Vatican City, 9 January 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, C.S., Pontifical Delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, yesterday celebrated the Mass for the opening of the Extraordinary General Chapter of the Legionaries of Christ. The mass, celebrated in the Centre for Higher Studies of the Legion of Christ, was preceded by a Novena to the Holy Spirit in which all the Legionaries participated, and a week-long retreat for the Chapter fathers.
Following a path of renewal, which has lasted three and a half years and had a precise mandate from the Holy Father Benedict XVI, the Chapter will appoint the new government of the congregation, and approve the new constitutions.
In his homily, Cardinal De Paolis stressed that the revision of the constitutions “cannot simply be considered a technical effort, but should be accompanied by a process of examination of life, of review and of spiritual renewal for the institute”. Therefore, it cannot be regarded simply as a “code of laws”, that unites them “only in discipline”, but rather as “an expression of a common vocation, a common ideal, a common mission, a common path to healing”.
Referring to the appointment of the new government of the institution, the Cardinal repeated that its primary duty “is to preserve and promote the Institute’s charism; the charism is only guaranteed when authority is exercised as service, in the spirit of the Gospel and in fidelity to the norms of the Church. It is a point which should always be given special attention, especially for you, who have a history of suffering in this regard. It is important not to forget that. And this has been a topic about which the new constitutional text has been careful and vigilant”.
The cardinal, recalling the path of preparation culminating in the General Chapter, urged the Legion to preserve “hope in the Lord who has preserved your vocation; hope in the Legion, which, thanks to you, presents itself to this chapter with new strength and new horizons; and hope in the Church, which has accompanied you, particularly through Pope Benedict XVI – who, in the most tragic moment in your history, has had confidence in you and has believed in your capacity for renewal and faithfulness to the Lord – and in the current Supreme Pontiff Pope Francis – who wanted to be present at this important moment in your history”.
“You have suffered much, both internally and externally”, concluded Cardinal De Paolis. “You have suffered the shame of being accused, viewed with suspicion and of being exposed to public opinion, even within the Church. You have been able to accept this suffering out of love for your vocation, and out of love for the Church and for the Legion. Suffering has purified you, matured you and made you experience God’s grace and love, who has called you to share in the mystery of redemption through the cross and through sorrow. You have participated in the pain of those who have suffered because of some members of the Legion. You have chosen the only way the Gospel knows for the redemption of evil: not escape, not rejection, not the condemnation of others, but participation, solidarity, and love that enters into sin and sorrow so as to redeem them from the inside”.