The movements and new communities within the Church are like “eruptions of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in contemporary society,” the Pope said today at an audience with Charismatic Catholics in Rome.
Participants in the 13th Conference of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowship were received by Pope Benedict at the Vatican on Friday morning.
"As I have stated on other occasions," the Pope said, "ecclesial movements and new communities, which have flourished since Vatican Council II, constitute a unique gift from the Lord and a invaluable resource for the life of the Church. They should be welcomed with confidence and esteemed for their various contributions so that they might be of efficient and fruitful benefit to all."
The charisms of the Holy Spirit have an impact on the local Church too, said the Pope as he expounded on one of the conference’s themes. The Holy Father asserted that the New Testament tells us that charisms appear as visible signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and that these charisms are “not a historical event of the past, but an ever-living reality” in the Church.
"The movements and new communities,” Pope Benedict said, “are like eruptions of the Holy Spirit in the Church and contemporary society. We can affirm that one of the elements and positive aspects of the Communities of Charismatic Covenant Renewal is the emphasis that the charisms and gifts of the Holy Spirit receive in these and their merit is in having recalled the actuality of these [charisms and gifts] in the Church."
Benedict XVI also recalled that both Vatican II and the Catechism of the Church praise the good accomplished by Catholic charismatic communities, while also emphasizing that their authenticity is “guaranteed by their openness to submit to the discernment of ecclesial authority. Precisely because there is a promising flourishing of ecclesial movements and community, it is important that pastors practice a prudent and wise discernment process with them."
The Holy Father, eager to promote the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, mentioned that he knows that “various ways are being studied to give papal recognition to new ecclesial movements and communities and that those who have already received it are not few in number. ... Pastors, above all the bishops, should keep this fact in mind when discerning according to their competency."
As the meeting with the Catholic Charismatic communities drew to a close, the Pope encouraged them to continue in their efforts to safeguard their Catholic identity as well as their ecclesial nature. Doing so, he commented, "will allow you to give everywhere a living and active witness of the profound mystery of the Church. Thus the ability of the various communities to attract new members will also grow."