Mons. Bernard PRINCE 
(Secretary General of the Pontifical Missionary Works, 
Vatican City)

I speak in the name of three lay women: the foundresses of the two major Pontifical Mission Societies: Pauline-marie Jaricot, in 1822, of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith; and the mother-daughter team of Stephanie and Jeanne Bigard, who in 1889, founded the Society of Saint peter the Apostle for the the formation of indigenous clergy.

The working papers, Instrumentum Laboris, no.16, encourages this intervention when, early in its presentation states, "initiation into the workings of the Pontifical Mission Societies is desirable".

The two Societies of which I speak, each with its specific role in the work of missionary animation in the Church, now labour in well over 100 countries of the world, but sadly sometimes with little or no recognition within the local Churches.

No one here is unaware of the secondary role of the Pontifical Mission Societies ? their material assistance for the work of the ad gentes mission of the Church ? but it is the primary role that is most important, and in many places in the "mission" Church, is all but ignored.

If all Christians, regardless of ethnic or of cultural background, of economic situation, is aware of, and is convinced of their mission obligation, I feel there would be no concern for material well-being. The Societies were founded in Europe at a time when mission needs were greatest in Asia and in America; in recent times they expanded to the young Churches of Asia, Oceania, and Africa. Each of the 110 National Offices contributes every year to the General World Mission Fund what is made possible through local efforts and donations. Part of these funds comes from the celebration of World Mission Sunday, which is an imperative in every Catholic Church in the world.

Encouraging is the evidence of Church growth everywhere, in Africa first, but also in Asia and elsewhere, for which the Societies are, in some way, co-responsible with other funding agencies however, the funds to be shared do not grow in a corresponding manner. The so-called "giving" Churches are not growing ? on the contrary! For this reason, it is more and more imperative that immediate education processes be initiated in all mission countries toward the self-maintenance of the local Church. Already in part of Africa, there have been encouraging efforts in this regard. No doubt, the various study groups will look at these matters more closely.

Funds distributed by the Societies are donations from the poor around the world. It is these sacrifices that allow the building of the Body of Christ which is the Church, of the formation of indigenous clergy and religious, of pastoral programmes of every description, etc., it is only through proper mission animation and education that these offerings are made possible. Will the Church in Africa, through properly developed and conducted Pontifical Mission Society Offices, offer its part to the Mission Trust of the Church  to "pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into the harvest"? This mission prayer and sacrifice - according to the example of Saint Therese of Lisieux - on the part of all, can be the greatest source of energy for the Church of the 3rd millennium, not only in Africa, but in the entire world!

Original text: English



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