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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
While we look forward to the
Meeting with the members of more than 100 Ecclesial Movements
and New Communities, scheduled for Saturday, 3 June, in St
Peter´s Square, I am pleased to offer you, the representatives
of all these ecclesial associations gathered at Rocca di Papa
for your World Congress, a warm greeting with the Apostle´s
words: "May the God of hope fill you with all
joy and peace in believing, so that by the power
of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Rom
The memory of the previous World Congress of
Ecclesial Movements, held in Rome from 26 to 29 May
1998, is still vivid in my mind and in my
heart. In my capacity as the then-Prefect of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith I was asked to
speak at it, with a lecture on the Theological locus
of Ecclesial Movements.
That Congress culminated in the memorable Meeting
with beloved Pope John Paul II on 30 May 1998
in St Peter´s Square, during which my Predecessor expressed his
approval of the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, which he
described as "signs of hope" for the good of the
Church and humanity.
Today, aware of the ground covered since
then on the path marked out by the pastoral concern,
affection and teachings of John Paul II, I would like
to congratulate the Pontifical Council for the Laity in the
persons of Archbishop Stanis³aw Ry³ko, President, Bishop Josef Clemens, Secretary,
and their coworkers, for the important and worthwhile initiative of
this World Congress.
Its theme: "The beauty of being Christian
and the joy of communicating it", is inspired by something
I said in the Homily inaugurating my Petrine Ministry. This
theme is an invitation to reflect on what the essential
features of the Christian event are: in fact, we encounter
in it the One who in flesh and blood visibly
and historically brought to earth the splendour of God´s glory.
The words of Psalm 45: 2 apply to him: "You
are the fairest of the sons of men". And paradoxically,
the Prophet´s words also refer to him: "He had no
form or comeliness that we should look at him, and
no beauty that we should desire him" (Is 53: 2).
In Christ the beauty of truth and the beauty of
love converge; but love, as people know, also calls for
the willingness to suffer, a willingness which for those who
love one another can even extend to the sacrifice of
life (cf. Jn 15: 13)! Christ, who is "the beauty
of every beauty", as St Bonaventure used to say (Sermones
Dominicales, 1: 7), is made present in the hearts of
men and women and attracts them to their vocation which
is love. It is thanks to this extraordinary magnetic force
that reason is drawn from its torpor and opened to
the Mystery. Thus, the supreme beauty of God´s merciful love
is revealed and at the same time, the beauty of
the human being who, created in the image of God,
is regenerated by grace and destined to eternal glory.
the ages Christianity has been communicated and disseminated thanks to
the newness of life of persons and communities capable of
bearing an incisive witness of love, unity and joy.
This force itself has set a vast number of people
in "motion", from generation to generation. Was it not perhaps
the beauty born from faith on the saints´ faces that
spurred so many men and women to follow in their
Basically, this also applies to you: through the founders
and initiators of your Movements and Communities you have glimpsed
the Face of Christ shining with special brightness and set
out on your way.
Christ still continues today to make
resound in the hearts of so many that "come, follow
me" which can decide their destiny. This normally happens through
the witness of those who have had a personal experience
of Christ´s presence. On the faces and in the words
of these "new creatures", his light becomes visible and his
I therefore say to you, dear friends of
the Movements: act so as to ensure that they are
always schools of communion, groups journeying on in which one
learns to live in the truth and love that Christ
revealed and communicated to us through the witness of the
Apostles, in the heart of the great family of his
May Jesus´ exhortation ceaselessly re-echo in your hearts: "Let
your light so shine before men, that they may see
your good works and give glory to your Father who
is in heaven" (Mt 5: 16). Bring Christ´s light to
all the social and cultural milieus in which you live.
Missionary zeal is proof of a radical experience of ever
renewed fidelity to one´s charism that surpasses any kind of
weary or selfish withdrawal.
Dispel the darkness of a world
overwhelmed by the contradictory messages of ideologies! There us no
valid beauty if there is not a truth to recognize
and follow, if love gives way to transitory sentiment, if
happiness becomes an elusive mirage or if freedom degenerates into
How much evil the mania for power, possession and
pleasure can spawn in the lives of people and nations!
Take the witness of the freedom with which Christ set
us free (cf. Gal 5: 1) to this troubled world.
The extraordinary fusion between love of God and love of
neighbour makes life beautiful and causes the desert in which
we often find ourselves living to blossom anew. Where love
is expressed as a passion for the life and destiny
of others, where love shines forth in affection and in
work and becomes a force for the construction of a
more just social order, there the civilization is built that
can withstand the advance of barbarity.
Become builders of a
better world according to the ordo amoris in which the
beauty of human life is expressed.
Today, the Ecclesial Movements
and New Communities are a luminous sign of the beauty
of Christ and of the Church, his Bride. You belong
to the living structure of the Church. She thanks you
for your missionary commitment, for the formative action on behalf
of Christian families that you are increasingly developing and for
the promotion of vocations to the ministerial priesthood and consecrated
life which you nurture among your members.
She is also
grateful to you for your readiness not only to accept
the active directives of the Successor of Peter, but also
of the Bishops of the various local Churches who, with
the Pope, are custodians of truth and charity in unity.
I trust in your prompt obedience.
Over and above the
affirmation of the right to life itself, the edification of
the Body of Christ among others must always prevail with
Movements must approach each problem with sentiments of
deep communion, in a spirit of loyalty to their legitimate
May you be sustained by participating in the prayer
of the Church, whose liturgy is the most exalted expression
of the beauty of God´s glory, and in a certain
way a glimpse of Heaven upon the earth.
entrust you to the intercession of the One whom we
invoke as the Tota pulchra, the "All Fair", an ideal
of beauty that artists have always sought to reproduce in
their works, the "Woman clothed with the sun" (Rv 12:
1) in whom human beauty encounters the beauty of God.
With these sentiments, I extend a special Apostolic Blessing to
you all as a pledge of my constant affection.
the Vatican, 22 May 2006
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
© Copyright 2006
- Libreria Editrice Vaticana