Vatican: Archbishop Dal Toso inauguarates the General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "Ours is a charism that the Church will always need. In fact the Church will always be missionary and therefore there will always be the need for all the People of God to support the mission of the Church. But times change and we must identify new forms of presence, according to the needs that arise". This is what Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) said this morning, opening the Annual General Assembly of the PMS, held at Fraterna Domus of Sacrofano (Rome), from today to 1 June (see Fides, 24/5/2019).
Summarizing the activity of the past year, Mgr. Dal Toso said that for him "it was first of all a year of knowledge, both of the Directors, and of the activity carried out. I must say that I am truly amazed and happy about the enormous work that is carried out by the national Directions, especially in the field of animation. I am admired by the commitment of many Directors and by their zeal".
Taking care of the formation of the national Directors and the staff of the national Directions was one of the priorities indicated by the general Assembly last year, the Archbishop recalled, who cited in this regard the three Seminars held, which integrate the three days of formation for the new Directors, "so that a change of the director does not compromise the work of the direction", and the drafting of brief guidelines for the new National Directors. Another important request was to nurture the relationship with the Bishops, "so in recent months I tried to meet the Bishops on several occasions", said Mgr. Dal Toso, citing the ad limina visits, when the various Bishops' Conferences come to Rome, and those in their national headquarters, in addition to meetings with a hundred Bishops present at the American Missionary Congress (CAM 5).
"Awareness raising work was made easier also for the celebration of the Extraordinary Missionary Month in October of this year - he continued -. The preparation of this celebration required a lot of energy, but it was worth it, because the echo is very positive and very strong. It means that we can still count on the missionary sensitivity of a significant part of the Church".
The President of the PMS therefore defined CAM "a beautiful sign of missionary impulse for the whole American continent, with the participation of more than 2,500 delegates from all over America", and informed that for the next CAM, which will be held in Puerto Rico, the indication was to take into account the anniversaries of 2022: 400 years of the Congregation, 200 years of the PMS, 100 years of pontifical recognition, to give the Missionary Congress a true imprint of mission ad gentes. "This is due to at least three reasons: it is important to distinguish - not separate - the ordinary pastoral care, from the missio ad gentes; there are vast areas of the Americas where the missio ad gentes is still necessary; the missio ad gentes opens the particular Churches to a universal view".
Therefore Mgr. Dal Toso shared some of his concerns with the Assembly: the need to give a solid theological foundation to the missionary activity of the PMS and the negative trend of financial availability, which requires new methods of collection and financing to be able to continue to guarantee the PMS service.
Looking at the future, the Archbishop said, among other things: "We are moving towards a period of greater missionary intensity and missionary need, both in the classically ad gentes territories and in the territories of more ancient Christian tradition. The role of the PMS will therefore not diminish, but will grow, in order to keep the missionary spirit alive, of which the Church will always have the greatest need". The continental meetings of the PMS were held on this topic, the results of which will be analyzed and taken into consideration for future activities.
Moving on to introducing the work of the General Assembly, the Archbishop stressed the importance of mission theology, chosen as a "pastoral theme" because, he explained, "in my meetings with the missionary world I soon realized that more in-depth reflection on crucial issues is needed. Without a true reasoned motivation, even our animation activity remains limited". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 27/5/2019)