ourselves. May His