Without passion and prayer, the pontifical mission societies are simply well-run and well-organised nongovernmental agencies, Pope Francis said.
“I fear, I must confess, that your work could remain very organised, perfectly organised, but without passion,” he told national directors of the pontifical mission societies who were meeting in Rome in early June.
The Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Society of St Peter Apostle, Holy Childhood Association and Missionary Union of Priests and Religious work with the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples to promote an awareness of Catholics’ missionary obligation and raise funds to support the Catholic Church, seminary education and social outreach in the church’s mission territories.
Mission is the heart of the church and the sign of its fidelity to God’s will, Pope Francis told the national directors on 4 June. “While it is important that you are concerned about the collection and distribution of economic help” for Catholic churches in need, “I exhort you not to limit yourselves to this aspect alone.”
“We must grow in passion for evangelising,” the pope said. “If we must sacrifice something, let’s sacrifice organisation and move forward with the mysticism of saints.”
The “missionary formation” the societies are called to promote is not about scholarly education, he said, but about promoting a “wave of missionary passion” and of witness to love for Christ and his Gospel.
When the mission societies provide financial assistance to the church in missionary lands, the pope said, they must encourage Catholics there to be missionaries to Catholics in countries where the Gospel was proclaimed centuries ago, countries where the churches are “sometimes weighed down by their history and are a little tired.”