Second day – May 11, 2006
Speech of His Excellency Monsignor Mondello
I thank you for this invitation, however, I did not expect it to be so solemn when at the time the invitation was done; I thought of a little dialogue to be done with friends, but then I discovered that it was very, very committing.
Then I begin to fear of not being able or not knowing how to meet the expectations of all of you and of the organizers of this convention. However, since we are dealing with a subject on which I thought a lot, and from the theological point of view, as a professor of ecclesiology in my youth, and from the pastoral point of view for the task, by now, practiced as a bishop for many years; I believe, here, I will try, at least on my part, trying to give a presentation of this theme that can be a help, a guide to face the problem of the relations between the hierarchy, the magisterium of the Church and the ecclesial movements; however, in the light of the Vatican Council II.
I thank again, I repeat, for the invitation that was addressed to me; all the organizers, and I would like to extend a special greeting to our beloved Archbishop of Catanzaro to whom I am bound by many years of friendship. Think we were students together for a year at the seminary in Posillipo and we have known each other before becoming priests, as students of theology. Later, we then met again, when I arrived in Reggio Calabria and he was Bishop of Locri, and when he returned as Archbishop of Catanzaro Squillace. We have always been good friends, we continue to be, in mutual respect and brotherly love which binds us not only for this common experience, but also for the service which, together, we were called to.
Well, the theme that I was appointed to deal with, to my thinking, first of all requires a deep understanding of what the nature of the Church is, as she was presented us by the Second Vatican Council. In other words, my personal belief is that one cannot speak of movements in the Church, one cannot speak of the hierarchy, one cannot speak of the religious or the laity in the Church, if he does not have first a clear concept of what the Church, the Church of Christ is. Especially after the Second Vatican Council which, as you well know, in a certain sense wanted to complete the First Vatican that had stopped, unfortunately, only to the discussion / approval of the document of a decree concerning only the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and the infallibility of the Pope. Evidently, the First Vatican Council had the intention of going forward and study the problem of the Episcopate in the Church and had also prepared a document, “Constitutio et alter de Ecclesia,” so called then (II Constitution on the Church) . Unfortunately, it was not possible to discuss such document, because, as you know, the capture of Porta Pia, in 1870, had the First Vatican Council stop.
The Second Vatican has given us a wonderful document on the Church, the “Lumen Gentium” which we can consider the main document of Vatican II. Sure, everyone might say what he wants; some present the “Dei Verbum” as the prince document, others “Nostra Aetate” and so on. I believe that among the four Constitutions, all of them most appreciable and important, there is a primacy and it is found right in the “Lumen Gentium “, since it finally shown us a Church that can be truly present in the world of today, giving both those who live within her, and those who are outside of her, the possibility of a life of genuine evangelical witness, which is the one that Christ requires for having founded the Christian community, the Church.
It is clear that one must start from the knowledge of the Church because, and I am deeply convinced about it, what has happened after Vatican II in terms of movement, divisions, contrasts and oppositions between the institutional church and the Charismatic church, what has happened after Vatican II, for the exodus of so many priests who have left the Church, etc.., depends on this. In fact, I think that at the foundation of everything there was, and perhaps continues to be a misunderstanding concerning the nature, and the Church’s mission. I believe that if in these forty years, forty one by now, from the closing of Vatican II, in our seminaries, in our parish communities and all communities, had this document “Lumen Gentium” been better deepened, many things would not have happened in the Church or otherwise, could have been avoided easily, in a coherent way with what the Church has said of herself.
The Vatican II wanted to present us the nature of the Church in this Constitution “Lumen Gentium” and did it, as I said, to fill this gap of Vatican I. We need, therefore, start from Chapter I of this document, because the first chapter begins by telling us that it wants to present us the nature of the Church. To answer to this intention, it begins with telling us, “the Church is in Christ like a Sacrament,” then, explaining: “Sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of the unity of all mankind.”
Sure, there have been difficulties in arriving at this formulation; we cannot stop to see what has happened in the Council, the interventions of some Cardinal, known by me, who was surprised by the fact that, now, they talked of the eighth Sacrament in the Church. The Church is a Sacrament; then the sacraments are no longer seven, what will the faithful understand? However, let us leave all the discussions. What does this expression mean? The Church is a Sacrament, that is, a sign and instrument of the intimate union with God and of the unity of all mankind. It means, simply, that the Church is presented us as the means that God willed, that Christ willed in order to unite men to God; to be the instrument of communion with God and an instrument of communion among men. She is not only the Sign of this communion, but also the instrument so that this union of man with God and of men among them is realized.
So, we might say that, actually, although this term is not used much in “Lumen Gentium”, the fundamental concept of Church, contained here, is the one of the Church as communion.
In 1985, the Synod of Bishops, twenty years after the conclusion of the Council, wished to reflect right on the “Lumen Gentium”, identifying the fundamental concept of this document. The Synod has clearly stated: the basic concept of Church, presented us by the “Lumen Gentium”, is that the Church is a communion. And here is, then, the question: what is this communion? How can one speak of communion in the Church?
It is the council, perhaps for the first time in the Church history, to make us understand how the Church has not been established only by Christ, as it was said before the Council, in documents, treatises on ecclesiology; Christ chose the twelve disciples, sent them into the world and constituted the Church. The II Vatican tells us no! The Church is the work of the Father, of God the Father who willed her from eternity, he conceived her of the Son who, in obedience to the Father, realized her, by becoming man, coming among us; she is the work of the Holy Spirit that, sent by the Father and the Son, has enlivened this Church. Therefore, the Church is intimately tied not only to Christ, but also to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, to the Most Holy Trinity. But the Trinity, and here we are aided by the encyclical of Benedict XVI, his first encyclical entitled “Deus Caritas Est,” which I wish to translate “God is Communion” because saying Charity and saying Communion is the same thing. God is a communion, because the Christian God is not one only God, although he is One God, but he is Triune in the Persons; therefore, he is a communion of Persons.
The first real communion that exists is that of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This Trinitarian communion, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they wanted to participate it ad extra in the constitution and vivification the Christian community of the Church. Then, the Church is the fruit of the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; the fruit of the communion of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. So the Church can be nothing but communion: if she is not communion, she is not the Church of Christ, she is not the Church tied to the Most Holy Trinity, originated from the Most Holy Trinity, since, being her communion, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit wanted to communicate themselves, they wanted to participate this inner Trinitarian communion to the Christian community and let enter into this inner Trinitarian communion those who had and have faith in the Triune God.
As a fact, the other council document “Ad Gentes”, tells us, even, that the Church finds in the Trinity her “maximum exemplar et principium unitatis”. In the Trinity, then, we Christian community have the maximum example: we must be united, as united are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are not Church if we do not love each other, if we are united with each other, as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are united. That is the example. We will never reach it on this earth, of course, but we must always strive for it.
Here you can make all your applications, recognizing how bad it is to say this is my local church, that is yours, I command here, you command there, etc.. They are statements far from what the true nature of the Church is: she is communion and realizes herself only in communion. The division, Paul said it to the Corinthians, then, is the biggest sin you can commit the Church: dividing, breaking up the very Body of Christ, damaging this communion.
But the Trinity is not only the greatest example of communion in the unity of the Church, it is even the principle of this unity. If we are a communion, if we are a united Church, and thus, in communion; we do not owe it to our personal capacity. We stay well together, we love each other, we try loving each other and, thus, we will realize the communion: not at all, because it is a gift of the Most Holy Trinity. It is to him, to the Most Holy Trinity, that we owe this communion. Not only that, this also means that whatever efforts we make to destroy this communion, we will never succeed. In two thousand years of Church history of attempts, even on the part of the Christians, even on the part of priests, bishops and popes; there have been so many, but thanks to God, the Church continues to be the Church of the Triune God, of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, since she owes her communion to the Trinity. Obviously, then, it also depends on the answer of man if this communion is more or less bright: sometimes, it might be less clear, less bright, depending, again, on our answer.
If the Church is communion, on the example of the Trinity, our Christian task is not to fight each other to see who is the one that must have more merits; but it is the one of growing together, loving each other reciprocally in order to reflect more and more and better the inner Trinitarian communion.
I like to quote you here, a sentence of biblical scholar Bruno Maggioni, one of the best, today, in Italy; who, in one of his recent books, wanted to examine how the Church is presented in the New Testament documents; and, therefore, he analyzed Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and so on, including pastoral letters. He concludes this examination, saying the following words: “the communities of the New Testament are deeply in communion with each other, but resist the temptation to flatten into a uniformity that leaves no room for local and cultural originality.” The book is called A Treasure in earthen pots, published by Life and Thought in 2005, this sentence is on p. 101.
Evidently, this gift of the Holy Spirit and of the Most Blessed Trinity should be welcomed by
us; therefore, it is necessary to find those tools that help us grow in communion. In fact, for this reason, the Council has decided that there should be some means, called just like this, instruments of communion; they were born in this way, the Priests’ Council, the diocesan and parish councils, councils for economic affairs, the College of counseling. On each of these we could say many things. I assert only that, perhaps, we still did not understand what these councils are. We talked of everything except of the fact that they are instruments for the growth of the communion.
I say simply this to you, to conclude this point: for so many years, at least since 1968, I have been interested in the priestly and pastoral councils. Then, as archbishop, I was a young priest, with two other priests older than me, has called us to do the statute of the Diocese of Messina for what concerns the priests and pastoral councils. We have studied several, even French, and Belgians statutes. In the end, we prepared a statute that we felt it was approvable; in fact, it was approved. Thus the council of priests began, and so also the diocesan pastoral council. Nevertheless, what happened in the last forty years is that these councils, the members of these councils have not been prepared to understand their meaning and, therefore, could not give the real contribution that is asked for these organs.
In Reggio Calabria I made my first pastoral visit by setting it right on the communion; I wanted to meet the parish pastoral councils, not one by one, but all together, with the intention of explaining what a pastoral council is, how it lives. For an hour I spoke to everyone. However, in the second pastoral visit I said: “now I am no longer talking of pastoral councils, I want to meet one by one parish by parish the pastoral councils, and to hear from you how you live the pastoral council.”
I will not say it was a disaster, but, of course, the speeches made five years before were not known, were not applied. I am afraid that this happens in many of our local churches that, because of this, they found a difficulty for their development, their growth in the communion right in pastoral, diocesan, and parish councils. The Second Vatican Council, so that we can get closer to our theme, therefore, wanted to talk about – we know very well the Chapter II on the people of God that would interest us, but do not have the time to talk about. Let us think also of the third chapter on the hierarchy – in Chapter IV, of the laity in the Church and this seems to me an issue necessary to be faced briefly, in order to be able to say, then, a more clear word on the general issue that we must face. It is necessary to say that it is for the first time here after almost 2000 years of Church history that a Council talks bout the Laity in a dogmatic document.
Specifying only this demonstrates already the importance that the laity has in the Church; suffices to say that he was introduced in a dogmatic document of a Council. Talking about laity, the Council explains us who these laymen are. Evidently, the term becomes ambiguous in today’s society; but, when we speak as Church, of the Christian laity, we mean the baptized who is called by Christ, through baptism, to enter the mystical body of Christ, to become child of God; and he is sent by Christ into the world to be a witness. The layman has to give his testimony in a particular way in the secular world, as his central feature, even if not exclusive. This does not mean that the layman does not have to get interested in the reality of the Church; he must get interested, however, his particularity is that of getting interested in the temporal realities in order to address them towards God.
In the same way as the Priest, of the presbyters we say that they must be interested, in particular, of the intra-ecclesial realities, without this meaning that they do not have to take an interest in the secular world, only that that interest is not specific, it is not primary, but it is the logical consequence of their primary interest in the internal realities of the Church.
The important point specified by the Council, is that in the Church there is only one mission. God has entrusted to the Christian community one mission; he did not entrust a mission to priests, another to the lay people, and another to the religious persons. The mission is one and every member of the Church must participate in this one mission; which, then, is to make present the saving love of the Father, as Christ did visibly; and as we, as Church must do. At a time when the Risen Christ is no longer visible, in fact, it is up to us as Church to make visible with the power, the presence and the help of the Spirit, this saving love of the Father. This is our task as Church. That is why, I said, we are given one mission: we all will participate; however, each according to his Gift, his Charisma, and his Ministry.
The lay Christian participates, then, to the one mission of Christ, but taking interest, in particular, of the temporal realities in order to redirect them towards the kingdom of God.
Talking, then, of charismas, we must avoid the mistake to regard them as the sole prerogative of the laity or of certain categories of people. This misunderstanding has led often to oppose, as I said at the beginning, the Church institution to the charismatic Church. Paul treats the charismas with length, provides some lists, and also gives the explanation and meaning; he explains why they were given. He tells us that the charisma is needed to carry out this only mission of the Church, so that all those who put themselves at her service can receive and they receive, as a fact, Gifts and Graces from God, in order to be able to answer to this particular mission.
I said it before: this must take place without renouncing to the personal specificity, the layman as secular, the religious as religious, the priest as a priest; however, remembering that it is up to the hierarchy to coordinate the same charismas. The Vatican II, at number 12 of “Lumen Gentium”, tells us clearly, how these gifts, the Charismas, are given in large quantity almost to all Christians. At number 12 it states: “the holy People of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office, he thus corresponds a live witness of Him above all through a life of faith and charity.” Then it adds: “Furthermore, the Holy Spirit not only through the Sacraments and Mysteries sanctifies the people of God and adorns them with virtues; but by distributing to each his own Gifts as He pleases, he also dispenses among the faithful of every rank special Graces with which he makes them fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices useful for the renewal of the greater expansion of the Church, according to those words: to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given so that it returns to common advantage. And these extraordinary charismas or even more simple and more common since they are useful and especially adapted to the needs of the Church must be received with thanksgiving and consolation. The extraordinary gifts, however, must be asked neither impudently, nor with presumption. Neither with presumption must be hoped the fruits of the apostolic labours from them, but the judgment on their genuineness and proper use belongs to the ecclesiastical authority up to which, above all, belongs not to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all in order to keep what is good. ”
I wanted to quote this passage because it seems to me that in this quotation of “Lumen Gentium” there is the answer to our question; in fact, the Council tells us that the Holy Spirit gives to all believers in Christ, Gifts, various Extraordinary and Ordinary Charismas, but he gives them for what purpose? To reward the Christian, or to say “you were good, I give you this gift”? No! Does he gives them so that man becomes more holy? No! He gives these gifts and these charismas for the edification of the Church. If one appropriates them for his own advantage, in order to show himself and say “I have this gift, you must recognize it, you have to appreciate it and must kneel down in front of me,” then that charisma is destroyed by this attitude. The Charisma is given for the edification of the Church.
But even this document goes on saying that we must not ask for extraordinary charismas; if the Lord gives them, we accept them, but we must not ask them. Finally it tells us more, that it is up to the hierarchy to make the final judgment on the existence or less of certain gifts, of certain charismas. One cannot say “I have this charisma, you Bishop must accept them against your will”; wait a moment, let us examine, let us see, then we accept.
Finally, the document concludes by saying that the Bishop, who is to examine these gifts, does not have the task of turning them off. It would be very serious, for the hierarchy, for the Bishop, the parish priest, in the parish, to say: “I do not want you, I do not care; you have the charisma or you do not know if you have or you do not have it, but you cannot stay in my parish.” This would mean extinguishing the charismas, going against the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
However, it is necessary to examine them, verifying whether these charismas exist or do not really exist. Therefore, you need a period of discernment, a period which, evidently, cannot last for a life because then there would be no more discernment. This period must be long enough for the ecclesiastical authority, so let’s call it yet, (even if the term authority could be impressing, nevertheless we have no other), the responsible, the Shepherd of the Church can give, clearly, his judgment.
With these Gifts and Charismas given for the building of the Church, all those who receive them, lay, religious and priests, are called to work for the Church, to contribute to her only mission: the one of proclaiming Christ, of witnessing, of making visible the saving love of the Father. This testimony, we are reminded of the Council, must be given, first of all, personally, individually. This aspect is important: no one is excluded from the need of giving a Christian testimony, a testimony of faith.
In his first letter, in the fifth chapter, St. Peter says: ” know how, you must give account to anyone who asks of the Hope that is in you.” Thai is how he addressed the individual Christians who were in situations of persecution. Everyone, to whichever class of Christians we belong, we are called individually to give our testimony. Nevertheless, this testimony given individually is not enough. Why? I could not talk about the second chapter of “Lumen Gentium”, on the people of God, which begins with an very interesting sentence on which I believe that few have thought seriously. Based on this assumption, God wanted to save us individually and without any bond between us, but he chose a people who loved him, and served him faithfully.
So he chose a people. As a people, as a community, as a communion, we must bear witness to Christ, we must carry out the mandate, this mission that the Lord has entrusted us not only individually, I repeat, but above all as a community. The greatest difficulty that I find today in the Church is right this: perhaps, individually, we are very good, but when we get together, we become the less.
Many times we are not able to work together for the good of the Church. If I entrust a particular task to that person, he pursues it well and alone. But if I entrust it to a group, a community, things go for a long time and you do not know how it is going to end up. We suffer, I have said it many times even in some homilies, especially in the South, therefore, even in our Calabria; of an exaggerated, exasperated individualism that does not allow us, very often, to make authentic Church communion, to respond to this gift of the communion that the Trinity gives us, just because we are hampered by an extreme individualism.
Then it is necessary to understand that God did not save and does not save us individually, but he saves us as a people and as a people he sends us into the world. It is true that every one of us must bear witness, but it is not of much use if we do a number of steps, we move on, leaving behind the whole community. We must move forward all together. Therefore, it is necessary, Paul tells us, to know even how to wait for the latecomers, maybe giving up to do great things; this way we do not do them in order not to destroy the Church, to prevent a division to be created between those who go ahead and those who remain behind. In fact, it is better for the life of the Church, that some things are not brought to completion, provided that those that take place, are realized together, as a parish, diocesan community, etc..
And here lies the problem of movements, groups, associations in the Church. Of course, after Vatican II, there was a flowering in the Church of such realities; not that there had not been one previously. Here, I wish to suggest you, because it is right, even though perhaps what I say either will not convince you or will be a little thing; to read this booklet, published very recently, in 2006, by Cardinal Ratzinger, then; now Pope Benedict XVI, New insights of the Spirit: movements in the Church, published by Pauline Press. It collects two texts or, rather, a conference and a meeting that Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith; made with a group of bishops. In 1999, he published this report which is the first part of this volume. In 2000, the bishops that had read that report of Cardinal Ratzinger, sought a meeting with him right on the problem of movements, groups, and associations and the cardinal, in 2000, had this meeting with these bishops; among the Italians, the one whom you will host tomorrow night here, was present: Cardinal Scola, who was then the Dean of the Lateran University; called to this meeting, he participated to it, asking even a question to Cardinal Ratzinger.
So, the second text answers to the difficulties, the problems that the bishops had, especially in Latin America, in the daily pastoral activity in relation to the movements that were rising, especially in this region. The first document, instead, is an article he published; now the Pauline editions, have put together the two articles that were published one in 1999 and one in 2000; so the consultation, thank God, is easier. I would suggest you read this booklet, because especially in the first document, which covers just our theme, Ratzinger, as he knows how to do, as a great theologian, knew how to give all the theological explanations on the nature, function, mission, and the presence of these movements and groups in the Church. Unfortunately, I had this book three days ago, so I will suggest it to you just a duty of conscience, even though I could not consider in detail for the preparation of my speech. However, I can quote you this passage: “within the Church there are various types of services, functions, ministries and ways of animation of the Christian life. I remember, as a new development occurring in many churches in recent times, the great growth of the ecclesial movements, endowed with missionary dynamism; when they enter with humility in the life of local churches and are welcomed by bishops and priests within diocesan and parish structures, the movements represent a true gift from God for the new Evangelization and missionary activity so properly called. Therefore, I recommend to spread and make use of them to give vigor especially among the young, to the Christian life and the Evangelization, in a pluralistic vision of the ways of associating and expressing themselves.”
I think, here, is shown in a positive way the authentic meaning of the presence of movements and ecclesial groups in the Church. Treating the relationship, then, between these movements and local churches, he says: “the local churches and movements are not in conflict with each other, but constitute the living structure of the Church.” You know that, after Vatican II, the flowering of movements and groups was not always seen favourably by priests, bishops and so on. Why? Evidently, and this we must recognize, as also Ratzinger states in this book, a movement that is born, many times, suffers from naivete, suffers from that zeal, sometimes disproportionate that drives it to do not appreciable, not acceptable things; however, not for this, such movements must be despised, not welcomed, and driven away.
In fact, the task of the bishop, as we have seen, is not that of turning off the charisma, but of helping the movements to free themselves from certain ghetto schemes, from certain totalitarian ways which, often are presented as the true Church, maybe affirming: “only who belongs to our movement is Church, the others are of second order they do not really know, and do not live well. ” Many movements have begun their journey with these expressions, certainly unacceptable. Then, it is necessary, on the part of the Church, on the part of the bishop, of the parish priest, trying to make understand that the movements are not the Church, but they are in the Church, they are a part of the Church, they are not everything. It is necessary that every movement accepts also the other groups, because the whole life of the Church cannot be reduced to the life of a single movement. Such a life enriches the life of the Church, but it needs to get together with other groups and movements, but also together with the ministries, the priests, bishops in order to form the one people of God.
Yes, and this is explained in this book, also by Ratzinger, the presence of these movements in the Church after Vatican Council II, constitutes a richness and vitality for the Church. We could consider it like the Holy Spirit that, always, for two thousand years, has guided the Church and still today continues to guide her, arousing in every time and therefore also in ours, after the Vatican Council II, those movements and groups that are necessary to give an ever new stimulus of progress, vitality, commitment to the Church that, often tends to become sclerotic, and an archeological fact.
These movements, then, become an instrument of the Holy Spirit to help the growth, the journey, the Church’s presence in the world today. In this sense, they are certainly a great blessing. In the Church there have always been many moments of difficulty and if we examine them as Ratzinger does in this book, we see that the Holy Spirit has always given an answer to these difficulties. What was Francis of Assisi but a charisma, a gift of the Holy Spirit in a medieval church that was a bit closed, a bit too much identified with the political regime of the time, losing a lot of vitality? Francis did not place himself out of or against the Church. He placed himself within the Church, as a charisma, a Gift of the Spirit whose task was to animate, to help the growth of the Christian community. The same goals have or should have movements and groups born after the Vatican Council II. We do not have to worry about certain exorbitant or unreasonable forms. We must, rather, grasp the essential and help these realities get rid of what becomes limiting of their commitment.
Let me give an example. I always accept, obviously when I am free, to participate in meetings of Neocatechumens. The meeting lasts several hours, therefore I must be free in order to participate peacefully. When I attend, I take part in, I already show of appreciating that movement or that group; but, then, when I must speak, I always explain the need of the community to agree with the Church, the need to agree with the Bishop, to be in communion with the other groups and movements. I always say these words and I think this can be of some help: you do not turn the Spirit off, but you help him grow, you help him in the right way, getting rid of those growths, let us call them this way, that could spoil or prevent the valid presence of that group, of that movement in the Church.
Of course, first, I said that, initially, these movements, due to exuberance or inexperience, run the risk of fundamentalism, absolutism, and creating states of absoluteness. But not for this, I repeat it once more, the Spirit that is in them must be turned off. They must instead be helped to express increasingly better this Spirit. Many were opposed to such movements and groups, starting with a distinction, mentioned several times, between the Church establishment and the charismatic Church; and, a few years ago, shortly after the Council (who was present, then, will remember it well), at one point, groups and movements had pronounced the sentence: “we are for the charismatic church, we are no longer interested in the institutional Church.” Rightly, Ratzinger will say here in his book, this position is theologically wrong, because there is not on one side the charisma and on the other the institution. The priestly ministry, which is a charismatic ministry, which is received through a sacrament, also shows it; therefore, the Spirit gives to the priest that commitment, that service in the Church through a Sacrament. In the Sacrament there is always the charisma, the presence, that is, of the Holy Spirit, of a Gift of the Spirit. Therefore, the institutional Church and the Charismatic Church cannot be put in opposition, because the charisma, I repeat, is in all members of the Church.
Another difficulty which has arisen after the Second Vatican Council, is that of putting into opposition Christology with Pneumatology. On the one hand, the Christology that wants to put Christ at the center, as such men said, forgetting the Holy Spirit; on the other hand, some movements and groups of spiritualists that wanted to refer, in particular, to the Holy Spirit and wanted to, I say appropriately in this case, to recover to the Christian community the living presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church that we, very often, have forgotten.
But even this is a theologically wrong and unacceptable opposition. Why? Where the Spirit is, Christ the Lord is there: there is no opposition between Christ and the Holy Spirit. I said that the Church is communion willed by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; the Father thought it, the Son has built her with his Incarnation, the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, has vivified her. So the Holy Spirit does not act against Christ, or without considering what Christ has done; but acts with Christ, we might even say that the presence of Christ in the Church is bound strongly by the Holy Spirit; in other words, the Holy Spirit arranges for the Church of today to be able to be connected and always be said to be the Church of Christ, because she is connected to her founder: Christ.
However, this is the work of the Holy Spirit, not our work, the work of men. Then, between Christ and the Holy Spirit there is no opposition. So no one can speak of a Christological Church and a Pneumatological Church, but we need to speak of a Church of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here then, I think I can stop, now, boring you, saying that we must look, with love and gratitude, at the Gift that the Holy Spirit made to the Church: the one of so many groups and movements that have sprung for the good of the Church.
We need thank the Lord, thank the Holy Spirit, but also to thank these movements and these groups, considering them a living part of the Church, believing them movements that allow us to grow in fellowship and, above all, to be more ready and fit for that Evangelization, for that witness of the Risen to be given to world in continuous change. We often do not want to change, I am also turning to the priests and myself as a priest: let no priest say that we need to renew the parish. In these decades, we have talked, in fact, of the renewal of the parish. However, who has really and concretely provided to this renewal? Almost no one in my diocese. Why? I believe that that dialect saying prevails: “he who leaves the old way for the new, knows what he leaves but does not know what he finds”. Apparently this fear prevents to put into practice the innovation; however, the conditions exist to put into practice this ability to get updated.
I think it is a Grace of God, of the Holy Spirit, the presence of these movements and groups that force, in a sense, the renewal of our parish communities, our dioceses in order to make them ever more present and more able to announce Christ in this changing world.
I wish the Apostolic Movement, that really wants to evangelize and announce Christ to be this instrument of renewal in this particular Church of Catanzaro, where it is already present and where I know that is appreciated by the Archbishop, but also in other Churches in our region, in ‘Italy and in the whole world.