|Fr. Álvaro Corcuera with Pope Benedict XVI in Private Audience.|
By Jesús Colina
ROME, JULY 23, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Although
the relationship between bishops and movements at times can be
difficult, with the collaboration of both, the Church will achieve
unity and new apostolic impetus, says the general director of the Catholic
lay Regnum Christi Movement.
Legionary of Christ Father Álvaro Corcuera spoke
with ZENIT about the relationship between movements and local Churches,
and the progress gained in that relationship since Pope John
Paul II´s meeting with movements 10 years ago.
Regnum Christi, a
lay movement recognized by the Holy See, has close to
70,000 members. Father Corcuera is also the general director of the Legionaries
Q: Recently the Pope exhorted bishops to welcome "with
much love" the various ecclesial movements that have arisen within
the Church over the past decades (cf. address to bishops
attending a meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the
Laity). How do you think the movements should interpret these
Father Corcuera: We must thank Benedict XVI for these words.
They reaffirm our conviction that the ecclesial movements, which the
Holy Spirit has inspired within the Church, are not a
problem but a gift. Therefore, we should all welcome them
with gratitude and pastoral charity, so that with their lifestyle
and characteristic apostolic thrust, the new ecclesial movements may contribute
effectively and orderly to the common task of preaching the
Gospel to the man of today.
To welcome the movements
with love means to help them to be faithful to
the Church, to walk in step with the Church, not
before or behind it. Finding an open heart in the
pastors that Christ has placed at the head of the
Church will help members of the ecclesial movements to be
woven peacefully, with their own charism, into the fabric of
the local Churches.
Q: How can one understand that the existence
of ecclesial movements is compatible with the unity of the
Father Corcuera: The fact that there is a diversity of
spiritual gifts is one more sign of the richness and
variety with which the Holy Spirit wills to embellish the
one Church of Christ. Unity has no quarrel with the
variety of charisms; rather, it manifests that in Christ´s mystical
body, every member has a specific function, which contributes to
the wellbeing of the whole body.
Moreover, the Church is the
great family that God the Father has formed with all
those who believe in Christ and have received his Spirit.
And, as in all families, the different members that make
it up have different missions, different sensitivities and different qualities.
However, no one is better or worse. Simply all make
up the family of God.
In the Church, the Holy
Spirit works with wisdom and love and, given that every
man and woman is unique, he leads each one on
a different spiritual path, toward his or her fulfillment in
Christ. The movements, of course, have their own spiritual style
and attract people of different sensitivities. However, far from breaking
unity, this diversity -- lived with humility and sincere love
of the Church -- enables the Bride of Christ to
preach the Gospel to all men of all cultures and
Q: If the Pope posed the questions of unity and
acceptance it is because at times there have been misunderstandings
and disagreements in the relationship of these movements with the
local Churches. How should one respond to these situations?
The first thing that comes to mind is that the
misunderstandings and disagreements that can emerge between movements and local
Churches must not discourage us. Rather, they are an opportunity
to reflect and exercise the virtues necessary to achieve complementarity
in harmony and in joint endeavors.
Reflecting further, I see that
the history of the Church shows the wonderful presence of
Providence. On studying this history, one discovers with astonishment how
God leads his Church by the hand to her fullness,
and how he has not ceased to inspire charisms that
he has considered necessary in every moment to go out
to meet his children, so that the proclamation of the
Good News of the Gospel is a "performative" communication, which
entails deeds and changes life, as Benedict XVI says in
his encyclical on hope.
The Gospel commits us to exercise
attitudes and conduct that build the necessary unity. "Because there
is one bread, we who are many are one body,
for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Corinthians
10:17). The fruit of this truth of the mystical body
of Christ is communion in love, which is our definitive
vocation. And love leads all of us to accept what
each one has received, so that together we can fulfill
the mission of proclaiming the Gospel to all peoples and
As Pope John Paul II recalled in his message
to the 1998World Congress of Ecclesial Movements, "the movements were
inspired by the Spirit of Christ to give new apostolic
impetus to the whole ecclesial community." The movements take on
this mission with a sense of responsibility, seeking to grow
to be able to serve more and better. However, it
is not growth for the sake of growth but as
a loving response to the Person loved.
Q: How do
you assess the experience of ecclesial movements in their relationship
with their bishops and dioceses in the course of recent
Father Corcuera: In general, especially after the great meeting of
movements with John Paul II in 1998, we can speak
of a positive experience. A good integration of ecclesial movements
has been achieved in numerous dioceses. In some cases, human
difficulties and misunderstandings continue; however, they can be overcome with
patience, much dialogue and, above all, love of the Church
and its mission. In addition, exchanges and collaboration between different
ecclesial movements have increased notably, and this fact is of
great importance to be able to offer an effective service
to the local Churches and their pastors.
Now that almost a
year has passed, I am recalling the message given to
us by Cardinal Franc Rode, the prefect of the Congregation
for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
It was in July of last year, in the framework
of the Youth and Family meeting organized by Regnum Christi
in Atlanta, Georgia. He told us that wherever there is
a Regnum Christ member -- and the same can be
said for the members of any other ecclesial movement --
there is profound communion with the Vicar of Christ and
all other pastors, that communion with the Pope and with
the Church is our guarantee for apostolic fruitfulness.
He encouraged us
to continue in this way, working hard in local Churches,
cooperating with the bishops, the parish priests and the religious.
He reminded us that the Church is our house and
home, and invited us to make it always the environment
of our work and our commitment.
I don´t think I
can explain better than the cardinal what we hope our
love for the Church and our obedience to bishops and
pastors to be. We are committed to making this call
come to life, putting our whole heart and strength into
it. To do so, we know that the best means
is to be formed in a profound spirit of prayer,
in a lively, joyful and transforming reception of the sacraments,
in a solid living of the theological virtues, which implies
molding our heart to be meek and humble like Christ.
Q: What is Regnum Christi doing to foster unity and
further its work within local Churches?
Father Corcuera: First of all,
it continues to foster -- as has been true since
the days of our foundation -- a real experience of
love of Christ, of the Church and of the Pope
and bishops in the Legionaries of Christ and members of
Regnum Christi. It must be a passionate and faithful love,
obedient and motivated, willing and joyful. This must be the
real motor and meaning of any action.
And, needless to say,
we want the members of Regnum Christi to be fully
inserted into their local Churches. To be part of the
Regnum Christi Movement entails a commitment to authenticity in Christian
living in all environments -- family, work, friendships -- and
not less so in parishes and dioceses. Far from distancing
the members from diocesan and parish life, their membership in
Regnum Christi commits them to a more active participation, putting
their personal talents as well as the richness of the
movement´s charism at the service of their pastors. They are
also committed to being active faithful in their parishes, apostles
who know their pastors, pray for them, welcome their teachings,
know their needs and support their pastoral plans.
movement, we seek to cooperate in the pastoral plans of
dioceses and parishes by contributing our spirituality and apostolic style.
We also seek to inform the bishops regularly about the
activity we wish to carry out in their dioceses and,
in a special way, we seek to obey them always
with an attitude of service.
We must not forget either that
the first way of serving the Church is fidelity to
our own charism, because it is a gift and responsibility.
In this connection, to live charity and to pay attention
especially to the Church´s priorities and urgencies is the specific
way that Regnum Christi has of serving the local Churches.
Allow me to add a question about the situation in
North America, where parish life is very organized and the
role of the ecclesial movements is not yet well defined.
Sometimes, the impression can be given that the movements "compete"
with parish activities or create parallel structures. Recently, Archbishop Edwin
O´Brien of Baltimore intervened, asking for concrete information and setting
certain norms that Regnum Christi should fulfill in its pastoral
work. How has it taken up these guidelines?
Father Corcuera: I
have known Archbishop O´Brien since he was the rector of
the North American College here in Rome. The first thing
I sought to do was to make contact with him
so that there could be dialogue and we could clearly
understand his concerns, and those of the Baltimore clergy. In
our meeting at the beginning of June, the archbishop explained
his concerns to me and what he expected from us.
The meeting helped me a lot, and of course, we
always have points that we have to keep working on.
After all, our mission has no meaning except within the
Church, and at the service of the Church.
Later, Archbishop O´Brien
invited the Regnum Christi members of his archdiocese for a
frank and constructive exchange. Since then, we have already given
him all the information that he asked for, and we
have also made contact with the parish priests where there
are Regnum Christi members or activities. One of the factors
that most impresses me about Regnum Christi in Baltimore is
that more that 70% of the members work in at
least one apostolate in their respective parishes.
When we begin with
our work again in September, we will keep up personal
contact with [the parish priests] to invite them to our
meetings and to place our teams and our activities at
their disposal in their parishes and the life of the
I trust that in communion with the archbishop and the
local clergy, we are going to be able to overcome
all difficulties and misunderstandings.