Ad Gentes 1

We reach Ad Gentes, the Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church. It’s an appropriate final document for us to look at, don’t you think? Starting in with the Preface, we read first that missionary activity is an apostolic work, tasked to the bishops:

Divinely sent to the nations of the world to be unto them “a universal sacrament of salvation,” the Church, driven by the inner necessity of her own catholicity, and obeying the mandate of her Founder (cf. Mark 16:16), strives ever to proclaim the Gospel to all (people). The Apostles themselves, on whom the Church was founded, following in the footsteps of Christ, “preached the word of truth and begot churches.” It is the duty of their successors to make this task endure “so that the word of God may run and be glorified (2 Thess. 3:1) and the kingdom of God be proclaimed and established throughout the world.

The bishops suggest this missionary apostolate is in a “new situation.” Would they have meant the notion that Christ is essentially known throughout the world, but not embraced? And what exactly do they mean by renewal? Is spreading the Word to believers part of the same apostolate?

In the present state of affairs, out of which there is arising a new situation for (humankind), the Church, being the salt of the earth and the light of the world (cf. Matt. 5:13-14), is more urgently called upon to save and renew every creature, that all things may be restored in Christ and all (people) may constitute one family in Him and one people of God.

The purpose of the document:

Therefore, this sacred synod, while rendering thanks to God for the excellent results that have been achieved through the whole Church’s great – hearted endeavor, desires to sketch the principles of missionary activity and to rally the forces of all the faithful in order that the people of God, marching along the narrow way of the Cross, may spread everywhere the reign of Christ, Lord and overseer: of the ages (cf. Ecc. 36:19), and may prepare the way for his coming.

Any comments as we head into the meat of the document?

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to Ad Gentes 1

  1. Brendan Kelleher SVD says:

    An historical note: Originally presented to the Council Fathers at General Sessions 116-118, (November 6-9, 1964), the draft decree was subject to severe criticism leading to its withdrawl. A sub-commission of four Bishops and Fr John Schuette, SVD, Superior General of the Society of the Divine Word, was elected to write a new draft. The work on the new draft began on January 12th at the SVD house in Nemi, south of Rome. Among the contributing periti were Yves Congar OP, Joseph Neuner, and through a written submission, a young German theologian Joseph Ratzinger.
    With Fr. John Schuette at the helm the sub-commisson, or the full drafting comission, continued its work through till April. It was first submitted to a full Council session on October 7, 1965, and after various recommendations from the Council Fathers and further revisions was finally approved on December 7, 1965. Fr Schuette, who so ably guided the Decree through to acceptance had himself been a missionary in China from 1940 till 1952, and was to continue to serve the SVD as Superior General till 1967, and later in various posts in the Vatican until his tragic death in a car crash in 1971.

  2. Eugene Leoy says:

    what are the 0ther 2 church documents on mission and evangelization?
    Regrading AD Gentes which pope drafted it?

  3. Todd says:

    Eugene, the main post-conciliar doc would be Evangelii Nuntiandi. Ad Gentes was written during the papacy of Paul VI

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