The Vatican underscored the value of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, known also as "De Propaganda Fide" on Monday in a communique explaining the dicasteries' origins and principal functions. The explanation comes as the actions of one of its previous prefects have been called into question.
The communique was released a week after the former head of the congregation, Archbishop of Naples Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe was defended by Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi after accusations surfaced that he had allegedly taken part in sketchy real estate deals involving an Italian government official.
The Holy See's Press Office explained that it is necessary at this point to "recall some objective information" to protect the good reputation of such an "important organism of the Holy See and of the Catholic Church."
According to the statement, "the Congregation is the organ that has the task of directing and coordinating the work of evangelization and missionary cooperation in the whole world."
Carrying out the fundamental aim of the congregation, which is to "guide and support the young Churches," it maintains centers of instruction including the Pontifical University Urbaniana and provides financial subsidies to 1,080 "constituencies" throughout the world.
Subsidies also exist for the formation of local clergy in these churches which, "thanks to the help of the Congregation ... a notable number of priests, seminarians and other pastoral workers can study in Rome..."
Besides these works, financial aid is also distributed annually by the congregation for the construction of new churches, pastoral institutions, hospitals and many other charitable structures. This is done at an administrative cost that is "far inferior" to that of any other international organization working in international cooperation, according to the statement, due to the free assistance provided by Catholic structures worldwide.
The statement notes the sources of funding for the programs in the annual collection for World Missionary Day and earnings from real estate and financial investments. "The patrimony has been formed over the course of decades thanks to numerous donations from benefactors of every social class who have intended to leave a part of their inheritance in service to the cause of evangelization."
The extensive message noted that the value of the patrimony of the Congregation is both difficult and complex to evaluate and, "as all financial operations, can be exposed also to errors of valuation and fluctuations in international markets."
They point also to the growth of this patrimony as a sign of its "correct administrative administration and the growing generosity of Catholics," and recall that structures and procedures have been put in place in recent years to guarantee the professional administration of this inheritance according to the highest standards.
The note closes with the explanation that it was released to give people an idea of the "identity, value and deep significance of a vital institution for the Holy See and for the entire Catholic Church that responds to Jesus' commandment to 'Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature'."