Pope Francis warns mission societies against becoming NGOs

By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The mission-oriented agencies of the church must guard against operating like nongovernmental organizations, empty of Christ’s presence, Pope Francis said.

"Please, guard against falling into the temptation of becoming an NGO, a distribution office for subsidies, small or large. Money can help, but it can also be the ruin of the mission," said Pope Francis in an audience June 5 with members of the pontifical mission societies.

The societies, who were holding their annual meeting in Rome, are the four missionary awareness and mission-funding agencies coordinated under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The agencies support the church in developing countries, as well as the formation of seminarians, priests and religious in pontifical colleges, the pope noted.

However, he warned the groups’ members that "when functionalism becomes central or takes up a lot of space, as if it were the most important thing, it will lead to ruin; because the first way to die is to take for granted the ‘sources,’ that is he who moves the mission."

The work of the pontifical mission societies belongs to Jesus, he continued, urging members not to "remove Jesus Christ" from their "many plans and programs."

"A church that reduces itself to the efficiency of a ‘party apparatus’ is already dead," he said, even if those involved think they are setting up lasting "structures and programs for ‘self-employed’ clerics and laity."

The pope also emphasized the church’s priority is its "evangelizing mission." The "true renewal of the church, its structures and pastoral activities" comes from the "intensity and efficacy" of its evangelization, he said.

"Humanity today greatly needs the Gospel, source of joy, hope and peace," he said.

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