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“Follow Me, & I Will Make You Fishers of Full Human Development”

Fr. Joseph Nangle, O.F.M., head of the Franciscan Mission Service and author of two books published by Orbis Books, seems quite content that Christ’s commission to convert the world is being forgotten. He writes in St. Anthony Messenger (Sept.) about how once upon a time, back in 1960 before Vatican II, he went to Bolivia as a missionary to, as he puts it, “work for the ‘salvation’ of South America” (note the invidious quotation marks around the word salvation). Now enlightened and repentant, he says that that salvific effort was “misdirected.”

When he got to South America, Nangle had his consciousness raised (lowered, actually) by “Latin American pastoral workers and theologians” who persuaded him that his “privileged, North American lifestyle had much to do with the underdevelopment of Central and South America.”

Liberal guilt set in, and Nangle tells us that he and his fellow missionaries “began to see mission in an entirely new way” (italics added). Instead of “saving souls,” he and his queasy confreres decided to do “whatever we could to help people reach their full human development.”

Curiously, Nangle isn’t in the least bit embarrassed to note that the high point in the missionary thrust to Latin America was right after the close of Vatican II, when the Guilties became an epidemic in the Church (and of course it’s been downhill since then). Indeed, Nangle shamelessly contrasts the First American Catholic Missionary Congress in 1908 in Chicago with Mission Congress 2000 held in Chicago from September 28 through October 1 of this year. In 1908, Nangle tells us, “three to five thousand people attended [the] daily sessions” and “an amazing 15,000 were turned away from the closing ceremonies.…” In 2000, by contrast, the attendees numbered only 700. But, hey, this is progress, because, Nangle tells us, in 1908 “no presentation was made by a woman,” whereas that changed in 2000. Oh joy!

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