Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave Friday to the general assembly of the Pontifical Missionary Works.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am pleased to meet with you all, who are involved in the Pontifical Missionary Works at the service of the Church, to carry out the missionary mandate to evangelize peoples to the ends of the earth. I thank Cardinal Filoni for his courteous words.
Humanity is in such need of the Gospel, the source of joy, of hope and of peace. The evangelizing mission has priority, because the missionary activity is again today the greatest challenge for the Church. And “how I would like to find — also for you — the words to encourage a more fervent, joyful, generous and audacious evangelizing season, full of love until the end and of infectious life!” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 261).
The proclamation of the Gospel is the first and constant concern of the Church; it is her essential commitment, her greatest challenge, and the source of her renewal. Blessed Paul VI added, “and her vocation.” In fact, the true renewal of the Church, of her structures and of her pastoral activity stems from the evangelizing mission, from its intensity and efficacy. Without the restlessness and anxiety of evangelization it is not possible to develop a credible and effective pastoral ministry, which unites proclamation and human promotion. “The missionary activity is the paradigm of the whole work of the Church” (Evangelii gaudium, 15).
To you Members of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and National Directors of the Pontifical Missionary Works, corresponds by vocation and ministry, a demanding and privileged task: your sight and your interest widen to the ample and universal horizons of humanity, to its geographic and especially human frontiers. You accompany with esteem and affection the life of the young Churches spread throughout the world and you encourage the People of God to live fully the universal mission. You know the wonders that the Holy Spirit — through these Churches, often poor in resources — is operating in humanity, also through the difficulties and persecutions that they endure for their fidelity and witness of the Word of God and in the defense of man. In those human peripheries the Church is called to go out into the streets and meet our many brothers and sisters that live without the strength, the light and the consolation of Jesus Christ; without a community of faith that receives them, without a horizon of meaning and of life (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 49).
The Congregation for Evangelization and the Pontifical Missionary Works are, therefore, protagonists of a renewed evangelization, addressed to all and, in particular, to the poor, the least and the marginalized (cf. n. 198).
Because of the charism that characterizes them, the Pontifical Missionary Works are attentive and sensitive to the needs of the mission territories, in particular, to the poorest human groups. They are instruments of communion between the Churches, fostering and realizing the sharing of persons and of economic resources. They are committed to support the seminarians, presbyters and Religious, of the young Churches of mission territories, in the Pontifical Colleges. In face of the beautiful and important task that lies before you, faith and love of Christ have the capacity to push you everywhere to proclaim the Gospel of love, of fraternity and of justice. And this is done with prayer, with evangelical courage and with the testimony of the Beatitudes. Please, be careful not to fall into the temptation of becoming an NGO, an office of distribution of ordinary and extraordinary aid. Money is of help – we know it! – but it can also become the ruin of the Mission. When functionalism puts itself at the center or occupies a large space, as if it were the most important thing, it will lead you to ruin, because the first way of dying is that of taking the “sources” for granted, that is, He who moves the Mission. Please, with so many plans and programs do not remove Jesus Christ from Missionary Work, which is His work. A Church that reduces itself to the efficiency of party devices is already dead, even if the structures and the programs in favor of the “self-employed” clergy and laity should yet last for centuries.
True evangelization is not possible except in the sanctifying energy of the Holy Spirit, the only one capable of renewing, shaking, giving impulse to the Church in an audacious going out of herself to evangelize all peoples (cf. Ibid., n. 261).
May the Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, obtain for you always a passion for the Kingdom of God, so that the joy of the Gospel reaches to the ends of the earth and no periphery is deprived of its light. I bless you all affectionately. And, please, do not forget to pray for me.
We can pray together the Angelus.
(Recitation of the Angelus)
Blessing[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]