Page 2, 13th November 1964

13th November 1964
Page 2
Page 2, 13th November 1964 — Missions schema

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Locations: Brussels


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Missions schema

is to open a dialogue with all men. He would like the Christian churches, while continuing the dia churches, while continuing the dia logue among themselves, to join ;n . ;

ae11 initiating a dialogue with the whole non-Christian world.

His feeling seems to be that while the Christian Churches are slowly coming to understand one another, the world is rapidly becoming anti-Christian and the Christian Churches, in the dialogue with non-Christians, will conic to realise that what unites them is more important than what divides them.

But of this there was no word in his short talk to the Council. Ile had come on foot to St. Peter's, walking up the nave to the applause of the Fathers accompanied by only two Cardinals, the Council's Setretary-Cieneral and a few oflicials.

This simplicity is in line with his whole approach. But his kneeler was set apart for the Mass and the chair in which he sat in the middle of the Council Presidents' table was a little higher than those of the Cardinals on either side of him.


The arrangement, of course, was The arrangement, of course, was

not his: the Vatican officials are sticklers fur the liner points of protocol. But_ the image he intends to create—of the Church as the Church of service and the Bishops as the servants of the people of God—is being blurred. In his speech.* Pope Paul told the Fathers that it had been his firm intention since the beginning of the session to come to take part in a regular business meeting of the Council. He had designedly chosen the day set aside to open discussion on the schema on the missions because of his desire to underline the seriousness and the vastness of this important subject. The said Pope Paul, would show new paths for the achievement of her mission to preach to all creatures and would provide new means of stimulating the zeal apd the generosity both of the clergy and the faithful. Nothing, he said, was more salutary for the members of the Church than to have some share, however remote, in the missionary activity of the Church. Cardinal Agagianian, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, then presented the schema. He said the missionary work of the Church had changed tremendously since the first Vatican Council, In 1870, "missions" or territories dependent on Propaganda Fide included such countries as England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Luxembourg, Northern Germany, the United States and Canada.


These countries were removed from the jurisdiction of Propaganda Fide in 1908. In the same year, 1870, there were 275 ecclesiastical jurisdictions in missionary territories:: now there arc 770. In 1870, Cardinal Agagianian added. there was not even one native Bishop in mission territories with the exception of Oriental Patriarchs and Prelates in the Far and Middle East. Today there were 41 Archbishops and 126 Bishops, among whom are four Cardinals. The number of Catholics in mission countries in 1949 was about 28 million. Today, 15 years later, the number had almost doubled to 50 million.

After Cardinal Agagianian's report, the Pope left the aula.

The missions schema contains thirteen propositions with an introduction which states that because of changes in the world the work of evangelisation and the missionary apostolate must he reorganised. Among the changes it mentions are the spread of the Gospel in recently-emerged nations, the deChristianisation of so-called Christian nations, scientific progress, the evolution of social conditions and the ever-increasing ecumenical awareness of the Church.

The schema proposes that in addition to episcopal conferences, there should be established conferences composed of religious men and women belonging to a particular area. These should propose to the Holy See new rules to determine the relationship between religious and their own Bishop.

Missionaries are called on. before preaching the Gospel by word of mouth to preach it by their example, through a life of humility. simplicity and poverty. Missionaries arc admonished to find in the culture of each country those elements which, arc in harmony with the Gospel message.

The schema also recommends

the setting up of a new "Central Evangelisation Board". This would be connected with (the Latin word used is "apud") the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith and would unite all engaged in missionary activity. Its task would he to draw tip a body of directive principles and it would he assisted by experts.

Bishops throughout the world, the schema says, should send some priests from their dioceses into mission territories, promote the recruitment of vocations for missionary institutes, help financially and support pontifical missionary organisations in their own dioceses. The laity must support the missions by prayer. sacrifice and material assistance. Those helping social activities in emerging countries should collaborate with nonCatholics and with international organisations. Opening the debate on the schema, Cardinal Leger of Mon treat said the Council had already recognised the possibility of diversity in the Church by approving the liturgical Constitution with its generous freedom for particular localities. This new liberty for the Bishops was nowhere more necessary than in the missions.

They he able to adapt the

Gospel message to individual peoples. There were nosy great

possibilities for beginning a dialogue with non-Christians, something the Church had been afraid for centuries, Cardinal Leger said.

He approved the schema's proposal to establish a Central Missionary Board (the text says this should he "spud" (at) the Propagation of the Faith) but added that it should he the supreme council within the Propagation Congregation. This suggestion reflects a problem which is likely to recur in the post-Council period. It is whether the post-Conciliar Commissions, secretariats and Boards which have been proposed, will he controlled by the Curial Commissions or whether they will be either autonomous or superior to the Curia.

Cardinal Rugambea of Tanganyika said the Church's adaptation in the missions demanded an understanding of and reverence for

individual nations. Missionaries

everywhere should show full respect for local laws and do this sincerely. not merely as something

they could not avoid. The genuine missionary would choose a new home and a new fatherland in the field of his activities.

Vocations decline

Cardinal Bea said missionary vocations had been declining, partly because there was some doubt whether missionarity, strictly so-called, is really opportune today. We should emphasise God's great plan to unite all nations most intimately with Christ in His mystical body and thus also among themselves.

This would make the message of the Gospel stand out in its true light and it would not he regarded as some kind of special invention by the white race or as the imposition of a special Western culture. He also tackled the suggestion that since there• was need for evangelisation in some so-called Christian nations, it was hardly worthwhile to send missionaries to new countries. It could never be forgotten, he said, that the first proclamation of the Gospel to those who have never heard of Christ had always been very dear to the Church "and the apple of her eye".

On Saturday, an extra session of the Council was held to make up for the two meetings lost at the beginning of the week. The session was marked by a barrage of criticisms of the schema. Cardinal Frings of Cologne began it by saying that the missionary aspects of the Church could not he compressed into a few propositions. This matter should have a much longer treatment on both the theological and practical levels and should not be brought up for discussion until the next session of the Council. (At this point. there was a great burst of applause.) He agreed with the idea of a Central Mission Board which he said would put .the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith into a really dynamic state. Cardinal Alfrink of Utrecht reminded the Fathers that more than two billion human beings still needed to have the Gospel preached to them. No one should be deceived by the great progress of recent years. The number of missionary vocations was declining and the problem could not he solved by priests on temporary loan since they had no special preparation.

Cardinal Suenens of Brussels said Christians are a minority in the world and their proportion is gradually decreasing. The schema did not sufficiently stress the missionary duties of the faithful in the actual evangelisation or in the consecration of the world. Missionaries must aim to leave their main responsibilities for the Church to local people in proportion as the Church grows.

Two Irish-born missionary Bishops made observations which summed the views of many of their colleagues. One of them. Bishop Daniel Lamont of Umtali. Southern Rhodesia, declared that the schema provided only frustration for missionaries. It contained no fire, no inspiration. The glorious missionary tradition of the Church had been reduced to a few dry. miserable propositions.

"Christ came to set the world on fire." he declared. "We too expected fire from this schema and all we got was a little candle. We expected powerful weapons to fight the battle of the Lord and we got bows and arrows. Trying to do the work of the missions with this document is like trying to fill this Basilica with one's voice without a microphone."

He was loudly applauded when he sat down, though the Moderator, Cardinal Dcepfriek, intervened to warn speakers against oratorical declarations.

Bishop James Moynagh of Calabar, Nigeria, said the schema made insufficient appeal to faith and generosity among the people. Without the distinction between the missionary activity of the Church and her regular pastoral activity, the basic reason for missionary work would be obscured and vocations would be difficult to get.

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