25 February 2018

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04/29/2004 VATICAN – World Missionary Day

Almost 90,000 missionaries for 5 billion non-Catholics

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Catholics form 17.20% of the world's population, that is, 1,070,000,000 Catholics out of the total 6.2 billion human beings living on Earth.

The Catholic global populace is divided as follows: 37 million in Africa (16.6%); 534 million in the Americas (62.3%); 280 million in Europe (39.9%); 110 million in Asia (2.9%); 8 million in Oceania (26.8 %).

These statistics, as illustrated by Cardinal  Crescenzio Sepe (prefect for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples) on the occasion of the papal Message for the 78th World Missionary Day (on Oct. 24) by themselves demonstrate the need for missionary activity, writes John Paul II. "We must commit ourselves with all our efforts to carry out such service," the pontiff says.

Currently there is a mixed bag of Catholic faithful carrying out missionary activities across the world: bishops, priests, nuns, catechists and lay men and women. There are more than 85,000 missionary priests (both diocesan and of religious orders) serving worldwide.

There are 450,000 sisters and 650,000 catechists also working in missionary capacities. "Despite their efforts, which can appear remarkable, and despite the fact that we continue to have an increase in religious and priestly vocations, they are still not enough to meet the up-and-coming needs of mission countries," Cardinal Sepe says.

"A good example is seen in Asia, where 60% of the world's population lives and where Catholics are just 2.9% of the population. One can understand why, then, the pope urges us to "courageously re-launch our mission 'Ad Gentes' in the first part of his Message ."  

There are 1081 Church districts (archdioceses, dioceses, vicariates, apostolic prefectures), entrusted to the leadership of prelates in accordance with Propaganda Fide. Added to this figure is the number of districts in the so-called "silent zones" (e.g., China and Cambodia): 153. The total constitutes 40% of the Catholic Church's jurisdiction.

Referring to the pope's appeal for spiritual and financial support for pontifical missionary operations, the cardinal offered statistics on Propaganda Fide-sponsored activities: 280 major inter-diocesan seminaries with a total of 65,000 seminarians; 110 minor seminaries having 85,000 seminarians; 42,000 schools; 1600 hospitals; 6000 heath care clinics; 780 leprosy care centers; 12,000 social and charitable organizations. These figures do not include assistance given by the missionaries themselves to individual parish communities in villages, missionary stations, etc.   

Social and charitable operations are not just aimed at helping Catholics but often times and especially non-Catholics and non-Christians.

Over the last few years, then, initiatives have been taken to give care to AIDS victims, particularly in Africa and in countries where the deadly disease has increased by 20 times this decade and where 3 persons die every 5 minutes. The same is true for malaria, cholera, diabetes, meningitis and blindness (the later caused by ancocercosis and affecting 71 million Africans). 

Some Chruch academic institutions and initiatives are active in Rome. One is the Pontifical Urban University, the only university in the world exclusively dedicated to forming missionaries, having 1300 students and 110 professors. Then there is the Pontifical College of Sts. Peter and Paul: two institutes for priests from mission countries in need of advanced studies and continuing education: 350 students; the Pontifical Urban College for the formation of seminarians from missionary countries: 140 students. The John Paul II Asian Cultural Center: 45 students from China and Vietnam. Not to be forgotten are the "Mater Ecclesiae" College for the formation of catechists (80 female religious) and the International Missionary Life Center for promotion of  "Ad Gentes" missionary activities.  

See also

The Pope expresses his gratitude to missioners and martyrs

John Paul II calls for "the gift of more vocations for the missionary life".

Life story, a journey of 15 years of mission

Jesus is always at the centre of mission. There are too many attempts to reduce the Church to a social association, a democratic club, to something that can be manipulated according to circumstances.

16/11/2012 VATICAN
Pope calls on young people to be the "first missionaries"online and among people of their age
Benedict XVI's message for the next World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro is centred on the theme "Go and make disciples of all nations". The missionary vocation is topical nowadays, "necessary for our personal journey in faith" even where bearing witness is not possible because of the absence of religious freedom. The pope is grateful "for the great gift of missionaries, who devote themselves completely to proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth."

25/03/2007 VATICAN
Pope: the Annunciation, Mary’s and the martyrs’ “Yes”
Benedict XVI shows the deep unity between the missionary martyrs giving the gift of life and Christ and the Virgin doing the same, each a supreme act of love to “God and one’s brothers.” Young people are invited to celebrate World Youth Day and join the Pontiff in the penitential liturgy he will preside.

29/05/2007 VATICAN
Pope’s Message for the 2007 World Mission Day
This year’s theme is “All the Churches for all the world.” In remembering the Encyclical ‘Fidei donum,’ Benedict XVI urges established Churches, wearied by a shrinking clergy, and young Churches, tried by inadequate means, to engage in the ‘missio ad gentes.’ The missionary commitment is the Church’s “primary service” to transform today’s humanity.

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