VATICAN CITY, JAN. 17, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today in Italian upon receiving in audience members of the Neocatechumenal Way.
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I am happy to receive you and to give you my cordial welcome. I greet in particular Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernández, initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way, and Father Mario Pezzi, thanking them for their words of greeting and presentation which they addressed to me. With heartfelt affection I greet all of you here present: priests, seminarians, families and members of the Way.
I thank the Lord because he gives us the opportunity of this meeting, in which you renew your bond with the Successor of Peter, taking up the mandate that the Risen Christ gave to his disciples: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).
For more than 40 years the Neocatechumenal Way has been contributing to revive and consolidate Christian initiation in the dioceses and parishes, fostering a gradual and radical rediscovery of the riches of baptism, helping to the divine life, the heavenly life that the Lord inaugurated with his Incarnation, coming in our midst, being born as one of us. This gift of God for his Church is placed “at the service of the bishop as one of the ways of the diocesan accomplishment of Christian initiation and of permanent education in the faith” (Statute, art. 1 paragraph 2). Such service, as my predecessor the Servant of God Paul VI reminded you in the first meeting he had with you in 1974, “will be able to renew, in today’s Christian community, those effects of maturity and deepening which in the early Church were realized in the period of preparation for Baptism” (Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XII , 406).
Accomplished profitably in the last few years has been the process of writing of the statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way that, after a period of validity “ad experimentum,” was approved definitively in June 2008. Another significant step carried out in these days, with the approval of the competent dicasteries of the Holy See, is the Catechetical Directory of the Neocatechumenal Way. With these ecclesiastical seals, the Lord confirms today and entrusts to you again this precious instrument that is the Way, so that you can, in filial obedience to the Holy See and to the pastors of the Church, contribute, with new impetus and ardor, to the radical and joyful rediscovery of the gift of baptism and to offer your original contribution to the cause of the New Evangelization. The Church has recognized in the Neocatechumenal Way a particular gift aroused by the Holy Spirit: as such, it tends naturally to insert itself in the great harmony of the ecclesial body. In this light, I exhort you to seek always a profound communion with the pastors and with all the components of the particular Churches and the very different ecclesial contexts in which you are called to operate. The fraternal communion between the disciples of Jesus is, in fact, the first and greatest testimony to the name of Jesus Christ.
I am particularly happy to be able to send today, to different parts of the world, more than 200 new families, who have made themselves available with the generosity and leave for the mission, joining ideally the close to 600 who already work in the five continents. Dear families, may the faith you received as gift be the light that is placed in the candelabrum, capable of showing men the way to Heaven. With the same sentiment, I will send 13 new “missiones ad gentes,” which will be called to bring about a new ecclesial presence in the very secularized environment of different countries, or in places where the message of Christ has not yet reached. You can always feel beside you the living presence of the Risen Lord and the support of so many brothers, as well as the Pope’s prayer which is with you!
I greet affectionately the presbyters from the “Redemptoris Mater” diocesan seminaries of Europe, and the other two thousand seminarians here present. Beloved, you are a special and eloquent sign of the fruits of goodness that can be born from the rediscovery of the grace of Baptism itself. We look to you with particular hope: be priests enamored of Christ and his Church, capable of transmitting to the world the joy of having encountered the Lord and of being able to be at his service.
I also greet the itinerant catechists and those of the Neocatechumenal community of Rome and Lazio and, with special affection, the “communitates in missionem.” You have abandoned, so to speak, the securities of your original community to go to more distant and uncomfortable places, accepting being sent to help parishes in difficulty and to seek the lost sheep and bring them back to the sheepfold of Christ. In the sufferings and aridity that you might experience, feel united to the sufferings of Christ on the cross, and to his desire to gather so many brothers far from the faith and from truth, to bring them back to the house of the Father.
As I wrote in the apostolic exhortation “Verbum Domini,” “the mission of the Church cannot be considered as an optional or additional reality of ecclesial life. It is a question of letting the Holy Spirit assimilate us to Christ himself […] in order to communicate the Word with one’s whole life” (No. 93). The whole People of God is a “sent” people and the proclamation of the Gospel is a commitment of all Christians as a consequence of baptism (cf. ibid., No. 94). I invite you to reflect on the exhortation “Verbum Domini,” reflecting, in a particular way where, in the third part of the document, mention is made of “[t]he mission of the Church: to proclaim the Word of God to the world” (No. 90-98).
Dear friends, let us share in the longing of salvation of the Lord Jesus, in the mission that He entrusts to the whole Church. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, who inspired your Way and who has given you the family of Nazareth as model of your community, grant you to live your faith in humility, simplicity and praise, may she intercede for all of you and accompany you in your mission. May you also be sustained by my blessing, which I impart to you from my heart and to all the members of the Neocatechumenal Way spread around the world.[Translation by ZENIT]