.- As leaders of new Catholic Communities and lay Movements meet in BogotÃ¡, Colombia this week, Pope Benedict XVI has sent a special message--by way of his secretary of state--calling for a missionary spirit among the groups, that aims to reach out to a suffering world who may not knowJesus Christ.
The Pontifical Council for the Laity is sponsoring the first ever Meeting of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities in Latin America, being held from March 9th through the 12th.
Through Cardinal Angelo Sodanoâs letter, which was sent to Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko,president of the Pontifical Council, the Holy Father encouraged congress participants"to share fraternally the wealth of their spirituality and experience,with the aim of invigorating Christian life in that part ofthe world, in which the Church lays so much hope."
Calling to mind the theme of the meeting, "Disciples and missionaries today, "the cardinal wrote that "like good disciples, the Movements and Communities are called to be both witnesses to and missionaries of the message they have received.â
he called them to stretch out âa friendly hand to others so that they
too may discover Christâ, specifically naming âpeople who still do not
know Him," and those "who live their Christian faith in a superficial
called on the groups to reach out to those âwho must be given the
support necessary to strengthen their faith daily and form it
correctly, against the snares of a secularized mentality or one that
promotes religious indifference in many areas of Latin America.â
this task,â Cardinal Sodano wrote,âmissionaries do not cease to be
disciples and give no more than what they themselves have received and
continue to receive, without advancing their own ideas or seeking their
In this vein, he recalled Pope Benedictâs words during last summerâs World Youth Day celebration in Cologne, Germany. There, he said that âThe spontaneity of new communities is important,but it is equally important to maintain communion with the Pope and the bishops.â
He stressed that âIt is they who guarantee that it is not individual itineraries that are being sought, but that all continue to live in that great family of God that the Lord founded with the twelve Apostles."
Using this point to show the importance of ecclesial communion, upon which he said,âthe authenticity of all experiences of Christian life and the effectiveness of pastoral initiatives so much depend,âhe cited the thoughts of another Pope--John Paul II, who insisted that everyone be humbly integrated into the life of local Churches and within diocesan and parish structures.â
It is here, the cardinal pointed out, âthey can all communicate their different forms of association and expression."