MR-NET  News #14


06 September 2003   

  SVD Mission Research Network  
Mission Secretariat - Rome   

The 15th SVD General Chapter urged that all SVD mission researchers be in very close collaboration, and to focus their study and teaching on concrete issues that can help improve our missionary service, and make it responsive to present needs. And so, this occasional email bulletin shares ideas, opinions, resources and hopes about SVD mission research.

In this bulletin:






On September 2, 2003, Fr. General, Antonio Pernia appointed a Coordinating Council for Anthropos Institute, according to the recently revised statutes of the Institute.  After consultation with the members, the following confreres were appointed to serve for the coming three years.

Ennio Mantovani - stationed in Melbourne - Coordinator of Anthropos Institute
Augustine Kanjamala - stationed in Mumbai - AI Council Member
Jacek Pawlik - stationed in Pieniezno - AI Council Member

The members of the council can be reached by email:

Mantovani -
Kanjamala -
Pawlik -

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Over the past two years, Anthropos Institute has been undergoing a process of reorganization. New statutes have been approved and ratified, and as noted above, a new coordinating council has been appointed.  Ennio Mantovani has sent the following write-up of what he sees as the principal ideas guiding the reorganization. He stresses:

"Fr. General, on March 6, 2003, approved the new Statutes of Anthropos Institute, which had been previously accepted by a two third majority of the full members of the Institute. These Statutes provide a new structure for the Institute.

"The new Statutes use the term 'institute' in its English meaning of an established organisation pledged to some special purpose or work. This change of meaning signifies a shift of focus from a building and offices in a fixed place to that of a network of scholars dedicated to the study of cultures, society, and religion.

"Most of these scholars work in various institutions like universities and research institutes around the world. These research institutes often have been founded and run by members of the Anthropos Institute and are specialized in the study of cultures and religions in their area. If they so wish, they can be part of a network of research institutes under the umbrella of the Anthropos Institute, which, as an expression of the anthropological tradition of the Society, is sponsored by the same, and is pledged to continue to serve the mission of the Society today.

"From now on, with the approval of the new Statutes, when one speaks of the Anthropos Institute one refers to the whole organisation – the scholars and the network of institutes – while, when referring to a specific institute one must add a specification e.g. Anthropos Institute Sankt Augustin, Anthropos Institute India, etc.

"In the new structure, the Anthropos Institute Sankt Augustin remains the official publishing arm of the organisation. It publishes the official journal of the organisation: Anthropos, the official monographs, and Anthropology and Mission. Besides, it is responsible for the Anthropos Library and the Archives. While keeping this important international role with its specific function and responsibility within the organisation, it does not have any specific role of authority within the same.

"The authority of Anthropos Institute, in the new structure, is not linked anymore with a fixed place but with people who can reside where the need has put them, anywhere in the world, and who can make use of modern communication technology to keep in touch and to communicate with the Anthropos members. Once the leader is elected, the administrative centre of Anthropos Institute will be where the leader resides. What is needed in that office is a telephone, a computer linked to the internet, a printer for the correspondence, a scanner for copying received written documents to disk, and a CD burner to store away the documents for the archives.

"Another change is that the one who has the overall responsibility of the Anthropos Institute is not called the director anymore, but the coordinator. An executive council shares the responsibilities with him. The council meets via internet to cut down on traveling expenses. The new structure opts for the modern communication technology, conscious that while the money resources dwindle,  the communication technology keeps improving. Obviously, the coordinator and council need to be in appropriate communication with the publishing department.

"The new structure, actually, does not change the way the Institute has been working so far. The publishing of the Anthropos journal is still done through the editorial staff at the Anthropos Institute Sankt Augustin, the field research is still done by members who are not based at Sankt Augustin, and the formation of our seminarians is done by the members in loco. What has changed is the holder of the leadership position, his residence, and the way authority is exercised. The authority is not tied anymore to a fixed geographical place. Any member can be the coordinator or a counselor while remaining where he happens to be working when he is elected.

"This change in the geographic location of the authority in the Anthropos Institute opens the way not only in theory but also in fact to any member with an internet connection becoming the coordinator of the Institute or to be on its council. One does not need to be transferred from his province or to be taken away from his institute. This will make it easier for anyone to be elected and for his provincial to agree to the election. This change builds upon and enhances the internationality of the Anthropos Institute and the Society.

"Another real change is the fact that now there is a coordinator, who, for the first time, has responsibility for all the members, be they individuals or institutes. Starting with the Founder, the Society has been always involved in supporting the Anthropos Institute, and the Institute needed and expected the direct help of the Generalate. Lately, however, given the growth of the Society, it has become more and more difficult for the General and his council to exercise their responsibility effectively. It is for this reason that the structure of the Generalate itself has been changed to make a place for the various secretaries and coordinators who advise the Generalate and mediate the responsibility of the Generalate in the fields of mission, studies, bible, communication, etc. Now the Anthropos Institute has received a similar recognition and structural support by having a coordinator appointed by the Superior General.

"The new Statutes aim at making the Anthropos Institute an even better instrument in the hands of the Society in carrying out its mission. In a time when mission is expressed in terms of inculturation and dialogue with religions and ideologies, in a time when the Society takes on the option for the poor, in a time when the Society declares Europe a mission field, an institute which studies professionally cultures and religions has a great role to play. The cultures and religiosity of the marginalized, the poor – be they the tribals of the Anthropos tradition or the slum dwellers, the refugees, and migrants of today – and the present day cultures and beliefs of the peoples of Europe need to be studied and analyzed so that our Society can carry out its mission today with the same professionalism and success as in the past. This is the task of the Anthropos Institute."

[The revised statutes are available on the internet at: If you are not yet a member of "SVD World" you will need to apply for a registration code by sending an email to Niels Johansen, the SVD Communications Coordinator, at .]

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During the course of the reorganization of the Anthropos Institute, one task the Generalate gave the Coordinator (CAI) was to organize an international Anthropos Institute Meeting as had been suggested by the AI Ad Hoc Committee. Quoting from the committee minutes:

"The committee considered the Seminar as a key element for revitalizing Anthropos International. It could be a great opportunity for the SVD specialists to exchange ideals about their work/vision, receive some solid academic input on current developments in the social/religious sciences, draw up a list of research/study topics for SVD experts and centers, and dialogue together about the 2000 General Chapter document.. The focus should be more on study and reflection, rather than on producing a document."  (Minutes AHC, April 21, 2001.)

Ennio writes the following regarding his efforts to follow through with the suggestion for an Anthropos Meeting:

"While preparing the ground for the planned international meeting of Anthropos Institute, it became obvious that one single meeting would not achieve what the committee and the Generalate wanted; different zonal meetings would serve the purpose much better. Such meetings would be cheaper to run, offer the opportunity to more members from each zone to participate, would be open to a larger number of interested confreres, and would focus on the needs of the zone.

"During my visit to Poland to meet the Anthropos Members I spoke about this idea and the response was much more enthusiastic than I expected.  A suggestions was made that a meeting be held in Poland, organized by the CAI and two or three confreres from Poland. The Superiors in Poland declared themselves in favour of the plan. Frs. Jacek Pawlik, Stan Wargacki and myself jotted down a tentative plan and an agenda which I presented to the Generalate who gave their agreement.

"The meeting will take place at Nysa in Poland from the 14 to the 20 of September. The first two days, as suggested by the ad hoc committee, shall discuss the role of the Institute within the Society today and to that purpose Fr. General will be present as well as the European Zonal coordinator. The President and vice-president of the European Zone have been invited also. The aim is to formulate a vision which is true to our ethnological tradition and which reflects the priorities and options of our Society today.

"The last three days will focus on the recent developments in the field of socio-cultural sciences and on their implications for the work of the Institute today.

"The world and the church have changed radically since the time of Wilhelm Schmidt. It is appropriate to reflect on our great anthropological tradition to make sure that it takes these changes into consideration and keeps serving the church and the Society as it did in the past."

[For more information contact Ennio Mantovani at:]

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4. Recent Publications

Roman Malek, editor, The Chinese Face of Jesus Christ, Jointly published by Institut Monumenta Serica and China-Zentrum, Sankt Augustin, Steyler Verlag, Nettetal 2002. 391 pp., Illustr., Price: EUR 40.00 [ISBN 3-8050-0477-X ¨ ISSN 0179-261X] This collection in five volumes tries to realize the desideratum of a comprehensive interdisciplinary work on the manifold faces and images of Jesus in China, which unites the Sinological, mission-historical, theological, art-historical, and other aspects. The first three volumes (vols. L/1-3) contain articles and texts which discuss the faces and images of Jesus Christ from the Tang dynasty to the present time. In a separate volume (vol. L/4) follows an annotated bibliography of the Western and Chinese writings on Jesus Christ in China and a general index with glossary. The iconography, i.e., the attempts of the Western missionaries and the Chinese to portray Jesus in an artistic way, will be presented in the fifth volume of this collection (vol. L/5). [Contact Roman Malek at:]

Carlos Pape & José Manuel Vergara, José Freinademetz, Um Tirolês que Amou os Chineses, Lisboa, Província Portuguesa da Congregaçao do Verbo Divino, 2003. Originally published in Spanish, in 2000. The work introduces the major impulses at the end of the 19th century, when missionary outreach was closely associated with European colonial expansion. Fr. Freinademetz shared these same underlying attitudes but eventually came to the understanding that "the only language that all people understand is the language of love." [Contact Carlos Pape at:]

Gabriel Gutiérrez, Introdução a Antropología Cultural, St. Gabriel, 2003. A basic introduction to the major insights of cultural anthropology, having in mind an audience that includes in particular, young missionaries in initial formation in Africa. [Contact Gabriel Gutiérrez at:]

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