Ad Gentes 29

The role of bishops in missionary activity is an important one, starting first with groups and associations of bishops:

Since the charge of proclaiming the Gospel in the whole world falls primarily on the body of bishops, the synod of bishops or that “stable Council of bishops for the entire Church,” among the affairs of general concern, should give special consideration to missionary activity, which is the greatest and holiest task of the Church.

Then the administrative organizing of the missions on a regional or universal level, with due regard for the Eastern churches:

For all missions and for the whole of missionary activity there should be only one competent office, namely that of the “Propagation of the Faith,” which should direct and coordinate, throughout the world, both missionary work itself and missionary cooperation. However, the law of the Oriental Churches is to remain untouched.

The point of such an office would be to promote many aspects of the missions, including vocations, finances, and publicity, among other items: 

Although the Holy Spirit in diverse manners arouses the mission spirit in the Church of God, and oft times anticipates the action of those whose task it is to rule the life of the Church, yet for its part, this office should promote missionary vocations and missionary spirituality, zeal and prayer for the missions, and should put out authentic and adequate reports about them. Let it raise up missionaries and distribute them according to the more urgent needs of various areas. Let it arrange for an orderly plan of action, issue directives and principles adapted to evangelization, and give the impetus. Let it take care of stimulating and coordinating an effective collection of funds, which are to be distributed according to reasons of necessity and usefulness, the extent of the territory in question, the number of believers and non-believers, of undertakings and institutes, of ministers and missionaries.

Ecumenical cooperation is not to be ignored: 

In coordination with the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, let it search out ways and means for bringing about and directing (familial) cooperation as well as harmonious living with missionary undertaking of other Christian communities, that as far as possible the scandal of division may be removed.

Combining administration with zeal can be a supremely difficult task. The chasm is sometimes as wide as A to Z, but the bishops expect it nonetheless: 

Therefore, this office must be both an instrument of administration and an organ of dynamic direction, which makes use of scientific methods and means suited to the conditions of modern times, always taking into consideration present – day research in matters of theology, of methodology and missionary pastoral procedure.

How does this fit into a hierarchical structure?  

In the direction of this office, an active role with a deliberative vote should be had by selected representatives of all those who cooperate in missionary work: that is, the bishops of the whole world (the episcopal conferences should be heard from in this regard), as well as the moderators of pontifical institutes and works, in ways and under conditions to be fixed by the Roman Pontiff. All these, being called together at stated times, will exercise supreme control of all mission work under the authority of the Supreme Pontiff. This office should have available a permanent group of expert consultors, of proven knowledge and experience, whose duty it will be, among other things to gather pertinent information about local conditions in various regions, and about the thinking of various groups of (people)) as well as about the means of evangelization to be used. They will then propose scientifically based conclusions for mission work and cooperation.

Religious women and lay people last, but hopefully not least:

Institutes of religious women, regional undertakings for the mission cause, and organizations of lay(people) (especially international ones) should be suitably represented.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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