"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Pope's audience with Communion & Liberation

Last Saturday the 24th, Pope Benedict held an open audience in St. Peter's Square with scores of thousands of Communion and Liberation members. Along with faithful members from North Carolina, Virginia, and DC, I watched the recording of the satellite feed and simultaneous translation that afternoon at St. Philip Neri Church in Fort Mill, SC. We thank Fr. John Giuliani and the Oratorians for their hospitality and availability.

The camera work was expert; I felt as if I were there right next to the Holy Father; I found myself wanting to reach out, kiss his ring, and talk to him. But this was a significant event for more objective reasons.

What have come to be called "ecclesial movements" in the Church, which are operated primarily by the laity, are often greeted with suspicion by conventional clergy and religious. While criticism is sometimes justified, as with anything human, the present and the previous pope have not exhibited similar reserve. To us in CL, Benedict said:

Communion and Liberation is a communitarian experience of faith, born in the Church not from a will to organize of the hierarchy, but originated from a renewed encounter with Christ and thus, we can say, from an impulse that derives ultimately from the Holy Spirit. Still today, this offers itself as an opportunity to live the Christian faith in a deep and up-to-date way, on one hand with a total fidelity and communion with the Successor of Peter and with the pastors who ensure the government of the Church, and on the other hand with a spontaneity and a freedom that permit new and prophetic apostolic and missionary realizations.

Dear friends, your movement thus inserts itself in that vast flourishing of associations and movements and new ecclesial realities providentially aroused in the Church by the Holy Spirit after the Second Vatican Council. Every gift of the Spirit finds itself in its origin and necessarily at the service of the building up of the Body of Christ, offering a witness of the immense charity of God for the life of all men. The reality of the ecclesial movements is therefore a sign of the fecundity of the Spirit of the Lord, so that the victory of the risen Christ be manifested in the world, and the missionary task entrusted to the whole Church be realized.

In the message to the World Congress of Ecclesial Movements, May 27, 1998, John Paul II repeated, that in the Church there is no contrast or contraposition between the institutional dimension and the charismatic dimension, of which the movements are a meaningful expression, because both are co-essential to the divine constitution of the People of God, and in the Church even the essential institutions are charismatic, and, in any case, the charisms, in one way or another, have to institutionalise themselves in order to have cohesion and continuity.

Note well: there is no "contrast or contraposition between the institutional dimension and the charismatic dimension." This is not a pope who is captive to false dichotomies. That is why he can pursue ecumenical initiatives tirelessly, especially with the Orthodox, while upholding the undiluted truth.

Long live Papa Benedetto, and the charism of Don Giussani!
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