by our Rome correspondent MANY missionaries in the Third World still behave like colonisers towards whom local bishops are forced to "become beggars with cap in hand", a Vatican seminar has heard this week.
The study seminar, under way at the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome, is promoted by the Italian episcopal conference, by the Pontifical Mission Works, and by five organisations which, with Caritas, have created the Ecclesiastical Committee Against World Hunger.
Third World bishops at the seminar reserved special criticism for the missions in their addresses, which mainly referred to Italian missionaries totalling 15,757 in developing regions.
They proposed that the church make a critical analysis of how aid funds, which in Italy alone amount to £500 million a year, are distributed and deployed.
One bishop, Robert Sastre of Lokosso in Benin, called on mission organisers to devise a "plan of charity nourished by justice".
"Certainly, the charity of the church must be organised but it must not assume the guise of organisations managed by wellpaid officials before whom the bishops of the Third World become beggars with cap in hands," he said.
Indian Bishop Matthew Cheriankunnel charged, "the rich peoples of the west who colonised and still exploit the Third World are obliged to give back the wealth and the church must also feel this is a responsibility".
Latin American delegates lamented the "quality" of missionaries and launched an appeal. "Don't send us frustrated and problematical people who create more problems than they solve".
The Italian episcopal conference secretary general, Mgr Camillo Ruini, agreed that missionary training was vital and that the deployment of funds should manifest the same spirit with which missionaries go to serve the poor.