VATICAN CITY, AUG. 31, 2004 (Zenit.org).- “‘Duc in altum’ Catholic Action, Have the Courage of the Future!” is the theme of the 1st International Congress on Catholic Action held to relaunch the parish-based Catholic institution.
Italian Catholic Action is organizing the congress, which will be held in Rome and Loreto from Aug.31-Sept. 5, in cooperation with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, headed by Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko.
When presenting the event on Tuesday, the archbishop said that “the moment has arrived to relaunch Catholic Action.” Speaking in the Vatican press office, Archbishop Rylko highlighted Catholic Action’s progress in recent years in the dialogue with the world and society, adding that the Pope “is a great friend of Catholic Action.”
Bishop Francesco Lambiasi, general assistant of Italian Catholic Action, said that “Catholic Action is a protagonist of this new spring in the Church,” and that at present it is experiencing a “rebirth” and a “return to the sources and the initial charism.”
Bishop Lambiasi explained that the congress and pilgrimage to Loreto will focus on the place to where it is traditionally believed that the Holy House of the Virgin Mary was transported from Nazareth in 1294. Catholic Action is going there “to listen to Mary, meet Peter, to come together again as an association, and to communicate with society.”
“Mary serves to anchor God on earth: without her, Christianity would be disincarnated and would be an ideology. Ideas do not have need of a mother. Believers, on the other hand, do,” he said.
“Catholic Action was born with an indispensable reference to the Pope,” the bishop stressed, adding that “Catholic Action needs the Church and the Pope, just as the Church needs Catholic Action.”
The Loreto meeting is intended to be “a great family experience,” a “unitary event, not of a tendency but of Catholic Action in its totality,” Bishop Lambiasi explained.
Moreover, Beatriz Buzzetti Thomson, coordinator of International Forum Catholic Action (IFCA) said in her address delivered in Spanish, that the “Holy Father’s magisterium has pointed out in a particular way the charism of Catholic Action as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church of the third millennium.”
Thomson reported that it is not present in some countries as an institution, such as in the United States. She mentioned that the U.S. bishops conference is interested “in starting Catholic Action groups at the national level.”
At present, Thomson continued, there are groups in California that were established by immigrants who belonged to Catholic Action in their own countries.
Other countries that do not have organized groups of Catholic Action, but do have individuals or small groups of interested individuals, include Sierra Leone and Albania. There are also delegations of youth from Toronto, Canada, and Cologne, Germany, locations of the last and next World Youth Days, respectively.
Catholic Action dates back to 1867, the year when two youths established the Italian Catholic Youth Society, adopting as their program the motto “Prayer, Action, Sacrifice.” Pope Pius IX approved the association in 1868. It was established with its present name and structure by Pope Pius XI in 1931.
Catholic Action’s international congress may be followed on the IFCA website.