Message of Benedict XVI to the new communities

Source: FSSPX News

While thanking the new communities for their missionary endeavors, their formation work and their promotion of vocations, Benedict XVI recalled their duty of “obedience” toward the Church. The pope wrote in this sense in a letter sent on May 31 to the 300 participants of the world congress, which opened the same day at Rocca di Papa, on the outskirts of Rome, on the theme: “The beauty of being Christian and the joy of sharing it”.

In his Italian letter, Benedict XVI affirmed to the new communities that the Church thanked them for the availability they’ve shown to “welcome the operational directives not only of the successor of Peter, but also of the bishops of the different local churches which are, with the pope, guardians of truth and charity in unity”. The pope told them he had confidence “in a prompt obedience”.

For him, beyond the affirmation of the right to their own existence, “the edification of the body of Christ among men must prevail as an indisputable priority. Thus, he added, each problem must be taken up by the movements with profound sentiments of communion, “in a spirit of adhesion” to the directives of the legitimate pastors of the Church.

Hailing the new communities which “are today a luminous sign of the beauty of Christ and the Church”, he told them that they belong to the living structure of the Church. He asked that these movements “always be schools of communion, companions on the way in which one learns to live in the truth and in love”.

In this message, Benedict XVI equally underscored that in the course of the centuries Christianity had been communicated and spread thanks to the newness of life of persons and communities capable of bearing an incisive witness to love, unity and joy. “Through the founders and initiators of your movements and communities, you have seen with a singular luminosity the face of Christ and you started on the way”, he declared.

How much evil the desire for power, possessions and pleasure is capable of producing in the lives of men and nations!” deplored the Holy Father. He invited the members of the movements to carry in this troubled world the witness of the liberty by which God liberated us. “Where charity is manifested” and becomes “a force constructive of a more just social order, there is built the civilization capable of standing up to the advance of barbarism”, he added.

Saturday, June 3, on the occasion of the first Vespers of Pentecost, the Sovereign Pontiff spoke, in St. Peter’s Square, before 400,000 faithful from some one hundred new communities. He told them that in “looking at this place” one could observe that the Holy Spirit “was continually producing new gifts”, but that in Him “multiplicity and unity came together”. The Spirit “breathes where He wills”, said the pope, “in an unexpected manner, in unexpected places, and in forms never before imagined”. “He wants you in many forms and He wants you for the one body, in union with lasting orders – bonds – of the Church, with the successors of the apostles and with the successor of St. Peter”. “Dear friends, I ask you to be, still more, much more, collaborators in the universal apostolic ministry of the pope, by opening the doors to Christ”.

On June 4, Pentecost Sunday, during the Regina Caeli, Benedict XVI thanked Christ “for the action of the Holy Spirit, who permitted a new flourishing of spiritual life and of apostolic life in the Church”. “I ask the Lord to augment in everyone the care of ecclesial communion, so that all the living forces concur in the growth of the body of Christ and that the youth agree to respond to the call to the priesthood and to the consecrated life”, wished the pope, who placed the new communities “among the realities called forth by the Holy Spirit in the Church”. “The whole Church, as John-Paul II loved to say, is a single great movement animated by the Holy Spirit, a river which flows through history to irrigate it with the grace of God and to render it fruitful with life, goodness, beauty, justice and peace”, declared the sovereign pontiff.

One will recall that after the Second Vatican Council, which wanted to manifest the importance of the role of the laity in the Church, numerous movements called “new communities” were founded. Among these movements are the communities of the Emmanuel, of the New Way or of the Beatitudes, to which one can add associations such as the Focolari, founded in 1943 and very involved with ecumenical dialogue. The development of these movements, autonomous but desirous to be joined to the life of the Church, is not simple: perceived as a form of competition with parish life, their insertion in the dioceses has often created difficulties. If John-Paul II encouraged their expansion, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger warned, in his day, against certain possible deviations vis-à-vis ecclesiastical authority.

The problems posed by these “new communities” are not only of a disciplinary order, but also doctrinal. Indeed, their charismatic inspiration stemming from Protestantism is opposed to traditional Catholic theology (“baptism of the Holy Spirit”) and favors a demonstrative liturgical practice with “speaking in tongues” and more or less spectacular healings.