VATICAN CITY, JUNE 11, 2004 ( The Cursillo movement, a Christian renewal effort that started in 1949 in Spain and spread worldwide, was recognized officially by the Holy See.

This movement received the decree of recognition today during the course of a Liturgy of the Word, at the headquarters of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, presided over by Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko.

Among those attending were leaders of the movement's four international groups, as well as bishops from several countries.

The Cursillo movement is present in 60 countries, with a following of some 5 million. The basic idea of the cursillo, or "little course," is a three-day retreat for those seeking God to whom the fundamental truths of the Christian faith are proclaimed.

The first cursillo was held from Jan. 7-10, 1949, on the island of Majorca, the fruit of the commitment of Catholic Action youth who had made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the Marian year of 1948.

The cursillos spread so rapidly. Within five years, cursillos were held in all the continents.

At a May 2002 meeting with Cursillo representatives, John Paul II encouraged the process of discernment that led to today's decree.