Faith, not efficiency, at heart of church’s mission

Faith, not efficiency is at the heart of the Church’s mission, Pope Francis said in a message to the pontifical mission societies after their recent general assembly was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Cardinal Tagle, says Francis “is not against efficiency and methods” that could help the church’s missionary activities.

“He is warning us about the danger of ‘measuring’ church mission using only the standards and outcomes predetermined by the models or schools of management, no matter how good and useful these may be.

“The most efficiently run church organization may end up being the least missionary.”

Mission societies raise awareness and promote prayer for the missions and also raise money to fund projects in some of the world’s poorest countries. Francis’s message warned the societies not to make fundraising their first priority.

Francis sees a danger in donations becoming “merely funds or resources to be used, rather than tangible signs of love, of prayer, of sharing the fruits of human labor.

“The faithful who become committed and joyful missionaries are our best resource, not money per se, Tagle says.

“It is also good to remind our faithful that even their small donations, when put together, become a tangible expression of the Holy Father’s universal missionary charity to churches in need. No gift is too small when given for the common good.”

Francis also warned of “pitfalls and pathologies” that may threaten the missionary societies’ unity in faith, such as self-absorption and elitism.

“Instead of leaving room for the working of the Holy Spirit, many initiatives and entities connected to the church end up being concerned only with themselves,” he said in his message to the missionaries.

“Many ecclesiastical establishments, at every level, seem to be swallowed up by the obsession of promoting themselves and their own initiatives, as if that were the objective and goal of their mission.”

Tagle says God’s gift of love is at the heart of the church and its mission in the world, “not a human plan.” If the actions of the church are separated from this root, they “are reduced to mere functions and fixed plans of action.

“God’s surprises and ‘disturbances’ are considered destructive of our prepared projects. For me, to avoid the risk of functionalism, we need to return to the spring of the church’s life and mission: God’s gift in Jesus and the Holy Spirit,” he says.

In calling for church organizations to “break every mirror in the house,” Tagle says Francis is also denouncing a “purely pragmatic or functional view of mission”.

This view leads to narcissistic behavior that makes the mission more about one’s success and achievements “and less about the good news of God’s mercy.”

Francis wants the Church to embrace the challenge of helping “our faithful see that faith is a great gift of God, not a burden,” and it is a gift to be shared.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,