Ad gentes is the Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church. The title is Latin for "To the Nations," and is from the first line of the decree, as is customary with Roman Catholic documents.
Passed by assembled bishops by a vote of 2,394 to 5, it was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1965.
Ad gentes focused on the factors involved in mission work. It called for the continued development of missionary acculturation. It encourages missionaries to live with the people they are attempting to convert, to absorb their ways and culture. It encourages the coordination of mission work through agencies and the cooperation with other groups and organizations within the Catholic Church and other denominations.
Since the time of the Council, there have been concerns of the part of Church authorities that the missional spirit of the Church has been fading away because of the acceptance of anonymous Christianity, a teaching of Karl Rahner that all human beings have an implicit knowledge of Jesus Christ. As a result, several Church documents have been written in order to encourage more evangelism.
Evangelii nuntiandi is an apostolic exhortation issued on 8 December 1975 by Pope Paul VI following the work of the synod on the theme (of 7 September 1974 to 26 October 1980) . It deals with evangelism, and affirms the role of every Christian (and not only ordained priests) in spreading the Catholic religion.
Redemptoris Missio, subtitled "On the permanent validity of the Church's missionary mandate", is a papal encyclical by Pope John Paul II published on December 7, 1990, devoted to the subject of "the urgency of missionary activity" and in which he wished "to invite the Church to renew her missionary commitment.
In 2007, the Holy See reaffirmed the duty of Catholics to evangelize members of other religions, and this was largely interpreted as a clarification of Lumen gentium, against the statements of liberals and others claiming that Christian proselytism had become historically and politically outmoded.
The numbers given correspond to the section numbers within the text.
- Preface (1)
- Principles of Doctrine (2-9)
- Mission Work Itself (10-18)
- Christian Witness (11-12)
- Presenting the Gospel and Gathering Together the People of God (13-14)
- Forming a Christian Community (15-18)
- Particular Churches (19-22)
- Missionaries (23-27)
- Planning Missionary Activity (28-34)
- Cooperation/ (35-41)
- Ad gentes: full English translation of the text at the Vatican website
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