Ad Gentes 32

Some legal stuff, the relatinship between a bishop and missionary institutes operating in a territory. Bringing a missionary effort to a conclusion in an area must be a bittersweet moment. The obvious ideal is that bishops and local clergy will take over at some future point. Do the missionaries move on? Do they remain in the mature local church to maintain the bonds formed with the people there?

It brings to mind thoughts of the eschaton and missionary activity. At some point in the Divine Plan of the Universe, missionary activity will, of necessity, come to an end. That moment seems impossibly far off, especially if the human colonization of space becomes a reality and souls are flung to the far reaches of the universe.

It would also be good to coordinate the activities which are being carried on by ecclesiastical institutes and associations. All these, of whatever kind, should defer to the local Ordinary in all that concerns missionary activity itself. Therefore, it will be very helpful to, draw up contracts to regulate relations between local Ordinaries and the moderator of the institute.

When a territory has been committed to a certain institute, both the ecclesiastical superior and the institute will be concerned to direct everything to this end, that the new Christian community may grow into a local church, which in due time will be governed by its own pastor with his clergy.

When the commission of a certain territory expires, a new state of affairs begins. Then the episcopal conference and the institutes in joint deliberation should lay down norms governing the relations between local Ordinaries and the institutes. It will be the role of Holy See to outline the general principles according to which regional and even particular contracts are to be drawn up.

Although the institutes will be prepared to continue the work which they have begun, cooperating in the ordinary ministry of the care of souls, yet when the local clergy grows numerous, it will be provided that the institute, insofar as this is in agreement with its purpose, should remain faithful to the diocese, generously taking over special works or some area in it.

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About catholicsensibility

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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