Pope’s Address to the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I welcome you all, National Directors of the Pontifical Missionary Societies and collaborators of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
I thank Cardinal Fernando Filoni for the words he addressed to me, and all of you for your valuable service to the mission of the Church, which is to take the Gospel “to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
This year our meeting takes place on the centenary of the foundation of the Pontifical Missionary Union. The Work is inspired in Blessed Paolo Manna, missionary priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. Supported by Saint Guido Maria Conforti, it was approved by Pope Benedict XV on October 31, 1916, and, forty years later, the Venerable Pius XII qualified it as “Pontifical.” Through the intuition of Blessed Paolo Manna and the mediation of the Apostolic See, the Holy Spirit has led the Church to have an increasingly greater awareness of her missionary nature, led then to maturation by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.
Blessed Paolo Manna understood well that to form and educate to the mystery of the Church and to her intrinsic missionary vocation is an end that concerns all the holy People of God, in the variety of states of life and of ministries. “Of the tasks of the Missionary Union, some are of a cultural nature, others of a spiritual nature, others in fine practical and organizational. The Missionary Union has the task to illumine, inflame and act organizing priests, and by them all the faithful, in order of the missions,” so expressed the Founder of the Pontifical Missionary Union in 1936, during his historic intervention, held during the Work’s second International Congress. However, to form Bishops and priests to the mission does not mean to reduce the Pontifical Missionary Union to a simply clerical reality, but to support the hierarchy in its service to the missionary nature of the Church, proper to all: faithful and Pastors, the married and consecrated virgins, the universal Church and the particular Churches. Carrying out this service with the charity proper to them, the Pastors maintain the Church always and everywhere in a state of mission, which, in the last analysis, is the work of God and, thanks to Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, is participated in by all believers.
Dear National Directors of the Pontifical Missionary Societies, the mission makes the Church and maintains her faithful to the salvific will of God. Therefore, although it is important that you are concerned with the collection and distribution of the economic aid that you diligently administer in favor of so many Churches and needy Christians, a service for which I thank you, I exhort you not to limit yourselves to this aspect. “Mysticism” is necessary. We must grow in evangelizing passion. I am afraid — I confess to you — that your work may remain very organizational, perfectly organizational, but without passion. This can also be done by an NGO, but you are not an NGO! Your Union is no good without passion, without “mysticism.” And if we must sacrifice something, let us sacrifice organization and go ahead with the mysticism of the Saints. Today, your Missionary Union is in need of this: of the mysticism of the Saints and Martyrs. And this is the generous work of permanent formation to the mission that you must undertake, which is not only an intellectual course, but is inserted in this wave of missionary passion, of martyrs’ witness. The Churches of recent foundation, helped by you for the permanent missionary formation, will be able to transmit to the Churches of ancient foundation, sometimes weighed down by their history and somewhat tired, the ardor of a young faith, the witness of Christian hope, sustained by the admirable courage of martyrdom. I encourage you to serve with great love the Churches that, thanks to the martyrs, witness to us how the Gospel renders us participants in God’s life, and they do so by attraction and not by proselytism.
In this Holy Year of Mercy, may the missionary ardor that consumed Blessed Paolo Manna, and from which the Pontifical Missionary Union flowed, continue still today to burn, to impassion, to renew, to rethink and to reform the service that this Work is called to offer the whole Church. Your Union must not be the same next years as this year; it must change in this direction, it must be converted to this missionary passion. While we thank the Lord for its hundred years, I hope that the passion for God and for the mission of the Church will also lead the Pontifical Missionary Union to rethink itself in the docility of the Holy Spirit, in view of an appropriate reform of its ways — an appropriate reform, namely, conversion and reform – implementing and of genuine renewal for the good of the permanent formation to the mission of all the Churches. With gratitude we entrust your service to the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Missions, to Saints Peter and Paul, to Saint Guido Maria Conforti and to Blessed Paolo Manna. I bless you from my heart and I ask you, please, to pray for me, so that I do not slide into ‘blessed stillness,” so that I also have the missionary ardor to go forward.
And I invite you to pray together the Angelus.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
Pope Francis apostolic exhortation letter “Amoris Laetitia”
The Joy of Love, he urges church leaders to serve as nurturing clerics, not as rigid enforcers of dogma.
Every man ordained a Catholic priest is asked this question by his bishop. He said that “Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?”
The answer is always the same: “Yes.” What follows afterward is the reality of living this beautiful promise.
Papal Nuncio, Archbishop August Michael Blume revealed that “apostolic exhortation, the Pope does not introduce a new teaching on the institution of marriage and the family as some people have understood but rather affirms the Catholic Church’s teaching while recognizing the challenges and dilemmas faced by the faithful as presented by the synod reports.”
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS FOR LENT 2016 I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee
In the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I asked that “the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy” (Misericordiae Vultus, 17). By calling for an attentive listening to the word of God and encouraging the initiative “24 Hours for the Lord”, I sought to stress the primacy of prayerful listening to God’s word, especially his prophetic word. The mercy of God is a proclamation made to the world, a proclamation which each Christian is called to experience at first hand. For this reason, during the season of Lent I will send out Missionaries of Mercy as a concrete sign to every one of God’s closeness and forgiveness. After receiving the Good News told to her by the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, in her Magnificat, prophetically sings of the mercy whereby God chose her. The Virgin of Nazareth, betrothed to Joseph, thus becomes the perfect icon of the Church which evangelizes, for she was, and continues to be, evangelized by the Holy Spirit, who made her virginal womb fruitful. In the prophetic tradition, mercy is strictly related – even on the etymological level – to the maternal womb (rahamim) and to a generous, faithful and compassionate goodness (hesed) shown within marriage and family relationships. The mystery of divine mercy is revealed in the history of the covenant between God and his people Israel. God shows himself ever rich in mercy, ever ready to treat his people with deep tenderness and compassion, especially at those tragic moments when infidelity ruptures the bond of the covenant, which then needs to be ratified more firmly in justice and truth. Here is a true love story, in which God plays the role of the betrayed father and husband, while Israel plays the unfaithful child and bride. These domestic images – as in the case of Hosea (cf. Hos 1-2) – show to what extent God wishes to bind himself to his people. This love story culminates in the incarnation of God’s Son. In Christ, the Father pours forth his boundless mercy even to making him “mercy incarnate” (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). As a man, Jesus of Nazareth is a true son of Israel; he embodies that perfect hearing required of every Jew by the Shema, which today too is the heart of God’s covenant with Israel: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Dt6:4-5). As the Son of God, he is the Bridegroom who does everything to win over the love of his bride, to whom he is bound by an unconditional love which becomes visible in the eternal wedding feast. This is the very heart of the apostolic kerygma, in which divine mercy holds a central and fundamental place. It is “the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead” (Evangelii Gaudium, 36), that first proclamation which “we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment” (ibid., 164). Mercy “expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert, and believe” (Misericordiae Vultus, 21), thus restoring his relationship with him. In Jesus crucified, God shows his desire to draw near to sinners, however far they may have strayed from him. In this way he hopes to soften the hardened heart of his Bride. God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbour and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them. On such things will we be judged. For this reason, I expressed my hope that “the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; this will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty, and to enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy” (ibid., 15). For in the poor, the flesh of Christ “becomes visible in the flesh of the tortured, the crushed, the scourged, the malnourished, and the exiled… to be acknowledged, touched, and cared for by us” (ibid.). It is the unprecedented and scandalous mystery of the extension in time of the suffering of the Innocent Lamb, the burning bush of gratuitous love. Before this love, we can, like Moses, take off our sandals (cf. Ex 3:5), especially when the poor are our brothers or sisters in Christ who are suffering for their faith. In the light of this love, which is strong as death (cf. Song 8:6), the real poor are revealed as those who refuse to see themselves as such. They consider themselves rich, but they are actually the poorest of the poor. This is because they are slaves to sin, which leads them to use wealth and power not for the service of God and others, but to stifle within their hearts the profound sense that they too are only poor beggars. The greater their power and wealth, the more this blindness and deception can grow. It can even reach the point of being blind to Lazarus begging at their doorstep (cf. Lk 16:20-21). Lazarus, the poor man, is a figure of Christ, who through the poor pleads for our conversion. As such, he represents the possibility of conversion which God offers us and which we may well fail to see. Such blindness is often accompanied by the proud illusion of our own omnipotence, which reflects in a sinister way the diabolical “you will be like God” (Gen 3:5) which is the root of all sin. This illusion can likewise take social and political forms, as shown by the totalitarian systems of the twentieth century, and, in our own day, by the ideologies of monopolizing thought and technoscience, which would make God irrelevant and reduce man to raw material to be exploited. This illusion can also be seen in the sinful structures linked to a model of false development based on the idolatry of money, which leads to lack of concern for the fate of the poor on the part of wealthier individuals and societies; they close their doors, refusing even to see the poor. For all of us, then, the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favourable time to overcome our existential alienation by listening to God’s word and by practising the works of mercy. In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy – counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer – we touch more directly our own sinfulness. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy must never be separated. By touching the flesh of the crucified Jesus in the suffering, sinners can receive the gift of realizing that they too are poor and in need. By taking this path, the “proud”, the “powerful” and the “wealthy” spoken of in the Magnificat can also be embraced and undeservedly loved by the crucified Lord who died and rose for them. This love alone is the answer to that yearning for infinite happiness and love that we think we can satisfy with the idols of knowledge, power and riches. Yet the danger always remains that by a constant refusal to open the doors of their hearts to Christ who knocks on them in the poor, the proud, rich and powerful will end up condemning themselves and plunging into the eternal abyss of solitude which is Hell. The pointed words of Abraham apply to them and to all of us: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Lk 16:29). Such attentive listening will best prepare us to celebrate the final victory over sin and death of the Bridegroom, now risen, who desires to purify his Betrothed in expectation of his coming. Let us not waste this season of Lent, so favourable a time for conversion! We ask this through the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, who, encountering the greatness of God’s mercy freely bestowed upon her, was the first to acknowledge her lowliness (cf. Lk 1:48) and to call herself the Lord’s humble servant (cf. Lk 1:38). From the Vatican, 4 October 2015 Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi FRANCIS
- Next >>