Pope Francis met today with directors of the Pontifical Missionary Works (POM), also known as the Pontifical Mission Societies, who convened in Rome for the annual assembly. The directors hail from various missionary societies under the jurisdiction of the Holy See. The Pontifical Missionary Works help in areas where the Catholic Church is new or poor.
The societies included are the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, the Missionary Childhood Association and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. 150 directors from all over the world are present at the assembly.
Pope Francis told the directors of POM that their work is “entirely relevant” in bringing the Gospel to those who have not known Christ, while adding that they help him to “keep evangelization, the paradigm of every act of the Church. alive.”
“Certainly the mission that awaits us is difficult but, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it becomes an exciting mission,” the Pope said.
“This is what we should always draw courage from: knowing that the strength of evangelization comes from God; belongs to him. We are called to open ourselves more and more to the Holy Spirit’s work, to be instruments of God’s mercy, his tenderness, his love for every man and woman, and especially for the poor, the excluded and the marginalized. And this holds for every Christian, for the whole Church. It isn’t an optional mission but an essential one.”
Echoing the call Pope Paul VI made to POM 50 years ago “to zealously safeguard the universal scope of the Missionary Works”, the Holy Father encouraged them to continue their work in giving life to churches. In evangelizing, the Pontifical Missionary Works becomes a “privileged instrument of education toward a universal missionary spirit.”
“Faced with the temptations communities have, to become wrapped up in themselves, worried about their own problems, your job is to recall the ‘missio ad gentes’, to prophetically witness that the life of the Church and the churches is a mission, and it is a universal mission.”
Pope Francis concluded his address by exhorting the members of POM to give “special attention” to nascent churches that exist in areas where they face discrimination or persecution of the faith. In doing so, Pope Francis said, the churches can be “sustained and assisted in witnessing the Gospel in word and in deed.”