The Teaching Function of the Church
» The Missionary Action of the Church
Since the whole Church is by its nature missionary and the work of evangelization must be held as a fundamental duty of the people of God, all the Christian faithful, conscious of their responsibility, are to assume their part in missionary work.
§1. The Roman Pontiff and the college of bishops have the supreme direction and coordination of endeavors and actions which belong to missionary work and missionary cooperation.
§2. As sponsors of the universal Church and of all the churches, individual bishops are to have special solicitude for missionary work, especially by initiating, fostering, and sustaining missionary endeavors in their own particular churches.
Since by virtue of their consecration members of institutes of consecrated life dedicate themselves to the service of the Church, they are obliged to engage in missionary action in a special way and in a manner proper to their institute.
Missionaries, that is, those whom competent ecclesiastical authority sends to carry out missionary work, can be chosen from among natives or non-natives, whether secular clerics, members of institutes of consecrated life or of societies of apostolic life, or other lay members of the Christian faithful.
§1. Catechists are to be used in carrying out missionary work; catechists are lay members of the Christian faithful, duly instructed and outstanding in Christian life, who devote themselves to setting forth the teaching of the gospel and to organizing liturgies and works of charity under the direction of a missionary.
§2. Catechists are to be formed in schools designated for this purpose or, where such schools are lacking, under the direction of missionaries.
The Church accomplishes the specifically missionary action which implants the Church among peoples or groups where it has not yet taken root especially by sending heralds of the gospel until the young churches are established fully, that is, when they are provided with the proper resources and sufficient means to be able to carry out the work of evangelization themselves.
§1. By the witness of their life and word, missionaries are to establish a sincere dialogue with those who do not believe in Christ so that, in a manner adapted to their own temperament and culture, avenues are opened enabling them to understand the message of the gospel.
§2. Missionaries are to take care that they teach the truths of faith to those whom they consider prepared to receive the gospel message so that they can be admitted to receive baptism when they freely request it.
§1. When the period of the precatechumenate has been completed, those who have made known their intention to embrace faith in Christ are to be admitted to the catechumenate in liturgical ceremonies and their names are to be inscribed in the book designated for this purpose.
§2. Through instruction and the first experience of Christian life, catechumens are to be initiated suitably into the mystery of salvation and introduced into the life of the faith, the liturgy, the charity of the people of God, and the apostolate.
§3. It is for the conference of bishops to issue statutes which regulate the catechumenate by determining what things must be expected of the catechumens and by defining what prerogatives are to be recognized as theirs.
Neophytes are to be formed through suitable instruction to understand the gospel truth more deeply and to fulfill the duties assumed through baptism; they are to be imbued with a sincere love for Christ and his Church.
§1. It is for the diocesan bishop in the territories of a mission:
1. to promote, direct, and coordinate endeavors and works which pertain to missionary action;
2. to take care that appropriate agreements are entered into with moderators of institutes which dedicate themselves to missionary work and that relations with them result in the good of the mission.
§2. All missionaries, even religious and their assistants living in his jurisdiction, are subject to the prescripts issued by the diocesan bishop mentioned in §1, n. 1.
To foster missionary cooperation in individual dioceses:
1. missionary vocations are to be promoted;
2. a priest is to be designated to promote effectively endeavors for the missions, especially the Pontifical Missionary Works;
3. an annual day for the missions is to be celebrated;
4. a suitable offering for the missions is to be contributed each year and sent to the Holy See.
Conferences of bishops are to establish and promote works by which those who come to their territory from mission lands for the sake of work or study are received as brothers and sisters and assisted with adequate pastoral care.
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