DECREE ON THE MISSION ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH - Ad Gentes
Promulgated by His Holiness, Pope Paul VI On December 7, 1965
1. Divinely sent to the nations of the world to be unto them "a
universal sacrament of salvation," the Church, driven by the inner
necessity of her own catholicity, and obeying the mandate of her Founder
(cf. Mark 16:16), strives ever to proclaim the Gospel to all men. The
Apostles themselves, on whom the Church was founded, following in the
footsteps of Christ, "preached the word of truth and begot churches."
It is the duty of their successors to make this task endure "so that the
word of God may run and be glorified" (2 Thess. 3 :1) and the kingdom of
God be proclaimed and established throughout the world.
In the present state of affairs, out of which there is arising a new
situation for mankind, the Church, being the salt of the earth and the
light of the world (cf. Matt. 5:13-14), is more urgently called upon to
save and renew every creature, that all things may be restored in Christ
and all men may constitute one family in Him and one people of God.
Therefore, this sacred synod, while rendering thanks to God for the
excellent results that have been achieved through the whole Church's
great-hearted endeavour, desires to sketch the principles of missionary
activity and to rally the forces of all the faithful in order that the
people of God, marching along the narrow way of the Cross, may spread
everywhere the reign of Christ, Lord and overseer of the ages (cf. Ecc.
36:19), and may prepare the way for his coming.
CHAPTER I - PRINCIPLES OF DOCTRINE
2. The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature, since it is from
the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws
her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father.
This decree, however, flows from the "fount-like love" or charity of God
the Father who, being the "principle without principle" from whom the
Son is begotten and the Holy Spirit proceeds through the Son, freely
creating us on account of His surpassing and merciful kindness and
graciously calling us moreover to share with Him His life and His glory,
has generously poured out, and does not cease to pour out still, His
divine goodness. Thus He who created all things may at last be "all in
all" (1 Cor. 15:28), bringing about at one and the same time His own
glory and our happiness. But it pleased God to call men to share His
life, not just singly, apart from any mutual bond, but rather to mold
them into a people in which His sons, once scattered abroad, might be
gathered together (cf. John 11:52).
3. This universal design of God for the salvation of the human race is
carried out not only, as it were, secretly in the soul of a man, or by
the attempts (even religious ones) by which in diverse ways it seeks
after God, if perchance it may contact Him or find Him, though He be not
far from anyone of us (cf. Acts 17:27). For these attempts need to be
enlightened and healed; even though, through the kindly workings of
Divine Providence, they may sometimes serve as leading strings toward
God, or as a preparation for the Gospel. Now God, in order to
establish peace or the communion of sinful human beings with Himself, as
well as to fashion them into a fraternal community, did ordain to
intervene in human history in a way both new and final by sending His
Son, clothed in our flesh, in order that through Him He might snatch men
from the power of darkness and Satan (cf. Col. 1:13; Acts 10:38) and
reconcile the world to Himself in Him (cf. 2 Cor. 5:19). Him, then, by
whom He made the world, He appointed heir of all things, that in Him
He might restore all (cf. Eph. 1:10).
For Jesus Christ was sent into the world as a real mediator between God
and men. Since He is God, all divine fullness dwells bodily in Him (Col.
2:9). According to His human nature, on the other hand, He is the new
Adam, made head of a renewed humanity, and full of grace and of truth
(John 1:14). Therefore the Son of God walked the ways of a true
Incarnation that He might make men sharers in the nature of God: made
poor for our sakes, though He had been rich, in order that His poverty
might enrich us (2 Cor. 8:9). The Son of Man came not that He might be
served, but that He might be a servant, and give His life as a ransom
for the many--that is, for all (cf. Mark 10:45). The Fathers of the
Church proclaim without hesitation that what has not been taken up by
Christ is not made whole. Now, what He took up was our entire human
nature such as it is found among us poor wretches, save only sin (cf.
Heb. 4:15; 9:28). For Christ said concerning Himself, He whom the Father
sanctified and sent into the world (cf. John 10:36): "The Spirit of the
Lord is upon me, because He anointed me; to bring good news to the poor
He sent me, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim to the captives
release, and sight to the blind" (Luke 4:18). And again: "The Son of Man
has come to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10).
But what the Lord preached that one time, or what was wrought in Him for
the saving of the human race, must be spread abroad and published to the
ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), beginning from Jerusalem (cf. Luke 24:27),
so that what He accomplished at that one time for the salvation of all,
may in the course of time come to achieve its effect in all.
4. To accomplish this, Christ sent from the Father His Holy Spirit, who
was to carry on inwardly His saving work and prompt the Church to spread
out. Doubtless, the Holy Spirit was already at work in the world before
Christ was glorified. Yet on the day of Pentecost, He came down upon
the disciples to remain with them forever (cf. John 14:16). The Church
was publicly displayed to the multitude, the Gospel began to spread
among the nations by means of preaching, and there was presaged that
union of all peoples in the catholicity of the faith by means of the
Church of the New Covenant, a Church which speaks all tongues,
understands and accepts all tongues in her love, and so supersedes the
divisiveness of Babel.
For it was from Pentecost that the "Acts of the Apostles" took origin,
just as Christ was conceived when the Holy Spirit came upon the Virgin
Mary, and just as Christ was impelled to the work of His ministry by the
same Holy Spirit descending upon Him while He prayed.
Now, the Lord Jesus, before freely giving His life for the world, did so
arrange the Apostles' ministry and promise to send the Holy Spirit that
both they and the Spirit might be associated in effecting the work of
salvation always and everywhere. Throughout all ages, the Holy Spirit
makes the entire Church "one in communion and in ministering; He equips
her with various gifts of a hierarchical and charismatic nature,"
giving life, soul-like, to ecclesiastical institutions and
instilling into the hearts of the faithful the same mission spirit which
impelled Christ Himself. Sometimes He even visibly anticipates the
Apostles' acting, just as He unceasingly accompanies and directs it
in different ways.
5. From the very beginning, the Lord Jesus "called to Himself those whom
He wished; and He caused twelve of them to be with Him, and to be sent
out preaching (Mark 3:13; cf. Matt. 10:1-42). Thus the Apostles were the
first budding-forth of the New Israel, and at the same time the
beginning of the sacred hierarchy. Then, when He had by His death and
His resurrection completed once for all in Himself the mysteries of our
salvation and the renewal of all things, the Lord, having now received
all power in heaven and on earth (cf. Matt. 28:18), before He was taken
up into heaven (cf. Acts 1:11), founded His Church as the sacrament of
salvation and sent His Apostles into all the world just as He Himself
had been sent by His Father (cf. John 20:21), commanding them: "Go,
therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to
observe all that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19 ff.). "Go into the
whole world, preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is
baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe, shall be
condemned" (Mark 16:15 ff.). Whence the duty that lies on the Church of
spreading the faith and the salvation of Christ, not only in virtue of
the express command which was inherited from the Apostles by the order
of bishops, assisted by the priests, together with the successor of
Peter and supreme shepherd of the Church, but also in virtue of that
life which flows from Christ into His members: "From Him the whole body,
being closely joined and knit together through every joint of the
system, according to the functioning in due measure of each single part,
derives its increase to the building up of itself in love" (Eph. 4:16).
The mission of the Church, therefore, is fulfilled by that activity
which makes her, obeying the command of Christ and influenced by the
grace and love of the Holy Spirit, fully present to all men or nations,
in order that, by the example of her life and by her preaching, by the
sacraments and other means of grace, she may lead them to the faith, the
freedom and the peace of Christ, that thus there may lie open before
them a firm and free road to full participation in the mystery of
Since this mission goes on and in the course of history unfolds the
mission of Christ Himself, who was sent to preach the Gospel to the
poor, the Church, prompted by the Holy Spirit, must walk in the same
path on which Christ walked: a path of poverty and obedience, of service
and self-sacrifice to the death, from which death He came forth a victor
by His resurrection. For thus did all the Apostles walk in hope, and by
many trials and sufferings they filled up those things wanting to the
Passion of Christ for His body which is the Church (cf. Col. 1:24). For
often, the blood of Christians was like a seed.
6. This duty, to be fulfilled by the order of bishops, under the
successor of Peter and with the prayers and help of the whole Church, is
one and the same everywhere and in every condition, even though it may
be carried out differently according to circumstances. Hence, the
differences recognizable in this, the Church's activity, are not due to
the inner nature of the mission itself, but rather to the circumstances
in which this mission is exercised.
These circumstances in turn depend sometimes on the Church, sometimes on
the peoples or groups or men to whom the mission is directed. For the
Church, although of itself including the totality or fullness of the
means of salvation, does not and cannot always and instantly bring them
all into action. Rather, she experiences beginnings and degrees in that
action by which she strives to make God's plan a reality. In fact, there
are times when, after a happy beginning she must again lament a set-back,
or at least must linger in a certain state of unfinished insufficiency.
As for the men, groups and peoples concerned, only by degrees does she
touch and pervade them, and thus take them up into full catholicity. The
right sort of means and actions must be suited to any state or
"Missions" is the term usually given to those particular undertakings by
which the heralds of the Gospel, sent out by the Church and going forth
into the whole world, carry out the task of preaching the Gospel and
planting the Church among peoples or groups who do not yet believe in
Christ. These undertakings are brought to completion by missionary
activity and are mostly exercised in certain territories recognized by
the Holy See. The proper purpose of this missionary activity is
evangelization, and the planting of the Church among those peoples and
groups where it has not yet taken root. Thus from the seed which is
the word of God, particular autochthonous churches should be
sufficiently established and should grow up all over the world, endowed
with their own maturity and vital forces Under a hierarchy of their own,
together with the faithful people, and adequately fitted out with
requisites for living a full Christian life, they should make their
contribution to the good of the whole Church. The chief means of the
planting referred to is the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To
preach this Gospel the Lord sent forth His disciples into the whole
world, that being reborn by the word of God (cf. 1 Peter 1:23), men
might be joined to the Church through baptism--that Church which, as the
body of the Word Incarnate, is nourished and lives by the word of God
and by the eucharistic bread (cf. Acts 2:43).
In this missionary activity of the Church various stages sometimes are
found side by side: first, that of the beginning or planting, then that
of newness or youth. When these have passed, the Church's missionary
activity does not cease, but there lies upon the particular churches
already set up the duty of continuing this activity and of preaching the
Gospel to those still outside.
Moreover, the groups among which the Church dwells are often radically
changed, for one reason or other, so that an entirely new set of
circumstances may arise. Then the Church must deliberate whether these
conditions might again call for her missionary activity. Besides,
circumstances are sometimes such that, for the time being, there is no
possibility of expounding the Gospel directly and forthwith. Then, of
course, missionaries can and must at least bear witness to Christ by
charity and by works of mercy, with all patience, prudence and great
confidence. Thus they will prepare the way for the Lord and make Him
Thus it is plain that missionary activity wells up from the Church's
inner nature and spreads abroad her saving Faith. It perfects her
Catholic unity by this expansion. It is sustained by her apostolicity.
It exercises the collegial spirit of her hierarchy. It bears witness to
her sanctity while spreading and promoting it. Thus, missionary activity
among the nations differs from pastoral activity exercised among the
faithful as well as from undertakings aimed at restoring unity among
Christians. And yet these two ends are most closely connected with the
missionary zeal because the division among Christians damages the
most holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature and blocks
the way to the faith for many. Hence, by the very necessity of mission,
all the baptized are called to gather into one flock, and thus they will
be able to bear unanimous witness before the nations to Christ their
Lord. And if they are not yet capable of bearing witness to the same
faith, they should at least be animated by mutual love and esteem.
7. This missionary activity derives its reason from the will of God,
"who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the
truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men,
Himself a man, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all" (1
Tim. 2:4-5), "neither is there salvation in any other" (Acts 4:12).
Therefore, all must be converted to Him, made known by the Church's
preaching, and all must be incorporated into Him by baptism, and into
the Church which is His body. For Christ Himself, "by stressing in
express language the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mark 16:16;
John 3:5), at the same time confirmed the necessity of the Church, into
which men enter by baptism, as by a door. Therefore those men cannot be
saved, who though aware that God, through Jesus Christ, founded the
Church as something necessary, still do not wish to enter into it, or to
persevere in it." Therefore, though God in ways known to Himself can
lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel to find that faith without
which it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6), yet a necessity lies
upon the Church (1 Cor. 9:16), and at the same time a sacred duty, to
preach the Gospel. And hence missionary activity today as always retains
its power and necessity.
By means of this activity, the Mystical Body of Christ unceasingly
gathers and directs its forces toward its own growth (cf. Eph. 4:11-16).
The members of the Church are impelled to carry on such missionary
activity by reason of the love with which they love God and by which
they desire to share with all men the spiritual goods of both this life
and the life to come.
Finally, by means of this missionary activity, God is fully glorified,
provided that men fully and consciously accept His work of salvation,
which He has accomplished in Christ. In this way and by this means, the
plan of God is fulfilled--that plan to which Christ conformed with
loving obedience for the glory of the Father who sent Him, that the
whole human race might form one people of God and be built up into one
temple of the Holy Spirit which, being the expression of brotherly
harmony, corresponds with the inmost wishes of all men. And so at last,
there will be realized the plan of our Creator, who formed man to His
own image and likeness, when all who share one human nature, regenerated
in Christ through the Holy Spirit and beholding the glory of God, will
be able to say with one accord: "Our Father."
8. Missionary activity is closely bound up even with human nature itself
and its aspirations. For by manifesting Christ the Church reveals to men
the real truth about their condition and their whole calling, since
Christ is the source and model of that redeemed humanity, imbued with
brotherly love, sincerity and a peaceful spirit, to which they all
aspire. Christ and the Church, which bears witness to Him by preaching
the Gospel, transcend every peculiarity of race or nation and therefore
cannot be considered foreign anywhere or to anybody. Christ Himself
is the way and the truth, which the preaching of the Gospel opens to all
in proclaiming in the hearing of all these words of Christ: "Repent, and
believe the Gospel" ( Mark 1:15). Now, since he who does not believe is
already judged (cf. John 3:18), the words of Christ are at one and the
same time words of judgment and of grace, of death and of life. For it
is only by putting to death what is old that we are able to approach the
newness of life. This is true first of all about persons, but it holds
also for the various goods of this world which bear the mark both of
man's sin and of God's blessing: "For all have sinned and have need of
the glory of God" (Rom. 3:28). No one is freed from sin by himself and
by his own power, no one is raised above himself, no one is completely
rid of his sickness or his solitude or his servitude. On the
contrary, all stand in need of Christ, their model, their mentor, their
liberator, their Saviour, their source of life. The Gospel has truly been
a leaven of liberty and progress in human history, even in the temporal
sphere, and always proves itself a leaven of brotherhood, of unity and
of peace. Not without cause is Christ hailed by the faithful as "the
expected of the nations, and their Saviour."
9. And so the time for missionary activity extends between the first
coming of the Lord and the second, in which latter the Church will be
gathered from the four winds like a harvest into the kingdom of God.
For the Gospel must be preached to all nations before the Lord shall
come (cf. Mark 13:10).
Missionary activity is nothing else and nothing less than an epiphany,
or a manifesting of God's decree, and its fulfilment in the world and
in world history, in the course of which God, by means of mission,
manifestly works out the history of salvation. By the preaching of the
word and by the celebration of the sacraments, the center and summit of
which is the most holy Eucharist, He brings about the presence of
Christ, the author of salvation. But whatever truth and grace are to be
found among the nations, as a sort of secret presence of God, He frees
from all taint of evil and restores to Christ its maker, who overthrows
the devil's domain and wards off the manifold malice of vice. And so,
whatever good is found to be sown in the hearts and minds of men, or in
the rites and cultures peculiar to various peoples, not only is not
lost, but is healed, uplifted, and perfected for the glory of God, the
shame of the demon, and the bliss of men. Thus, missionary activity
tends toward eschatological fulness. For by it the people of God is
increased to that measure and time which the Father has fixed in His
power (cf. Acts 1:7). To this people it was said in prophecy: "Enlarge
the space for your tent, and spread out your tent cloths unsparingly"
(Is. 54:2). By missionary activity, the mystical body grows to the
mature measure of the fullness of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:13); and the
spiritual temple, where God is adored in spirit and in truth (cf. John
4:23), grows and is built up upon the foundation of the Apostles and
prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the supreme corner stone (Eph.
CHAPTER II MISSION WORK ITSELF
10. The Church, sent by Christ to reveal and to communicate the love of
God to all men and nations, is aware that there still remains a gigantic
missionary task for her to accomplish. For the Gospel message has not
yet, or hardly yet, been heard by two billion human beings ( and their
number is increasing daily), who are formed into large and distinct
groups by permanent cultural ties, by ancient religious traditions, and
by firm bonds of social necessity. Some of these men are followers of
one of the great religions, but others remain strangers to the very
knowledge of God, while still others expressly deny His existence, and
sometimes even attack it. The Church, in order to be able to offer all
of them the mystery of salvation and the life brought by God, must
implant herself into these groups for the same motive which led Christ
to bind Himself, in virtue of His Incarnation, to certain social and
cultural conditions of those human beings among whom He dwelt.
ARTICLE 1: Christian Witness
11. The Church must be present in these groups through her children, who
dwell among them or who are sent to them. For all Christians, wherever
they live, are bound to show forth, by the example of their lives and by
the witness of the word, that new man put on at baptism and that power
of the Holy Spirit by which they have been strengthened at Confirmation.
Thus other men, observing their good works, can glorify the Father (cf.
Matt. 5:16) and can perceive more fully the real meaning of human life
and the universal bond of the community of mankind.
In order that they may be able to bear more fruitful witness to Christ,
let them be joined to those men by esteem and love; let them acknowledge
themselves to be members of the group of men among whom they live; let
them share in cultural and social life by the various undertakings and
enterprises of human living; let them be familiar with their national
and religious traditions; let them gladly and reverently lay bare the
seeds of the Word which lie hidden among their fellows. At the same
time, however, let them look to the profound changes which are taking
place among nations, and let them exert themselves to keep modern man,
intent as he is on the science and technology of today's world, from
becoming a stranger to things divine; rather, let them awaken in him a
yearning for that truth and charity which God has revealed. Even as
Christ Himself searched the hearts of men, and led them to divine light,
so also His disciples, profoundly penetrated by the Spirit of Christ,
should know the people among whom they live, and should converse with
them, that they themselves may learn by sincere and patient dialogue
what treasures a generous God has distributed among the nations of the
earth. But at the same time, let them try to furbish these treasures,
set them free, and bring them under the dominion of God their Saviour.
12. The presence of the Christian faithful in these human groups should
be inspired by that charity with which God has loved us, and with which
He wills that we should love one another (cf. 1 John 4:11). Christian
charity truly extends to all, without distinction of race, creed, or
social condition: it looks for neither gain nor gratitude. For as God
loved us with an unselfish love, so also the faithful should in their
charity care for the human person himself, loving him with the same
affection with which God sought out man. Just as Christ, then, went
about all the towns and villages, curing every kind of disease and
infirmity as a sign that the kingdom of God had come (cf. Matt. 9:35ff;
Acts 10:38), so also the Church, through her children, is one with men
of every condition, but especially with the poor and the afflicted. For
them, she gladly spends and is spent (cf. a Cor. 12:15), sharing in
their joys and sorrows, knowing of their longings and problems,
suffering with them in death's anxieties. To those in quest of peace,
she wishes to answer in fraternal dialogue, bearing them the peace and
the light of the Gospel.
Let Christians labour and collaborate with others in rightly regulating
the affairs of social and economic life. With special care, let them
devote themselves to the education of children and young people by means
of different kinds of schools, which should be considered not only as
the most excellent means of forming and developing Christian youth, but
also as a valuable public service, especially in the developing nations,
working toward the uplifting of human dignity, and toward better living
conditions. Furthermore, let them take part in the strivings of those
peoples who, waging war on famine, ignorance, and disease, are
struggling to better their way of life and to secure peace in the world.
In this activity, the faithful should be eager to offer prudent aid to
projects sponsored by public and private organizations, by governments,
by various Christian communities, and even by non Christian religions.
However, the Church has no desire at all to intrude itself into the
government of the earthly city. It claims no other authority than that
of ministering to men with the help of God, in a spirit of charity and
faithful service (cf. Matt. 20:26; 23:11).
Closely united with men in their life and work, Christ's disciples hope
to render to others true witness of Christ, and to work for their
salvation, even where they are not able to announce Christ fully. For
they are not seeking a mere material progress and prosperity for men,
but are promoting their dignity and brotherly union, teaching those
religious and moral truths which Christ illumined with His light; and in
this way, they are gradually opening up a fuller approach to God. Thus
they help men to attain to salvation by love for God and neighbour, and
the mystery of Christ begins to shine forth, in which there appears the
new man, created according to God (cf. Eph. 4:24), and in which the
charity of God is revealed.
ARTICLE 2: Preaching the Gospel and Gathering together the People of
13. Wherever God opens a door of speech for proclaiming the mystery of
Christ (cf. Col. 4:3), there is announced to all men (cf. Mark 16:15; 1
Cor. 9:15; Rom. 10:14) with confidence and constancy (cf. Acts 4:13, 29,
31; 9:27, 28; 13:46; 14:3; 19:8; 26:26; 28:31; 1 Thess. 2:2; 2 Cor.
3:12; 7:4; Phil. 1:20; Eph. 3:12; 6:19, 20) the living God, and He Whom
He has sent for the salvation of all, Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Thess. 1:9-10;
1 Cor. 1:18-21; Gal. 1:31; Acts 14:15-17; 17:22-31), in order that non-
Christians, when the Holy Spirit opens their heart (cf. Acts 16:14), may
believe and be freely converted to the Lord, that they may cleave
sincerely to Him Who, being the "way, the truth, and the life" (John
14:6), fulfils all their spiritual expectations, and even infinitely
This conversion must be taken as an initial one, yet sufficient to make
a man realize that he has been snatched away from sin and led into the
mystery of God's love, who called him to enter into a personal
relationship with Him in Christ. For, by the workings of divine grace,
the new convert sets out on a spiritual journey, by means of which,
already sharing through faith in the mystery of Christ's Death and
Resurrection, he passes from the old man to the new one, perfected in
Christ (cf. Col. 3:5-10; Eph. 4:20-24). This bringing with it a
progressive change of outlook and morals, must become evident with its
social consequences, and must be gradually developed during the time of
the catechumenate. Since the Lord he believes in is a sign of
contradiction (cf. Luke 2:34; Matt. 10:34-39), the convert often
experiences an abrupt breaking off of human ties, but he also tastes the
joy which God gives without measure (cf. 1 Thess. 1:6).
The Church strictly forbids forcing anyone to embrace the Faith, or
alluring or enticing people by worrisome wiles. By the same token, she
also strongly insists on this right, that no one be frightened away from
the Faith by unjust vexations on the part of others.
In accord with the Church's ancient custom, the convert's motives should
be looked into, and if necessary, purified.
14. Those who, through the Church, have accepted from God a belief in
Christ are admitted to the catechumenate by liturgical rites. The
catechumenate is not a mere expounding of doctrines and precepts, but a
training period in the whole Christian life, and an apprenticeship duty
drawn out, during which disciples are joined to Christ their Teacher.
Therefore, catechumens should be properly instructed in the mystery of
salvation and in the practice of Gospel morality, and by sacred rites
which are to be held at successive intervals, they should be
introduced into the life of faith, liturgy, and of love, which is led by
the People of God.
Then, when the sacraments of Christian initiation have freed them from
the power of darkness (cf. Col. 1:13), having died with Christ, been
buried with Him and risen together with Him (cf. Rom. 6:4-11; Col. 2:12-
13; 1 Peter 3:21-22; Mark 16:16), they receive the Spirit (cf. 1 Thess.
3:5-7; Acts 8:14-17) of adoption of sons and celebrate the remembrance
of the Lord's death and resurrection together with the whole People of
It is to be desired that the liturgy of the Lenten and Paschal seasons
should be restored in such a way as to dispose the hearts of the
catechumens to celebrate the Easter mystery at whose solemn ceremonies
they are reborn to Christ through baptism.
But this Christian initiation in the catechumenate should be taken care
of not only by catechists or priests, but by the entire community of the
faithful, so that right from the outset the catechumens may feel that
they belong to the people of God. And since the life of the Church is an
apostolic one, the catechumens also should learn to cooperate
wholeheartedly, by the witness of their lives and by the profession of
their faith, in the spread of the Gospel and in the building up of the
Finally, the juridic status of catechumens should be clearly defined in
the new code of canon law. For since they are joined to the Church,
they are already of the household of Christ, and not seldom they are
already leading a life of faith, hope, and charity.
ARTICLE 3: Forming the Christian Community
15. The Holy Spirit, who calls all men to Christ by the seeds of the
Word and by the preaching of the Gospel, stirs up in their hearts a
submission to the Faith. When in the womb of the baptismal font, He
begets to a new life those who believe in Christ, He gathers them into
the one People of God which is "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a
holy nation, a purchased people" (1 Peter 2:9).
Therefore, let the missionaries, God's co-workers, (cf. 1 Cor. 3:9), raise
up congregations of the faithful such that, walking worthy of the
vocation to which they have been called (cf. Eph. 4:1), they may
exercise the priestly, prophetic, and royal office which God has
entrusted to them. In this way, the Christian community will be a sign
of God's presence in the world: for by reason of the eucharistic
sacrifice, this community is ceaselessly on the way with Christ to the
carefully nourished on the word of God it bears witness to
Christ; and finally, it walks in charity and is fervent with the
The Christian community should from the very start be so formed that it
can provide for its own necessities insofar as this is possible.
This congregation of the faithful, endowed with the riches of its own
nation's culture, should be deeply rooted in the people. Let families
flourish which are imbued with the spirit of the Gospel and let them
be assisted by good schools; let associations and groups be organized by
means of which the lay apostolate will be able to permeate the whole of
society with the spirit of the Gospel. Lastly, let charity shine out
between Catholics of different rites.
The ecumenical spirit should be nurtured in the neophytes, who should
take into account that the brethren who believe in Christ are Christ's
disciples, reborn in baptism, sharers with the People of God in very
many good things. Insofar as religious conditions allow, ecumenical
activity should be furthered in such a way that, excluding any
appearance of indifference or confusion on the one hand, or of unhealthy
rivalry on the other, Catholics should cooperate in a brotherly spirit
with their separated brethren, according to the norms of the Decree on
Ecumenism, making before the nations a common profession of faith,
insofar as their beliefs
are common, in God and in Jesus Christ, and cooperating in social and in
technical projects as well as in cultural and religious ones. Let them
cooperate especially for the sake of Christ, their common Lord: let His
Name be the bond that unites them This cooperation should be undertaken
not only among private persons, but also, subject to approval by the
local Ordinary, among churches or ecclesial communities and their works.
The Christian faithful gathered together out of all nations into the
Church "are not marked off from the rest of men by their government, nor
by their language, nor by their political institutions," and so they
should live for God and Christ in a respectable way of their own
national life. As good citizens, they should be true and effective
patriots, altogether avoiding racial prejudice and hypernationalism, and
should foster a universal love for man.
To obtain all these things, the most important and therefore worthy of
special attention are the Christian laity: namely, those who have been
incorporated into Christ and live in the world. For it is up to them,
imbued with the spirit of Christ, to be a leaven working on the temporal
order from within, to dispose it always in accordance with Christ.
But it is not enough that the Christian people be present and be
organized in a given nation, nor is it enough to carry out an apostolate
by way of example. They are organized for this purpose, they are present
for this, to announce Christ to their non-Christian fellow-citizens by
word and example, and to aid them toward the full reception of Christ.
Now, in order to plant the Church and to make the Christian community
grow, various ministries are needed, which are raised up by divine
calling from the midst of the faithful congregation, and are to be
carefully fostered and tended to by all. Among these are the offices of
priests, of deacons, and of catechists, and Catholic action. Religious
men and women likewise, by their prayers and by their active work, play
an indispensable role in rooting and strengthening the Kingdom of Christ
in souls, and in causing it to be spread.
16. Joyfully the Church gives thanks for the priceless gift of the
priestly calling which God has granted to so many youths among those
nations but recently converted to Christ. For the Church drives deeper
roots in any given sector of the human family when the various faithful
communities all have, from among their members, their own ministers of
salvation in the order of bishops, priests, and deacons, serving their
own brethren, so that the young churches gradually acquire a diocesan
structure with their own clergy.
What this council has decreed concerning priestly vocations and
formation, should be religiously observed where the Church is first
planted, and among the young churches. Of great importance are the
things which are said about closely joining spiritual formation with the
doctrinal and pastoral; about living a life patterned after the Gospel
without looking out for ones own comfort or that of one's family; about
cultivating a deep appreciation of the mystery of the Church. From all
this, they will be well taught to dedicate themselves wholly to the
service of the Body of Christ and to the work of the Gospel, to cleave
to their own bishop as his faithful co-workers, and to cooperate with
To attain this general end, the whole training of the students should be
planned in the light of the mystery of salvation as it is revealed in
the Scriptures. This mystery of Christ and of man's salvation they can
discover and live in the liturgy.
These common requirements of priestly training, including the pastoral
and practical ones prescribed by the council should be combined with
an attempt to make contact with their own particular national way of
thinking and acting. Therefore, let the minds of the students be kept
open and attuned to an acquaintance and an appreciation of their own
nation's culture. In their philosophical and theological studies, let
them consider the points of contact which mediate between the traditions
and religion of their homeland on the one hand and the Christian
religion on the other. Likewise, priestly training should have an
eye to the pastoral needs of that region; and the students should learn
the history, aim, and method of the Church's missionary activity, and
the special social, economic, and cultural conditions of their own
people. Let them be educated in the ecumenical spirit, and duly prepared
for fraternal dialogue with non-Christians. All this demands that
studies for the priesthood be undertaken, so far as possible, in
association and living together with their own people. Finally, let
care be taken that students are trained in ordinary ecclesiastical and
Moreover, suitable priests should be chosen, after a little pastoral
practice, to pursue higher studies in universities, even abroad and
especially in Rome, as well as in other institutes of learning. In this
way the young churches will have at hand men from among the local clergy
equipped with the learning and skill needed for discharging more
difficult ecclesiastical duties.
Where episcopal conferences deem it opportune the order of the diaconate
should be restored as a permanent state of life according to the norms
of the Constitution "De Ecclesia." For there are men who actually
carry out the functions of the deacon's office, either preaching the
word of God as catechists, or presiding over scattered Christian
communities in the name of the pastor and the bishop, or practicing
charity in social or relief work. It is only right to strengthen them by
the imposition of hands which has come down from the Apostles, and to
bind them more closely to the altar, that they may carry out their
ministry more effectively because of the sacramental grace of the
17. Likewise worthy of praise are the ranks of men and women catechists,
well deserving of missionary work to the nations. Imbued with the
apostolic spirit, they labour much to make an outstanding and altogether
necessary contribution to the spread of the Faith and of the Church.
In our time, when there are so few clerics to preach the Gospel to such
great numbers and to exercise the pastoral ministry, the position of
catechists is of great importance. Therefore their training must be so
accomplished and so adapted to advances on the cultural level that as
reliable co-workers of the priestly order, they may perform their task
well, though it be weighed down with new and greater burdens.
There should therefore be an increase in the number of schools, both on
the diocesan and on the regional levels, wherein future catechists may
study Catholic doctrine, especially in the fields of Scripture and the
liturgy, as well as catechetical method and pastoral practice, schools
wherein they can develop in themselves a Christian character, and
wherein they can devote themselves tirelessly to cultivating piety and
sanctity of life. Moreover, conventions or courses should be held in
which at certain times catechists could be refreshed in the disciplines
and skills useful for their ministry, and in which their spiritual life
could be nourished and strengthened. In addition, for those who devote
themselves entirely to this work, a decent standard of living should be
provided, and social security, by paying them a just wage.
It would be desirable for the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of
the Faith to provide special funds for the due training and support of
catechists. If it seems necessary and fitting, let a special "Opus pro
Catechists" be founded.
Moreover, the churches should gratefully acknowledge the noble work
being done by auxiliary catechists, whose help they will need. These
preside over the prayers in their communities and teach sacred doctrine.
Something suitable should be done for their doctrinal and spiritual
training. Besides, it is to be hoped that, where it seems opportune,
catechists who are duly trained should receive a "missio canonica" in a
publicly celebrated liturgical ceremony, so that in the eyes of the
people they may serve the Faith with greater authority.
18. Right from the planning stage of the Church, the religious life
should be carefully fostered. This not only offers precious and
absolutely necessary assistance to missionary activity, but by a more
inward consecration made to God in the Church, it also clearly manifests
and signifies the inner nature of the Christian calling.
Religious institutes, working to plant the Church, and thoroughly imbued
with mystic treasures with which the Church's religious tradition is
adorned, should strive to give expression to them and to hand them on,
according to the nature and the genius of each nation. Let them reflect
attentively on how Christian religious life might be able to assimilate
the ascetic and contemplative traditions, whose seeds were sometimes
planted by God in ancient cultures already prior to the preaching of the
Various forms of religious life are to be cultivated in the young
churches, in order that they may display various aspects of the mission
of Christ and of the life of the Church, and may devote themselves to
various pastoral works, and prepare their members to exercise them
rightly. On the other hand, the bishops in their conference should see
to it that congregations pursuing the same apostolic aims are not
multiplied to the detriment of the religious life and of the apostolate.
Worthy of special mention are the various projects for causing the
contemplative life to take root. There are those who in such an attempt
have kept the essential elements of a monastic institution, and are bent
on implanting the rich tradition of their order; there are others again
who are returning to the simpler forms of ancient monasticism. But all
are studiously looking for a genuine adaptation to local conditions.
Since the contemplative life belongs to the fullness of the Church's
presence, let it be put into effect everywhere.
CHAPTER III - PARTICULAR CHURCHES
19. The work of planting the Church in a given human community reaches a
certain goal when the congregation of the faithful already rooted in
social life and somewhat conformed to the local culture, enjoys a
certain firmness and stability. That is to say, it is already equipped
with its own supply (perhaps still insufficient) of local priests,
Religious, and laymen, and is endowed with these institutions and
ministries which are necessary for leading and expanding the life of the
people of God under the guidance of their own bishop.
In such new churches, the life of the People of God must mature in all
those fields of Christian life which are to be reformed by the norms of
this council. The congregations of the faithful become daily more aware
of their status as communities of faith, liturgy, and love. The laity
strive by their civic and apostolic activity to set up a public order
based on justice and love. The means of social communication are put to
wise use at the opportune time. By a truly Christian life, families
become seed-beds of the lay apostolate and of vocations to the priesthood
and the Religious life. Finally, the Faith is taught by an adequate
catechesis; it is celebrated in a liturgy in harmony with the genius of
the people, and by suitable canonical legislation, it is introduced into
upright institutions and local customs.
The bishops, in turn, each one together with his own college of priests,
being more and more imbued with the mind of Christ and of the Church,
feel and live along with the universal Church. Let the young church keep
up an intimate communion with the whole Church, whose tradition they
should link to their own culture, in order to increase, by a certain
mutual exchange of forces, the life of the Mystical Body. Hence,
stress should be laid on those theological, psychological, and human
elements which can contribute to fostering this sense of communion with
the universal Church.
But these churches, very often located in the poorer portions of the
globe, are mostly suffering from a very serious lack of priests and of
material support. Therefore, they are badly in need of the continued
missionary activity of the whole Church to furnish them with those
subsidies which serve for the growth of the local Church, and above all
for the maturity of Christian life. This mission action should also
furnish help to those churches, founded long since, which are in a
certain state of regression or weakness.
Yet these churches should launch a common pastoral effort and suitable
works to increase the number of vocations to the diocesan clergy and to
religious institutes, to discern them more readily, and to train them
more efficiently, so that little by little these churches may be able
to provide for themselves and to bring aid to others.
20. Since the particular church is bound to represent the universal
Church as perfectly as possible, let it realize that it has been sent to
those also who are living in the same territory with it, and who do not
yet believe in Christ. By the life witness of each one of the faithful
and of the whole community, let the particular church be a sign which
points out Christ to others.
Furthermore, there is need of the ministry of the word, so that the
Gospel may reach all. The bishop should be first and foremost a herald
of the Faith, who leads new disciples to Christ. In order that he may
properly fulfil this noble task, let him thoroughly study both the
conditions of his flock, and the private opinions of his countrymen
concerning God, taking careful note also of those changes which
urbanization, migrations, and religious indifferentism have introduced.
The local priests in the young churches should zealously address
themselves to the work of spreading the Gospel, and join forces with the
foreign missionaries who form with them one college of priests, united
under the authority of the bishop. They should do this, not only with a
view to the feeding of the faithful flock, and to the celebrating of
divine worship, but also to the preaching of the Gospel to those
outside. Let them show themselves ready, and when the occasion presents
itself, let them with a willing heart offer the bishop their services
for missionary work in distant and forsaken areas of their own diocese
or of other dioceses.
Let religious men and women, and the laity too, show the same fervent
zeal toward their countrymen, especially toward the poor.
Episcopal conferences should see to it that biblical, theological,
spiritual and pastoral refresher courses are held at stated intervals
with this intention, that amid all vicissitudes and changes the clergy
may acquire a fuller knowledge of the theological sciences and of
For the rest, those things which this council has laid down,
particularly in the Decree on the Life and Work of Priests, should be
In order that this missionary work of the particular church may be
performed, there is need of qualified ministers, who are to be prepared
in due time in a way suited to the conditions of each church. Now, since
men are more and more banding together into associations, it is very
fitting that episcopal conferences should form a common plan concerning
the dialogue to be held with such associations. But if perchance in
certain regions, groups of men are to be found who are kept away from
embracing the Catholic Faith because they cannot adapt themselves to the
peculiar form which the church has taken on there, it is hoped that this
condition will be provided for in a special way, until such time as
all Christians can gather together in one community. Let individual
bishops call to their dioceses the missionaries whom the Holy See may
have on hand for this purpose; or let them receive such missionaries
gladly, and support their undertakings effectively.
In order that this missionary zeal may flourish among those in their own
homeland, it is very fitting that the young churches should participate
as soon as possible in the universal missionary work of the Church, and
send their missionaries to proclaim the Gospel all over the world, even
though they themselves are suffering from a shortage of clergy. For
their communion with the universal Church will be somehow brought to
perfection when they themselves take an active part in missionary zeal
toward other nations.
21. The church has not been really founded, and is not yet fully alive,
nor is it a perfect sign of Christ among men, unless there is a laity
worthy of the name working along with the hierarchy. For the Gospel
cannot be deeply grounded in the abilities, life and work of any people
without the active presence of laymen. Therefore, even at the very
founding of a Church, great attention is to be paid to establishing a
mature, Christian laity.
For the lay faithful fully belong at one and the same time both to the
People of God and to civil society: they belong to the nation in which
they were born; they have begun to share in its cultural treasures by
means of their education; they are joined to its life by manifold social
ties; they are cooperating in its progress by their efforts, each in his
own profession; they feel its problems to be their very own, and they
are trying to solve them. They also belong to Christ, because they were
regenerated in the Church by faith and by baptism, so that they are
Christ's in newness of life and work (cf. 1 Cor. 15:23), in order that
in Christ, all things may be made subject to God, and finally God will
be all in all (cf. Cor. 15:28).
Their main duty, whether they are men or women, is the witness which
they are bound to bear to Christ by their life and works in the home, in
their social milieu, and in their own professional circle. In them,
there must appear the new man created according to God in justice and
true holiness (cf. Eph. 4:24). But they must give expression to this
newness of life in the social and cultural framework of their own
homeland, according to their own national traditions. They must be
acquainted with this culture; they must heal it and preserve it; they
must develop it in accordance with modern conditions, and finally
perfect it in Christ, so that the Faith of Christ and the life of the
Church are no longer foreign to the society in which they live, but
begin to permeate and to transform it. Let them be one with their fellow
countrymen in sincere charity, so that there appears in their way of
life a new bond of unity and of universal solidarity, which is drawn
from the mystery of Christ. Let them also spread the Faith of Christ
among those with whom they live or have professional connections--an
obligation which is all the more urgent, because very many men can hear
of Christ and of the Gospel only by means of the laity who are their
neighbours. In fact, wherever possible, the laity should be prepared, in
more immediate cooperation with the hierarchy, to fulfil a special
mission of proclaiming the Gospel and communicating Christian teachings,
so that they may add vigour to the nascent Church.
Let the clergy highly esteem the arduous apostolate of the laity. Let
them train the laity to become conscious of the responsibility which
they as members of Christ have for all men; let them instruct them
deeply in the mystery of Christ, introduce them to practical methods,
and be at their side in difficulties, according to the tenor of the
Constitution Lumen Gentium and the Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem.
While pastors and laymen, then, retain each their own state of life and
their own responsibilities, let the whole young church render one firm
and vital witness to Christ, and become a shining beacon of the
salvation which comes to us in Christ.
22. The seed which is the word of God, watered by divine dew, sprouts
from the good ground and draws from thence its moisture, which it
transforms and assimilates into itself, and finally bears much fruit. In
harmony with the economy of the Incarnation, the young churches, rooted
in Christ and built up on the foundation of the Apostles, take to
themselves in a wonderful exchange all the riches of the nations which
were given to Christ as an inheritance (cf. Ps. 2:8). They borrow from
the customs and traditions of their people, from their wisdom and their
learning, from their arts and disciplines, all those things which can
contribute to the glory of their Creator, or enhance the grace of their
Saviour, or dispose Christian life the way it should be.
To achieve this goal, it is necessary that in each major socio-cultural
area, such theological speculation should be encouraged, in the light of
the universal Church's tradition, as may submit to a new scrutiny the
words and deeds which God has revealed, and which have been set down in
Sacred Scripture and explained by the Fathers and by the magisterium.
Thus it will be more clearly seen in what ways faith may seek for
understanding, with due regard for the philosophy and wisdom of these
peoples; it will be seen in what ways their customs, views on life, and
social order, can be reconciled with the manner of living taught by
divine revelation. From here the way will be opened to a more profound
adaptation in the whole area of Christian life. By this manner of
acting, every appearance of syncretism and of false particularism will
be excluded, and Christian life will be accommodated to the genius and
the dispositions of each culture. Particular traditions, together
with the peculiar patrimony of each family of nations, illumined by the
light of the Gospel, can then be taken up into Catholic unity. Finally,
the young particular churches, adorned with their own traditions, will
have their own place in the ecclesiastical communion, saving always the
primacy of Peter's See, which presides over the entire assembly of
And so, it is to be hoped that episcopal conferences within the limits
of each major socio-cultural territory will so coordinate their efforts
that they may be able to pursue this proposal of adaptation with one
mind and with a common plan.
CHAPTER IV MISSIONARIES
23. Although every disciple of Christ, as far in him lies, has the duty
of spreading the Faith, Christ the Lord always calls whomever He will
from among the number of His disciples, to be with Him and to be sent by
Him to preach to the nations (cf. Mark 3:13). Therefore, by the Holy
Spirit, who distributes the charismata as He wills for the common good
(1 Cor. 12:11), He inspires the missionary vocation in the hearts of
individuals, and at the same time He raises up in the Church certain
institutes which take as their own special task the duty of preaching
the Gospel, a duty belonging to the whole Church.
They are assigned with a special vocation who, being endowed with a
suitable natural temperament, and being fit as regards talent and other
qualities, have been trained to undertake mission work; or be they
autochthonous or be they foreigners: priests, Religious, or laymen. Sent
by legitimate authority, they go out in faith and obedience to those who
are far from Christ. They are set apart for the work for which they have
been taken up (cf. Acts 13:2), as ministers of the Gospel, "that the
offering up of the Gentiles may become acceptable, being sanctified by
the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:16).
24. Yet man must respond to God Who calls, and that in such a way, that
without taking counsel with flesh and blood (Gal. 1:16), he devotes
himself wholly to the work of the Gospel. This response, however can
only be given when the Holy Spirit gives His inspiration and His power.
For he who is sent enters upon the life and mission of Him Who "emptied
Himself, taking the nature of a slave" (Phil. 2:7). Therefore, he must
be ready to stay at his vocation for an entire lifetime, and to renounce
himself and all those whom he thus far considered as his own, and
instead to "make himself all things to all men" (1 Cor. 9:22).
Announcing the Gospel to all nations, he confidently makes known the
mystery of Christ, whose ambassador he is, so that in him he dares to
speak as he ought (cf. Eph. 6:19; Acts 4:31), not being ashamed of the
scandal of the Cross. Following in his Master's footsteps, meek and
humble of heart, he proves that His yoke is easy and His burden light
(Matt. 11:29ff.) By a truly evangelical life, in much patience, in
long-suffering, in kindness, in unaffected love (cf. 2 Cor. 6:4ff.), he
bears witness to his Lord, if need be to the shedding of his blood. He
will ask of God the power and strength, that he may know that there is
an overflowing of joy amid much testing of tribulation and deep poverty
(2 Cor. 8:2). Let him be convinced that obedience is the hallmark of the
servant of Christ, who redeemed the human race by His obedience.
The heralds of the Gospel, lest they neglect the grace which is in them,
should be renewed day by day in the spirit of their mind (cf. 1 Tim.
4:14; Eph. 4:23; 2 Cor. 4:16). Their Ordinaries and superiors should
gather the missionaries together from time to time, that they be
strengthened in the hope of their calling and may be renewed in the
apostolic ministry, even in houses expressly set up for this purpose.
25. For such an exalted task, the future missionary is to be prepared by
a special spiritual and moral training. For he must have the spirit
of initiative in beginning, as well as that of constancy in carrying
through what he has begun; he must be persevering in difficulties,
patient and strong of heart in bearing with solitude, fatigue, and
fruitless labour. He will encounter men with an open mind and a wide
heart; he will gladly take up the duties which are entrusted to him; he
will with a noble spirit adapt himself to the people's foreign way of
doing things and to changing circumstances; while in the spirit of
harmony and mutual charity, he will cooperate with his brethren and all
who dedicate themselves to the same task, so that together with the
faithful, they will be one heart and one soul (cf. Acts 2:42; 4:32), in
imitation of the apostolic community.
These habits of mind should be earnestly exercised already in his time
of training; they should be cultivated, and should be uplifted and
nourished by the spiritual life. Imbued with a living faith and a hope
that never fails, the missionary should be a man of prayer. Let him have
an ardent spirit of power and of love and of prudence (cf. 2 Tim. 1:7).
Let him learn to be self-sufficing in whatever circumstances (Phil.
4:11); always bearing about in himself the dying of Jesus, so that the
life of Jesus may work in those to whom he is sent (2 Cor. 4:10ff.), out
of zeal of souls, let him gladly spend all and be spent himself for
souls (cf. 2 Cor. 12:15ff.); so that "by the daily practice of his duty
he may grow in the love of God and neighbour." Thus, obedient to the
will of the Father together with Christ, he will continue His mission
under the hierarchical authority of the Church.
26. Those who are sent to different nations in order to be good
ministers of Christ, should be nourished with the "words of faith and
with good doctrine" (1 Tim. 4:6), which they should draw principally
from the Sacred Scriptures, studying the mystery of Christ, whose
heralds and witnesses they will be.
Therefore, all missionaries--priests, Brothers, Sisters, and lay folk-
each according to their own state, should be prepared and trained, lest
they be found unequal to the demands of their future work. From the
very beginning, their doctrinal training should be so planned that it
takes in both the universality of the Church and the diversity of the
world's nations. This holds for all of their studies by which they are
prepared for the exercise of the ministry, as also for the other studies
which it would be useful for them to learn, that they may have a general
knowledge of the peoples, cultures, and religions; not only a knowledge
that looks to the past, but one that considers the present time. For
anyone who is going to encounter another people should have a great
esteem for their patrimony and their language and their customs. It is
very necessary for the future missionary to devote himself to
missiological studies: that is, to know the teachings and norms of the
Church concerning missionary activity, to know along what roads the
heralds of the Gospel have run in the course of the centuries, and also
what is the present condition of the missions, and what methods are
considered more effective at the present time.
But even though this entire training program is imbued with pastoral
solicitude, a special and organized apostolic training ought to be
given, by means of both teaching and practical exercises.
Brothers and Sisters, in great numbers, should be well instructed and
prepared in the catechetical art, that they may collaborate still better
in the apostolate.
Even those who take part in missionary activity only for a time have to
be given a training which is suited to their condition.
All these different kinds of formation should be completed in the lands
to which they are sent, so that the missionaries may have a more
thorough knowledge of the history, social structures, and customs of the
people; that they may have an insight into their moral order and their
religious precepts, and into the secret notions which, according to
their sacred tradition, they have formed concerning God, the world and
man. Let the missionaries learn the languages to such a degree that
they can use them in a fluent and polished manner, and so find more easy
access to the minds and the hearts of men. Furthermore, they should
be properly introduced into special pastoral problems.
Some should be more thoroughly prepared in missiological institutes or
in other faculties or universities, so that they may be able to
discharge special duties more effectively and be a help, by their
learning, to other missionaries in carrying on the mission work, which
especially in our time presents so many difficulties and opportunities.
It is moreover highly desirable that the regional episcopal conferences
should have available an abundance of such experts, and that they should
make fruitful use of their knowledge and experience in the necessities
of their office. Nor should there be wanting some who are perfectly
skilled in the use of practical instruments and the means of social
communication, the importance of which should be highly appreciated by
27. All these things, though necessary for everyone who is sent to the
nations, can scarcely be attained to in reality by individual
missionaries. Since even mission work itself, as experience teaches,
cannot be accomplished by lone individuals, a common calling has
gathered these individuals together into institutes, in which, with
united efforts, they are properly trained and might carry out this work
in the name of the Church and under the direction of the hierarchy. For
many centuries, these institutes have borne the burden of the day and
the heat, devoting themselves to missionary labour either entirely or in
part. Often, vast territories were committed to them by the Holy See for
evangelization, and there they gathered together a new people for God, a
local church clinging to their own shepherds. With their zeal and
experience, they will serve, by fraternal cooperation either in the care
of souls or in rendering special services for the common good, those
churches which were founded at the cost of their sweat and even of their
Sometimes, throughout the entire extent of some region, they will take
certain tasks upon themselves; e.g., the evangelization of groups of
peoples who perhaps for special reasons have not yet accepted the Gospel
message, or who have thus far resisted it.
If need be, let them be on hand to help and train, out of their own
experience, those who will devote themselves to missionary activity for
For these reasons, and since there are still many nations to be led to
Christ, the institutes remain extremely necessary.
CHAPTER V PLANNING MISSIONARY ACTIVITY
28. The Christian faithful, having different gifts (cf. Rom. 12:6),
according to each one's opportunity, ability, charisms and ministry (cf.
1 Cor. 3:10), must all cooperate in the Gospel. Hence all alike, those
who sow and those who reap (cf. John 4:37), those who plant and those
who irrigate, must be one (cf. 1 Cor. 3:8), so that "in a free and
orderly fashion cooperating toward the same end," they may spend
their forces harmoniously for the building up of the Church.
Wherefore, the labours of the Gospel heralds and the help given by the
rest of the Christian faithful must be so directed and intertwined that
"all may be done in order" (1 Cor. 14:40) in all fields of missionary
activity and cooperation.
29. Since the charge of proclaiming the Gospel in the whole world falls
primarily on the body of bishops, the synod of bishops or that
"stable council of bishops for the entire Church," among the affairs
of general concern, should give special consideration to missionary
activity, which is the greatest and holiest task of the Church.
For all missions and for the whole of missionary activity, there should
be only one competent office, namely that of the "Propagation of the
Faith," which should direct and coordinate, throughout the world, both
missionary work itself and missionary cooperation. However, the law of
the Oriental Churches is to remain untouched.
Although the Holy Spirit in diverse manners arouses the mission spirit
in the Church of God, and oft times anticipates the action of those
whose task it is to rule the life of the Church, yet for its part, this
office should promote missionary vocations and missionary spirituality,
zeal and prayer for the missions, and should put out authentic and
adequate reports about them. Let it raise up missionaries and distribute
them according to the more urgent needs of various areas. Let it arrange
for an orderly plan of action, issue directives and principles adapted
to evangelization, and give the impetus. Let it take care of stimulating
and coordinating an effective collection of funds, which are to be
distributed according to reasons of necessity and usefulness, the extent
of the territory in question, the number of believers and non-believers,
of undertakings and institutes, of ministers and missionaries.
In coordination with the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, let
it search out ways and means for bringing about and directing fraternal
cooperation as well as harmonious living with missionary undertaking of
other Christian communities, that as far as possible the scandal of
division may be removed.
Therefore, this office must be both an instrument of administration and
an organ of dynamic direction, which makes use of scientific methods and
means suited to the conditions of modern times, always taking into
consideration present-day research in matters of theology, of
methodology and missionary pastoral procedure.
In the direction of this office, an active role with a deliberative vote
should be had by selected representatives of all those who cooperate in
missionary work: that is, the bishops of the whole world (the episcopal
conferences should be heard from in this regard), as well as the
moderators of pontifical institutes and works, in ways and under
conditions to be fixed by the Roman Pontiff. All these, being called
together at stated times, will exercise supreme control of all mission
work, under the authority of the Supreme Pontiff. This office should
have available a permanent group of expert consultors, of proven
knowledge and experience, whose duty it will be, among other things, to
gather pertinent information about local conditions in various regions,
and about the thinking of various groups of men, as well as about the
means of evangelization to be used. They will then propose
scientifically based conclusions for mission work and cooperation.
Institutes of religious women, regional undertakings for the mission
cause, and organizations of laymen (especially international ones)
should be suitably represented.
30. In order that the proper goals and results may be obtained, all
missionary workers should have but "one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32)
in the actual carrying out of mission work itself.
It is the bishop's role, as the ruler and center of unity in the
diocesan apostolate, to promote missionary activity, to direct it and to
coordinate it, but always in such a way that the zeal and spontaneity of
those who share in the work may be preserved and fostered. All
missionaries, even exempt Religious, are subject to his power in the
various works which refer to the exercise of the sacred apostolate.
To improve coordination, let the bishop set up, insofar as possible, a
pastoral council, in which clergy, Religious, and laity may have a part,
through the medium of selected delegates. Moreover, let them take care
that apostolic activity be not limited to those only who have already
been converted. A fair proportion of personnel and funds should be
assigned to the evangelization of non-Christians.
31. Episcopal conferences should take common counsel to deal with
weightier questions and urgent problems, without however neglecting
local differences. Lest the already insufficient supply of men and
means be further dissipated, or lest projects be multiplied without
necessity, it is recommended that they pool their resources to found
projects which will serve the good of all: as for instance, seminaries;
technical schools and schools of higher learning; pastoral,
catechetical, and liturgical centres; as well as the means of social
Such cooperation, when indicated, should also be initiated between
several different episcopal conferences.
32. It would also be good to coordinate the activities which are being
carried on by ecclesiastical institutes and associations. All these, of
whatever kind, should defer to the local Ordinary in all that concerns
missionary activity itself. Therefore, it will be very helpful to draw
up contracts to regulate relations between local Ordinaries and the
moderator of the institute.
When a territory has been committed to a certain institute, both the
ecclesiastical superior and the institute will be concerned to direct
everything to this end, that the new Christian community may grow into a
local church, which in due time will be governed by its own pastor with
When the commission of a certain territory expires, a new state of
affairs begins. Then the episcopal conference and the institutes in
joint deliberation should lay down norms governing the relations between
local Ordinaries and the institutes. It will be the role of Holy See
to outline the general principles according to which regional and even
particular contracts are to be drawn up.
Although the institutes will be prepared to continue the work which they
have begun, cooperating in the ordinary ministry of the care of souls,
yet when the local clergy grows numerous, it will be provided that the
institute, insofar as this is in agreement with its purpose, should
remain faithful to the diocese, generously taking over special works or
some area in it.
33. The institutes engaged in missionary activity in the same territory
should find ways and means of coordinating their work. Therefore, it
will be very useful to have conferences of Religious men and unions of
Religious women, in which all institutes of the same country or region
should take part. These conferences should ask what things can be done
by combined efforts, and they should be in close touch with the
All these things, with equal reason, should be extended to include the
cooperation of missionary institutes in the home lands, so that
questions and joint projects can be settled with less expense, as for
instance the formation of future missionaries, as well as courses for
missionaries, relations with public authorities and with international
or supranational organizations.
34. Since the right and methodical exercise of missionary activity
requires that those who labour for the Gospel should be scientifically
prepared for their task, and especially for dialogue with non-Christian
religions and cultures, and also that they should be effectively
assisted in the carrying out of this task, it is desired that, for the
sake of the missions, there should be fraternal and generous
collaboration on the part of scientific institutes which specialize in
missiology and in other arts and disciplines useful for the missions,
such as ethnology and linguistics, the history and science of religions,
sociology, pastoral skills and the like.
CHAPTER VI COOPERATION
35. Since the whole Church is missionary, and the work of evangelization
is a basic duty of the People of God, this sacred synod invites all to a
deep interior renewal; so that, having a vivid awareness of their own
responsibility for spreading the Gospel, they may do their share in
missionary work among the nations.
36. As members of the living Christ, incorporated into Him and made like
unto Him through baptism and through confirmation and the Eucharist, all
the faithful are duty-bound to cooperate in the expansion and spreading
out of His Body, to bring it to fullness as soon as may be (Eph. 4:13).
Therefore, all sons of the Church should have a lively awareness of
their responsibility to the world; they should foster in themselves a
truly catholic spirit; they should spend their forces in the work of
evangelization. And yet, let everyone know that their first and most
important obligation for the spread of the Faith is this: to lead a
profoundly Christian life. For their fervour in the service of God and
their charity toward others will cause a new spiritual wind to blow for
the whole Church, which will then appear as a sign lifted up among the
nations (cf. Is. 11:12), "the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14) and "the
salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:13). This testimony of a good life will more
easily have its effect if it is given in unison with other Christian
communities, according to the norms of the Decree on Ecumenism,12.
From this renewed spirit, prayer and works of penance will be
spontaneously offered to God that He may fructify the missionaries' work
with His grace; and then there will be missionary vocations, and the
material subsidies which the missions need will be forthcoming.
But in order that each and every one of the Christian faithful may be
fully acquainted with the present condition of the Church in the world,
and may hear the voice of the multitudes who cry "Help us!" (cf. Acts
16:9), modern means of social communication should be used to furnish
such mission information that the faithful may feel this mission work to
be their very own, and may open their hearts to such vast and profound
human needs, and may come to their assistance.
It is also necessary to coordinate the information, and to cooperate
with national and international agencies.
37. But since the People of God lives in communities, especially in
dioceses and parishes, and becomes somehow visible in them, it is also
up to these to witness Christ before the nations.
The grace of renewal cannot grow in communities unless each of these
extends the range of its charity to the ends of the earth, and devotes
the same care to those afar off as it does to those who are its own
Thus the whole community prays, works together, and exercises its
activity among the nations through those of its sons whom God has chosen
for this most excellent task.
It will be very useful, provided the universal scope of mission work is
not thereby neglected, to keep in contact with missionaries who are from
one's own community, or with some parish or diocese in the missions, so
that the communion between the communities may be made visible, and
serve for their mutual edification.
38. All bishops, as members of the body of bishops succeeding to the
College of Apostles, are consecrated not just for some one diocese, but
for the salvation of the entire world. The mandate of Christ to preach
the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15) primarily and immediately
concerns them, with Peter and under Peter. Whence there arises that
communion and cooperation of churches which is so necessary today for
carrying on the work of evangelization. In virtue of this communion, the
individual churches bear the burden of care for them all, and make their
necessities known to one another, and exchange mutual communications
regarding their affairs, since the extension of the Body of Christ is
the duty of the whole College of Bishops.
In his own diocese, with which he constitutes one unit, the bishop,
stimulating, promoting and directing the work for the missions, makes
the mission spirit and zeal of the People of God present and as it were
visible, so that the whole diocese becomes missionary.
It will be the bishop's task to raise up from among his own people,
especially the sick and those oppressed by hardship, some souls to offer
prayers and penance to God with a wide-open heart for the evangelization
of the world. The bishop will also gladly encourage youths and clerics
who have vocations to mission institutes, accepting it with a grateful
spirit if God should call some of them to be employed in the missionary
activity of the Church. The bishop will exhort and help the diocesan
congregations to play a role of their own in the missions; he will
promote the works of mission institutes among his own faithful, but most
especially the papal mission works. For it is only right to give these
works pride of place, since they are the means of imbuing Catholics from
their very infancy with a real universal and missionary outlook; and
they are also the means of making an effective collection of funds to
subsidize all missions, each according to its needs.
But since the need for workers in the vineyard of the Lord is growing
from day to day, and diocesan priests have expressed the wish to play an
ever greater part in the evangelization of the world, this sacred synod
desires that the bishops, considering the very serious dearth of priests
which is hindering the evangelization of many areas, should send some of
their better priests, who offer themselves for mission work and have
received a suitable preparation, to those dioceses which are lacking in
clergy, where at least for a time they will exercise their missionary
ministry in a spirit of service.
But in order that the missionary activity of the bishops may be
exercised more effectively for the good of the whole Church, it would be
expedient for the episcopal conferences to take charge of those affairs
which concern the orderly cooperation of their own region.
In their own conferences, the bishops should deliberate about dedicating
to the evangelization of the nations some priests from among the
diocesan clergy; they should decide what definite offering each diocese
should be obliged to set aside annually for the work of the missions, in
proportion to its own budget; they should consider how to direct and
control the ways and means by which the missions receive direct help;
they should deal with assisting and if need be, founding, missionary
institutes and seminaries for diocesan mission clergy, and the promoting
of closer relations between such institutes and the dioceses.
It also pertains to the episcopal conferences to found and promote works
for the brotherly reception and due pastoral care of those who immigrate
from mission lands for the sake of studying or finding work. For through
them, far-away peoples are sometimes made near; and an excellent
opportunity is offered to communities which have long been Christian to
converse with nations which have not yet heard the Gospel, and to show
them in their own dutiful love and aid, the genuine face of Christ.
39. Priests personally represent Christ, and are collaborators of the
order of bishops in that threefold sacred task which by its very nature
belongs to the mission of the Church. Therefore, they should fully
understand that their life is also consecrated to the service of the
missions. Now because by means of their own ministry--which consists
principally in the Eucharist which perfects the Church--they are in
communion with Christ the Head and are leading others to this communion,
they cannot help but feel how much is yet wanting to the fullness of
that Body, and how much therefore must be done that it may grow from day
to day. They shall therefore plan their pastoral care in such a way that
it will serve to spread the Gospel among non-Christians.
In their pastoral activities, priests should stir up and preserve amid
the faithful a zeal for the evangelization of the world, by instructing
them in sermons and in Christian doctrine courses about the Church's
task of announcing Christ to all nations; by enlightening Christian
families about the necessity and the honour of fostering missionary
vocations among their own sons and daughters, by promoting mission
fervour in young people from the schools and Catholic associations so
that among them there may arise future heralds of the Gospel. Let
priests teach the faithful to pray for the missions, and let them not be
ashamed to ask alms of them for this purpose, becoming like beggars for
Christ and for the salvation of souls.
Professors in seminaries and universities will teach young people the
true state of the world and of the Church, so that the necessity of a
more intense evangelization of non-Christians will become clear to them
and will nurture their zeal. In teaching the dogmatic, biblical, moral,
and historical branches, they should focus attention on the missionary
elements therein contained, so that in this way a missionary awareness
may be formed in future priests.
40. Religious institutes of the contemplative and of the active life
have so far played, and still do play, the main role in the
evangelization of the world. This sacred synod gladly acknowledges their
merits and thanks God for all that they have expended for the glory of
God and the service of souls, while exhorting them to go on untiringly
in the work which they have begun, since they know that the virtue of
charity, which by reason of their vocation they are bound to practice
with greater perfection, obliges and impels them to a truly catholic
spirit and work.
Institutes of the contemplative life, by their prayers, sufferings, and
works of penance, have a very great importance in the conversion of
souls, because it is God who sends workers into His harvest when He is
asked to do so (cf. Matt. 9:38), God who opens the minds of non-
Christians to hear the Gospel (cf. Acts 16:14), and God who fructifies
the word of salvation in their hearts (cf. 1 Cor. 3:7). In fact, these
institutes are asked to found houses in mission areas, as not a few of
them have already done, so that there, living out their lives in a way
accommodated to the truly religious traditions of the people, they can
bear excellent witness among non-Christians to the majesty and love of
God, as well as to our union in Christ.
Institutes of the active life, whether they pursue a strictly mission
ideal or not, should ask themselves sincerely in the presence of God,
whether they would not be able to extend their activity for the
expansion of the Kingdom of God among the nations; whether they could
possibly leave certain ministries to others so that they themselves
could expend their forces for the missions; whether they could possibly
undertake activity in the missions, adapting their constitutions if
necessary, but according to the spirit of their founder; whether their
members are involved as totally as possible in the mission effort; and
whether their type of life is a witness to the Gospel accommodated to
the character and condition of the people.
Now since, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, secular institutes
are daily increasing in the Church, their activity, under the authority
of the bishop, could be fruitful in the missions in many ways as a sign
of complete dedication to the evangelization of the world.
41. Laymen cooperate in the Church's work of evangelization; as
witnesses and at the same time as living instruments, they share in her
saving mission; especially if they have been called by God and have
been accepted by the bishop for this work.
In those lands which are already Christian, laymen cooperate in the work
of evangelization by nurturing in themselves and in others a knowledge
and love of the missions; by stimulating vocations in their own family,
in Catholic associations, and in the schools; by offering subsidies of
every kind, that they may offer to others that gift of Faith which they
have received gratis.
But in mission lands, let laymen, whether foreigners or autochthonous,
teach in schools, administer temporal goods, cooperate in parish and
diocesan activities, and organize and promote various forms of the lay
apostolate, in order that the faithful of the young churches may be able
to take part as soon as possible in the life of the Church.
Lastly, let laymen gladly offer socio-economic cooperation to peoples on
the way of development. This cooperation is all the more to be praised,
the more it concerns itself with founding institutes which touch on the
basic structures of social life, or which are oriented to the training
of those who bear the responsibility for the government.
Worthy of special praise are those laymen who, in universities or in
scientific institutes, promote by their historical and scientific
religious research the knowledge of peoples and of religions; thus
helping the heralds of the Gospel, and preparing for the dialogue with
They should cooperate in a brotherly spirit with other Christians, with
non-Christians, and with members of international organizations, always
having before their eyes the fact that "the building up of the earthly
city should have its foundation in the Lord, and should be directed
To be equal to all these tasks, laymen need the necessary technical and
spiritual preparation, which should be given in institutes destined for
this; so that their lives may be a witness for Christ among non-
Christians, according to the words of the Apostle: "Do not be a
stumbling-block to Jews and Greeks and to the Church of God, even as I
myself in all things please all men, not seeking what is profitable to
myself but to the many, that they may be saved." (1 Cor. 10:32-33).
42. The council Fathers together with the Roman Pontiff, feeling deeply
their duty to spread everywhere the Kingdom of God, lovingly salute all
heralds of the Gospel, and especially those who suffer persecution for
the name of Christ, being made partakers of their sufferings.
They are afire with that same love with which Christ burned toward men.
But aware that it is God who brings it about that His Kingdom should
come on earth, they pour forth their prayers together with all the
Christian faithful, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary,
Queen of the Apostles, the nations may soon be led to the knowledge of
the truth (1 Tim. 2:4) and the glory of God which shines on the face of
Jesus Christ may shine upon all men through the Holy Spirit (2 Cor.
1. Dogmatic Constitution "Lumen Gentium," 48.
2. St. Augustine, "Exposition on Psalm 44," 23 (PL 36, 508; CChr 38,
1. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 1.
2. Cf. St. Irenaeus, "Against Heretics," III, 18, 1: "The word existing
in the presence of God, through whom all things were made, and who
always is present to the human race..." (PG 7 932)- id. IV, 6, 7: "From
the beginning even the Son, assisting at His own creation, reveals the
Father to all to whom He wills, and when He wills, and insofar as the
Father wills it." (ib. 990); cf. IV, 20, 6 and 7 (ib. 1037);
Demonstration No. 34 (Eastern Fathers, XII, 773, "Sources Chretiennes,"
62, Paris, 1958, p. 87)Clement of Alexandria, "Protrept." 112, 1 (GCS
Clement I, 79), "Strom.' VI, 6, 44, 1 (GCS Clement II, 453); 13, 106, 3
and 4 (ib. 485). For the doctrine itself, cf. Pius XII, radio messages,
Dec. 31, 1952; Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 16.
3. Cf. Hebrews 1:2; John 1:3 and 10, 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16.
4. Cf. St. Athanasius, "Letter to Epictetus," 7 (PG 26, 1060); St. Cyril
of Jerusalem, "Catech." 4, 9 (PG 33, 465); Marius Victorinus, "Against
Arius," 3, 3 (PL 8, 1101); St. Basil, Letter 26], 2 (PG 32, 969); St.
Gregory Nazianzen, Letter 101 (PG 37, 181); St. Gregory of Nyssa,
"Antirrheticus, Against Apollin.," 17 (PG 45, 1156); St. Ambrose Letter
48, 5 (PL 16, 1153); St. Augustine, "On John's Gospel" tract XXIII, 6
(PL 35, 1585; CChr 36, 236); above all in this way it is evident that
the Holy Spirit has not redeemed us, since He has not become flesh: "On
the Agony of Christ," 22, 24 (PL 40, 302); St. Cyril of Alexandria,
"Against Nestorian," I, 1 (PG 76, 20); St. Fulgentius, Letter 17, 3, 5
(PL 65, 454); "Ad Trasimundum," III, 21 (PL 65, 284: on sorrow and
5. It is the Spirit who has spoken through the Prophets; Creed of
Constantinople (Denzinger-Shoenmetzer, 150); St. Leo the Great, Sermon
76 (PL 54, 405-406). "When on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit
filled the disciples of the Lord, it was not so much the beginning of a
gift as it was the completion of one already bountifully possessed:
because the patriarchs, the prophets, the priests and all the holy men
who preceded them were already quickened by the life of the same Spirit.
. . although they did not possess his gifts to the same degree." Also
Sermon 77, 1, (PL 54 412)- Leo XIII, encyclical, "Divinum Illud" (AAS
1897, 650-651). Also St. John Chrysostom, where he insists on the
newness of the Holy Spirit's mission on Pentecost; "On Eph." c. 4,
Homily 10, 1 (PG 62, 75).
6. The Holy Fathers often speak of Babel and Pentecost; Origen, "On
Genesis," c. 1 (PG 12, 112); St. Gregory Naz., Oration 41, 16 (PG 36,
449); St. John Chrysostom, Homily 2 on Pentecost, 2 (PG 50, 467); "On
the Acts of the Apostles" (PG, 44); St. Augustine, "Narration on Psalm
54," 11 (PL 36, 636; CChr 39, 664 ff.); Sermon 271 (PL 38, 1245); St.
Cyril of Alexandria, Glaphyra on Genesis II (PG 69, 79); St. Gregory the
Great, "Homily on the Gospels," Book 2, Homily 30, 4 (PL 76, 1222); St.
Bede, "On Hexaeum," Book 3 (PL 91, 125). See above all the images in St.
Mark's basilica in Venice.
The Church speaks all languages, and thus gathers all in the catholicity
of the faith: St. Augustine, Sermons 267, 268, 269 (PL 38, 1225,1237)-
Sermon 175, 3 (PL 38 946); St. John Chrysostom, "On the First Epistle to
the Corinthians," Homily 35 (PG 61, 296); St. Cyril of Alexandria,
fragment on the Acts (PG 74, 758); St. Fulgentius, Sermon 8, 2-3 (PL 65,
Concerning Pentecost as the consecration of the Apostles to their
mission, cf. J.A. Cramer, "Catena on the Acts of the Apostles," Oxford,
1838, p. 24 ff.
7. Cf. Luke 3:22; 4:1; Acts 10:38.
8. Cf. John c. 14-17; Paul VI, allocution during the council, Sept. 14,
1964 (AAS 1964, 807).
9. Cf. Dogmatic constitution "Lumen Gentium," 4.
10. St. Augustine, Sermo 267, 4 (PL 38, 1231): "The Holy Spirit does in
the whole Church what the soul does in all the members of one body." Cf.
Const. Dogm. Lumen Gentium, 7 (together with note 8).
11. Cf. Acts 10:44-47; 11:15; 15:8.
12. Cf. Acts 4:8; 5:32; 8:26, 29, 39; 9:31; 10; 11:24-28; 13:2, 4, 9;
16:6-7; 20:22-23; 21:11; etc.
13. Tertullian, "Apologeticum," 50, 13 (PL 1, 534; CChr. 1, 171.
14. Already St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of the apostolic duty of
"planting" the Church; cf. "Sent." Book I, Dist. 16, q. 1, 2 ad 2 and ad
4 a. 3
sol., "Summa Theol." 1.q.43, a. 7 ad 6, I, II q. 106 A. 4 AD 4. Cf.
Benedict XV, "Maximum Illud" Nov. 30, 1919 (AAS 1919, 445 and 453); Pius
XI, "Rerum Ecclesiae," Feb. 28, 1926 (AAS 1926, 74); Pius XII, April 30,
1939, to the directors of the Pontifical Missionary Societies; id., June
24, 1944, to the directors of the Pontifical Missionary Societies (AAS
1944, 210, again in AAS 1950, 727, and 1951 508), id., June 29, 1948, to
the native clergy (AAS 1948, 374); id., "Evangelii Praecones," June 2,
1951 (AAS 1951, 507); id., "Fidei Donum," Jan. 15, 1957 (AAS 1957, 236);
John XXIII, "Princeps Pastorum," Nov. 28, 1959 (AAS, 1959, 835), Paul
VI, homily Oct. 18, 1964 (AAS 1964, 911).
Both the supreme pontiffs and the Fathers and scholastics have spoken of
the expansion of the Church: St. Thomas Aquinas, commentary on Matt.
16:28; Leo XIII, encyclical "Sancta Dei Civitas" (AAS, 1880, 241);
Benedict XV, encyclical, "Maximum Illud" (AAS 1919, 442); Pius XI,
encyclical, "Rerum Ecclesiae" (AAS, 1926, 65).
15. In this notion of missionary activity, as is evident, according to
the circumstances, even those parts of Latin America are included in
which there is neither a hierarchy proper to the region, nor maturity of
Christian life, nor sufficient preaching of the Gospel. Whether or not
such territory de facto is recognized as missionary by the Holy See does
not depend on this council. Therefore, regarding the connection between
the notion of missionary activity and a certain territory, it is wise to
say that this activity "in the majority of cases" is exercised in
certain territories recognized by the Holy See.
16. Decree "Unitates Redintegratio" 1.
17. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium" 14.
18. Cf. John 7:18; 8:30 and 44; 8:50; 17:1.
19. On this synthetic idea, see the teaching of St. Irenaeus de
Recaptiulatione. Cf. also Hippolytus, De Antichristo, 3: "Wishing all,
and desiring to save all, wishing all the excellence of God's children
and calling all the saints in one perfect man. . . " (PG 10, 732; GCS
Hippolyt I 2 p. 6); Benedictiones Iacob, 7 (T.U., 38-1 p. 18, 1 in 4 ss.
), Origen, In Ioann. Tom. I, n. 16: "Then there will be one action of
knowing God on the part of all those who have attained to God, under the
leadership of the Word who is with God, that thus all sons may be
correctly instructed in the knowledge of the Father, as now only the Son
knows the Father." (PG 14, 49, GCS Orig. IV 20)- St. Augustine, De
Sermone Domini in monte, I 41; "Let us love what can lead us to that
kingdom where no one says, 'My Father,' but all say to the one God: 'Our
Father'." (PL 34, 1250), St. Cyril Alex. In Joann. I: "For we are all in
Christ, and the common person of humanity comes back to life in him.
That is why he is also called the New Adam.... For he dwelt among us,
who by nature is the Son of God; and therefore in his Spirit we cry out:
Abba, Father But the Word dwells in all, in one temple, namely that
which he assumed for us and from us, that having us, ail in himself, he
might say, as Paul says, reconcile all in one body to the Father" (PG
20. Benedict XV, Maximum Illud (AAS 1919, 445): "For as the Church of
God is Catholic and is foreign to no people or nation..." Cf. John
XXIII, Mater et Magistra: "By divine right the Church belongs to all
nations . . . since she has as it were transfused her energy into the
veins of a people, she neither is nor considers herself an institution
imposed on that people from without.... And hence whatever seems to her
good and noble that they confirm and perfect" (namely those reborn in
Christ) (AAS 1961, 444).
21. Cf. Iraeneus, "Against Heretics" III, 15, n. 3 (PG 7, 919): "They
were preachers of truth and apostles of liberty."
22. Antiphon O for Dec. 23.
23. Cf. Matt. 24:31, Didache, 10, 5 (Funk I, p. 32).
24. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 17. St. Augustine 7, "City
of God," 1917 (PL 41, 646). Instr. S.C.P.F. (Collectanea I, n. 35, p.
25. According to Origen, the Gospel must be preached before the end of
this world: Homily on Luke XXI (GCS, Origen IX, 136, 21 ff.); "Comm.
Ser. On Matthew" 39 (XI 75, 25 ff; 76, 4 ff.); Homily on Jeremiah III, 2
(VIII 308, 29 ff.), St. Thomas "Summa Theol." Ia, IIae q. 106, a.4, ad
26. Hilary Pict. "On the Psalms" 14 (PL 9, 301); Eusebius of Caesarea,
"On Isaiah" 54, 2-3 (PG 24, 462-463), Cyril of Alexandria, "On Isaiah V,
" chapter 54 1-3 (PG 70, 1193).
1. Cf. Allocution of Paul VI of Nov. 21, 1964 in council (AAS 1964,
2. Cf. Declaration on "Religious Liberty" 2, 4, 10; constitution, "The
Church in the Modern World."
3. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 17.
4. Cf. Constitution, "On Sacred Liturgy," 64-65.
5. Concerning this liberation from demons and the powers of darkness, in
the Gospel, cf. Matt. 12:28; John 8:44; 12:31 (Cf. I John 3:8; Eph. 2:1-
2). In Liturgy of Baptism cf. Roman Ritual.
6. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 14.
7. Cf. St. Augustine, "Tract on John" 11, 4 (PL 35, 1476).
8. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 9.
9. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 10, 11, 34.
10 Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "On Divine Revelation," 21.
11 Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 12, 35.
12. Cf. Ib., 23, 3ff.
13. Cf. Ib., 11, 35, 41.
14 Cf. decree, "On Oriental Churches" 30.
15 Epistle to Diognetus, 5 (PG 2, 1173); Cf. Dogmatic constitution,
"Lumen Gentium," 38.
16. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 32; Decree "On Lay
17. Cf. Decree "On Priestly Training," 4, 8, 9.
18. Cf. Constitution, "On Sacred Liturgy," 17.
19. Cf. Decree, "On Priestly Training," 1.
20. Cf. John XXIII, "Princeps Pastorum" (AAS 1959, 843-844).
21 Cf Decree, "On Ecumenism," 4.
22 Cf John XXIII, "Princeps Pastorum" (AAS 1959, 842).
23. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 29.
24. Cf. John XXIII" Princeps Pastorum" (AAS 1959, 855).
25. The reference is to expressions of this kind: "catechistes a plein
temps,n "full time catechists."
26. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 31, 44.
1. Cf. John XXIII, "Princeps Pastorum" (AAS 1959, 838).
2. Cf. Decree, "On Priestly Ministry and Life," 11; Decree, "On Priestly
3. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 25.
4. Cf. Decree, "On Priestly Ministry and Life," 10, where in order to
render particular pastoral labors easier for various social groups,
provision is made for the establishment of personal prelacies, insofar
as needs of the apostolate demand it.
5. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 13.
6. Cf. Allocution of Paul VI at the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs
(AAS 1964, 908).
7. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 13.
1. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 17.
2. "Institutes" refer to orders, congregations, institutions and
associations which work in the missions.
3. Cf. Pius XI, "Rerum Ecclesiae" (AAS 1926, 69-7); Pius XII, "Saeculo
Exeunte" (AAS 1940, 256); "Evangelii Praecones" (AAS 1951, 506).
4 Cf Benedict XV, "Maximum Illud" (AAS 1919, 449-450).
5 Cf Benedict XV, "Maximum Illud" (AAS 1919, 448-449); Pius XII,
"Evangelii Praecones," (AAS 1951, 507). In the formation of priests to
be missionaries consideration is to be given to those things established
by statute in the decree "On Priestly Training" of the Second Vatican
6. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 41.
7. Cf. Benedict XV, "Maximum Illud" (AAS 1919 440); Pius XII, "Evangelii
Praecones" (AAS 1951, 507).
8. Benedict XV, "Maximum Illud" (AAS 1919, 448); Decree S.C.P.F., May
20, 1923 (AAS 1923, 369-370); Pius XII "Saeculo exeunte" (AAS 1940,
256), "Evangelii Praecones" (AAS 1951, 507)- John XXIII, "Princeps
Pastorum" (AAS 1959, 843-844).
9. Decree "On Priestly Training," 19-21; Apostolic constitution "Sedes
Sapientiae," with general statutes.
10. Pius XII, "Evangelii Praecones" (AAS 1951, 523-524).
11. Benedict XV, "Maximum Illud" (AAS 1919, 448); Pius XII, "Evangelii
Praecones" (AAS 1951, 507).
12. Cf. Pius XII, "Fidei Donum" (AAS 1957, 234).
13. Cf. "Priestly Ministry and Life," 10, refers to dioceses and
personal prelatures and the like.
1. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 18.
2. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 23.
3. Cf. Motu proprio, "Apostolica Sollicitudo," Sept. 15, 1965.
4. Cf. Paul VI, allocution Nov. 21, 1964, in council (AAS 1964).
5. Cf. Benedict XV, "Maximum Illud" (AAS 1019, 39-40).
6. If these missions for special reasons are made subject to other
ecclesiastical jurisdictions for a time, it is fitting that this
ecclesiastic jurisdiction establish relations with the Sacred
Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith so that in ordering and
directing all these missions, a regular and uniform pattern can be
7. Cf. Decree, "Pastoral Duties of Bishops in the Church," 35, 4.
8. Cf. Decree "Pastoral Duties of Bishops in the Church," 36-38.
9. Cf. Decree "Pastoral Duties of Bishops in the Church" 35, 5-6.
1. Cf. Decree, "On Ecumenism," 12.
2. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 23-24.
3. Cf. Benedict XV, "Maximum Illud" (AAS 1919, 453-454); Pius XI, "Rerum
Ecclesiae" (AAS 1926, 71-73); Pius XII, "Evangelii Praecones" (AAS 1951,
525-526); Id. "Fidei Donum" (AAS 1957, 241.)
4. Cf. Pius XII, "Fidei Donum" (AAS 1957, 245-246).
5. Decree "Pastoral Duties of Bishops," 6.
6. Cf . Pius XII, "Fidei Donum" (AAS 1957, 245) .
7. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 28.
8. Cf. Pius XI, "Rerum Ecclesiae" (AAS 1926, 72).
9. Cf. Dogmatic constitution "Lumen Gentium," 44.
10. Cf. Ibid. 33, 35.
11. Cf. Pius XII, "Evangelii Praecones" (AAS 1951, 510, 514)John XXIII,
"Princeps Pastorum" (AAS 1959, 851-852).
12. Cf. Dogmatic constitution, "Lumen Gentium," 46.
13. Cf. Pius XII, "Evangelii Praecones" (AAS 1951, 527)John XXIII,
"Princeps Pastorum" ( AAS 1959, 864 ) .