"VITAL IMPORTANCE OF THE MISSIONS"
Question Of Life And Death"
English Catholics Are Not Mission-Minded
An immense stride forward has taken place in the last half century and even in the fifteen years during which the Pope of the Missions has multiplied native vicariates.
" Natives " all the world over are coming into contact with Europe, the Faith, and the Faithless.
Shall we succeed in winning them to our standards, our civilisation, or will they win us to theirs?
The most urgent problem for the Church today is to dissociate the Faith from everything decadently Etsropean and to satisfy coloured people that this is not mere rhetoric. If only the Church can be shown to transcend national and racial prejudices there is hope that the twentieth century may yet prove to be the century of the greatest progress.
THE MISSIONARY CHURCH
"Why don't you Catholics tell us more about it? "
" I never had any idea of this magnificent organisation."
" k's in every nook and cranny all over the world—doing good."
THE Universal Church is essentially a Missionary Church and nothing is so impressive about it as its widespread activity, and its uniform practise of the counsels of the Gospel.
The total missionary personnel amounts to close on 200,000.
Foreign missioners: priests, brothers and sisters muster some 36,000.
Native priests, brothers and sisters count another 26,000.
While the rest of the vast army is composed of "lay apostles."
Between fifty-five and sixty thousand churches, together with some thirty-five thousand schools care for 2,000,000 children, While some four-hundred seminaries are preparing 18,000 future priests.
Another glory is the work of corporal mercy which is done by some 800 hospitals and 100 leper asylums which care for 25 million a year—as many people as the whole of the Spanish nation.
The Pope of the Missions
In the Mission fields the Pope exercises his immediate authority in twe ways: through legates, more especially through Ap6stolie Delegates; and 6econslly,,swhere there is no established hierarchy, through Vicars Apostolic, Prefects Apostolic, and Missionaries Apostolic, who rule over the territories in his name and in virtue of powers delegated to them by him.
At the centre, in accordance with the ordinary organisation of the Church, the work is done by a Congregation, the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide popularly known as Propaganda.
The great impetus given to the progress of the missions during the reign of Pius XI has properly earned him the title of the Pope of the Missions.
He has more subjects outside Europe today than most of his predecessors had in it—though they are not all under the jurisdiction of Propaganda.
Benedict XV laid it down that only when Et native clergy has been trained is the Church truly established but it remained for Pius to declare, in Rerum Ecclesiae, that Catholics of all races and colours possess equal rights and equal dignity in the eyes of the Church.
In 1924 the first modern native bishops were consecrated in India and in China, but soon after the famous Missionary Exhibition of 1925 was opened in Rome the Pope consecrated no less than six Chinese bishops with his own hands at the tomb of St. Peter.
When he was elevated to the .throne of the Fisherman Pius found the immense territories under Propaganda administered in 330 divisions.
In January 1937 he had erected half as many new vicariates and brought up the total to 513; not less than 32 of which are ruled by native bishops.
Perhaps the most impressive fruit of this large scale reorganisation of administration has been the emergence of hundreds of
native seminaries. It is the more disconcerting to record that appeals for funds to build no less than a hundred more such seed-beds had to be turned down last year.
The Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle has been erected to surmount the acute problem of the native clergy which is being put off for want of capital.
Where the Money Goes
The best way of discovering which of the mission fields is thought most of in Rome is to study the allocations of the A.P.F. funds, this is done in close conjunction with Propaganda, whose Secretary-General is chairman of the Board of A.P.F.
Africa gets the lion's share 25 per cent., 6d. for every 14 people.
China comes next with 20 per cent., 6d. for every 50 people.
India drops to 8 per cent., 6d. for every 85.
Oceania also 8 per cent.
America 7 per cent. Japan, 5 per cent. Russia 5 per cent. Indio-China 3 per cent. The Rest 19 per cent.
The explanation is partly to be found in the figures on the sketch-map which indicate roughly to a million the population of the various continents.
The Chief Missions Altogether the Church in the Minions counts some 25 million souls. The century which has elapsed since the constructive work of Pope Gregory XVI was planned has brought about a truly universal Church. Neither the U.S.A. with its twenty millions nor Australia and New Zealand with their million and a half Catholics are any longer mission lands, indeed they are sending increasing numbers of missionaries abroad.
Africa Africa from being the darkest has become the brightest continent from the mis
sionary point of view. Mass conversions, particularly in central areas make it the most fruitful area—but of the 15 million Christians little more than 6 are Catholic and there are some 100 millions open to the inroads of Mohammedan and communist influences.
China China which has always attracted missionaries is steadily improving under the intensive cultivation of the past fifteen years. In 1936 it reached the 100,000 converts per annum mark, thereby exceeding the previous year's record by over. thirty thousand. (In this connection it is worth mentioning that nearly half a million baptisms were administered in extremis as well.)
But the total for the whole of China is just three million, whereas the population of the whole is estimated at 483 so that the proportion is something like 0.6 per cent The density varies between one in a thousand in Kwangsi to one in twenty-five in Mongolia, while Peiping has one in fifteen, about the same as England. Two-fifths of the priests, one half of the brothers and two-thirds of the sisters are Chinese. Th:rteen Bishops and ten prefects-apostolic man one-sixth of the vicariates.
India which is about to celebrate the golden jubilee of its Hierarchy has also pro gressed in the last half century. The number of clergy has been quadrupled and the total number of Catholics has reached four millions but there are 350 others, and five times the nurrsber of missionaries could be employed. Most of the progress has been among the remote tribes who do not form part of the predominant Hindu and Mohammedan races. The 60 million low caste " untouchables looking for a faith which will give them self-respect do not seem to see the attraction of the small Catholic body.
Archbishop Goodies reckons the growth of the Church in Insiia, from conversions, to be in the neighbourhood of 100,000 a year as compared with a rate of 30,000 a year ten years ago.
We quote from Archbishop Goodies a valuable passage in which he points out that the Church's difficulty in India—that it is a continent, not one country—is an opportunity for and incentive to the Church's unifying capacity.
" This is the background on which the work of the Church in India must be studied; it is like studying the Church in Spain, England, Germany and Russia at the same time, a very different picture in each case. And yet, just as beneath the differences in each of these countries one can see a common union, a common cause, and a common life, so and perhaps still more, one can see a common life in the Catholic Church in India which becomes more manifest every year. It is, to me, as if a new nation were gradually forming itself out of the conglomerate mess about it, conscious of its union, and therefore of its strength, simply and solely because it is the Catholic Church in India."
What Remains to be Done
Yet after nineteen centuries of missionary activity, " there are a thousand million heathens." (Benedict XV).
Although more than half the mission schools under Propaganda are also under the British flag there are no more than 250 priests from Great Britain working among the 10,000; this explains why members of every missionary congregation come to England to prepare themselves. The number of English missionary vocations is on the increase, but it will be many a day before it is anywhere near the minimum required.
It has been calculated that in the parts of the world which are open to the missionary there are over 800 millions who have no more than one priest per hundred thousand to minister to them. Moreover there is another important factor,
the population of the world is said to increase at the rate of sixteen millions per annum; Catholics form less than a quarter and they make only one half of a million converts por annum, ergo . . . who will say that the Catholic reproduction rate is too high.
The English Not " Playing the Game"
The whole financial support of the missions falls upon the Pontifical Mission Aid societies the principal of which is the A.P.F. which was recently transferred to Rome from France, where it was established a hundred years ago. It has never accumulated any capital sums and by contrast with the Protestant Missionary Societies of these islands, Which spend three millions each year, it collects and distributes the relatively paltry sum of three quarters of a million sterling per annum. This is not the whole source of supply but it does guarantee the first thousand pounds a ycar to heads of each vicariate and all money goes further in the mission fiekl than anywhere else.
An interesting meditation may be made upon the fact that we spend in England 240 million on liquor each year, 125 on tobacco, 59 on sweets, 50 on cinemas, 45 on tea, 16 on motor licences and nearly 14 on our voluntary hospitals.
The Catholics of England and Wales contributed £16,000 to the A.P.F. in 1936. That would be well below twopence apiece if they all gave something but not more than 5 per cent. do. Scotland provides nearly five thousand and Ireland raises over twenty in spite of the claims of an increasing army of missionaries.
In this connection it is worth mentioning that the training of one missionary averages at least 500 pounds while his equipment and passage money comes to ever £150.
Mgr. Downey has written:
"The pagans and heathen are members of the same vast empire as we, and therefore they have a peculiar claim on us.
"As Britishers we certainly have an obligation towards these British subjects, and I am sorry to say that in the past this obligation has been discharged vary inadequately. In France, in Holland, and in Belgium, foreign missionary enterprise has been a normal integral part of the Catholic life of the country. It has not been so here in England. We have left others to bear our burdens, and we owe a large debt of gratitude to France in particular for the Christian culture which she has introduced into our colonies."
" The Most Important Thing"
The Missions are the most interesting as well as the most important thing in the world, if only they are known. If we thought in terms of the Universal Church we should perhaps pray and work for its progress. Until we become " mission minded," and do our bit, we shall always apostatise the first shout of " workers of the world ... or sheep of the world .. . unite."