VATICAN CITY, FEB. 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- For ecclesial movements to flourish, new charisms and the unity of the Church must be respected, says Benedict XVI.
The Holy Father made this comment Thursday, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, during a question-and-answer session with the Roman clergy in the Hall of Blessings.
Father Gerardo Raúl Carcar of the Schoenstatt Fathers, a native of Argentina working in a parish in Rome, asked the Holy Father how movements can work together with the hierarchy of the Church.
In his answer, Benedict XVI presented two rules for a successful relationship between the two. First, quoting St. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he said: “Do not extinguish charisms.”
The Holy Father said: “If the Lord gives us new gifts we must give thanks…. And it is something beautiful that, without an initiative of the hierarchy … new forms of life are born in the Church, as they were born in all the centuries.”
“Movements have been born in all the centuries,” the Pope said. “They integrate in the life of the Church, though at times there is no lack of sufferings and difficulties.” As an example, he said that when the Franciscans and the Benedictines were founded, they were also new movements.
“Thus, also in our century, the Lord, the Holy Spirit, has given us new initiatives with new aspects of Christian life: On being lived by human persons with their limitations, they also create difficulties,” the Holy Father added.
Born to serve
Commenting on the unity of the Church, the Pontiff said: “If the movements are really gifts of the Holy Spirit, they integrate and serve the Church, and in the patient dialogue between pastors and movements a fruitful form is born, in which these elements become edifying elements for the Church of today and tomorrow.”
Benedict XVI continued: “This dialogue takes place at all levels. Beginning with the parish priest, the bishop, the Successor of Peter, the search takes place for the appropriate structures: In many cases, this search has already borne fruits. In other cases, it is still being studied.”
The Holy Father gave as an example the process of approving the statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way: “It has been a long way, with many complications which are still occurring today, but we have found an ecclesial way which has much improved the relationship between the pastor and the Way. And so we go ahead!”
“The same is true for the other movements,” he added.
On summarizing the two fundamental rules, the Pope suggested that both the movements and parish communities continue with “gratitude, patience, and acceptance of sufferings, which are inevitable.”
Benedict XVI continued: “Also in a marriage there are sufferings and tensions. And yet, they continue, and thus true love matures. The same happens in the community of the Church: Together, let’s have patience.”