Missionary work must not be reduced to social projects, says Pope


The Pope has reminded Catholic missionaries of the essentially supernatural nature of their work.

“Only deeply rooted in Christ and his Word are we able to resist the temptation to reduce evangelization to a purely human or social project, hiding or silencing the transcendent dimension of salvation offered by God in Christ,” he said.

The pontiff spoke in an address to participants at the Pontifical Missions Society General Assembly to the Vatican on May 14.

“It’s a Word that should be explicitly witnessed and proclaimed, because without a consistent witness it is less understandable and believable. Although we often feel inadequate, poor, incapable, we must always retain confidence in the power of God, who puts his treasure in ‘jars of clay,’ so that it is He who acts through us.”

The Pontifical Missions Society is the name given to a group of Catholic missionary societies which are under the direct guidance of the Pope. These include the Holy Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. 

Since 1922, the society has been the Church’s official support network for overseas missions. It now has 120 offices worldwide.

The Pope described the work of missions society as “invaluable.” He observed that they often operate in a world marked by “new forms of slavery” - a “first world” of wealthy peoples who are often uncertain about their future and emerging countries where profit-driven globalization can sometimes increase poverty and migration. The Pope said that despite appearances, both have the same fundamental need.

“The necessity for our time is a firm commitment to the ‘mission ad gentes’ (mission to all nations) to announce the “big Hope,” the God who has a human face and who loved us to the end, each individually and mankind as a whole.”

The Pope concluded by reminding those gathered that evangelization should be undertaken by all baptised Christians.

“The ministry of evangelization is exciting and demanding: it requires love for the proclamation and witness, a love so complete that it can be also marked by the martyrdom. The Church cannot fail in its mission to bring the light of Christ, to proclaim the glad tidings of the Gospel, even if it means persecution.”

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