Cardinal Fernando Filoni delivers the homily in the Mass he celebrated at the University of St Joseph during his visit to Macau in March of this year
A new seminary directly depending on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples will be set up in Macau. The Redemptoris Mater Seminary will be run by the Neocatechumenal Way to prepare priests for the evangelization in Asia. Cardinal Fernando Filoni, who announced the move, was interviewed by Agenzia Fides. Below are excerpts of the conversation.
Agenzia Fides: Eminence, what are the reasons that led the Congregation to take care of the opening of the new seminary?
We wanted to respond to the invitation of John Paul II who, at the beginning of the new millennium, said that Asia would be the vast continent to be evangelized. It is a very complex continent, cradle of great religions and very strong cultural responsiveness. The proclamation of the Gospel in Asia requires characteristics of its own, such as a thorough knowledge of different contexts and languages. The awareness of this complexity, however, does not exempt Christians from making the Good News alive and present. The Gospel is for everyone: thus Christ gave it to us, so we announce it today.
The Congregation of “Propaganda Fide,” also at the request of the Neocatechumenal Way, wanted to reflect on how to make this appeal to evangelization in Asia their own…. Today, Pope Francis has resumed the intuition of John Paul II, pointing out that the Church is called to “go forth,” to open up and not to withdraw in herself. Therefore, we thought that many Catholic institutions, even those in charge of formation and education, can be located in the various continents, thus operating in the sense of decentralization. With this spirit we wanted to create a seminary in Asia for the formation of priests destined for Asia.
Can you explain why it was entrusted to the Neocatechumenal Way and why Macau was chosen as the seat?
The Neocatechumenal Way became available and made available to the Congregation of “Propaganda Fide,” which has the direct legal responsibility of the College, its long-standing experience of forming future priests for the mission in Asia. Thus the new College Redemptoris Mater was born, whose specific nature is to take care of the formation for missionary priests who will have the evangelization in the territories of Asia at heart.
Macau has historically represented the “door” or a bridge for the mission of the Church in the East. In past centuries it was a place of cultural and religious attraction, a territory governed by the Portuguese crown. Its importance is well known as a promoting center for evangelization in the Far East. Extraordinary missionaries like Matteo Ricci, Alessandro Valignano, Francesco Saverio and many other evangelizers passed through this “door” for the mission in Asia. Suffice it to say that in 1576, just erected, the diocese of Macau extended, at least on paper and for a certain time, to China, Japan, today’s Vietnam and the Malay archipelago, as it was called. Macau became a great center of missionary formation and propulsion. Recalling this story, we asked the local Bishop, Stephen Lee Bun Sang, if he was available to host the new seminary and he, after consulting the priests of the diocese, confirmed the approval.
But the College, although based in Macau, does not depend on the local Bishop: appointments and authority remain the direct prerogative of “Propaganda Fide” which, according to the Second Vatican Council, has the task of promoting evangelization in the world. It is a first step: in this perspective of decentralization, it can be observed that it is not impossible that, tomorrow, other Colleges of this kind, promoted by the Congregation, on other continents, are born. It should be noted that our Congregation already has the responsibility of the Urban College, which welcomes 170 students from Asia and Africa in Rome. And there are other Seminaries connected with “Propaganda Fide” in the world, such as the Seminary of the Apostolic Vicariates in Colombia or several inter-diocesan seminaries in different countries…. It should be noted, that future priests will become a precious pastoral aid for the local Churches: in fact, they do not belong to a given apostolic fraternity or a religious institute but, at the end of their journey of formation, they will be incardinated in the various dioceses of destination, according to the needs and requests of the Asian Bishops. And from now on they will be able to study the local languages and cultures of the countries in which, in agreement with the authorities of the seminary, they will be destined for the pastoral and apostolic service.
What are your wishes and hopes for the life of this new College?
We are happy to promote an institution with new characteristics, which responds to the desire and that missionary vision of Pope Francis which is a founding and qualifying point of his pontificate. We intend to respond to Christ’s call to announce the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In the history of the Church’s mission, there have been so many forms and methods chosen for the proclamation of the Gospel in Asia: the historic commitment of the great religious orders such as Jesuits, Dominicans and Franciscans; the activity of many specific missionary institutes; the sending of fidei donum priests or interdiocesan missionary collaboration; the forms of missionary cooperation between the Churches of some nations or between metropolises. Now the Holy Spirit suggests a new form, the fruit of apostolic creativity, which we will experience. We entrust this work to the hands of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, and to Saint Joseph, Custos of the Holy Family of Nazareth. And we ask for the intercession of the saints and martyrs who gave their lives for the spread of the Gospel in Asia. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 29/7/2019)
In response to the above news report of the press interview with Cardinal Filoni, D. Stephen Lee Bun-sang, Bishop of Macau, confirms that the establishment of the “Redemptoris Mater” seminary in Macau is a joint project between the Congregation for the Evangelisation of the Peoples and the Neocatechumenal Way. It is an international regional seminary born out of their joint initiatives and the project has received permission from the Bishop of Macau. This seminary is independent of the Diocese of Macau in its administration, finance and governance. However, the seminarians of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary will attend the Faculty of Religious Studies of The University of Saint Joseph for their philosophical and theological studies.