Two Popes Benedict XV and Pius XI, fundamental for the development and formation of a missionary consciousness of the Church in the twentieth century, gave impetus to a "universal" vision of the Church.
Benedict XV with the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, Pius XI with the Motu proprio Romanorum Pontificum of 1922 and then with the Encyclical Rerum Ecclesiae, recognized and elevated the Mission Societies to the rank of Pontifical.
In fact, the flourishing of various new missionary initiatives and the increased activity of these Societies in support of the missions led the Holy See to attribute them a more Catholic significance and an increasingly international composition within the Superior General Council which governed them.
The structure of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith before 1922 consisted of four national councils (Lyon, Paris, Munich and Aachen) as well as a series of smaller peripheral European initiatives.
In Romanorum pontificum it was explicitly stated that the task of the Congregation of Propaganda fide was to send missionaries to every part of the world and to distribute them according to the needs of the places.
Pope Pius XI thus inaugurated a new season in the missionary experience, strongly underlining its Catholic aspects, that is, the universal dimension, as well as the need for an ever more widespread awareness of the clergy and laity, so that each local Church would know how to take on responsibility which was at the time divided among religious institutes and different missionary support works..
The National Director
In each country, a National Director, assisted by a national council, ensures the correct functioning of the PMS, according to local statutes and pastoral directives of the National Episcopal Conference. Following the charism and the basic principles of the PMS, that is to keep alive the commitment to the mission among the people of God, the National Director can count, in all the dioceses, on the help and collaboration of a Diocesan Director who represents their pastoral missionary ministry in the local Church.