VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholic groups fundraising to support the church’s missions need to cooperate, not compete, with each other, Cardinal Fernando Filoni told the pontifical mission societies.

Initiatives also should hold onto the true meaning of mission as being more than just meeting physical and social needs, but also sharing the spiritual wealth of the Gospel message and God’s salvation, he said.

The cardinal, who is prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, opened the annual general assembly of the pontifical mission societies in Rome June 1.

The societies, which include the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious, help poor churches and communities around the world. They support thousands of health clinics, orphanages, schools, seminarians and religious sisters and brothers in more than 1,150 mission dioceses — mostly in Africa and Asia.

Cardinal Filoni said it is “necessary that we recognize and collaborate with other church organizations, for example, Aid to the Church in Need,” which also works to assist poorer church communities, especially those living in crisis areas.

“It is not necessary to see them as competition, especially when it comes to fundraising,” he said. “Rather, we should be happy that other organizations work for the same goal.”

The diverse spectrum of groups funding missions should establish “lines of communications” with each other in order to help coordinate action and to initiate, “as far as possible, an equitable distribution of aid,” he added.

Missionary cooperation must never forget its guiding purpose, the cardinal said.

“Against an overwhelming loss of the meaning of mission, the popes’ teaching wants to show that evangelization cannot be effective if it is only motivated and aimed at a human project, as necessary and just as that is,” he said. “But it must proceed from the love God has for humanity, especially for those who suffer most.”

Evangelization must help individuals reach “integral salvation,” which comes from having heard the proclamation of the Gospel.