The spirit of the Lord is on me,
for he has anointed me
to bring the good news to the afflicted,
to proclaim liberty to captives ...
A) The Heart and the Cross of Christ at the centre of mission
31. Called freely by the Father, inflamed by the love of Christ the Good Shepherd, consecrated by his Spirit and following the example of Daniel Comboni – who calls on us to be holy and capable – we are sent into the world to witness to and proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom, allowing ourselves to be questioned by present realities, with attitudes of listening and of dialogue, with passion and tenacity.
32. The occasion of Comboni’s canonization incites us to a deeper discovery of the gift that has been given us. It makes us able to take on, courageously and creatively, the challenges of a renewed mission for the coming of the Kingdom in the world of today.
This gives us our place in the Church, with our specific missionary characteristic.
33. Comboni, an example of holiness and a master of mission, helps us through his life and his words to:
33.1 teach our hearts to love God, Christ, the Church and humanity with the love of a spouse;
33.2 teach our mind to expand its vision of mission, listening, studying, and reflecting on the reality in which we live;
33.3 teach our will to live mission with a methodology based on the community.
34. Contemplation of the Pierced Heart of Jesus the Good Shepherd is for Comboni the source and the focus of his missionary impetus, the origin and the model of his unconditional love for the peoples of Africa.
In numerous situations of poverty, neglect and death, he finds in the crucified Christ the effective presence of God of Life, and a multitude of brothers and sisters to love and to esteem, bringing them the Gospel.
They become his distinct passion.
35. In living this same experience of apostolic contemplation, we too:
35.1 are rooted in a strong sense of God that gives value to our lives (in the pure light of faith, W 2742);
35.2 live the joy of total dedication, sharing the liberating power of the Gospel with the crucified victims of history (making common cause, W 3159);
35.3 as cross-cultural communities of faith and love, we witness to the reconciliation that comes from the Lord (cenacle of apostles, W 2648).
B) To the poorest, with Comboni's passion in our hearts
36. We are sent to the poorest and most abandoned peoples and human groups: the phenomenon of minorities not yet reached by the Church and neglected by society; groups not yet sufficiently evangelised who live on the outer edge of poverty, through historical causes and the negative effects of globalisation and the market economy. Comboni had identified these peoples with the Nigrizia of his time.
37. Today the link of the Comboni mission with Africa is charismatic and historical. The persistence in Africa of situations of first evangelisation and of poverty and neglect bear us out in still seeing Africa as a preferential option, even if not the exclusive one.
Throughout its history the Institute has been guided by the Spirit to discover authentic situations of poverty and neglect in other continents (Europe, America, and Asia), to which to respond in accordance with our charism.
38. At the same time, with the missionary passion of Comboni in our hearts, with an interpretation of the signs of the times guided by wisdom and with openness to the guidance of the Spirit, in Africa and the other continents where we are present, we have to determine which situations of poverty and neglect call on us today, and thus re-qualify our commitments.
With the same criterion we can better focus on other Aeropagi of our mission: Islam which is now present everywhere, the world of communications, so as to give a voice to the voiceless, the youth, the immigrants and the poverty-stricken suburbs of the big cities.
C) To regenerate Africa with Africa
39. With his motto regenerate Africa with Africa, Comboni is convinced that the liberation and the re-birth of Africa are very closely linked to the person of Jesus and to his Gospel, and to the Africans themselves, who are the protagonists of their own history.
The human realities of poverty and neglect, regenerated by the encounter with Christ, become in their turn protagonists of the regeneration of other situations.
40. The Plan of Comboni and his life-style stimulate us to share our faith with these peoples, so that they may become a new community according to the Gospel.
40.1 With a priority commitment to first Evangelisation, we bring the Word to the heart and the lives of individuals, of societies, of cultures and religious traditions, so that the vivid encounter with Christ may give them fullness of life and the possibility of incorporating themselves in the outstanding sign of the Kingdom, that is the Church.
Evangelisation is also human promotion. It leads individuals and human groups to attain the fullness of their dignity, liberation from everything that dehumanises them, and the joy of fraternity, of justice and of peace (cfr. EN 31).
40.2 With our commitment to MA we help all Churches to discover and to nourish the awareness of their missionary nature, and open out to the universal mission in a mutual exchange of their gifts.
40.3 With our commitment to OGF and BF, we want to ensure the quality of our mission today.
41. Integrating these dimensions ever more effectively, we are missionaries wherever the Lord puts us, in communion with all those who live the same vocation. Engaged with the local reality and aware that we depend on what others do, we make our contribution towards the globalisation of solidarity and the charity of the Gospel.
D) With the Plan
42. Comboni’s Plan and our tradition are the principal sources of our missionary methodology. Taking inspiration from these and always working as a community to make Jesus Christ and his Kingdom present:
42.1 we make an accurate and regular analysis of the situation, giving full rein to the work of the Holy Spirit in every culture, with an attentive commitment to inculturation of the Gospel;
42.2 we build up new communities around the Word of God and the celebration of the Sacraments;
42.3 we work in the local Church in collaboration with all the agents present, according to the diverse charisms and ministries: clergy, religious Institutes, lay people, organisations and movements that are committed to fostering human dignity;
42.4 we form leaders in the ecclesial and social fields, and animate small Christian communities;
42.5 we make the local people the main agents of their own history; we move at their own pace, using means that are within their reach;
42.6 in a prophetic spirit we denounce the situations and the causes of injustices, fostering a culture of JPIC as a constitutive element of missionary activity;
42.7 we work with specific commitments to bring integral human development;
42.8 we share the life of the poor, using money in a way that shows effective solidarity and respect for their dignity.
E) In four continents
43. In the different continents we feel called into question by situations of first evangelisation, by poverty and neglect, by the challenge of Islam and finally by an economic system that is profoundly unjust. In particular,
43.1 In Africa:
- by human groups that are not yet evangelised;
- by the young Churches;
- by new forms of poverty;
- by our meagre presence in the big cities;
- by the tragedies the continent is living;
- by the expansion of Islam, especially that sustained by fundamentalist groups;
- by new expressions of religion;
- by the lack of respect for the basic rights of individuals and peoples (JPIC).
43.2 In America:
- by African-Americans and indigenous peoples;
- by the poor metropolitan suburbs;
- by the new types of poverty generated by drugs, criminality and the ‘system’;
- by the demands of JPIC;
- by the international political structures that decide the fate of humanity;
- by the ethical demands of the economy;
- by migrations from the South towards the North;
- by the consequences of overseas debt.
43.3 In Asia:
- by the masses who are not yet evangelised;
- by the dialogue with age-old cultures and religious traditions;
- by the young Churches;
- by the presence of ethnic minorities.
43.4 In Europe:
- by a society that has lost all reference to Jesus Christ;
- by the new situations of marginalisation, linked mainly to immigration;
- by the possibility to act in the field of JPIC, especially in the re-defining of North-South relationships;
- by the ethical demands of economics and politics, by the need to create new
models of development;
- by solidarity understood as a requirement and product of justice, and no longer as
- by the difficult dialogue with culture, media, and politics;
- by the difficulty of presenting the missionary vocation to young people;
- by a deep pessimism regarding the social and political future of Africa.
F) In permanent reappraisal
44. Keeping in mind the immensity of the gift-task, we are called to make regular assessments and reviews of our commitments and methodologies, and to set ourselves clear priorities, according to the real availability of personnel. Priorities will have to take into account:
44.1 the fundamental pressing demands of evangelisation;
44.2 situations of extreme social poverty, with particular regard to poor areas in cities;
44.3 the fact that the local Church is still in its early stages;
44.4 the necessary balance between the different areas of our Comboni Charism, which includes MA and the formation of new missionaries.
G) Programming elements
Reflection Group on Islam
45. In the African continent a special group of reflection on Islam must be set up. It will help provinces to understand their particular situation, and to work out pastoral directives for our presence among Moslems.
This group, made up of a confrere from each of the provinces particularly involved and some experts (Dar Comboni, CLIK, PISAI), will form a network, and will be open to an exchange of information with other continents concerned with this aspect.
The continental assembly of provincials will define the manner in which it will work.
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
46. JPIC is an integral part of the mission of the Church. Ever since the Chapter of 1985 it has been a priority of our Institute, and must continue to be so, co-ordinated from the centre by the secretary general of evangelisation.
47. At province level:
47.1 collaboration with JPIC commissions or analogous organisms at diocesan and national levels must be intensified. Wherever these do not exist, we undertake to urge their creation, in collaboration with other missionary bodies. (cfr. CA ’97, No.117);
47.2 a plan of OGF to educate in JPIC issues must be drawn up;
47.3 we must make our presence felt by important decision-making organs (national Parliaments, UNO, EU) to foster more political solidarity with the victims of injustice. Hence it is important to create local groups at provincial level to monitor, arouse awareness and exert pressure.
48. At Continental level:
48.1 nominate a JPIC coordinator who will be part of the continental reflection group (cfr. CA’97, No. 61.2);
48.2 draw up a continental plan, in communion with the whole Institute, to set priorities, methods and means;
48.3 create continental and intercontinental networks for campaigns in favour of human rights or other topics (AEFJN).
49. During the next three years, the secretary general of evangelisation will draw up a Ratio Missionis of the Institute, in dialogue with the continental coordinators of this area. The first draft of the text must be sent to the provinces before being presented to the Intercapitular assembly of 2006.
Human development projects
50. Teams of Brothers engaged in human development projects must be encouraged. They must be one of the priorities when assigning Brothers, especially for the first time, while taking into account the profession of each of them.
Projects will fit the following criteria:
50.1 they must be commitments that are part of provincial programming; as such, they require approval at continental level and the support of the GC;
50.2 they must be entrusted to a Comboni community, and normally two or more Brothers will be involved, having the main, though not exclusive, responsibility for the project;
50.3 in line with Comboni tradition, they must be open to collaboration with other local and missionary forces, especially CLM;
50.4 they must include in their programme the formation of local personnel able to take up and continue the project, especially as regards the technical and financial aspects;
50.5 the Comboni community which houses the project must be a place that welcomes all the young men who want to make contact with and get to know the vocation of the Brother;
50.6 these projects may be technical schools, initiatives for the defence of human rights, commitment to JPIC, formation of community leaders, or MA.