VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The charisms of movements and new ecclesial communities must be welcomed by the Church “with much love” and without “superficial and reductive judgments,” says Benedict XVI.
The Pope said this Saturday upon receiving some 150 bishops who participated in a seminar of the Pontifical Council for the Laity on ecclesial movements. The meeting was held May 15-17 in Rocca di Papa, Italy.
The seminar is a follow-up to the 2006 meeting that the Pontiff held in St. Peter’s Square on the vigil of Pentecost with a large representation of faithful belonging to more than 100 new lay groups.
In his speech Saturday, the Holy Father underscored the various gifts with which the ecclesial movements and the new communities have enriched the Church, especially since the Second Vatican Council: effective Christian formation, the witness of fidelity and obedience to the Church, missionary zeal, care for the poor, and a wealth of vocations.
Benedict XVI said” “Go out to meet with much love the movements and new communities; let us make an effort to know their reality adequately, without superficial impressions or reductive judgments.
“It also helps us to understand that the ecclesial movements and new communities are not a problem or an extra risk that further weighs on our grave duties.
“No! They are a gift of the Lord, a precious resource to enrich our whole Christian community with their charisms. Thus, a confident welcome that gives space to and values their contributions in the life of the local Churches must not be lacking.”
The Pope explained, “Difficulties and misunderstandings about particular questions do not authorize closure.” Recent decades, he added, have already contributed to overcoming “not a few prejudices, resistance, tensions.”
Something that has its own urgency, the Holy Father pointed out, is “the important task of promoting a more mature communion of all the ecclesial components, so that all charisms, in regard to their specificity, can fully and freely contribute to the building up of the one Body of Christ.”
In this connection, the Pontiff indicated that “dialogue” and “collaboration” is the style to adopt, and that “prudence,” “patience” and “much love” –especially where correction is necessary — are the ways to be taken.
Benedict XVI also said that the ecclesial movements and new communities that are just beginning should, for their part, thoroughly submit to the discernment and “delicate” and “vigilant” accompaniment of ecclesiastical authority, so that the “authenticity” of their charisms and the solidity of their communion with the Church be verified.
“Those who are called to the service of discernment and leadership,” the Pope said, “should not lord it over the charisms, but should rather beware of the danger of suffocating them, resisting the temptation to make uniform that which the Spirit willed to be multiform to concur in the building up and the enlargement of the one Body of Christ, that the same Spirit makes firm in unity.”