1 September 1981

In April, 1980, the Council of Laity of the Vatican organized the first meeting of the spiritual movements of the Church, and at its conclusion, Bishop Cordes, vice-president of the Council, asked the movements to continue to “develop bonds of communication and collaboration between themselves”. This past September, there was a second such meeting, this time organized by two of the movements, Light and Life Movement of Poland, popularly called Oasis, and Comunione e Liberazione (Unity and Liberation) Movement of Italy. The International Council of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal was again represented, this time by Fr. Fio Mascarenhas and Fr. Tom Forrest of the International Office in Rome, Hervé Marie Catta of France, and Kevin Ranaghan of the United States. Several other charismatic leaders were there, and in all, about 130 leaders from 20 different movements around the world attended. Despite the fact that delegations were kept small, the whole city of Rome seemed to be covered with posters announcing the event, and it was well covered by television, radio, magazines and newspapers, including L’Osservatore Romano. Each movement was given 20 minutes to explain its history, goals and particular charism, and the presentation regarding Charismatic Renewal was well received. Liturgies were celebrated by Vatican officials, including several cardinals, and there were major talks on the themes of charisms in the Church, movements today, characteristics of an authentic Church movement, and the relationship of movements having distinct charisms with the institutional Church. In his talk on movements in the Church today, Archbishop Moreira Neves of the Congregation of Bishops called the Church a “sacrament of unity” that should be reflected in the harmony between movements. Bishop Cordes saw the movements as a vital tool in motivating and activating the grassroots of the Church, and hopes to see the movements develop schools for better leadership training of the laity.

The terms “charisms”, “charismatic”, and of course, “Holy Spirit”, were used constantly throughout the talks and following dialogue. Fr. Luigi Giussani, founder of Comunione e Liberazione Movement, drew these conclusions from the meeting:

1) Its most moving aspect was the experience of warm friendship, joy and unity among participants.

2) The reports showed how the Holy Spirit was doing similar things in all the movements, while protecting the distinct charism of each.

3) The way that the whole is alive in each of its parts, the Church must be alive and clearly reflected in each of the movements. The words, “He loved the Church” were written on the tomb of the founder of the Schoenstatt Movement, and we should want the same said of us.

4) Our task is to show that God can be known, and even more than that, that He is truly our way of life.

5) It is important to note how Mary played such an important role in the origins of so many of the movements.

Fr. Francis Blachnicki, founder of the Light and Life Movement, called the meeting “a gift from God, with the Holy Spirit as its source, a gift to be received and to be made use of”. In the spirit of these words, three of the movements, Light and Life, Comunione e Liberazione, and Charismatic Renewal, were asked to help develop lines of communication and collaboration between the movements, to support and suggest similar meetings on local levels, and to help plan the next world meeting. The group celebrated a closing Mass at Castel Gandolfo with His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, and the Pope began his message to them with these words: “I’m very happy with this meeting…As you all know, the Church herself is a movement”. Calling upon the movements to be faithful to their priestly, prophetic and royal mission, the Holy Father explained that each movement must be a move towards God himself, towards the depth of man’s own inner being, and out towards all men and towards the world, adding that at the heart of each such movement there must be love, a love “poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 5:5). The role the Charismatic renewal played at this meeting, and the subsequent role give to it were indications that in Rome it is already functioning “at the heart of the Church”, one of the goals set for it at the Assisi and Rome meetings last May.

Taken from the ICCRO Newsletter, September-October 1981

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