Text of Pope’s Council Address on Mission Work

This is a translation of the speech in Latin delivered on Nov. 6 in the ecumenical council hall by Pope Paul VI .

You may be sure, beloved brothers, that it would be our most ardent desire to be present at the assembly of the ecumenical council gathered together in this sacred hall of the Vatican basilica.

Having determined to preside at at least some of your general congregations, we have desired to be present today when your attention is turned on the schema of the missions. The grave and singular importance of the matter which at the moment occupies your souls and minds has led us to this decision. In us, the successor of the blessed Peter, and in you, the successors of the apostles, the words of the divine mandate re-echo: “Go forth into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” The salvation of the world depends on the fulfillment of this mandate.

Among other things, the illustrious task of preparing new roads, of devising new means, of stimulating new energies for a more efficacious and wider diffusion of the Gospel is entrusted to this sacred synod.

Examining the schema which you have in your hands, in which this subject is treated, we have found many things worthy of our praise, both as to the contents as well as to the order of their presentation. We believe, therefore, that the text will be easily approved by you even after having noted the necessity of final improvement.

The pondered suggestions contained in the schema, the initiatives displayed, the attitudes and indications illustrated for such a high end can arouse a fervor of action for a more intense spreading of the kingdom of God on earth. They can offer the evangelical seed the possibility of a more abundant harvest.

Above all we like what is constantly anticipated in the text — that all the Church be missionary, that even the individual faithful, as far as possible, become missionaries in the spirit and in deeds. Those who are enriched with the ineffable gift of the Faith, those who are enlightened by the splendor of the Gospel, those who are part of the royal priesthood of the holy people of God, give thanks continually to the Most High for such a gift and offer prayers, exercises of piety and material aid in generous help for the assistance of the heralds of the Gospel.

Because there is nothing so healthy for men nor more suitable to the glory of God than the courageous effort for the spreading of the Faith, may those who dedicate themselves to the missionary apostolate — the most excellent of all for its importance and efficaciousness — commit themselves to spread the true spirit of piety with every most noble effort, surrendering to Providence and trusting in the mercy of God who is “your benefactor who wants you to be munificent and He who lavishes gifts on you, wants you to possess them and distribute them, saying ‘give and it will be given to you’” (St. Leo the Great).

The evangelical field, however, even if diligently cultivated produces fruit in happy quantity only if watered by the grace of God. Therefore, prayers for the missionaries rise to God more fervently, reinforced by alms and by good works. “O God, You desire that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of Your truth. Send, we pray You, laborers into Your harvest and grant them grace to speak Your word with all confidence, that Your word may issue forth and be glorified and that all nations may know You, the one true God, and Him, whom You sent, Jesus Christ, Your Son Our Lord who, being God, lives and reigns.”

Before ending our brief talk, with a paternal soul we desire to acknowledge in a special way the Fathers of the ecumenical council who work for the kingdom of Christ in the lands of the missions. Besides them, our thought, with all good wishes, go out to the priests, the auxiliary missioners of both sexes, to the catechists, to all those who assist the missionaries and to those who offer concrete help to the missions and who aid the missionary enterprises.

Our apostolic blessing which we impart to all of you with paternal affection confirms these wishes.

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