"One of the promising indications of a renewal in the Church's missionary consciousness in recent decades," added the Pontiff in his English-language address, "has been the growing desire of many lay men and women [...] to cooperate generously in the 'missio ad gentes.' As Vatican Council II stressed, the work of evangelization is a fundamental duty incumbent upon the whole People of God.YES! The formation of the laity as missionaries is at the heart of the Council's renewed vision of the Church!
"Given the extent and the importance of the contribution made by [laypeople] [...] the proper forms of their cooperation should naturally be governed by specific statutes and clear directives respectful of each institute's proper canonical identity."
Despite the "decrease in the number of young people who are attracted to missionary societies, and a consequent decline in missionary outreach [...] the mission 'ad gentes' is still only beginning," he affirmed. "While conscious of the challenges you face, I encourage you to follow faithfully in the footsteps of your founders, and to stir into flame the charisms and apostolic zeal which you have inherited from them, confident that Christ will continue to work with you and to confirm your preaching with signs of his presence and power."YES! Go back to the vision of the founders! (And wasn't that at the heart of the renewal envisioned by the Council for religious?) And man, the more I read Hecker (and of Hecker) and his band, the more I dig it all!
The full-text of the Holy Father's address from the Vatican.
[The meeting was organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. I don't think that, strictly speaking, the work the Paulists do could be described as falling under the purview of this Congregation -- North America isn't technically "mission territory" -- nor is it, in a narrow sense, ad gentes as such. However, given the vast numbers who are basically un-evangelized -- both within the Church and without -- I would say that the Holy Father's address is quite apropos!]