PRESENTATION OF THE JUBILEE OF MISSIONS
| VATICAN CITY, OCT 13, 2000 (VIS) - Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect of the Congregation for the
Evangelization of Peoples, presided this morning in the Holy See Press Office at the presentation of
the Jubilee for Missions, which will take place on Sunday, October 22, World Mission Day. He
explained the history of the congregation, the territories and peoples it covers and gave some statistics
relative to missionaries, dioceses and vocations in mission lands.
The cardinal began his presentation by quoting Pope John Paul who said that "celebrating the birth of
Jesus 2000 years ago also means celebrating the birth of mission." And he asked: "Why does the
Church dedicate so much energy to the mission 'ad gentes'? For the spirit of territorial conquest or a
taste of adventure, or for a mania of greatness or easy proselytism? It is simply because she received,
as the last task from her Founder the great mandate: 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. ... And lo, I am with you
always, to the close of the age'."
"This," he underscored, "is the secret of so many heroic actions which mission stimulates even today
and is also the explanation of so many sacrifices, right up to martyrdom, in the past and today in ever
Cardinal Tomko pointed out that the congregation was born in 1622 with the name of Sacred
Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, adding that Pope Paul VI changed the name, but not
the scope. He said that, from the start, the sphere of activity has been extremely vast, including all
The prefect defined the congregation's jurisdiction as "extending to those peoples or groups who have
not yet received the proclamation of the Gospel. These are found in Asia, Africa and Oceania but
there are also large pockets in Latin America and North America (8 dioceses in Canada, 1 in Alaska).
In Europe there are 12 dioceses, all but one in the Balkans."
Cardinal Tomko then gave some statistics about mission lands and missionaries. He first recalled that
"the earth's population became 6 billion in October 1999: the number of Catholics is just over 1 billion
and that of all Christians reaches 1.9 billion. ... One can thus say that two-thirds of mankind do not yet
know Jesus Christ in terms of faith."
Missionary circumscriptions have grown 18 percent in 15 years, going from 877 to 1,053. Priestly
vocations and those to the consecrated life have increased considerably. He said "the congregation
follows the increase in the number of seminarians because it subsidizes their studies, undertakes the
building of seminaries and prepares the formators." There are five missionary colleges in Rome.
Mission workers worldwide number 600,000, including 1,100 bishops, 51,000 priests, 126,000 religious,
83,000 major and minor seminarians, 13,000 brothers and countless lay people and volunteers.
Msgr. Ambrogio Spreafico, rector of the Pontifical Urban University, presented the International
Missiological Congress which will be held in the university from October 17 to 20 on the theme "Who
do you say that I am?" The rector affirmed that the congress "is of ecumenical character" and that
there will be two study groups, one limited to teachers, the other open to all participants.
Msgr. Bernard Prince, secretary general of the Pontifical Work for the Propagation of the Faith, then
spoke of the World Mission Congress, saying it would take place from October 18 to 21 in the
Mariapoli Center at Castelgandolfo, near Rome, on the theme: "Jesus, Source of Life for All."
The aim of this congress, said Msgr. Prince, is to foster "a growing awareness of the missionary
dimension of the Church; not just the necessity of bringing the Gospel where it has not yet been
received, but especially deepening the commitment of faith of all Catholics."
At the end of the Mass that will be presided over by John Paul II in St. Peter's Square on Sunday
October 22, World Mission Day, each of the 112 nations present at the congress will offer the Pope
earth from their countries. A small olive tree will be planted in the earth as a symbol of peace and