Message from the General Council on the occasion of the Extraordinary Missionary Month and our 150th Anniversary
We, your brothers of the General Council, take the opportunity of addressing this message to you on the occasion of the extraordinary missionary month convoked by Pope Francis on the theme: “Baptized and sent: The Church of Christ in mission in the world”. This extraordinary missionary month celebrates the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s apostolic letter “Maximum Illud”, written in its time to awaken awareness and the importance of the Church’s missionary activity with special emphasis on mission ‘ad gentes’. Coincidentally this comes at the same time with the celebration of our 150,h Jubilee year which is drawing to a close. The coming together of these two events enables us as a Society to pause and reflect in order to find the ways and means to keep alive the flame of our missionary ardour and to renew our missionary momentum and dynamism. This is the approach to which Cardinal Filoni invited us when, during his homily on the occasion of the opening of the Jubilee Year in Rome, he put to us the following question: “What does it mean to celebrate the 150th anniversary of a religious family, if not to reflect fundamentally and understand why it was created and what role it still has today? »
We have received this Word of thanks for the many who congratulated Mgr. Michael Fitzgerald after the announcement of his inclusion in the College of Cardinals.
Thank you for your congratulations on my inclusion in the College of Cardinals, and I would ask you to join me in thanking Pope Francis for this honour. I would like to include in this expression of gratitude all those Catholics and other Christians and people of all different religions who have helped me to serve in the field of interreligious relations. I would ask you to pray for me so that I may continue to give this service generously and joyfully.
At the Angelus Pope Francis reads the names of those prelates who will receive the red hat on October 5th, the vigil of the Amazon Synod.
After reciting the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Francis announced a consistory to be held on 5 October for the nomination of 10 new Cardinals. He said that the places where these new Cardinals come from express the missionary vocation of the Church as she continues to announce the merciful love of God to every person on earth.
[The names of the ten new Cardinals are proclaimed… Then, comes the big piece of news]
Along with these new Cardinals, the Pope is adding two Archbishops and a Bishop who have served the Church in a distinguished way:
Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald – Archbishop Emeritus of Nepte
Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius, sj – Archbishop Emeritus of Kaunas
Bishop Eugenio Dal Corso, psdp – Bishop Emeritus of Benguela
Let us pray for the new Cardinals so that, confirming their adhesion to Christ, they might help in my ministry as Bishop of Rome for the good of all the faithful Holy People of God.
From all of us, in Rome and elsewhere, heartfelt congratulations to you, Michael.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis appointed Most Reverend Willy Ngumbi Ngengele, 54, Missionary of Africa (White Fathers), as Bishop of Goma. Since 2007, he had been bishop of Kindu, in the east of the DRC.
He succeeds Bishop Théophile Kaboy Ruboneka, 78, whose resignation has been accepted by the Pope as having reached the canonical age limit: at 75, the Bishops submit their resignation to the Pope.
Bishop Willy Ngumbi Ngengele participated in the Youth Synod in October 2018 in Rome: in his former diocese of Kindu 51% of the population is made up of young people. He then spoke about his concern for young people on Vatican Radio.
In particular, he said he wanted to “strengthen and revitalize” youth movements and work with schools. “We will work on education and return to Christian values, ethics, in order to enable the young people of the diocese to become artisans of their future, actors in the Church, and missionaries to other young people. We will also encourage exchanges between young people in the city and those in the villages.”
He also wanted young people to be trained in “discernment” with regard to everything they can find on social networks.
He also hoped for new priestly vocations “for the future of the Church”.
This excerpt from the letter of Emmanuel Ngona, provincial of the PAC, written from Rome during the meeting of the provincials, and published in the last Info-PAC, gives us a small idea of the debates that took place during the week of the meeting between the provincials and the General Council.
Hello to each of you from Rome, Eternal City! And may the Peace of Christ dwell in your hearts in this Jubilee Year! I hope that each of you is well where the Lord has planted him to blossom.
I am writing to you today to share some of the elements that struck me during our meeting between the provincials and the General Council from February 10 to 16, 2019.
1) During a private audience on February 8 between Pope Francis and the Mafr and MSOLA on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of our Foundation, the Pope recalled our mission today where we are:
“The mission ad extra is in your DNA… I encourage you to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, so that you never forget that the true Missionary is first and foremost a disciple and that the proclamation of the Gospel can only be lived at the cost of a true missionary communion. May the Spirit make you build bridges between people. Where the Lord has sent you, contribute to the growth of a culture of encounter; continue to be the servants of a dialogue that, while respecting differences, knows how to be enriched by the difference of others. And I thank you in particular for the work you have already done in the service of dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Through the style and simplicity of your lifestyle, you also demonstrate the need to take care of our common home. Finally, in the wake of Cardinal Lavigerie, be sowers of Hope, fighting against current forms of slavery. Always seek to be close to the small and the poor, to those who wait at the periphery of our societies, to be recognized in their dignity, to be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated…”.
2) In the context of our Jubilee and the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict 15’s “Maximum” Apostolic Letter (a letter that served to awaken missionary awareness, give new impetus to the mission ad gentes and recall the raison d’être of the Mission), which will be celebrated in October 2019, we want to give a new impetus to our Mission at the personal, community, sectoral or provincial level in line with Cardinal Filoni’s challenge to us: “What does the centenary (150th anniversary, ndlr) of a religious family mean, if not to reflect fundamentally and understand why it was created and what role it still has today?”
3) Great attention must be paid to all our Institutions where we work with children and vulnerable adults so that these places become safe and evangelical spaces for them.
4) Everywhere the opening of our Jubilee went well. But let us not only focus on external manifestations, we want to take advantage of this opportunity and this time of grace for a new missionary impulse to make a difference thanks to our charism and the Holy Spirit who leads us on the roads of the world.
Let us continue to pray in community that this Jubilee Year will be a time of grace for our Society and the local Churches with whom we collaborate fraternally and that the next Plenary Council to be held in Kampala from mid-November 2019 will renew our enthusiasm and missionary strength that no power can take from us.
Recently, at the Generalate, the meeting of the General Council with the provincial superiors and the two sections took place. Two confreres attached to the general services – Stéphane Joulain for the integrity of the ministry and Andreas Göpfert for JPIC – addressed them. Here is a summary of their interventions.
Stéphane Joulain : The provincials were able to listen and discuss with Fr. Benoît Malvaux, General Procurator of the Company of Jesus, invited by the General Council. The subject of his conference was “the preliminary inquiry”. This conference was also given to the Safeguarding Delegates during their last training in Rome who took place in November 2018. So, Provincials and Safeguarding Delegates have received the same information. This preliminary inquiry precedes the canonical process in case of allegations of behaviour against the sixth commandment by a cleric on a minor or a vulnerable adult. The provincials were able to ask Fr Malvaux other canonical questions. His competence and numerous examples have made it possible to address these difficult and delicate questions in a very practical and serious manner.
Andreas Göpfert: On February 13, 2019, there was a JPIC-ED working session. For one hour and a half, the General Council, the Provincials and the Section Delegate Superiors met with the coordinator of JPIC-ED, Fr Andreas Göpfert. The first part of the meeting was devoted to the reading of some signs of the times and the interpellations heard during the audience with Pope Francis and to the celebration of the 150th anniversary with Cardinal Filoni (see PowerPoint below). In the second part, the coordinator reviewed the 2018 activity report and expressed some concerns, for example, about the functioning of the provincial commissions. There was a fruitful exchange between the participants calling for improvement. The coordinator also insisted on collaboration with Talitha Kum and with AEFJN and AFJN. The third part provided an opportunity to explain three events that will be organized by the coordination: a workshop on “Ecumenical Dialogue, a call for prophetic commitment” in March 2019 in Rome; an exchange and consultation meeting on “Islamic-Christian Dialogue” in April 2019 in Nairobi; a training workshop on “Life in intercultural community as an apostolic witness today” in September 2019 in Rome. Before concluding with the prayer of St. Bakhita, the coordinator gave some information on the pastoral care of human mobility taught at SIMI (Scalabrini International Migration Institute) in Rome (www.simiroma.org/site/) and SIHMA (Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility) in Capetown-South Africa (http://sihma.org.za/).
Start the Power-point by clicking on the small central white arrow at the bottom left and move it forward by continuing to click on the right arrow.
From 21 to 24 February, the presidents of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences around the world responded to Pope Francis’ call to come to Rome to the Vatican to reflect together on how best to respond seriously to this unprecedented crisis facing the Catholic Church today. The sufferings of so many men and women, children and young people call for a determination on the part of the whole Church. During these three days, several speakers followed one another to address different topics based on the three areas of reflection proposed by the organizing committee: Responsibility, Accountability, Transparency.
All the conferences can be found on the VaticanNews YouTube channel. This summit was also punctuated by several testimonies of victims previously recorded in audio or video. These testimonies allowed those among the speakers who had never heard from victims to discover the extent of the suffering they had endured. Participants also worked in language groups.
What should we remember from this summit?
It is possible to read many analyses in different languages in the online press, indeed 450 journalists were accredited, mainly from the English-speaking world. But for us, here is what we can learn that is important.
This meeting is just one step in this immense project which is to respond to the suffering of the victims with compassion and mercy. It is also a step in the process of conversion of hearts necessary for real preventive work to make the Catholic Church a safe home for children and the most vulnerable. In his final speech, Pope Francis set 7 priority axes of work for the whole People of God and more especially for the bishops of the whole world, here they are summarized with his words (Excerpts from the final speech):
“Protection of children: the primary objective of any measure is to protect children and prevent them from being victims of psychological and physical abuse. It is therefore necessary to change attitudes to combat the defensive and reactive attitude aimed at safeguarding the Institution, in favour of a sincere and determined search for the good of the community, giving priority to the victims of abuse in every sense of the word.”
“An irreproachable seriousness: I would like to repeat here that the Church will not spare itself to do all that is necessary to bring to justice anyone who has committed such crimes. The Church will never seek to stifle or underestimate any case.”
“True purification: despite the measures taken and the progress made in preventing abuse, it is necessary to impose a perpetual and renewed commitment to the holiness of pastors whose configuration in Christ the Good Shepherd is a right of God’s people.”
“Formation: in other words, the requirements of the selection and formation of candidates for the priesthood with criteria not only negative, aimed mainly at excluding problematic personalities, but also positive by offering a balanced formation path for suitable candidates, oriented towards holiness including the virtue of chastity.”
“To strengthen and verify the guidelines of the Episcopal Conferences: that is, to reaffirm the requirement of unity of the Bishops in the application of measures that have the value of norms and not only of guidelines. No abuse should ever be covered…”
“Accompanying victims of abuse: The harm they have experienced leaves indelible wounds in them, which are also manifested in resentment and tendencies towards self-destruction. The Church therefore has a duty to offer them all the necessary support by calling on experts in this field.”
“The digital world: the protection of minors must take into account the new forms of sexual abuse and all forms of abuse that threaten them in the environments in which they live and through the new instruments they use.”
These are seven priorities that Pope Francis has set for the bishops and major superiors of consecrated congregations and institutes of consecrated life, but also more broadly for the whole People of God.
To complete this roadmap, other measures will come: produce a Motu proprio on this question; offer a practical guide for bishops and major superiors to help them in their mission; “task forces / teams of experts” may also be created to help local churches that have more difficulty finding material and human resources to fight against this evil that spares no particular church or human community.
Let us make this roadmap our own.
Useful links :
Chaine YouTube de VaticanNews pour voir ou revoir les conférences :
En français – https://www.youtube.com/user/vaticanfr
In English – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxIsefyl9g9A5SGWA4FvGIA
Also exists in other languages
Many interviews and articles on www.vaticannews.va
The monthly JPIC promoters meeting was held on the 20th of February 2019 at the headquarter of UISG in Rome. This meeting was organised by the African Working Group and focused on the topic “State of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa: providing keys for better understanding of the expansion of Islam”.
After the opening prayer prepared by Sr. Ignatia Asoh (TSSF) and Sr. Caroline Njah Bongnavti (SUSC), and the presentation of the 20 participants of various Religious congregations and institutes, Fr. Mariano Tibaldo (MCCJ) introduced the speaker. Fr. Felix Phiri is former Director of the Islamic studies in the Tangaza University of Nairobi and former Professor and lecturer at Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamology Studies (PISAI). He is at the moment actually in charge of the Southern African Province of the Missionary of Africa.
At the beginning of the conference, Fr Phiri explained the territorial expansion of Islam in its early existence. Next, he focused more on the Islam in sub-Saharan Africa showing how Islam spread in Africa. The speaker then stressed the conceptual frameworks underlying the Islamic expansion. He offered comprehensive explanation about “Da’wah” which refers to Islamic missionary activities in modern period. He stressed the different types of “Jihad”, the inner and outer jihad, and its extremist forms which are actually spreading out in various African Countries such as Nigeria, Mali and Kenya.
The Da’wah movement is encouraged by several agents of Islamic propagation, such as Islamic governments, Muslim International Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations and individual Muslim Initiatives. The Islamist infrastructure worldwide relies heavily on “zakat”, the mandatory charity demanded by Islam, usually 2.5 percent of one’s annual earnings.
The agents of Islamic propagation explore various strategies such as media, schools and universities, social welfare projects as well as funding of mosques, Islamic centres and madrassas. There are also different ways used to national politics, economy, society, family life, education, language and daily cultural habits.
Fr. Phiri concluded by saying that although a religion with a universal outlook, Islam foresees a coexistence with other religions. In its expansionist thrust, Islam needs no one’s permission, emphasised Fr. Phiri, on the contrary Muslims would gladly see Islam become more accepted in society. (click here for the content of the conference)
During the second part of the conference, the participants asked questions on cohabitation of Muslims and Christians. The answers given by Fr. Phiri were clear and realistic. He encouraged the participants to live their witness through authentic Christian life in coherence to the message of Jesus. To the question about Pope Francis’ landmark visit to the United Arab Emirates, the speaker underscored the important gesture of encounter, the coming as a friend, the importance of collaboration between Muslims and Christians.
At the end of the conference, the moderator, in the name of all participants, expressed deep gratitude to Fr. Felix Phiri for his very interesting and impressive conference on Islam in sub-Saharan Africa.
Before concluding the meeting, Sr Sheila (executive secretary) gave some information about the future events organised by the JPIC commission.