|«.» (Photo: L'Osservatore Romano).|
By Jesús Colina
ROME, MAY 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).-
About 150 bishops gathered near Rome last week for the
second conference on the role of ecclesial movements.
The theme of
this year´s conference, organized by the Pontifical Council for the
Laity, was a phrase Benedict XVI recently directed to German
bishops: “I Ask You to Go Out and Meet the
Movements With Much Love.”
One of the main speakers at the
event was Father Arturo Cattaneo, a canon law professor from
Venice. Father Cattaneo spoke with ZENIT about what he told
Q: On Pentecost 1998, John Paul II addressed the
ecclesial movements, recalling, "Their birth and spread has brought to
the Church´s life an unexpected newness which is sometimes even
disruptive. This has given rise to questions, uneasiness and tensions."
Ten years later, what would you say about this?
I would recall above all that on that occasion the
Pope addressed the movements, affirming that after "a testing period"
and [a time of] verifying, a "new stage," that of
"ecclesial maturity," was opening before them. In the 10 years
that have passed since then, that "maturity" -- also thanks
to the solicitude of Benedict XVI -- has continued consolidating
itself. This is particularly notable regarding [the movements´] insertion into
the local Churches. Naturally, this does not mean that all
the problems have been resolved, also because the Church --
as a living organism -- requires that every reality be
continually updating itself.
Q: What makes it difficult to find solutions
to the problems that still exist?
Father Cattaneo: The difficulties often
flow on the one hand, from prejudices, misunderstandings or narrowness
on the part of the faithful of the local communities,
and on the other hand, of imprudence, inexperience or exuberance
on the part of the members of the movements. Moreover,
as the late Father Jesús Castellano observed -- "the charisms
don´t exist in a pure state, and sometimes in the
name of charisms, there can be distortions."
A continuous work
of perfection is thus needed, and on the part of
the bishop, there needs to be not only the promotion
of the charismatic richness, but also discernment, watchfulness and the
correction of possible distortions.
Q: How can these difficulties and tensions
Father Cattaneo: Principally with dialogue animated by charity, with
a bit of patience and good will to understand and
to make oneself understood. Everyone should -- as Cardinal Ratzinger
observed -- "allow themselves to be educated by the Holy
Spirit," so they can have "an interior sense of the
multiple forms that a lived faith can take on." Both
sides -- movements and local communities -- should find the
path that leads to those attitudes that Paul speaks about
in his hymn to charity.
Q: You have spoken to the
bishops. Can you tell us something of what you have
Father Cattaneo: I have summarized it in four points,
corresponding to the essential characteristics of the Church, which are
a gift but also a task. Christ, through his Spirit,
allows the Church to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic,
and he calls her to fulfill in an ever better
way each one of these characteristics. Every diocesan bishop should
promote in the Church entrusted to him unity in plurality,
catholicity in the sense of openness to the universal Church,
as well as the apostolicity that implies complementarity between institution
and charism. Acting in this way, the bishop will contribute
to the holiness of his particular Church as the first
servant of the Spirit.
Q: Could you explain how this guarantees
the integration of the ecclesial movements?
Father Cattaneo: The service of
the bishop to unity should be carried out with the
awareness that a diversity of ministries, charisms, and ways of
life and apostolate are not an obstacle to the unity
of the local Church, but rather a richness. It must
be considered that the character of communion, precisely of the
Church, includes, on one hand, the most solid unity, and
on the other hand, a plurality and a diversification, which
are not obstacles to unity. A narrow understanding of unity
leads to a pastoral uniformity that makes it difficult for
the various movements be inserted [in the diocese] and [carry
out their] apostolic action.
On the other hand, the catholicity of
the particular Church has special relevance to the theme that
we are speaking about. One of the predominant characteristics of
the new ecclesial movements is their universal dimension. As a
reality of the universal Church, in virtue of the mutual
interiority between universal Church and local Church, the movements are
called to act in the particular Churches, enriching them and
preserving them from the danger of "separationism" or of "localism."
Doesn´t the opposite danger also exist, however? That of a
movement never rooting itself in the local Church?
Father Cattaneo: Certainly
the characteristic universality of the movements should not make them
forget that the Church also possesses an essential local dimension.
The movements will be, therefore, fully ecclesial in the measure
that they root themselves in the various local Churches. The
universal vision of the Church, which represents one of the
valuable contributions of the movements to the local Churches, could
be deformed, becoming a vision platonically "universalist," and this would
work to the detriment of attention given to the reality
and the problems of the local Church.
This is also
love for the Church. The members of the movements, remaining
faithful to their particular charism, should try to inject it
creatively into the life of their respective local Churches, without
limiting themselves to being present in diocesan organizations. The fields
of ecclesial action proper to the lay faithful is that
of family, social, professional, political, cultural, athletic life, etc. With
this capillary presence in the life of the diocese, they
will keep the charism of the movement from seeming like
a foreign body within it.
It´s something analogous to the
insertion of a new musical instrument into an orchestra, which
while conserving its characteristics, adjusts to the particularities that it
finds there with the goal of producing a true symphony,
and this, thanks to the leadership of the orchestra director,
who, in our case, is the bishop.
Q: And how can
we understand the complementarity between institution and charism?
Father Cattaneo: Between
institution and charism there cannot be contraposition -- as there
is not between Christ and his Spirit -- but rather
complementarity, the putting into action of which corresponds in a
particular way to the diocesan bishop. [The bishop] should avoid
an excessive and bureaucratic development of the institutional dimension in
detriment of the charismatic one.
In reflecting on the insertion
of the movements in the particular Churches, there exists the
temptation of inappropriately referring to the binomial institution-charism, allowing oneself
to be dragged along by a clearly unacceptable dialectic. On
various occasions, John Paul II emphasized that the institutional aspect
and the charismatic aspect in the Church "are co-essential."
should, therefore, affirm that in each reality of the Church,
both the institutional and the charismatic dimension are found, even
if in varying degrees. It would thus be an error
to think of the diocesan pastoral structures as mere institutional
organizations, just as it would be erroneous to place the
ecclesial movement in a purely charismatic realm, without institutional references.
What is the bishops´ responsibility in promoting this complementarity?
The importance of the sacred ministry being understood and lived
charismatically was emphasized by Ratzinger, observing, among other things, that
only in this way "no institutional stiffness arises. There subsists
instead, an interior openness to charism, a type of antennae
for detecting the Holy Spirit and his action […] and
lines of fruitful collaboration in the discernment of spirits will
He called for guarding against the innate danger
of an excessive institutionalism. The Church certainly needs organizational structures,
also of human right, but if these institutions "become too
numerous and preponderant, they endanger the ordering and vitality of
its spiritual nature. The Church should continually verify its institutional
ensemble, so that it doesn´t become excessively heavy, [so that
it] doesn´t stiffen into a coat of armor that suffocates
the spiritual life that is proper and unique to it."
You concluded by speaking of the bishop as a servant
of the Spirit. In what sense?
Father Cattaneo: The bishop is
the first minister of the Sanctifying Spirit. He exercises the
function of moderator of "episkopé," at the service of the
Spirit of Christ, ensuring that the various apostolic initiatives based
in the charisms develop in harmony and contribute to the
edification of the Church in fidelity to the apostolic tradition.
Their jurisdiction is not then understood as a center from
which flow all the ministries and apostolic initiatives in their
Churches, but rather as a center that unifies, coordinates, encourages,
promotes and moderates, always aware of the responsibility of supporting
the manifold action of the Spirit.