Associations and Movements
In the Church to keep the universal mission alive
The annual meeting with the moderators
One hundred and fifty participants and eighty-five ecclesial associations were represented at the Annual Meeting with moderators of the international associations of the faithful, ecclesial movements and new communities, organized by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. Important numbers that indicate an immense desire to meet and a great interest in the theme chosen.
Twenty-five years since the Congress that significantly marked the dialogue of the movements, at that time increasingly emerging, with the Holy See, and that resulted in the famous gathering on May 30, 1998 in St. Peter's Square between St. John Paul II and hundreds of thousands of supporters, the Dicastery wanted to celebrate the anniversary and, above all, to resume a reflection that found its source in that Congress, starting with the contribution of the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
Evangelization, a task that calls for a worldwide perspective
In introducing the theme "On Mission with Peter. Apostolicity at the Heart of movements' Identity", Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery, immediately wished to recall apostolicity, missionary outreach, as the specific place of movements and new ecclesial realities in the Church: to contribute to the Petrine ministry and its apostolic desire to bring the Gospel to all, accepting the challenge of an evangelization that knows how to speak to contemporary men and women, which avoids practices, methods and languages that are no longer suited to this time of profound change. This is a task that refers to the universal dimension of the Church's mission, which goes beyond the local dimension, to look to the whole world. This is where the core of Cardinal Ratzinger's reflection on the movements and the path to follow in order to understand their place in the Church lies.
Discovering one's identity to productively fit into the Church
Following, there was the talk by Fr. Paolo Prosperi, Professor of Dogmatic Theology and member of the St. Charles Borromeo Priestly Fraternity. The speaker analyzed in depth the path that the reflection of the Papal Magisterium has taken from 1998 to the present, passing through Iuvenescit Ecclesia, to touch on the pastoral concerns of Pope Francis. In an articulate talk, Fr. Prosperi highlighted the need for the Church and its pastors to deepen their awareness of the essence of movements, that is, the purpose for which they exist, in order to be able to help them fit into it with their productivity. Pope Francis' concerns, upon which Fr. Prosperi dwelt, gradually expressed in the Holy Father's various statements regarding movements, are "ordered to the defense and promotion of that ... apostolic character," he explained. To avoid falling into the temptations presented in his report, and repeatedly underlined by Pope Francis, Fr. Prosperi concluded, that it is necessary to take the path of humility toward what has been given as a gift, a process illustrated in the last part of his speech.
The variety and richness of the gifts received
The afternoon was completely dedicated to an exchange of experiences and testimonies shared by the participants. The challenge of "wanting apostolic life" was the title given to the session, chosen to indicate to the movements the importance of the will to keep the apostolicity of the Church alive: a task that is not always easy to maintain in the face of fatigue, loss of momentum or adjustments that have nothing to do with apostolic life.
Sharing, although the interventions were brief, once again confirmed the extraordinary variety and richness of the gifts that such realities bring. From associations of those who go out to meet the needy, such as the Pope John XXIII Community Association or the Sant'Egidio Community, to those that group Catholic professionals who are committed to imbedding their specific realities with faith, such as jurists (UIJC), intellectuals (ICMICAPax Romana) the military (AMI); from the coordinating bodies of realities that share a method of evangelization, such as the Parish Cell System of Evangelisation, the Cursillo Movement, to the Neocatechumenal Way and the various charismatic communities, just to name a few.
In his remarks in response to the various questions that emerged from the participants throughout the day, the Prefect of the Dicastery urged the leaders of the various associations to introduce themselves to the local bishops, to make their programs known, in order to continually renew a dialogue that needs to be stimulated from both sides, so that the task of the movements in the Church may be increasingly understood and welcomed.
27 June 2023
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