VATICAN CITY, JUNE 4, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the greeting addressed by Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, to the meeting of ecclesial movements and new communities with Benedict XVI. The meeting took place Saturday, vigil of Pentecost, in St. Peter’s Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
I cordially greet all of you here present. You have joyfully and promptly accepted the invitation from Benedict XVI to come to this gathering. The celebration will culminate with the first vespers of the solemnity of Pentecost that we shall pray together with the Holy Father.
I wish to extend a cordial welcome to each one of you, to those of you here close by, but in particular to those of you at the far end of St. Peter’s Square and in the Via della Conciliazione. We all know that in a celebration of prayer, like ours today, distances do not matter. What really counts is proximity of hearts, unity, the one faith in God present among us. We recall the promise made by Our Lord: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).
I cordially greet the founders and leaders, and all the members and friends of the ecclesial movements and new communities. Thank you all for coming — from Italy and from all over Europe, and from every part of the world: from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the American continent. Thank you for coming to this second meeting of movements and communities with the Successor of Peter. This is the second meeting. The first one was on that unforgettable Saturday afternoon of the May 30, 1998, with the Servant of God Pope John Paul II here in St. Peter’s Square.
Your presence in such great numbers is a great sign of the vitality and youthfulness of the Church. The Church is young, and we can see that today here in St. Peter’s Square! The Church is universal and does not distinguish by age or race. All is one, for the Church is truly catholic!
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
In the meditations from the “Roman Triptych” by John Paul II (2003) we find in the second poem entitled “The Source” the following words: “If you want to find the source, you have to go up, against the current.”
In this Pentecost vigil, we have come to “confess” here publicly in St. Peter’s Square, in all humility and simplicity, yet with frankness and sincerity, that over the past few years we have tried to go up and that many times we have gone against the current. However, we have found the source of living water that satisfies the inexhaustible desire of our hearts, our thirst for truth, for beauty, for happiness.
The source spoken of here is not a theory, nor is it a philosophy or a simple abstract response. It is a person. Benedict XVI says in this regard in the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”
For this reason, the main purpose of our meeting is gratitude for the multiple gifts received that have helped us to find the source, the living presence of Jesus, “the fairest of the sons of men” (Psalm 45:2).
The prayer of vespers is a privileged moment to give thanks to God for his goodness and for the marvels he has done for us (“Magnalia Dei”) in the work of the redemption. We wish to express our deepest gratitude to the Holy Spirit Creator. We also wish to give thanks for those people who were “touched by God.” With their testimony of a life lived in faith, they have gone before us to blaze a trail, and they accompany us on our personal paths towards friendship with the Son of God which gives us life and true freedom.
We thank the Lord for the founders, for they listened to the breath of the Holy Spirit. We thank God for the help given to us by our parents, teachers and priests on the path of faith. In particular, we wish to thank Pope John Paul II of happy memory for his teaching and great witness.
The second purpose of our meeting is the renewal of the commitment that Pope John Paul II asked of us eight years ago using these three verbs in the imperative: Open! Accept! Do not forget! That evening he said, or rather, cried out: “Open yourselves meekly to the gifts of the Spirit! Accept gratefully and obediently the charisms which the Spirit never ceases to bestow on us! Do not forget that every charism is given for the common good, that is, for the benefit of the whole Church!”
In this celebration each one of us has the opportunity to examine our conscience. How have we responded to these three assignments given to us by a true father who loves us very much? We can ask ourselves: How have we opened ourselves to the Holy Spirit? Have we accepted his charisms? Have we kept in mind the common good of the entire Church? We can ask ourselves as a “community of faith” on a new stage on the path of “ecclesial maturity” opened up by Pope John Paul II eight years ago.
This evening let us take the words of Benedict XVI that mark our encounter: “There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with him.”
With the help of the Holy Spirit we put new impetus, new energy and new creativity into our future common path together!
Again, I wish to thank you all for your presence here, for your missionary engagement, and above all, for your fidelity to the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, and your fidelity to the Successor of Peter who wishes to confirm us in this faith.
A most sincere welcome to you all!
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1. Pope John Paul II, “Roman Triptych: Meditations,” Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City, 2003
2. Benedict XVI, encyclical letter “Deus Caritas Est,” Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City, 2005, No. 1
3. Pope John Paul II, “Address on the occasion of the encounter with the ecclesial movements and new communities” in “Movements in the Church,” edited by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Vatican Press, 1999, p. 221-222
4. Benedict XVI, Homily, “Inauguration of the Pontificate,” April 24, 2005
[Translation issued by the Pontifical Council for the Laity; adapted]