Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Agenzia Fides) – In the afternoon of 11 July, archbishop Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, secretary adjunct of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), had a meeting with the bishops attending the Fifth American Mission Congress (CAM 5) to present the work of the PMS and certain aspects connected with pastoral care in the local Churches. “I had the idea of this meeting following a personal experience– the archbishop said -. Some months ago I was appointed President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, however although I had worked in the Curia for over twenty years I had never realised the importance and effectiveness of their activity ”. The Pope himself described the work of the PMS “little known, but important”.
The President of the PMS dwelt on the history and motivation at the base of the four Pontifical Mission Societies, on their structure and their importance for the missionary animation in the pastoral care in the local Churches. “The missionary ambit is a privileged area for the manifestation of the relationship of reciprocal enrichment between the universal Church and the local Church - said Mons. Dal Toso -. While it is true that the universal Church is found concretely in the local Church, it is also true that the local Church without the universal Church cannot exist. Between the two there is that relationship which prevents the local Church from closing in on herself and becoming a national Church and therefore at the mercé of the powerful of the moment, history teaches us as sad to say. The more the local Church opens to mission, the more she discovers that she is a universal Church, open to the needs of all mankind. In this broad vision we understand how the activity of the Pontifical Mission Societies can help support the pastoral life of a local Church”.
The Archbishop then spoke of some principal tasks of the PMS in the different countries: kindle the missionary spirit by means of missionary awareness building and animation; promote and support prayers for the missions; offer the opportunity for formation to priests, religious men and women and the laity; be responsible for missions collections, especially the collection on World Mission Day in October, a collection which is entirely destined, according to the intentions of the Pope, to adding to the Universal Fund of Solidarity administered by the International Secretariats of the PMS. On this matter archbishop Dal Toso added: “An important values is that this Fund receives the contributions of even the poorest dioceses in the poorest of countries. As far as I know this is the only example institutionally constituted in the Catholic Church in which all give and all is given to the most in need. Given our duty to be transparent, it is important that the Bishops know that through the Pontifical Mission Societies it is possible to build churches, build and upkeep seminaries and religious institutes, provide formation for catechists and in general formation for the baptised laity. Furthermore it is possible to print liturgical books and catechisms, therefore everything needed for the life of a diocese in mission territories. I would underline that this is a formidable service that distributes aid equally to all circumscriptions in mission territories, guaranteeing them the minimum for survival”. Last of all the PMS President underlined that more recently “thanks to God we see growth in the number of faithful and dioceses in mission territories and the consequent growth in the financial effort expected and asked of us”. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 12/7/2018)