MURCIA, Spain, NOV. 16, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council of the Laity encouraged religious brotherhoods and confraternities in Spain to tend toward “ecclesial maturity.”
Cardinal-designate Stanislaw Rylko said this Wednesday as he presided over the opening Mass for the 2nd International Congress of Brotherhoods and Confraternities. The congress was organized around the theme “The Processional Image: Art and Devotion,” and was organized by the St. Anthony Catholic University of Murcia, and the chapter of confraternities of Murcia.
Religious brotherhoods and confraternities are voluntary associations of the faithful, established to promote special works of Christian charity or devotion. These lay organizations in Spain organize the Holy Week processions in towns such as Seville and Malaga.
In his homily, Cardinal-designate Rylko asked the confraternities to respond “to the great expectations of the Church,” and to face the task Pope John Paul II entrusted to all lay associations: to tend toward “ecclesial maturity.”
According to the prelate, this maturity is obtained through fulfilling one’s Christian duty: unconditional obedience to the magisterium of the Church, obedience and communion with the pastors in dioceses and parishes, announcing Christ to the world and transforming society from within.
“Following these fundamental principles, your confraternities could really be converted into schools of formation for a mature and missionary laity, capable of responding generously to the dramatic challenges that the Church should face in our time,” he added.
Religious brotherhoods and confraternities have been present in the Church from medieval times, said Cardinal-designate Rylko. “They have been the first forms of associations for the Catholic laity, developing a very important function throughout the centuries,” he said.
The prelate said that today there is a “widespread rediscovery of popular piety, characterized in particular by the flourishing of brotherhoods.”
He said that, despite the emergence of new movements, the Church cannot forget “the ‘old’ charisms that, in spite of the passing of the centuries, have known how to conserve until today their extraordinary vitality and strength.”
The Church owes you so much!” said Cardinal-designate Rylko. “Through the centuries the fraternities truly have been schools of Christian life and sanctity, of deep spirituality and ardent devotion to Christ.”
The president of the Vatican laity council urged the participants to serve “the Church’s mission in our times,” and not to remain “only a memory of a glorious and meritorious past […] or a type of ‘museum exhibit’ to admire with nostalgia.”