Vatican Defends Work of "Propaganda Fide"

Responds to Criticism of Italian Media

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican's congregation that oversees missionary work is an indispensable organization for the Church, a Vatican statement affirmed today.



The Vatican press office affirmed this in a communiqué responding to certain media reports, above all in Italy, which questioned activities undertaken by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2001 to 2006, including the sale of a property. The prefect in that time was the current archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe.

The Italian-language Vatican statement clarified that the congregation, which is also known by its former name "Propaganda Fide," "has the task of directing and coordinating all over the world the work of evangelization and missionary cooperation."

It's first objective, therefore, the statement said, is "guiding and supporting the young Churches, situated in territories of recent or scarce evangelization, territories that in virtue of a long tradition, are entrusted to the dicastery in what refers to every aspect of ecclesial life."

The Vatican explained that to fulfill this objective, the congregation directs and maintains in Rome several institutions used for formation, including the Pontifical Urbanian University, which this year has some 1,400 students. It also has multinational university residences where some 150 seminarians and 360 priests are studying, as well as some 150 women religious and laypeople.

"This great work, which necessitates a notable quantity of financial resources, is only a part of the congregation's responsibilities," the statement added. "As is known, it distributes every year to the Churches of the territories entrusted to it -- 1,080 constituencies -- a regular financial subsidy, which in many cases is the principal or one of the principal sources of revenue for the dioceses, the apostolic vicariates, the prefectures, the sui iuris missions, etc.

"Moreover, the congregation annually sends aid for the formation of local clergy, which for the Holy See is an indispensable means for the growth and maturing of these Churches that are among the most vital and promising realities for the future of the Catholic Church."

Patrimony

The Vatican explained that the congregation's principal source of revenue is the collection taken up on World Mission Day, totally distributed through the national Pontifical Works, and also from income from its various holdings.

"This patrimony has developed over decades thanks to numerous donations from benefactors of every origin, who have wanted to leave part of their goods to the service of the cause of evangelization," the note explained.

The Vatican affirmed that its clarification aims to "remind everyone of the identity, the value and the profound meaning [of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples] as a vital institution for the Holy See and for the entire Catholic Church, which responds to Jesus' command: 'Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.'"