VATICAN – The Pontifical Mission Societies between history and current events
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – Historical evolution and current challenges. It is in this perspective that Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, president of the Pontifical Mission Societies, yesterday afternoon presented the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in their historical evolution but above all in their relationship with the Congregation of Propaganda Fide first and then the Evangelization of Peoples, speaking at the colloquium held at the Pontifical Urbanian University (see Fides 13/11/2022).
Msgr. Dal Toso retraced the origins of the four Pontifical Societies in a historical journey, their presence in official documents over the last hundred years, then lingered on their relationship with Propaganda Fide, concluding his intervention with some reflections on the future of the Works themselves, two hundred years after the foundation of the Work for the Propagation of the Faith, which was the first to be founded on May 3, 1822, under the impulse of Blessed Pauline Jaricot. Dwelling on the birth and future of the Missionary Works, Msgr. Dal Toso underlined that their rapid and capillary diffusion was possible thanks to the strong missionary sense then present. An element that has given a strong missionary impulse is the press and the letters of the missionaries, which have been decisive in gaining the interest and involvement of the faithful.
Monsignor Dal Toso underlined a fundamental point for the life of the Works: “A hundred years ago, on May 3, 1922, Pope Pius XI wanted the first three Works to become pontifical and entrusted them to the Congregation of Propaganda fide: he thus made it the principal instrument by which the pope, with the help of the local Churches of the whole world, ideally and materially supports missionary activity.
The President of the PMS recalled the peculiarity of the structure: since 1995, it has been customary for the President of the Pontifical Mission Societies to be the same for the four Societies and to be at the same time Assistant Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples . The Archbishop highlighted the charism that determines the specific spirituality of PMS, emphasizing how prayer, charity and in/formation are the three instruments through which it is realized, and he used three concepts, faith, mission, universality, to describe it. The Archbishop clarified: “I believe that the charism of the Works is precisely to help the individual faithful to live their faith in its essence of missionary and universal faith. It is not something that is superimposed on faith but that helps to live the faith in its integrity”. Finally, the Archbishop indicated three lines of work for the future: greater collaboration with the local Churches; the awakening of the missionary sense; the keeping alive, in line with the Magisterium of the Popes, of concern for the missio ad gentes. The Archbishop concluded, “Contributing to the life of the Church for the salvation of the world is a responsibility that accompanies us into the future.” (EG) (Agenzia Fides, 18/11/2022)