The conciliar decree Ad gentes, number 38, when it deals with the duties of the Bishop with regard to the universal mission, states: "to promote the works of mission institutes among his own faithful, but most especially the papal mission works. For it is only right to give these works pride of place, since they are the means of imbuing Catholics from their very infancy with a real universal and missionary outlook; and they are also the means of making an effective collection of funds to subsidize all missions, each according to its needs". (AG 38).
From a structural point of view, the Pontifical Mission Societies are both universal and local. They are coordinated at a universal level by the 4 international secretariats, under a single President, and entrusted to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The local dimension is manifested in the approximately 120 national directions which in turn support the work of the diocesan person in charge. Can. 791 of the Code of Canon Law provides that in each diocese "a priest should be appointed to effectively promote initiatives in favor of the missions, especially the Pontifical Mission Societies". In fact, the great task of the PMS is to raise awareness for the mission, which - in the wake of all the teaching of the Popes and the Council - is a task of the whole People of God. The PMS have a special mandate to keep this spirit alive.