Rome (Agenzia Fides) - The Church's mission in the world has its "heart" and its source in the very heart of Jesus. Missionary work "does not come naturally", it is born in "those who allow themselves to be drawn by the love of Christ" and feel "the desire to bring to everyone the mercy and compassion flowing from his Heart". And to release the impetus of the mission "It was necessary for the Holy Spirit to come and make the tremendous “disorder” that was the day of Pentecost". With these evocative images, Pope Francisstill reminds us today of the source of grace from which all authentic apostolic work can spring. He did so by receiving in audience the participants in the Annual General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), which is currently being held in Ciampino (Rome). The audience, which took place in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, saw the participation of more than 110 National Directors of the PMS network, from all the continents, accompanied by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, Archbishop Emilio Nappa (President of the PMS), as well as officials and employees working at Propaganda Fide Palace. In order to initiate missionary outreach, "to create the life of the Church, the Spirit is first the creator of confusion and then draws out harmony. Both are of the Holy Spirit", the Pope observed.
The specific mission of the Pontifical Mission Societies, suggested the Sovereign Pontiff, can also be perceived and lived as a sign, an echo of the mercy and compassion of the Heart of Jesus, whose Solemnity falls in this month of June. "In the pierced heart of the Crucified we can discover the infinite measure of the Father’s love. He comes to seek us when we are lost; he lifts us up when we fall and raises us from the dead", the Pope said. Jesus, with his whole life, "has shown us the heart of God, that of a Father who always awaits us, sees us from afar, comes toward us with open arms; a Father who turns no one away, but welcomes all; who excludes no one, but calls everyone".
The horizon of all apostolic work always remains that of "reaching all through the gift of God’s infinite love, to seek all, to welcome all, excluding no one, to offer our lives for all". Every mission of ours - insisted the Bishop of Rome - " is born from the heart of Christ in order that he may draw all to himself".
In recalling the source of grace and mercy from which every missionary adventure draws and participates, Pope Francis also wanted to recall that the Pontifical Mission Societies "are not a mere agency for the distribution of funds for those in need of help, but a reality called to support the mission of evangelization in the Church, both universal and local and to fostering the missionary spirit among the People of God". The Successor of Peter urged the PMS to "intensify even more, with the boldness and creativity of the Holy Spirit, the various activities directed to guiding, educating and forming the missionary spirit", not only in what used to be called "mission lands", but also in countries with an ancient Christian tradition more marked "by a serious crisis of faith", and " are in need of renewed evangelization".
In the horizon of an authentic service to the mission and to the Churches, the Bishop of Rome wanted to recall that the collection and management of economic and material resources is only a means: "Please" said the Pope "do not reduce the Societies to money! They certainly need money, which is a means, but do not reduce them to that, for they are bigger than money". Money", insisted the Pontiff, "is what we need to move forward. Yet if spirituality is missing and they become merely a business, then immediately corruption arises. Indeed, even in these days, we have seen newspaper reports of alleged corruption having occurred in the name of the Church’s missionary work".
The "important role" exercised by the PMS is rather linked to the "dream" of "an ever closer and more coordinated missionary cooperation among all members of the Church". A vocation and a task to be assumed "for the good of the entire People of God. It is significant - remarked the Sovereign Pontiff in the conclusion of his speech - that the founders of the Societies were a bishop, a priest and two laywomen, that is to say, representatives of different categories of the baptized. This is a sign that commits us to involve all members of the People of God in missionary activity", to cherish the dream of "a new era of missionary activity among Christian communities". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 3/6/2023)