Vatican City, 22 November 2014 (VIS) – Conserve the freshness of charism, respect freedom and always seek communion were the three directions that Pope Francis outlined at the Third World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and based on the theme “The joy of the Gospel, a missionary joy”.
“The movements and communities you represent are now being projected into the phase of ecclesial maturity, which requires a vigilant attitude of permanent conversion, to render the evangelising impulse increasingly alive and fruitful”, said the Holy Father, who received the participants in the congress this morning in the Clementine Hall. Conversion and mission he said, are “intimately connected. Indeed, without an authentic conversion of heart and mind, the Gospel cannot be proclaimed; at the same time, if we are not open to mission, conversion is not possible and faith becomes sterile”.
With regard to the first indication, conserving the freshness of charism, Francis remarked that “as time goes by, there is a greater temptation to become comfortable, to become hardened in set ways of doing things, which, while reassuring, are nonetheless sterile. However, realities are more important than ideas; even if a certain institutionalisation of the charism is necessary for its survival, we ought not delude ourselves into thinking that external structures can guarantee the working of the Holy Spirit. The newness of your experiences does not consist in methods or forms, which are important, but rather in your willingness to respond with renewed enthusiasm to the Lord’s call”.
A further issue is how to welcome and accompany people today, especially the young. “Men and women today experience serious identity problems and have difficulty making proper choices; as a result, they tend to be conditioned and to delegate important decisions about their own lives to others. We need to resist the temptation of usurping individual freedom, of directing them without allowing for their growth in genuine maturity. Moral or spiritual progress that manipulates a person’s immaturity is only an apparent success, and one destined to fail. Christian education instead requires a patient accompaniment which is capable of waiting for the right moment for each person, as the Lord does with each one of us. Patience is the only way to love truly and to lead others into a sincere relationship with the Lord”.
Finally, movements must not forget that “the most precious good, the seal of the Holy Spirit, is communion”. ... For the world to believe that Jesus is Lord, it needs to see communion among Christians. If, on the other hand, the world sees divisions, rivalries and back-biting, regardless of the cause, how can we evangelise? Remember this further principle: 'Unity prevails over conflict', because our brothers and sisters are always of greater value than our personal attitudes; indeed, it is for our brothers and sisters that Christ has shed his blood. In addition, real communion cannot exist in Movements or in New Communities unless these are integrated within the greater communion of our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church. The whole is greater than the part, and the part only has meaning in relation to the whole. Communion also consists in confronting together and in a united fashion the most pressing questions of our day, such as life, the family, peace, the fight against poverty in all its forms, religious freedom and education”, concluded the Holy Father.