Finishing up section 85 discussing giving and receiving. Pope John Paul II is worried about older churches focusing on the so-called new evangelization. We should be more concerned about churches that have lost any missionary emphasis and become institutions focused on their own preservation.
The temptation to become isolated can be a strong one. The older churches, involved in new evangelization, may think that their mission is now at home, and thus they may risk slackening their drive toward the non-Christian world, begrudgingly conceding vocations to missionary institutes, religious congregations or other particular churches. But it is by giving generously of what we have that we will receive. Already the young churches, many of which are blessed with an abundance of vocations, are in a position to send priests and men and women religious to the older churches.
I think they do send people generously, but there are also real questions here. Do all foreign religious vocations have real roots in the mission? Don’t many Third World churches labor with a relative shortage of clergy, even in comparison to Europe and North America?
On the other hand, the young churches are concerned about their own identity, about inculturation, and about their freedom to grow independently of external influences, with the possible result that they close their doors to missionaries. To these churches I say: Do not isolate yourselves; willingly accept missionaries and support from other churches, and do likewise throughout the world. Precisely because of the problems that concern you, you need to be in continuous contact with your brothers and sisters in the faith. With every legitimate means, seek to ensure recognition of the freedom to which you have a right, remembering that Christ’s disciples must “obey God rather than (people)” (Acts 5:29).
Like anything this serious, it requires a few prerequisites. Discernment first, which always involves community. Between churches, it requires relationship–a state in which dialogue develops along the lines of friendship. And gazing carefully at any friendship. Is it a friendship of utility? Is the connection based on a lopsided view of one partner offering more and the other being primarily a recipient?
This document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana