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Pope to Mission Societies: ‘Be creative and tenacious”

Pope Francis receives in audience the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) gathered, in Sacrofano, near Rome, for their Annual General Assembly, and encourages them to be creative and tenacious in the face of difficulties, recalling the example of martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for their faith.

By Lisa Zengarini

Addressing participants in the Annual General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), on Saturday, Pope Francis focused his reflection on three fundamental characteristics which, he said, are particularly relevant for their service to the Church’s mission: communion, creativity and tenacity.

Missionary communion and proselytism

The Pope first of all emphasized the communion dimension of this mission.

Given that the love with which God comes to seek and save us is also the basis of the missionary nature of the pilgrim Church on earth, he said, “we are called to live a spirituality of communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.” 

In this regard, the Pope warned against proselytism: the Christian mission, he explained, “is not about transmitting some abstract truth or religious conviction – we need less proselytizing – but, first and foremost, is for enabling those we meet to have a fundamental experience of God’s love.”

A synodal style

As the Missionary Societies renew their Statutes pursuant of his Apostolic Constitution ‘Praedicate Evangelium’, Pope Francis, therefore, urged them  to grow in this “spirituality of missionary communion”, which, he remarked, “is the foundation of the Church’s current synodal journey. “

“Since a journey of missionary conversion is necessary for everyone, it is essential that opportunities for personal and communal formation be provided in order to grow in the dimension of ‘communal’ missionary spirituality.”

The Pope insisted on this synodal dimension: “Let us not forget,” he said, “that the call to communion implies a synodal style:  walking together, listening to each other, engaging in dialogue.”

Be creative in your mission

Pope Francis went on speak about creativity, reminding the PMS “that evangelical creativity stems from divine love, and that all missionary activity is creative to the extent that Christ’s charity is its origin, form and end.”  “Thus, he said “such charity inspires new ways of evangelizing and serving others, especially the poorest.”

“We must not allow ourselves to stifle missionary creative freedom!”

Creativity, the Pope continued, is also important to encourage the generosity of individuals, groups and institutions who wish to support the Church’s missionary endeavours.

Persevere and follow the example of martyrs

Finally, Pope Francis evoked tenacity, that is,” steadfastness and perseverance in purpose and action.”

He reminded them  that the divine mission “is a tireless going out to all men and women,”  and thus urged  the PMS to persevere in their work despite difficulties and hardships, and not to give in to defeatism, recalling that some Christians go even as far as martyrdom to witness their faith in Christ.

Speaking of-the-cuff, he cited the testimony of the Catholics recently killed  North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), because of their faith,  and the Coptic Martirs killed by the Islamic State militias in Libya in 2015.

“The martyr Church is the Church of tenacity that the Lord carries forward.”

 “Although you may come across many challenges, complex situations, burdens and weariness that accompany ecclesial life, do not be discouraged!”, the Pope exhorted.  “By focusing on the positive aspects and the joy that comes from contemplating God’s work, we will know how to face even problematic situations with patience, avoiding inactivity and the spirit of defeatism.”

Pope Francis also insisted on the importance of patience with the weaknesses of those who have fallen by the wayside: “Don’t be shocked, be compassionate and wait,” he said .

“One of the things that strikes me is the Lord’s patience: He knows how to wait”

Concluding Pope Francis thanked the PMS  for their  generosity and dedication in promoting the missionary responsibility of the faithful, “especially in caring for the children of the Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood.”

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