We’ll continue our review of Chapter IV of the document Mutuae Relationes, examining the crucial mission of Christ: preaching and spreading the Gospel everywhere. You can check the full document online here.
Different forms of apostolic commitment
17. Cultural situations in which apostolic activity is carried out vary; differences, therefore, can be noticed in the unity of mission. These, however, “do not flow from the inner nature of the mission itself, but from the circumstances in which it is exercised. These circumstances depend either on the Church itself or on the peoples, classes, or (individuals) to whom its mission is directed” (Ad Gentes 6).
An important principle. It is good to keep in mind that the means of apostolic activity are geared to a more fruitful hearing among our partners in dialogue. Changing peripherals does not change the essence of the mission. Or at least, it isn’t supposed to change the Gospel.
These assuredly real differences, although contingent, affect notably not only the exercise of the pastoral ministry of bishops and priests, but also the particular life-style and duties of religious. They exact difficult adaptations, especially on the part of institutes dedicated to apostolic activity on an international level.
The bishops recognize the challenge of religious communities that do not exist as a cell within a particular diocese. I believe it is a Benedictine/monastic tradition that each monastery or abbey is a self-sustaining unit. This is clearly not so for many religious institutes that operate an apostolate that is regional or worldwide.
Regarding the relations between bishops and religious, therefore, in addition to the differences in functions (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem 1) and charisms (cf. Lumen Gentium 2) the concrete difference existing within nations must likewise be carefully considered.
Thoughts on this?