Religious Life and New Movements Extolled as Complementary

Called to Respond to Today’s Dehumanization, Says Official

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ROME, DEC. 4, 2002 ( Religious congregations and ecclesial movements need one another, and there are particular areas where they can cooperate, said conferees at a recent assembly.

The areas where they could cooperate include the struggle against poverty, commitment against war, spirituality and interreligious dialogue.

That was a conclusion of the 61st semester assembly of the Union of Superiors General (USG), which focused on the topic «Laity and Religious Together Before the Challenges of the Third Millennium.»

The event last week gathered some 140 superiors of religious orders and congregations, and 50 representatives of ecclesial movements and associations. The USG embraces the masculine families of consecrated life — 200,000 religious worldwide.

At a press conference at the conclusion of the assembly, Father José Maria Arnáiz, general secretary of the USG, said: «The relation between the movements and religious life is in a new phase in which there is no discussion on respective identities, but collaboration in a mature manner.»

At the opening of the assembly last Wednesday, USG president Brother Álvaro Rodríguez emphasized the need «to unite our charisms to respond with creativity to the new forms of dehumanization.»

«Ten or 15 years ago, perhaps it could be thought that the replacement of religious by movements was imminent,» he said. «Today, instead, there is a move toward complementarity.»

«Moreover,» he added, «when something new appears, the Church does not replace the previous but initiates a phase of transformation. At present, the movements fulfill an important function for the revitalization of religious life.»

The assembly was attended by representatives of the Teresian Association, Catholic Action, Community of the Beatitudes, Chemin Neuf Community, Communion and Liberation, Sant’Egidio, L’Arche, Le Verbe de Vie, Schoenstatt Movement, Focolares, Salesian Movement, Franciscan Secular Order, Christian Renewal and Renewal in the Spirit.

Gianni La Bella, representing the movements, observed: «The fact that religious and laity unite, is better to respond to the challenges, which are too great for the religious congregations and movements on their own. To address together the challenges of the Christian mission is a way of putting out into the deep. We all feel the need to abandon a self-centered mentality.»

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