Guide to Catholic Missions Wins Papal Praise

First New Edition Since 1989

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 31, 2005 ( John Paul II got a look at the new “Guida delle Missioni Cattoliche 2005” — Guide to Catholic Missions — which details the scope of the Church’s missionary work.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, today presented the new edition to the Pope, who voiced his appreciation and gratitude for the volume and all those who worked to prepare it. The book is available only in Italian.

Father Giancarlo Girardi, procurator general of the Society of the Divine Word, was in charge of the preparation of the new edition. The last edition was issued in 1989.

The book contains updated figures and maps regarding the Churches in mission territories and information on the situation of the Church in the different ecclesiastical circumscriptions as well as activity in evangelization and human promotion.

A short introduction illustrates the activity of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Mission Societies. The book also reveals some new significant aspects of mission “ad gentes.”

Since 1989, 134 new ecclesiastical circumscriptions have been established and about 150 have been altered.

Today the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is responsible for almost 30% of the total number of the Church’s ecclesiastical circumscriptions, that is, 1,069 as follows: 180 metropolitan archdioceses, 750 dioceses, one territorial abbacy, 72 apostolic vicariates, 45 apostolic prefectures, four apostolic administrations, 11 missions “sui iuris” [in their own right] and six military ordinariates.

Most of the ecclesiastical circumscriptions under the Vatican congregation are in Africa (477); followed by 453 in Asia; 80 in America; 45 in Oceania; and 14 in Europe.

Church personnel involved in the missions include 85,000 priests (52,000 diocesan and 33,000 religious) distributed as follows: 27,000 in Africa; 44,000 in Asia; 6,000 in America; 5,000 in Oceania; 3,000 in Europe.

They are assisted by 28,000 brothers; 45,000 women religious, and 1.65 million catechists. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples also provides for the spiritual and academic formation of students for the priesthood at 280 major seminaries and 110 minor seminaries.

The book also reveals the Vatican congregation’s efforts to build new chapels and churches, especially in rural areas, as well as schools, health-care centers, and charitable and social works.

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