Bishops Ask Spirit's Aid in Understanding Movements

Cardinal Urges Prelates to See Them as Gift, Not Problem

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By Marta Lago

ROCCA DI PAPA, Italy, MAY 15, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Bishops are gathered near Rome to invoke the Holy Spirit's aid in welcoming movements and communities into the fabric of local Churches.

That is how Cardinal Stankslaw Rylko explained one of the keys motivating the Pontifical Council for Laity to gather some 100 bishops for a three-day seminar that began today.

A key for these days, he said, is the common invoking of the Holy Spirit to "better know and understand the project of God in these new charisms, correctly discern their genuine character and ordered use in the bosom of Christian communities, welcome them with trust and gratitude into the fabric of the Churches entrusted to our pastoral care" and to offer them support "in their mission with an authentic spirit of spiritual fatherhood."

"It is undeniable," Cardinal Rylko said, "that movements and new communities have become for millions of the baptized in every corner of the planet, true 'laboratories of faith,' authentic schools of sanctity and mission."

"The movements launch the challenge of a missionary Church, courageously projected toward new frontiers," he added. "In our times, the Church has a great need of opening itself to this novelty generated by the Holy Spirit."

Cardinal Rylko said pastors should be the first in taking note of these "new things," but "we know that this is not always the case."

"Pastors -- and this has to be forcefully emphasized -- should not see movements and new communities as another 'problem' they have to deal with, but rather as a 'providential gift' that the Church should receive with gratitude and a sense of responsibility, so as not to waste the resource they represent," he added.

Discernment

This gift implies duties for laypeople as well as for bishops, Cardinal Rylko affirmed. He noted how Pope John Paul II insisted that these new realities are called to insert themselves into the dioceses and parishes "with humility […] at the service of the mission of the Church and avoiding any type of exclusiveness or […] attitudes of superiority regarding others."

The president of the pontifical council noted criteria offered by John Paul II and by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger for discerning the life of movements in the Church.

Cardinal Ratzinger, as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, highlighted that "in the Church there is no contrast and contraposition between the institutional dimension and the charismatic dimension, of which the movements are a significant expression," Cardinal Rylko recalled.

And Cardinal Ratzinger affirmed that "integration can never mean homologation because ecclesial communion is not an absolute uniformity, but rather unity in diversity," Cardinal Rylko added.

He continued, "As Pope, [Ratzinger] continues insisting on the importance of the criteria of docility to the action of the Spirit in the bosom of the ecclesial communion."

One and many

Regarding Church-movement relationship, Cardinal Rylko stated, the current Pope has given priority to the Pauline rule "do not snuff out the charisms," and as a second criteria, "the Church is one." He synthesizes both guidelines in the words "gratitude, patience and also acceptance of the sufferings that are inevitable," the cardinal noted.

Following the magisterium of Benedict XVI, the pontifical council president affirmed, "It is not enough to welcome a movement; it is necessary to follow it with due pastoral solicitude." This task, he acknowledged, implies "an adequate knowledge of the unique realities present and active in the diocese."

In this task, the cardinal said, the pastors can count on the Pontifical Council for Laity, "a common house for the ecclesial movement and the new communities, and a direct expression, regarding these [groups], of the paternity of the Successor of Peter."

Benedict XVI will receive the prelates in audience Saturday.