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Archbishop Protase Rugambwa

Abp. Rugambwa is new Secretary for Evangelization of peoples
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis Thursday afternoon, appointed Archbishop Protase Rugambwa as the new Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Archbishop Rugambwa was until now, the Adjunct Secretary of the same Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS)... More+

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Church \ Church in Africa (Vatican Radio) From Rome, Italy, the President of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, on behalf of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has commended the Catholic Church in Malawi for its generosity in contributing to the Universal Solidarity Fund... More+

Archbishop Rugambwa officially opens PMS General Assembly
Church \ Church in Africa "Let us reflect together on the ‘mission heart of the Christian faith’ in light of the Apostolic Missionary Exhortation of Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium. Let us have the courage of conversion, discernment, and authentic reform of each of us and of the institutions we serve... More+

VATICAN - Archbishop Rugambwa: "the PMS are one of the most important and relevant instruments in order to hold high the priority of the Missio ad Gentes in the local Churches"

Rome - "It has been a busy year of work": this is what His Exc. Mgr. Protase Rugambwa, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies said in his report at the opening of the General annual Assembly of the PMS . "From the information that I and the General Secretaries have had thanks to the annual Reports you sent us – continued the Archbishop - we can certainly say that the PMS are one of the most important and relevant instruments in order to hold high the priority of the Missio ad Gentes in your Churches. Magazine publications, conferences for youth, adults, adolescents, formation courses for the clergy and laity, missionary days, fundraising, visits to seminars, to religious congregations, and many other activities have been carried out".

The Archbishop made extensive reference to Pope Francis’ missionary ministry, who "desires a Church that is not closed in on itself, but an outgoing missionary Church. A Church that chooses the poor, that goes around the world, especially to the geographical and anthropological suburbs. And goes around saying that we have to be joyful evangelizers, happy, giving the joy of the Gospel to everyone. It is a great encouragement for us to continue the work of missionary cooperation to which we have been appointed".After mentioning the activities carried out by the Executive Committee and the Commission for Finance, in addition to the issues covered in the special Assembly in November, the President of the PMS focused on the situation we are experiencing. "We are in a period of profound change, not only in the Church but also civil – he highlighted - . I am not exaggerating in saying that today it is difficult even to work and help the poor and those who are called waste of humanity. Perhaps because of some abuses or scandals, the laws of various States are, in fact, making financial assistance to churches difficult, putting very strict regulations on the export of capital".

In this regard, Mgr. Rugambwa drew the attention on some practical aspects. First of all, the need for "a sincere and effective communion among national Offices and international secretariats", because "continuous and sincere dialogue, efficient communication, mutual help, respect and esteem are needed, that come from the fact that we all work not for ourselves, but for the Kingdom of God. If we can make this great organization, which are the Pontifical Societies, a family, then they will regain its former glory and renewed vitality". Another issue highlighted is the communication and the transparency of the financial-economic factor: the current level of clarity and transparency achieved at a central level, will now have to be fulfilled at the national Directorates level. Finally, the Archbishop reiterated that the National Directors must be a "bridge between the Congregation and the Headquarters of the PMS and the Episcopal Conferences, and in particular the Commissions for Missions or for the Evangelization". "It is important to remember, especially in these times, in which the local Churches have rightly assumed the role of protagonists in the Missio ad Gentes - he said - that the Bishops, who with the Supreme Pastor - the Pope, have the responsibility of the Missio ad Gentes, and that the Pontifical Societies do not exist to help this or that mission chosen by the dioceses, or by an Episcopal Conference, but the missions of the whole Church and the Churches that need it most".

Felicitation programme

Your Excellency Abp. Salvatore Pennachio, the Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, Your Grace Abp. Bernard Moras, the Archbishop of Bangalore; Your Grace Abp. Philip Neri, Archbishop of Goa, Most Rev. Bp. Robert Miranda, Bishop of Gulbarga, Sr. Philomena Cardoza , Fr. Faustine L. Lobo, the National Director PMS and the dignitaries on and off the dais.

At the outset let me express my heartfelt apologies for not being able to attend the programme due to the non-availability of Visa to India for some technical reasons. How I longed to be in India to experience the spiritual fervour of the people and the missionary zeal of the Church in India. I am disappointed that this has not happened this time but I will look for an opportunity in the future. Please excuse me this time.

The Church is missionary and is and has to be constantly on its mission. Therefore, there is need to reinvigorate the enthusiasm for missions among the people of God. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI says, “This Year of Faith … [is] at the service of belief and evangelization” (Porta Fidei 7, 12). Therefore he asks for the “missionary commitment of believers” (PF 7)

This coming together here also is an occasion to rediscover our mission and to re-commit ourselves to fulfill the same. All of us having the same mandate for continuing the mission of spreading the Good News of Salvation to the ends of the world, join hands to strengthen each other in this endeavor.

I wish the church in India every success though the days are difficult. The Church thrives in the face of adversities. May the good Lord bless us with his spirit to continue his mission and may our Mother Mary intercede for us with the Father continually so that we will be true to our calling.

Abp. Protase Rugambwa,
President PMS
Adjunct Secretary CEP

February 7-8, 2015. NBCLC, Bangalore
“Pontifical Mission Societies to the Church”

Your Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President of the CCBI
Your Excellency, Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio in India

My Dear Bishops,

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am pleased to be among you and to take part in this National Assembly of the Diocesan Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies, an event which offers the opportunity to enjoy the communion we have in Christ, and, indeed, to live in this wonderful climate of togetherness, sharing of experiences, and planning for the future of our mission.

I was very moved and encouraged when I took note of the themes you intend to discuss today and tomorrow; namely, the missionary nature of our vocations; the promotion of the missionary spirit among the youth; and a better understanding and fostering the Pontifical Mission Societies, in terms of structures, the pastoral agents, and modes of operation. If I am not mistaken, I believe that it is your intention to reflect upon the question of your active involvement in that invaluable work of promoting the missionary activities and the evangelizing mission among our own people and believers as is required of all the faithful. It is helpful here to recall the words of Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exaltation, Evangelii Gaudium: “Of course, all of us are called to mature in our work as evangelizers. We want to have better training, a deepening love and a clearer witness to the Gospel. In this sense, we ought to let others be constantly evangelizing us. But this does not mean that we should postpone the evangelizing mission; rather, each of us should find ways to communicate Jesus wherever we are. All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength, and gives meaning to our lives” (n. 121).

Indeed, this time of grace ought to help all of us, who are devoted to the promotion of the Pontifical Mission Societies, to recommit ourselves to the inestimable work of evangelization, which aims at helping people get to know Christ and to adhere to Gospel values, especially at this point in time when we find ourselves confronted with profound changes and challenges in the different aspects of life.

There is no doubt that the Catholic Church in India has always played a very important role in promoting the work of evangelization and missionary cooperation among the Churches. In fact, on behalf of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, where I serve as Adjunct Secretary, and on behalf of the International Secretariat of the Pontifical Mission Societies, I wish to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for your witness and for the work you have painstakingly set about every year in order to spiritually and materially support missionary activities, not only in India, but throughout the world as well.

During our time together as collaborators within the worldwide Pontifical Mission Societies, it is good to remind ourselves of the demanding work we are entrusted to carry out and which we do in service to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and, indeed, to play a humble part in the Holy Father’s universal mission. Rest assured that we in the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples very much rely on you, since your active and effective involvement in missionary activities will always seek to promote the work of evangelization, which is, our principal and specific purpose, just as it is for the Pontifical Mission Societies.

We can rightly say that the Pontifical Mission Societies, in collaboration with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, are at the service of the Holy Father in promoting and supporting the work of evangelization in the Universal Church by taking into account the needs, not only of a few or of individual Dioceses, but also of all individual Churches, since they all form part of the one Church of Christ. We read from the Statutes of the Pontifical Mission Societies that: “In a special way, the Pontifical Mission Societies are at the Service of the Roman Pontiff, head of the College of Bishops and the foundation and sign of the unity and universality of the Church. By virtue of his ministry, the Supreme Pastor knows and feels more than anyone else the pressing needs of the Church. He has the duty of reminding the other Pastors of their worldwide missionary responsibility and invites them to participate, in a common effort with him for the evangelization of the world” (Art. 16).

Being with you in this National Assembly, and as President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, I think that it is worthwhile to highlight and to always reflect upon this obligation whenever we want to recommit ourselves to the universal mission, which is a characteristic mark of our Societies.

I wish to assure you personally of my unconditional support in for whatever you intend to undertake for the progress of the missionary activities, here in India and in the Universal Church. Together with my close collaborators, in considering important steps and decisions to be taken, we find it necessary to listen and to learn from you and from all those resourceful people who have something to contribute, thus equipping us with necessary skills and efficiency in carrying out our duties.

The Pontifical Mission Societies help to remind Pastors and all the baptized of their worldwide missionary responsibility, and assist their participation in the common mission. In simple terms, one can say that they constitute the easiest and most popular way to instill, animate, and form the People of God, toward an encounter with the Risen Lord and toward a missionary commitment at all levels and throughout all the Churches. This is the fundamental inspiration of Pauline Jaricot, foundress of the Pontifical Mission Society of the Propagation of Faith, who firmly believed that “We are Catholics and we should establish something that is catholic, in other words, universal. We should not just help this or that mission, but all the missions of the world.” Her words still conserve their prophetic role and methodology for the Church today, but this specific charism needs to be inculturated in our churches and in our society. To this end, in his message for World Mission Sunday 2012, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged us to help reinvigorate our particular Churches: “…the mission ad gentes must be the constant horizon and paradigm of every ecclesial endeavour”. This is what makes our service to the Pontifical Mission Societies exciting but difficult, demanding a continuous creativity and commitment.

In past meetings, it has been my duty to underscore some of the fundamental and more important issues that the International Secretariat has deemed noteworthy for the success of our common missionary task. Allow me to point out a few of these matters, in order that they might be incorporated into your reflections and business studies during your meetings.

In the first place, I wish appeal to you to promote a spirit of collaboration in all of our endeavors. We need to strengthen our working together as “pastoral agents” in the Pontifical Mission Societies, working at different levels, but with one and the same universal mission for the salvation of the whole of humanity. At this point in history, the International Secretariat, is in great need of your effective and affective collaboration to ensure that the universal work of evangelization goes on and continues to bear the needed fruit.

We must remain united and act in a communal spirit, moved by the fact that we have been given a specific service, that, while common to all, confides different responsibilities and different areas of operation to each individual. We all are entrusted with the work of contributing to the building of the Kingdom of God by spreading the Good News of the Risen Christ, and thus make Him known to whomsoever is ready to believe in his saving power. Such collaboration is needed at all levels, and can be achieved by an efficacious use of the structures within the Pontifical Mission Societies that have been designed to foster and to guarantee this way of operating. With regard to the administrative structures of the Pontifical Mission Societies, perhaps I should invite you to ensure that we make use of the same, conscious of our autonomy and the limits involved, in order to guarantee an effective collaborative ministry: and, if we find that something does not work, let us not hesitate to act and to address the problem in order to attain the best results. We need to be well connected and work together effectively as “one family”, at our international, national, diocesan and parish levels and in all areas of missionary activity, making sure that we involve and engage all the faithful into this noble mission of working passionately for the realization of the Kingdom of God in the ever constant presence of the Risen Lord.

We also are determined to insist upon the need to maintain and make clear the identity of the Pontifical Mission Societies. Since the Second Vatican Council, a serious theological reflection on the nature of evangelization has been underway. It would seem that there has been an elimination of the limits and distinctions within the singular mission of the Church. We hear terms like pastoral care, social pastoral ministry, catechesis, charity, evangelization and new evangelization. These are not only considered to be interdependent, but are dimensions of a single common mission. It is certainly not surprising to find that the Pontifical Mission Societies, Caritas, Missio, the Church in Need, and Cor Unum, for example, are seen by the faithful as one and the same thing. This way of looking at these entities has had negative affects upon the activities and goals of the Pontifical Mission Societies. We therefore need to be clear about our identity and to make sure it is well known to the faithful and the people around us.

The Pontifical Mission Societies that have been given the “first place” (Ad Gentes, n. 38) and “leading role” (Redemptoris Missio, n. 84) have reason to exist only if they seriously and faithfully maintain their specificity and identity: animation, education, and cooperation with local Churches for the missio ad gentes and ad extra. Otherwise, we could be rightly regarded as one of the many charitable agencies that collect money for the so-called “Third World” or for some other motives. It is a matter of updating the specific charism of the Pontifical Mission Societies and adapting it to the new ecclesial situation.

Strictly speaking, what really makes our missionary service specific and unique is the universal character of our mission, and the resulting type of animation and formation that we put into place. It is not for us to be concerned with the pastoral planning and activities of the Churches; rather, it is our duty to ensure that the work of evangelization goes on in a missionary spirit to support the activities and plans of the Churches.

The other matter we thought worth considering, which is becoming a challenge to the Pontifical Mission Societies, is the whole question of the decrease in the offerings of the faithful that constitute the “Universal Solidarity Fund” of the Pontifical Mission Societies. On this point, we only need to go to the statistics if we want to get a clear picture of what has transpired in the course of the past five years. Without a doubt, there are reasons that have contributed to this reality that cannot be ignored. Nevertheless, we need to think of new strategies to address this challenge now, if we want to empower the Pontifical Mission Societies and the missionary activities they support in the future. I take this opportunity again to express my sincere gratitude to you all and to the National Offices for the financial contributions you have always put at the disposal of the International Secretariat for distribution to the different Churches in the mission countries.

I equally wish to thank all those who are involved and engaged in the various projects and initiatives that are intended to alleviate this problem of the Pontifical Mission Societies’ decreased revenues, looking seriously for practical solutions. I do understand that we are also faced with the problem of transferring the offerings that are put at the disposal of the Dioceses and the International Secretariat. We need to work further on this problem, and search out appropriate solutions while respecting the civil laws that govern charitable organizations within the countries in which we operate. While we have enlisted the help of experts at the International Secretariat, we need to emphasize the fact, however, that, one has to abide by the laws of the State, yet at the same time, not lose sight of the Pontifical Mission Societies founded on this philosophy: the fundamental character of universal solidarity. We need to eventually understand that we cannot reduce ourselves to one of the thousands of international volunteer organizations in order to fund this or that project in this or that given country; rather, we must look for every possibility and opportunity to support each and every local Ecclesial Circumscriptions where there is a need that we can fulfill according to our principles of action. To do otherwise would mean the death of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

I wish you profound and fruitful reflections during your meeting, in the hope that the resulting deliberations will foster and strengthen the works of the Pontifical Mission Societies in India and the Universal Church at large.

Thank you once again for the work you are doing and for your kind attention.

May Almighty God bless you all!

Archbishop Protase Rugambwa
President of the Pontifical Mission Societies