The Teaching Function of the Church
» The Missionary Action of the Church
Because the whole Church is of its nature missionary and the work of evangelisation is to be considered a fundamental duty of the people of God, all
Christ’s faithful must be conscious of the responsibility to play their part in missionary activity.
§1 The Roman Pontiff and the College of Bishops have the responsibility for the overall direction and coordination of the initiatives and activities which concern missionary work and cooperation.
§2 As the sponsors of the universal Church and of all the Churches, all Bishops are to have a special solicitude for missionary activity, especially by arousing, fostering and sustaining missionary initiatives in their own particular Churches.
Members of institutes of consecrated life, because of the dedication to the service of the Church deriving from their very consecration, have an obligation to play a zealous and special part in missionary activity, in a manner appropriate to their institute.
Missionaries, that is, those who have been sent by the competent ecclesiastical authority to engage in missionary activity, may be chosen from the indigenous population or from others, be they secular clergy, or members of institutes of consecrated life or of a society of apostolic life, or other lay members of Christ’s faithful.
§1 Catechists are to be given a role in missionary work. These are lay members of Christ’s faithful who have received proper formation and are outstanding in their living of the christian life. Under the direction of missionaries, they are to present the Gospel teaching and engage in liturgical worship and in works of charity.
§2 Catechists are to receive their formation in schools founded for this purpose. If there are no such schools, they are to be formed under the direction of the missionaries.
Missionary activity properly so called, whereby the Church is founded amongst peoples or groups where it has not taken root before, is performed principally by the Church sending heralds of the Gospel, until such time as the new
Churches are fully constituted, that is, have their own resources and sufficient means, so that they themselves can carry on the work of evangelisation.
§1 By the testimony of their words and of their lives, missionaries are to establish a sincere dialogue with those who do not believe in Christ, so that, taking their native character and culture into account, ways may be opened up by which they can be led to know the good news of the Gospel.
§2 Missionaries are to ensure that they teach the truths of the faith to those whom they judge to be ready to receive the good news of the Gospel, so that, if they freely request it, they may be admitted to the reception of baptism.
§1 Those who have expressed the wish to embrace faith in Christ, and who have completed the period of their preliminary catechumenate, are to be admitted to the catechumenate proper in a liturgical ceremony; and their names are to be inscribed in the book which is kept for this purpose.
§2 By formation and their first steps in christian living, catechumens are to be initiated into the mysteries of salvation, and introduced into the life of faith, liturgy and charity of the people of God, as well as into the apostolate.
§3 It is the responsibility of the Episcopal Conference to establish norms concerning the arrangement of the catechumenate, determining what should be done by catechumens and what should be their prerogatives.
By means of appropriate formation, neophytes are to be led to a deeper knowledge of the Gospel truths, and to the fulfilment of the duties undertaken in baptism. They are also to be imbued with a sincere love of Christ and his Church.
§1 In mission territories, it is the responsibility of the diocesan Bishop:
1° to promote, regulate and coordinate both new initiatives and established works concerning missionary activity;
2° to ensure that there are proper agreements with the Moderators of those institutes which dedicate themselves to missionary activities, and that relationships with them are for the good of the mission.
§2 The provisions made by the diocesan Bishop in accordance with §1, n. 1 are binding on all missionaries, including religious and their helpers residing in his territory.
In order to foster missionary cooperation, in each diocese:
1° vocations to the mission are to be promoted;
2° a priest is to be appointed to promote missionary initiatives, especially the
‘Pontifical Missionary Works’;
3° a day for the missions is to be celebrated annually;
4° each year an appropriate financial contribution for the missions is to be sent to the
The Episcopal Conference is to establish and promote means by which those who come to their territory from the missions, for the purpose of work or study, are to be given a fraternal welcome and helped with suitable pastoral care.
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