Papal Message to Charismatic-Communities Conference

"Each Christian Must Become Christ's Follower"

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 5, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the message sent in Benedict XVI's name by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, to the 12th international conference organized by the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships.



The five-day conference, held in Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil, ended today.

* * *

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI sends cordial greetings to the members of the numerous communities born of that "current of grace" which is the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, as they assemble in Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil, to reflect on the theme "New Communities for a New Evangelization." He is also pleased to greet the many bishops present who have met to reflect on the theme "Charism and Institution: Co-essential."

As His Holiness said to the members of ecclesial movements and new communities gathered in St. Peter's Square on the vigil of last Pentecost: "Anyone who has come across something true, beautiful and good in his life -- the one true treasure, the pearl of great price -- hastens to share it everywhere, in the family and at work, in the contexts of his life" (Homily at first Vespers of the solemnity of Pentecost, 3 June 2006). Was it not such a new, spontaneous and joy-filled witness which then became proclamation, a missionary impulse inspired by the Holy Spirit that led many lay faithful to undertake a more committed Christian life within their communities?

As a result, the Pope also said in St. Peter's Square, they can "collaborate even more, very much more, in the Pope's universal apostolic ministry, opening the doors to Christ. This is the best service that the Church can offer to men and women, and specially to the poor to help the life of each individual; a just social order and peaceful coexistence among nations find in Christ the cornerstone on which the genuine civilization, the civilization of love, can be built" (ibid).

To speak of the new evangelization also means to speak about those who will carry it out, namely, individual Christians, those who have themselves encountered Christ, for "being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 1).

In order to give life to the world, that true life which is in Jesus Christ, each Christian must become his follower, must make him Master and Lord of his life, must enter into profound communion with him and become familiar with his thoughts, as we find them in the sacred Scriptures. It was precisely to reflect together on how to be disciples of Jesus in our own time that the movements and ecclesial communities of Latin America gathered on 9-12 March last, in Bogota, Colombia.

That meeting pointed to several urgent priorities calling for broad cooperation: Christian formation, a powerful proclamation before the world, a consistent missionary style, a concern for the poor, the suffering and the outcast. A passionate commitment to facing these challenges will surely contribute to the renewal of the Church, particularly in Latin America. As we look forward to the fifth General Conference of the Latin American episcopate, due to meet in Aparecida in May 2007 on the theme "Disciples and Missionaries of Jesus Christ" so that in him the peoples may have life, the Holy Father expresses his hope that the present meeting, through the exchange of experiences, reflections and new proposals, will contribute effectively to the preparation of that significant ecclesial event.

Entrusting the work of the conference to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, particularly venerated in Brazil as Our Lady Aparecida, His Holiness sends to all present his special apostolic blessing.

With personal good wishes for the success of this initiative, I remain

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State

[Translation issued by the Canção Nova Community; adapted]