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Pope's Address to Pontifical Missionary Societies

“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'”

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On Saturday, Pope Francis received in audience participants in the Assembly of the Pontifical Missionary Societies, on the centenary of the foundation of the Work.
Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s address.
Lord Cardinal,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
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]

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