131 – ‘I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation’

Let’s imagine a ship from the era of the explorers, manned by valiant souls, setting off on a noble mission – to bring the treasure of the faith and civilization to distant, inhospitable lands. Their endeavors would not only win them earthly glory but, above all, a heavenly reward for having opened wide the doors of Redemption to numerous souls.

When the caravel has already left the port far behind, a violent storm gravely threatens the expedition’s realization and even the lives of crew-members. In this desperate situation they look to their experienced captain, awaiting his swift and ingenious directives to save the ship and all who are in it. However, he suddenly decides to ignore the experience accrued from previous navigations, and begins to try out new tactics whose efficacy has not yet been proven. If they were reasonable attempts, all would be well… but he starts making strange commands. He tells his men to cast the sails into the ocean, dialogue with the waves, abandon the positions of command! … However good-willed the captain may be, the consequences can only be disastrous and irreversible…

Founded by Jesus, the Holy Church has grown and developed upon firm rock, for its methods, times and schedules, language and, above all, its structures, were constituted over twenty centuries under the Holy Spirit’s direct inspiration.

In our day, this is not the first time that the bark of the Church has had to weather crises and storms, but it has never needed to radically change its structures, nor alter the objective of its mission of bringing the Good News to all nations. For this intent, nothing could be more important than the formation of a wise and holy clergy to stand at the helm and steer the faithful along the course of sanctity of life. In this way, it has triumphed amid storms in the past, converted multitudes and attained the transformation of the world.

Leaving aside these proofs offered by History itself, other plans are devised and implemented. What consequences have already ensued, and what are we yet to witness?

Francis

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Quote A

I am aware that nowadays documents do not arouse the same interest as in the past and that they are quickly forgotten. Nevertheless, I want to emphasize that what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences. I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are. ‘Mere administration’ can no longer be enough. Throughout the world, let us be ‘permanently in a state of mission’. […] I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with himself. As John Paul II once said to the Bishops of Oceania: ‘All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal if it is not to fall prey to a kind of ecclesial introversion’. […] Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: ‘We have always done it this way’. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities. A proposal of goals without an adequate communal search for the means of achieving them will inevitably prove illusory. I encourage everyone to apply the guidelines found in this document generously and courageously, without inhibitions or fear. The important thing is to not walk alone, but to rely on each other as brothers and sisters, and especially under the leadership of the bishops, in a wise and realistic pastoral discernment. (Apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, no. 25. 27. 33)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of contents

I – The structure and customs of the Church developed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and are oriented according to the truth of the Faith
II – No reform is true if it does not conserve the physiognomy that Christ gave to his Church. The apostolate should not evolve into mitigation or a decrease of the faith

III – The objective of the Church must be none other than divine praise and the salvation of souls
IV – Two realistic but painful questions…

1 – We lament over apostolic sterility…..but do we use, today, the same type of means that the great saints who reformed the Church used in the past?

2 – Is there anything new about divorce, homosexuality and so many other things of “today’s world”? A historical refresher…


I – The structure and customs of the Church developed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and are oriented according to the truth of the Faith


Saint Irenaeus of Lyon
– It is necessary to make choices of things pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the Tradition of the Truth

John Paul II
– The structures of the Church evolved in reference to the Apostolic heritage

Benedict XVI
– The Church’s structure should be oriented to the criterion of the truth of faith…

John Paul II
– …and the pursuit of holiness

Pius XII
– The Church prolongs the priestly mission of Jesus Christ mainly by means of the sacred liturgy
– Liturgical rites owe their inspiration to the Holy Spirit
– The integrity of faith and morals ought is the special criterion of this sacred science

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– All ceremonies are professions of faith


II – No reform is true if it does not conserve the physiognomy that Christ gave to his Church. The apostolate should not evolve into mitigation or a decrease of the faith


Paul VI
– There can be no question of reforming the essential nature of the Church or its basic necessary structure
– Our apostolate must not make vague compromises concerning the principles which regulate and govern the profession of the Christian faith
– Those who are not deeply rooted in the faith and in the observance of the Church’s laws, readily imagine that the time is ripe to adjust themselves to worldly standards of living
– When does the Church rediscover its youthful vitality? By submitting to the obedience of Christ

Saint Vincent of Lerins
– All possible progress; on the condition that it be real progress not alteration of the faith
– The deposit of the faith: responsibility of preserving the Catholic Faith inviolate
– ‘Shun profane novelties of words,’ which to follow was never the part of Catholics but heretics
– New and unheard-of doctrine contrary to that of all the saints does not pertain to religion

Pius XI
– It would be iniquitous for the divinely revealed truth to be made a subject for compromise


III – The objective of the Church must be nothing other than divine praise and the salvation of souls


Paul VI
– By reducing the mission of the Church to the dimensions of a simply temporal project, she loses her fundamental meaning
– The Church reaffirms the primacy of her spiritual vocation and refuses to replace the proclamation of the kingdom by the proclamation of forms of human liberation

John Paul II
– In our world we see an urgent need for powerful proclamation and solid Christian formation
– It is vital to choose genuine truth, not half-truths and pseudo-truths

Benedict XVI
– Missionary zeal: dispel the darkness of a world overwhelmed by the contradictory messages of ideologies!

Cardinal Angelo Sodano
– The missionary must not cease to be a disciple; he should give no more than he himself has received

Benedict XV
– The man who enters upon the apostolic life must have sanctity of life


IV – Two realistic but painful questions…


1 – We lament over apostolic sterility…..but do we use, today, the same type of means that the great saints who reformed the Church used in the past?


Saint Vincent de Paul
– To reform the world, we need good priests

Saint Alphonsus de Liguori
– …Good preachers and confessors

Saint Anthony Mary Claret
– The remedy for the world consists in training a good and virtuous clergy – At the sight of good priests, the irreligious will lose their boldness and daring
– Woe betide us if we become a plague that drives people off!
– ‘I shall not be silent, even if I knew it meant that I should be cut to pieces’
– The enthusiasm of those who came to listen to the word of God

Saint John of Avila
– In two-hour long sermons, he converted sinners

Saint Ignatius of Loyola
– Saint Ignatius preaches to counter laxness in customs and indifference
– His preaching led a great number of penitents to the confessionals

Saint Francis Xavier
– Nothing impeded his limitless zeal for the glory of God
– With his zeal and preaching, the Cross triumphed over the empire of Satan: forty-five Churches were established and ten thousand pagans were baptized in one month. Hearing him the pagans would run to their temples and destroy them completely


2 – Is there anything new about divorce, homosexuality and so many other things of “today’s world”? A historical refresher…


Guy Bedouelle, Jean-Louis Bruguès and Philippe Becquart
– Homosexual practices were always present in the history of humanity and the Church has never ceased to pronounce against such aberrations

Saint Justin Martyr (sec. I)
– Herds of children are reared to make shameful use of them

Saint Clement of Alexandria
– The shameful vices of the “gods” of paganism

Saint John Chrysostom
– The pagan laws honored pederasty and there were houses for this purpose
– The sin against nature is worthy of thunderbolts and hell

Athenagoras of Athens
– Prostitution dishonors the fair workmanship of God

James C. Thompson
– The extent of divorce in Ancient Rome

Basilio Sebastián Castellanos
-What would have become of the pagan peoples without the severity of the Church?


I – The structure and customs of the Church developed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and are oriented according to the truth of the Faith


Saint Irenaeus of Lyon

It is necessary to make choices of things pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the Tradition of the Truth

John Paul II

The structures of the Church evolved in reference to the Apostolic heritage

Benedict XVI

The Church’s structure should be oriented to the criterion of the truth of faith…

John Paul II

…and the pursuit of holiness

Pius XII

The Church prolongs the priestly mission of Jesus Christ mainly by means of the sacred liturgy
Liturgical rites exist due to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
The integrity of faith and morals ought is the special criterion of this sacred science

Saint Thomas Aquinas

All ceremonies are professions of faith

II – No reform is true if it does not conserve the physiognomy that Christ gave to his Church. The apostolate should not evolve into mitigation or a decrease of the faith


Paul VI

There can be no question of reforming the essential nature of the Church or its basic necessary structure
Our apostolate must not make vague compromises concerning the principles which regulate and govern the profession of the Christian faith
Those who are not deeply rooted in the faith and in the observance of the Church’s laws, readily imagine that the time is ripe to adjust themselves to worldly standards of living
When does the Church rediscover its youthful vitality? By submitting to the obedience of Christ

Saint Vincent of Lerins

All possible progress; on the condition that it be real progress not alteration of the faith
The deposit of the faith: responsibility of preserving the Catholic Faith inviolate
‘Shun profane novelties of words,’ which to follow was never the part of Catholics but heretics
New and unheard-of doctrine contrary to that of all the saints does not pertain to religion

Pius XI

It would be iniquitous for the divinely revealed truth to be made a subject for compromise

III – The objective of the Church must be none other than divine praise and the salvation of souls


Paul VI

By reducing the mission of the Church to the dimensions of a simply temporal project, she loses her fundamental meaning
The Church reaffirms the primacy of her spiritual vocation and refuses to replace the proclamation of the kingdom by the proclamation of forms of human liberation

John Paul II

In our world we see an urgent need for powerful proclamation and solid Christian formation
It is vital to choose genuine truth, not half-truths and pseudo-truths

Benedict XVI

Missionary zeal: dispel the darkness of a world overwhelmed by the contradictory messages of ideologies!

Cardinal Angelo Sodano

The missionary must not cease to be a disciple; he should give no more than he himself has received

Benedict XV

The man who enters upon the apostolic life must have sanctity of life

IV – Two realistic but painful questions…


1 – We lament over apostolic sterility…..but do we use, today, the same type of means that the great saints who reformed the Church used in the past?


Saint Vincent de Paul

To reform the world, we need good priests

Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

…Good preachers and good confessors

Saint Anthony Mary Claret

The remedy for the world consists in training a good and virtuous clergy - At the sight of good priests, the irreligious will lose their boldness and daring
Woe betide us if we become a plague that drives people off!
‘I shall not be silent, even if I knew it meant that I should be cut to pieces’
The enthusiasm of those who came to listen to the word of God

Saint John of Avila

In two-hour long sermons, he converted sinners

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Saint Ignatius preaches to counter laxness in customs and indifference
His preaching led a great number of penitents to the confessionals

Saint Francis Xavier

Nothing impeded his limitless zeal for the glory of God
With his zeal and preaching, the Cross triumphed over the empire of Satan: forty-five Churches were established and ten thousand pagans were baptized in one month. Hearing him the pagans would run to their temples and destroy them completely

2 – Is there anything new about divorce, homosexuality and so many other aspects of “today’s world”? A historical refresher…


Guy Bedouelle, Jean-Louis Bruguès and Philippe Becquart

Homosexual practices were always present in the history of humanity and the Church has never ceased to condemn such aberrations

Saint Justin Martyr (sec. I)

Herds of children are reared to make shameful use of them

Saint Clement of Alexandria

The shameful vices of the “gods” of paganism

Saint John Chrysostom

The pagan laws honored pederasty and there were houses for this purpose
The sin against nature is worthy of thunderbolts and hell

Athenagoras of Athens

Prostitution dishonors the fair workmanship of God

James C. Thompson

The extent of divorce in Ancient Rome

Basilio Sebastián Castellanos

What would have become of pagan peoples without the severity of the Church?

Discover another innovation: 

moralfariseos To follow the Church’s moral teaching is to be pharisaical?