Papal suggestions for mission territories
September 07, 2012
The growth of the faith in the missions is “a sign of hope for the future of the universal Church,” Pope Benedict XVI told a group of bishops from missionary territories during a September 7 meeting organized by the Congregation for Evangelization.
“The Church is born of mission and grows with the mission,” the Pope said. He observed that in recent decades there has been a drop in the number of missionary priests traveling to the newly formed Catholic communities of Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Yet at the same time, he observed, many of these dioceses are now producing a larger number of their own priests, and in some cases are now sending priests to serve in the dioceses of Europe and North America, reversing the old pattern.
The younger Catholic communities regularly show “the merits and defects associated with their brief history,” the Pope observed. “Enthusiasm and apostolic zeal alternate with episodes of instability and incoherence.” The challenge for Church leaders, he told the visiting bishops, is to maintain stability while encouraging growth in the Catholic Church.
Most mission territories also face special problems, the Pope observed. “Food, health, and educational emergencies” pose challenges for the Church’s social work, and the “fruit of fundamentalisms” can be an obstacle to evangelization—especially when fundamentalist faiths “undervalue or ignore outright, the right to religious freedom and respect for the weakest, especially children, women and people with disabilities.”
The Pontiff also mentioned the importance of working to eliminate ethnic animosities and class distinctions that threaten to bring division and violence to needy lands.
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