On Propagation of the Faith & Eastern Churches

Author: Pope Leo XIII

CHRISTI NOMEN (On Propagation of the Faith and Eastern Churches)

Pope Leo XIII

Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII promulgated on 24 December 1894.

To Our Venerable Brethren, the Patriarchs, Primates, Bishops, and Other Local Ordinaries Enjoying Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

Our first duty is to spread the name and reign of Christ more widely everyday, and to call back the mutinous and the wandering to the bosom of theChurch; this has occupied Our concern for a long time. For this reason Wenever cease to safeguard and multiply pious projects and to support themwith the help gathered from the Catholic people. By this means the powerfullight of Christian wisdom is spread among the erring. We did thisespecially in the third year of Our pontificate with the encyclical letter"Sancta Dei Civitas" in order to win for the illustrious Society for thePropagation of the Faith both greater support and generosity from thefaithful. Then We were pleased to follow with exhortations showing how ithad grown in a short time, from small beginnings to so large a stature; andwith what testimonies of praise and grants of indulgences Our illustriouspredecessors, Pius VII, Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX hadhonored it. Finally, Our exhortations demonstrated how much aid had beengiven to the sacred missions throughout the world from this source, and howmuch more was to be expected. Nor by God's blessing was the fruit small inresponse to this exhortation. In the following years we saw the expansionof this most worthy work, since the generosity of the faithful responded tothe zeal and the perseverance of the bishops. But now there is a new needand one more grave, which may demand that the spirit of Catholic lovebecome more wide-spread. Venerable Brethren, may it stimulate your skill.

2. From the apostolic letter "Praeclara" published last June, you know thatWe invited and urged all nations to the unity of the Christian faith. Thus,through Us the divine promise of "one sheepfold and one Pastor" would berealized. You have learned from Our recent apostolic letters concerning thesafeguarding of the Eastern Rites that We look with special care to theEast and its churches, renowned and venerated by many names. From thesesame letters you have learned the procedures by which, in consultation withthe Eastern patriarchs, We have investigated how to bring about morereadily the desired end, namely the union of the Roman and Eastern CatholicChurches. We do not deny that this goal involves great difficulties. Toovercome them, Our strength is not sufficient; nevertheless We confidentlyjudge that the necessary strength of trust and of constancy is found inGod. For He who motivated Us to undertake this mission will in Hisprovidence certainly supply the strength and the resources to complete it.And this is what We implore from Him, and We exhort all the faithful toalso pray earnestly for this. Since the divine help must necessarily bejoined with human effort, it is right for Us therefore to expend specialcare in seeking and supporting whatever seems to contribute to the end Wehave in view.

3. To ensure that the Eastern Christians who have seceded will return tothe one true Church, it is necessary to provide them with an abundance ofholy ministers who, endowed with doctrine and piety, may persuade theothers to accept the desired unity. In addition, Catholic wisdom and lifemust be made known and imparted to them in such a fashion that it will fittheir national character congenially. Therefore houses must be openedwherever expedient for the sacred education of the youth, a sufficientnumber of high schools should be available, distributed according topopulation. Their power of exercising each rite may thus be supplied withdignity. Genuine knowledge of religion, should be extended to all by makingthe best literature available. You can easily understand the costs of theseand similar ventures. You also understand that the Eastern Churches bythemselves cannot meet all these expenses. Nor can We Ourselves in thesehard times offer the help We would like. Suitable aid must be askedprincipally from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith which We havejust now praised. Its purpose is entirely consonant with what We now havein mind. But lest apostolic missions, deprived in part of the aids by whichthey are sustained, suffer any harm, We must insist that the generosity ofthe Catholics toward the Society become greater. It is fitting that asimilar concern also be applied to the Society for the Schools of the Eastwhose growth We encouraged, especially since its directors have openlypromised to contribute as much as possible for this worthy cause.

4. For this, venerable brothers, We particularly ask your assistance. We donot doubt that you, who are so eager to support with Us the cause of theChurch, will undertake this outstanding work. Zealously see to it that theSociety for the Propagation of the Faith grows as much as possible amongthe faithful entrusted to your care. We are certain that many more willeagerly give both their name and their resources to this Society if theysee clearly its excellence, the abundance of spiritual gifts it has tooffer, and the benefits which can now be rightly hoped for the Christiancause. It certainly should move Catholic men to know that they can donothing for Us so pleasing, nor so salutary for themselves and the Churchthan to meet Our desires by contributing. With their contributions We canaccomplish what We have resolved upon for the good of the Eastern Church.May God, who alone is glorified with the spread of the Christian name andits unity in faith and government, graciously bless Our beginnings andfavor Our desires. As an auspice of His choicest blessing, VenerableBrethren, We most lovingly give Our Apostolic Blessing to all of you, yourclergy and your people.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, 24 December 1894, in the seventeenth yearof Our pontificate.

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