(Vatican Radio) On Saturday Pope Francis met with National Directors of the Pontifical Missionary Societies and those who work with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
The encounter took place in the context of the one hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU), which was inspired by Blessed Paolo Manna, a missionary priest of the Pontifical Institute for the Foreign Missions. In his address to the group, Pope Francis said that, “through the intuition of Blessed Paolo Manna and the mediation of the Apostolic See, the Holy Spirit has led the Church to have an ever greater understanding of her own missionary nature, later brought to maturation by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.”
Blessed Paolo Manna emphasized the importance of forming Bishops and Priests, and through them, the laity, for the missions. But, the Pope insisted, the emphasis on the formation of clergy does not mean “reducing the PMU to a simply clerical reality.” Rather, it has the mission of “supporting the hierarchy in its service to the missionary nature of the Church,” which is proper to everyone, in their own way, in the Church. In this way, he said, the “Pastors of the Church help to keep the Church, always and everywhere, in a state of mission.”
“Mission makes the Church,” the Pope said, “and keeps her faithful to the salvific will of God.” He asked the directors and collaborators to focus on the commitment to “permanent formation in mission,” with “the intention of serving and nourishing the missionary identity of the whole Church.” Although the organization of missionary efforts is important, he said, a certain passion, a 'mystique' is necessary. "I fear," he said, that your work might remain very organized, perfectly organized, but without passion." A mission without the "mystique of the saints and the martyrs" will not do, he continued -- and if something needs to be sacrificed, he said, "we sacrifice the organization, and go forward with the mystique of the saints."
Concluding his address, Pope Francis called for the directors and collaborators to engage in a “re-thinking” of their mission, with the goal of an “adequate reformation of methods,” and “an authentic renewal.” He expressed his gratitude for the work of the PMU, entrusting its service to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Missions; to Saints Peter and Paul, to Saint Guido Maria Conforti, and to Blessed Paolo Manna.”