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Church Grows by Attraction, Not Proselytism, Says CDF Leader in Presenting New Document

Iuvenescit Ecclesia considers the Spirit’s work in raising up new associations, movements

 

Today the Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Iuvenescit Ecclesia, addressed to the Bishops of the Church, on the relation between hierarchical and charismatic gifts, was presented in the Holy See Press Office.

Intervening were Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and two other lecturers: Maria Aparicio Valls, Professor of Theology at the Gregorian University, and Monsignor Piero Coda, Member of the International Theological Commission.

Cardinal Muller stressed the capacity the Church must have to challenge the erosion of time, thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit. And this is the “appropriate perspective to understand Iuvenescit Ecclesia,” and “the relation between hierarchical and charismatic gifts,” which are “placed at the service of life and of the ecclesial mission.”

“The emergence of so many new Aggregations, Associations and Ecclesial Movements, as well as the great quantity of new Institutes of Consecrated Life after Vatican Council II, has made one discover again and concretely the ecclesial bearing of this conciliar affirmation,” because it demonstrates that “the Church doesn’t grow by proselytism but by attraction,” he noted. And the birth of new charisms has always existed, as we are witnessing particularly “an unexpected and overwhelming flowering of so many of these realities,” stressed the Cardinal.

Therefore, the Letter points out “the theological and ecclesiological elements that can foster an ordered participation of the new Aggregations in ecclesial communion, for the full missionary commitment of the entire Church.”

In other words, beyond any sterile opposition or juxtaposition, it is about fostering an ordered communion, relation and synergy, in view of a renewed missionary impetus. Thus, without entering too much in pastoral topics and practices, the text reflects on the underlying theological issues.

Among the key points is the affirmation of the co-essentiality between the hierarchical and charismatic gifts, which belongs to the divine constitution of the Church founded by Jesus, said the Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith. And that it must “not be licit to oppose a Church of the Spirit to a Church of the Institution.”

The document refers also to the placement of the charisms, in the relations between the universal Church and the particular Churches, especially in those that need a New Evangelization.

For his part, Cardinal Ouellet pointed out that the relation between hierarchical and charismatic gifts makes it possible for the Church to “proclaim the joy of the Gospel and awaken the adherence of the faithful, and also of non-believers, not by proselytism but by attraction.” He added that the document promotes basic biblical and theological criteria, and the Magisterium of the Church.

And although in the history of the Church there have been schisms, due to apocalyptic doctrines, Lumen Gentium entirely surmounts this problematic reality by distinguishing between the hierarchical and charismatic gifts, and stressing “their difference in unity.”

He reminded of the co-essentiality between both gifts, as reiterated by John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. In sum, it is possible to acknowledge a convergence of recent ecclesial teaching on the co-essentiality between the hierarchical and charismatic gifts, he said.

Notwithstanding the inherent tensions, the fruits are very superior to the difficulties, concluded the Cardinal.

About Sergio Mora

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