Pope John Paul II highlights two church groups, conferences of bishops and the parallel leadership among religious orders.
Episcopal Conferences and their various groupings have great importance in directing and coordinating missionary activity on the national and regional levels. The Council asks them to “confer together in dealing with more important questions and urgent problems, without, however, overlooking local differences,”(Ad Gentes 31) and to consider the complex issue of inculturation. In fact, large-scale and regular activity is already taking place in this area, with visible results.
Here’s a key principle:
It is an activity which must be intensified and better coordinated with that of other bodies of the same Conferences, so that missionary concern will not be left to the care of only one sector or body, but will be shared by all.
Pope John Paul II was right. But it’s a point often lost on believers, that evangelization is a concern based in baptism and not on some kind of specialization. Evangelization is a calling for everyone in the same way that every believer is called to a sacramental life, to prayer, to community. It hasn’t been in our practice in centuries, but that doesn’t abrogate the mandate.
The other issue is collaboration, not always a Catholic strong suit:
The bodies and institutions involved in missionary activity should join forces and initiatives as opportunity suggests. Conferences of Major Superiors should have this same concern in their own sphere, maintaining contact with Episcopal Conferences in accordance with established directives and norms,(Cf. ibid., 33) and also having recourse to mixed commissions.(Cf. Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae (1966), II, 43) Also desirable are meetings and other forms of cooperation between the various missionary institutions, both in formation and study,(Cf. Ad Gentes 34; Ecclesiae Sanctae, III, 22) as well as in the actual apostolate.
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