ROME, JULY 24, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the letter written by Archbishop Velasio De Paolis to the Legionaries of Christ. Benedict XVI appointed the archbishop as his delegate to oversee the renewal of the congregation.
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Rome, July 10, 2010
Dear brothers in the Lord,
With his letter dated June 16, 2010, the Holy Father Benedict XVI named me his “Delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ” and entrusted me with the responsibility of governing your institute in his name “during the time that it takes to complete the path of renewal and lead it to the celebration of an extraordinary General Chapter, whose main purpose will be to complete the revision of the Constitutions.” While the Holy Father highlights “the need and urgency of a path of in-depth revision of the Institute’s charism,” he expresses his “desire closely to accompany, sustain, and guide this process.” For the Pope, the Pontifical Delegate is his personal Delegate. As he carries out his task, the Delegate must act in a way that he is “for this Religious Family a concrete sign of my (the Pope’s) closeness and act in my (the Pope’s) name.” In this family—in other words, your congregation—the Pope recognizes the presence of “a great number of Members” who demonstrate “sincere zeal” and “a fervent religious life.” The Pope does not enter into more detail regarding how his Delegate will fulfill his task, but leaves the necessary concrete clarifications for a later decree which will establish “some additional modalities for the fulfillment of this office.” As we await these modalities, we can already start out on our path, sustained by trust and prayer, and the blessing of the Holy Father and of so many good souls who esteem you and appreciate your work in the Church.
At this moment, I find this thought heartening: The Church first gave her necessary and indispensable attention to facts, events, and people which would have threatened to its roots the Congregation itself if the Church—in her love full of wisdom, inspired not by human standards but those of the Spirit—had not intervened. And now, moved by that same love, she contemplates the beautiful reality that you yourselves, your congregation are. Through me, the Pope now wants to accompany you on your path so that, not letting yourselves be discouraged by sad events that are now behind you, you will rejoice in your present, in the gift of the religious, priestly, and missionary vocation you have received. This vocation comes from the Heart of Jesus, from his love. The one who started his work in the heart of each one of you, who preserved you from the dangers that threatened you, wants to bring it to completion. Therefore, we must first thank the Lord for the work he has done, in so many ways. The Lord’s intervention through the ministry of the Church has certainly been decisive for you, and the same Lord wishes to continue it still through his Church. I invite you therefore to thank the Lord for his kindness, mercy, and fidelity.
From thanksgiving, we move onto the path of renewal to which the Holy Father is inviting us. This implies a clear awareness also of the situation in which we find ourselves and clearly identifying the causes that led us to today’s unease and interior suffering. The Pope also points out the direction of this path: mainly by revisiting the institute’s charism, and more concretely, the constitutional norms that are its expression and protection. The goal that the Holy Father sets is the celebration of an Extraordinary General Chapter of the Congregation in which the new text of the constitutions will be approved. It will be an individual and community path, walked in an attitude of humility, intense spiritual commitment, and strengthening of the vocation. The end of this path should be a commitment to renewed fidelity to the Lord in the religious and priestly life, a pact renewing the covenant of love between you and the Lord, so that the Lord’s eternal fidelity to each one of you will trigger your own fidelity, with renewed, life-long commitment to him, at the service of his kingdom. I would like to think that you are among those the Holy Father calls “the great number of members” who are full of zeal and fervor.
The path of renewal is not for questioning one’s vocation, but for re-examining it in depth and renewing our adherence to it in a new spirit and a more intense participation.
It is understandable that some are going through difficult times, some have already looked at other paths, and others might now be considering them. A vocation is of too great import to decide it in a moment of turmoil. One must first recover serenity of mind and soul, because the decision is taken before God, in fidelity to Christ, whom you have chosen as the king of your lives. Let us be patient. Let us walk the path of renewal in humility and faith; let us together consider again our religious consecration in the light of the charism of the congregation; let us re-read the constitutions on which you have committed your lives. It is a matter, I am sure, of freeing them from elements that can cloud your charism, so that the vocation in the profession of the evangelical counsels will shine fully in all their beauty, to strengthen in your lives the kingship of Christ, who revealed himself fully in his Paschal mystery. Following Jesus who, in his way of love, freely offers himself to the Father and to his brothers and sisters, to create in his risen body the new creature. Your vocation, your congregation, is in your hands, you are responsible for them. The Church is with you; the Lord is merciful and generous: he gives his Spirit without measure! His grace precedes us, accompanies us, and carries us to the goal. As we walk this path, let us help each other in prayer, especially at the Lord’s altar, and let us encourage one another to depend on Jesus’ fidelity, who is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords: the Everything of our lives.
I am pleased to entrust all of you to the heart of the Most Holy Mother of God and of the Church, of each one of you personally and of the entire Congregation. May she, whom the Lord made the keeper of his Son and of the Church, in her love protect and guard all of you and your congregation. May the Lord bless you and make his face of peace and love shine upon you.
+ Velasio De Paolis, CS