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Vatican cardinal concerned about number of African, Asian priests in West

Catholic World News - May 07, 2014

In an address to the annual meeting of the Pontifical Mission Societies, the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said that Pope Francis has given the Church a “great missionary thrust” through his actions and two major teaching documents: the encyclical Lumen Fidei and the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.

The Pontifical Mission Societies – the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, the Holy Childhood Association, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious – exist to support the missions.

Cardinal Fernando Filoni told the Societies’ leaders that it is “unfair” that up to half the priests in some African and Asian dioceses now serve in the West, “where they believe they find better pastoral conditions.” These priests’ native dioceses, he said, are “still short of personnel” and thus are “deprived of significant apostolic forces absolutely indispensable for Christian life.”

Cardinal Filoni also noted a decrease in missionary contributions from Catholics in dioceses in wealthier nations, even as contributions from Asian dioceses have increased modestly. He attributed the decline in the West to “the weakening of the missionary spirit and motivation” and challenged the Societies’ officials to “get out of our seats” and be more actively present in parishes, dioceses, and other Catholic institutions.

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  • Posted by: florentine - May. 08, 2014 12:21 AM ET USA

    The priest who has come to our parish from Africa is such a blessing! Yes, he is evangelizing us and we understand him perfectly because everything about his wonderful homilies, demeanor, and deep reverence for the Holy Eucharist, speaks the universal language of FAITH, HOPE, LOVE; always SO inspiring.

  • Posted by: Nuage - May. 07, 2014 11:28 PM ET USA

    Western donations to the missions are declining because Catholics have be taught for decades that salvation does not depend on whether or not you are Catholic - that you do not need to be Catholic, go to Mass or even be Christian to someday have eternal life. You just need to be a good person. People won't sacrifice financially or work for something that might be nice, but it's not critical. Also, for too many priests, taking holy orders is a ticket out of poverty.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - May. 07, 2014 10:39 PM ET USA

    When I hear of the pitiful and dangerous conditions in the homeland of these priests,I wonder who needs them more,the U.S. or their native countries.

  • Posted by: unum - May. 07, 2014 7:01 PM ET USA

    It is difficult for a priest to evangelize the faithful when they don't understand him. These arrangements area band-aid for a dysfunctional U.S. Church. They use of foreign priests may be a better alternative than closing parishes, but both alternatives are signs of a church in serious decline.

  • Posted by: Defender - May. 07, 2014 11:24 AM ET USA

    I'm not sure there is a problem. It's obvious that African and Asian Catholics recognize that West is in dire need of evangelization!

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