Letter from Pope Benedict XVI
to the Participants at the World Conference of the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, Rome, Rocca di Papa, May 31st - Juni 2nd 2006
Dear brothers and sisters,
The memory still lives in my mind and in my heart, of a former World Conference of Ecclesial Movements from 26th – 29th May 1998, at which I was invited to make a contribution as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith with a talk concerning the theological position of the Movements. That Conference was crowned with the memorable meeting with our beloved Pope John Paul II on 39th May 1998 in Saint Peter’s Square, during which my predecessor confirmed his appreciation of the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities that were “signs of hope” for the well-being of the Church and of humanity.
Over the centuries, Christianity has been proclaimed and spread thanks to the lives of people and communities able to bear incisive witness to love, to unity and to joy. Typically, this power has set many people in “motion” in successive generations. Was it not perhaps the beauty formed by faith on the faces of the saints, that pushed so many men and women to follow in their footsteps? In the end, this is true of you as well: through the founders and initiators of your Movements and Communities you have glimpsed the face of Christ with unique clarity and set out on the road. Today too, Christ continues to resound in the hearts of so many with “come and follow me”, the call that can decide their destiny. This usually happens through the witness of those who have had a personal experience of the presence of Christ. On the faces and in the words of such “new creations” His light becomes visible and His call, audible.
“Become builders of a better world”
I am speaking, therefore, of you, dear friends of the Movements: let them ever be made schools of communion, companions on the way, where we learn to live in the truth and in the love that Christ has revealed to us and communicated through the Apostles, at the heart of the great family of His disciples. Let the exhortation of Jesus resound in your soul: “In the same way your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16). Carry the light of Christ in all the social and cultural settings in which you live. The missionary urge is evidence of the radical experience of faithfulness ever renewed in its own charism, which takes us beyond any tired or egotistical excuses. Bring light to the darkness of a world surrounded by idealogical contradictions! Beauty is nothing if there is no truth to recognise and follow, if love expires into passing sentimentality, if happiness becomes an elusive mirage, if freedom degenerates into instinctiveness. How much evil in human lives and in national life can give rise to a longing for power and possessions, and for pleasure! Bring to this troubled world the witness of freedom with which Christ freed us (cf Gal 5:1). The extraordinary fusion of the love of God and the love of neighbour makes life beautiful and makes the desert in which we often find ourselves, flower again. Wherever charity is manifest as a passion for life and for the destiny of others, shining in its caring and its work , becoming the power to build a new order of social justice, there, a civilisation able to face the advance of barbarism is built. Become builders of a better world according to the commandment to love, in which we may see the beauty of human life.
“Signs of the beauty of Christ and the Church”
Today, the ecclesial Movements and the New Communities are shining signs of the beauty of Christ and of the Church, His bride. You belong to the living structure of the Church. She thanks you for your missionary task, for the formative action which is growing within the Christian family, for promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life which is developing within you. We thank you also for your readiness to receive and welcome the guidance not only of the Successor of Peter but also that of the bishops of the diverse local Churches who are, together with the Pope, custodians of the truth and of charity in unity. I trust in your ready obedience. In addition to the affirmation of your right to exist, the buiding up of the Body of Christ in the midst of mankind must prevail as an indisputable priority. Every problem must be faced by the Movements with a sentiment of profound communion, in a spirit of connection with the lawful Shepherds. May you be sustained by the prayer of the Church in whose liturgy is the highest expression of the beauty and glory of God, and in some way constitutes a vision of Heaven on earth.
I entrust you to the intercession She whom we invoke as the Tota pulchra, the “All beautiful” an ideal of beauty which the artists have always sought to reproduce in their works, the “Woman robed with the sun” (Rev. 12:1) in which human beauty meets the beauty of God. With these wishes to you all, I send with a pledge of continuing affection, a special Apostolic Benediction.
The Vatican 22nd May 2006
BENEDICT PP. XVI
From: Good News, England, http://www.ccr.org.uk/gn0607/g06.htm
- More in English about new movements in the RCC: 0058uk and 0058uk2 (Cardinal Ratzinger1998 on movements) and 0158uk.
- Dutch. Meer over de nieuwe bewegingen:
rubriek Nieuwe kerkelijke bewegingen op
StuCom. Ook bereikbaar via www.kcv-net.nl/bewegingen