Vatican City, 20 November 2014 (VIS) – The Third World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities began in Rome today. Organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the meeting is a response to the appeal for missionary conversion launched by Pope Francis to all Christians in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.
The congress – the third of this type following those held during the pontificates of St. John Paul II in 1998 and Benedict XVI in 2006 – will be attended by more than 300 members of lay associations from 40 countries, gathered to explore the theme “The joy of the Gospel: a missionary joy”.
The congress was inaugurated by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, who recalled the rich teaching of the last three pontiffs on what St. John Paul II defined as “the new season of associations of the faithful”. The cardinal emphasised that St. John Paul II closely followed and guided the rapid development of ecclesial movements and new communities, accompanying them with his clear and enlightening words … and indicated a new phase in the life of new charisms, which would necessarily have to follow their initial flourish – the phase of ecclesial maturity”.
For Pope Benedict XVI, he continued, “the multiple forms and the unity of charisms and ministries are inseparable in the life of the Church. The Holy Spirit desires the multiplicity of movements in the service of the single Body that is the Church”.
Pope Francis well knows the reality of ecclesial movements, insists that the new charisms “are not a closed patrimony, consigned to a specific group to guard it; they are rather gifts from the Spirit integrated into the ecclesial body, attracted towards the centre that is Christ, from where they are channeled into an evangelical impulse”.