PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE LAITY
Among the activities undertaken by our Council over the past few months that you will read about in this issue, there are two events that I would particularly like to draw your attention to because of their particular significance: the twenty-first Plenary Assembly and the International Preparatory Meeting for World Youth Day 2005.
The Plenary Assembly was a remarkable experience of ecclesial communion and of the catholicity of a Church that is attentive to the problems of the people of our times wherever they live. It took place from 25 to 28 November 2004 with the participation of the Members and Consultors of the Dicastery: cardinals, bishops, priests and lay faithful from different countries. They all came together called by the same love for the Church and from a shared desire to place themselves at the service of its mission in the world.
The reflection on the theme "to rediscover the true face of the parish" high-lighted the importance of the community in the life of the baptised, for community is truly a theological requirement for Christians. We are reminded of this by Vatican II itself in the dogmatic constitution on the Church Lumen gentium where it says, "Rather has it pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness" (n. 9). In today's secularised and "mass-produced" world that leads to loneliness and isolation, it is more urgent now than ever before to once again present and reappraise the role of Christian communities as privileged places for the sharing of the faith and for growth in the faith, and as places to experience deeply the sense of belonging to the Church. Without the support of a living community, there is a risk that Christians may lose their identity as members of the People of God. The parish continues to have an irreplaceable role in the life of the Church. It is time for renewal – a renewal that goes beyond the merely structural or programmatic, and where there is no place for illusions that it can be settled around a table and that there are magic formulae to solve every problem. It is not surprising that we heard the word "conversion" being repeated in the talks and discussions, and this underlines the fact that each real change only takes place through the individual person. The renewal of the parish goes through an educational process of Christian initiation; one that is constant and demanding; one that helps the baptised to recover the meaning of their own Baptism; one that helps them to live their vocation and mission in the postmodern and, in a sense, post-Christian world of our times.
A decisive moment of the Plenary Assembly was, as always, the meeting with Pope John Paul II. During his discourse to those attending the audience on 25 November, he pointed to the Eucharist as the source, way and method of each renewal in the life of the Church and consequently also of the renewal of the parish, "the community of the baptised who express their identity especially through the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice". The Pope went on to affirm that "the Eucharist is the heart of the parish, the ever renewing source of its mission and presence". The reflection and debate that we have initiated outlined the widest possible panorama of the situation of the parish at the level of the universal Church, and it will be developed further in the next Plenary Assembly of the Dicastery. The renewal projects underway in the local churches will be presented for study together with contributions brought to the parish communities by the ecclesial associations and movements.
The international meeting held from 6 to 9 January in Bensberg, in the old seminary of the archdiocese of Cologne in Germany, put us on the road for the final stage of preparations for the 20th World Youth Day that will take place in August. There were representatives from the bishops’ conferences and youth ministry leaders from about 70 countries and all the continents, and delegates from 40 international lay associations, ecclesial movements and youth communities. The meeting was yet another confirmation of the fact that participation in these world meetings with the Pope and their preparation have become an integral part of youth ministry in many countries. This is a positive and encouraging sign because World Youth Day is not an end in itself. It is intended to give impulse to pastoral work with youth at the diocesan and parish level. These gatherings with the Successor of Peter have in fact contributed enormously to the growth of a new generation of young people, the “ John Paul II generation ” that have discovered Christ as Lord and as the Master they want to follow, and who have found a fascinating life programme in the Gospels, a welcoming family in the Church, and a friend and dependable guide in the Pope. They have given rise to a new generation of youth pastoral workers that see World Youth Day as a chance not to be missed. They see the Pope’s method as an extraordinarily effective instrument of evangelisation for youth. For those who are in close contact with young people, World Youth Day impels them to question themselves. It serves as a challenge to the habits and routine that can stifle creativity. It is a tremendous stimulus to regain the prophetic dimension of pastoral work with youth. Each World Youth Day is an expression of a deep need that young people hold in their hearts: the need for dependable guides and for authentic and convincing masters of faith and life. By instituting World Youth Day, the Pope was responding to a need that he had realised was there. Twenty years after this tremendous spiritual adventure commenced, one that has reached millions of young Christians from around the whole world, it is worth remembering the words of Pope John Paul II on 20 December 1985 when he outlined the programme and its scope: “ All the young must feel themselves accompanied by the Church: therefore, may the entire Church, in union with the successor of Peter, feel herself always more involved, at a global level, in favour of the young, of their anxieties and concerns, their openness and hopes, so as to respond to their expectations, communicating the certitude that is Christ, the truth that is Christ, the love that is Christ, through a suitable formation – which is the necessary and updated form of evangelization”.
I ask for your prayers for the Holy Father and for all those young people who will take part in WYD 2005. With my best wishes.
The theme of the 21st Plenary Assembly was “ Rediscovering the true meaning of the parish ”, and it took place in Rome from 24-28 November with the participation of the members and consultors of the Dicastery. They included cardinals, bishops, priests and lay faithful from different countries and all the continents. The choice of “ the parish ” for the theme was the natural follow-up to the reflection that was held on the sacraments of Christian initiation during the three previous plenaries. The parish is the “ natural ” place for this initiation to take place, both from the point of view of administration of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, and for the mystagogic catechesis that introduces a Christian into the fullness of life of the disciples of Christ. The words of Pope Paul II addressed to the participants at the start, set the course of the assembly. He reminded them that the heartbeat of the parish and the source of its mission and ongoing presence is the Eucharist. It is the way and method of each renewal within the Church. The assembly was opened by Archbishop Rylko, and the three sessions evolved to the rhythm of prayer together and the daily liturgical celebration.
On the first day, the speakers were Prof. Guzman Carriquiry speaking on “ Central questions concerning the laity today ”; Msgr Sergio Lanza on “ The parish in a changing world: socio- cultural and religious challenges ”; Rev. Prof. Denis Biju-Duval on “ The mystery of the Church present and at work in the parish ”; Rev. Prof. Antonio S. Sanchez-Gil on “ The parish institution: an historical, pastoral and juridical approach ”. These were followed by open debate and a panel discussion on the parish in the lives of the lay faithful in different regions.
On the second day, the theme was studied further with talks on “Building the parish community together: parish councils, ministers, offices, services and other forms of collaboration and co-responsibility of the laity” given by Rev. Prof. Libero Gerosa; “ The parish as a community of communities ” by Rev. Prof. Arturo Cattaneo. Open debate, panel discussion and group work followed to illustrate the theme with experiences and tasks of associations, movements and new communities within the parish.
The third day was dedicated to exchange concerning the future programmes planned by the Dicastery. This was presented by Bishop Josef Clemens. There was time to discuss the Council’s contribution to the 11th ordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme, “ Eucharist: source and summit of the life and mission of the Church ”.
As Archbishop Rylko pointed out in his closing address, reflection on the parish showed us how it is a microcosm where the problems of humanity, the world and the Church of our times, are played out and revealed. One of the most common is the predominance of a culture that fosters individualistic tendencies within a process of “ mass-producing ” that crushes and isolates people. It causes them to limit their religious dimension within the confines of their private lives. But faith is not lived alone. Our sense of belonging to the Church is weakened and Christian identity becomes confused. In our secularised and mass-produced world, it is necessary that we re-evaluate the role of the Christian community as the best place to share faith and grow in the faith. Without this, Christians risk losing their sense of identity as members of the people of God. The parish is a structure that sustains the pastoral ministry of the Church and the mission of Christians, so therefore it needs to be reinvigorated and renewed. Parish renewal can only take place if the people are renewed. It is not surprising that the word “ conversion ” was repeated several times in the talks. Only truly renewed Christians can change the face of the parish. The Church today has great need of processes of Christian initiation that also reach those who are already baptised. This, essentially, should be the priority of each pastoral programme at both the diocesan and parish level. It must start at the beginning, from the proclamation of the kerygma, like in the Acts of the Apostles. To rediscover the face of the parish means to first of all help the lay faithful discover the meaning of Baptism and the role of the Christian community. It is in this perspective that we see the role of the lay associations, ecclesial movements and new communities within the parish. They can contribute much to their own renewal as places for the development of mature Christian personalities strong in the faith. The reflection on the parish initiated at the 21st Plenary assembly, in which the widest possible panorama of the present situation was presented, will continue at the next Plenary with the study of various projects that are being carried out in several local churches, projects that are aimed to restore to the parish its full missionary and community dimension.
“In recent days the phenomenon of lay people associating among themselves has taken on a character of particular variety and vitality. In some ways lay associations have always been present throughout the Church’s history as various confraternities, third orders and sodalities testify even today. However, in modern times such lay groups have received a special stimulus, resulting in the birth and spread of a multiplicity of group forms: associations, groups, communities, movements. We can speak of a new era of group endeavours of the lay faithful. In fact, ‘alongside the traditional forming of associations, and at times coming from their very roots, movements and new sodalities have sprouted, with a specific feature and purpose, so great is the richness and the versatility of resources that the Holy Spirit nourishes in the ecclesial community, and so great is the capacity of initiative and the generosity of our lay people’” (Christifideles laici, n. 29).
The publication “ International associations of the faithful. Directory ” has its genesis in Christifideles laici n. 31 where Pope John Paul II invited the Pontifical Council for the Laity to prepare a “ list ” of the associations that have received official approval from the Holy See. Taking into account the rich variety of charisms, aims and formats that characterise the associative life of the laity in the Church today, the Dicastery responded to the Pope’s wishes and matured the idea of publishing a directory of international associations of the faithful. It gives a picture, as complete and as updated as possible, of the associative phenomenon taking place within the vast and varied world of Catholic affiliation.
The project began to move in April 2000 when all the international associations of the faithful in contact with the Dicastery were sent a form that outlined the required format of a brief description of their association. The replies came to the Council, some sooner, others later, and these were processed with a great deal of work and attention. It was necessary to present all the entries in a similar format, and sometimes this meant clarifying, specifying and completing the data received. Particular care was taken in defining the charisms that are at the origin of the associations in the Directory and to maintain the key concepts and words that are characteristic of the groups.
There are 123 associations of the faithful in the Directory. It was edited by Roberto Ragusa and Anna Maria Federici, and it is the first publication by the Pontifical Council for the Laity to give an expansive and systematic listing of present day lay associations. They range from the most traditional to the newer ecclesial movements and new communities. In these 300 pages it is seen that this is a very complex and creative phenomenon. There are one million people around the world gathered here, and there are numerous types of engagement and action as well as major welfare, cultural, educational and social works.
Given the variety of associative formats and juridical-statutory profiles, we need to clarify that the book lists associations from around the world – distinct from institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life – in which “ the Christian faithful, either clergy or laity, or clergy and laity together, strive by common effort to promote a more perfect life or to foster public worship or Christian doctrine or to exercise other apostolic works, namely to engage in efforts of evangelization, to exercise works of piety or charity and to animate the temporal order with the Christian spirit ” (Code of Canon Law, can. 298,1). They include international Catholic associations with a special ecumenic and/or inter-religious vocation. The book does not include associations that may be in contact with the Pontifical Council for the Laity but that juridically pertain to other dicasteries in the Roman Curia (the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Congregation for the Clergy, the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples), and groups that work exclusively at a diocesan or national level.
Each association is presented by giving the official name, the name it is known by if this is different, the crest (and beside this, in some cases, the official name in the original language), the year of its foundation, its history, identity, structure, diffusion, works, publications, internet site, contact details of headquarters and places. Information not supplied by the groups is omitted. The listing is in alphabetical order according to the Italian version of the official names, except in rare cases where translation into Italian would appear forced. The Directory will be translated into English, Spanish and French. It will be updated periodically in order to stay abreast of developments.
The book is intended for the pastors of the Church in order to give them an instrument to find useful information so they can have some initial idea about lay associations that will aid them in their ministry. It is also for the associations themselves as a stimulus to get to know each other better in a spirit of ecclesial communion. It is also for whosoever wants to come closer to the world of Catholic associations and to learn more about them.
The Pontifical Council for the Laity hopes that this publication will help to spread knowledge of the various forms of Church association “ which continue to give the Church a vitality that is God’s gift ” (Novo millennio ineunte, n. 46).
The press release about the new “ Church and Sport ” section in our Dicastery, just prior to the opening of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, was received with great interest around the world. We have been receiving positive reactions and encouragement since then almost on a daily basis. This has come through the news media or through individuals and movements both inside and outside the Church. The new Section was presented at the 21st Plenary Assembly of our Dicastery, and members and consultors are already providing us with initiatives and valuable insights that we are taking into consideration.
As part of this initial phase of research and planning, the Church and Sport section is collecting and processing data being supplied by bishops’ conferences all over the world in answer to a questionnaire concerning the situation of pastoral ministry in sport in their countries. This information will help us to establish long term goals and objectives for this section.
In addition to acquiring information and expertise on the relationship between the Church and the world of sport, our Dicastery is planning to organise a study seminar in Rome towards the end of the year. The goal of the seminar is to give a panoramic view of the problems felt in the world of sport that could involve the new Section in some way.
First of all we need to look at the theme of sport in the Magisterium of the Church by studying what was said on the topic during the most recent pontificates, especially in the discourses of Pope John Paul II. The aim of this reflection is to outline the essential characteristics that constitute a Christian vision of sport.
We must also take into consideration some of the most important ethical questions, in particular the excessive commercialisation of professional sports that taint the true image of sport, and generate serious deviations like drug-taking and stadium violence. This analysis will help us to draw up a systematic and serious study of these phenomena with the help of experts in that sector. Lastly, the seminar will deal with the formative role of sport in youth ministry. Questions to guide the reflection will be: What are some of the ways sport can be used to reach out to youth? How can sports be used as a means to teach and form virtues? What successful programs are already in existence? How can the Christian witness of professionals be fostered and promoted?
The seminar will bring together laity, priests and religious involved in sports ministry as well as representatives from Catholic sports associations. We hope that this will not only provide us with specific elements for our programming, but will also encourage and assist others in the task of youth ministry through sports. The Seminar will also be an excellent opportunity to develop new initiatives and to promote future collaboration in activities that will assist the evangelisation of the world of sport.
In November 2004 the Pontifical Council for the Laity published the proceedings of the 20th Plenary Assembly that had taken place two years previously. The book is entitled “ Rediscovering the Eucharist ”. Several days later, from 24th to 28th of the same month, the 21st Plenary Assembly of our Dicastery was held on the theme: “ Rediscovering the true face of the parish ”. At around the same time, in the month of October, the Year of the Eucharist was opened at the Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara. The Holy Father wished this to be the “ natural development of pastoral direction ” that he himself impressed on the universal Church “ particularly during the years of preparation for the Jubilee and in the years that followed it ” (cf. Mane nobiscum Domine, 4). These events may not seem to be connected, but they are in fact very much so when seen in the light of the papal magisterium. It is consistently developing in this direction, responding very well to the needs of the Church and the whole world.
First of all, it is good to remember that the publication on the Eucharist is not considered to be a separate and disconnected contribution by our Dicastery. It is the culmination of a journey of reflection and projections begun at the Plenary Assembly of 1997 on Baptism, and followed by the Assembly of 1999 on Confirmation. Over these five years that have included the Jubilee year of 2000, we have studied the meaning of the sacraments of Christian initiation. The decision to dwell on this theme arose from the very nature of the task of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. It is to collaborate with the “ Successor of Peter, in his pastoral ministry, to serve the vast and diverse world of the Catholic laity ”, as the Holy Father said on the occasion of the Assembly on Baptism.
The correct understanding of the sacraments of Christian initiation, that is, their unity and the formative path they entail, is an important thread in the Catholic magisterium leading on from the Council (cf. for example Sacrosanctum Concilium, 64).
Throughout the Holy Father’s pontificate, he emphasised the importance of Christian instruction in the faith, and he presented the rediscovery of the potential inherent in a correct path to the sacraments of initiation as the answer we seek to the problems that characterise the lives of many of the lay faithful of our times (cf. in particular Catechesi tradendae 28 and Christifideles Laici 61; cf. also the General Directory for catechesis by the Congregation for the Clergy). The most striking of the difficulties encountered by Christians today is the crisis of identity when faced with the dominant cultural role models. It gives rise to a split between religious adherence and life choices, too often dictated by a relativistic moral position that comes from a subjective and ambiguous profession of faith. Present day circumstances need clear witness for the good of the individual and that of the entire human community. The problems that derive from this crisis of identity are so evident that it seems unnecessary to name them, but it is enough to mention the crisis of the family that leads to a chain reaction of deviant consequences on individuals and society.
The decline of Christianity as a social environment that is formative in itself, at least in the west, has already inspired the Fathers of the Council to search for new ways of evangelisation, new instruments to forge the identity and awareness of the Christian of the third millennium. This search is aimed towards the rediscovery of the value of the itinerary of Christian initiation. The early practice in the Church was called the catechumenate. This is basically what is needed to respond to the new demands of Christian living in an increasingly secularised world. The Catholic faith, received and nurtured by obedient listening to the Word of God and sealed by the sacraments, is fulfilled through concrete existential choices, often requiring a breaking away from the dominant culture. The constitution and insertion in concrete communities where one learns to share authentic Christian friendship in a spirit of communion is the first fruits of the sacraments of initiation, in particular of the Eucharist (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia, especially numbers 38-46). Explicitly belonging to the Christian community helps to overcome not only personal weakness and contradictions, but especially the prevailing individualism of our times that tends to relegate the religious option to one of self absorption and the subjective dimension.
The publication “ Rediscovering the Eucharist ” is seen in this perspective: the Eucharist as the summit of Christian instruction and at the same time the source of life as children of God, people who know how to be present in this world without being absorbed by it. The contributions included in the book range from the historical to projections for ministry. These will be of particular help in the catecheses of the local churches and Christian families – the domestic church and first link in the chain of transmission of the faith. Another topic is the centrality of Sunday as the day of celebration of the Christian mystery, in line with the pontifical magisterium expressed in the apostolic letter Dies Domini.
The Eucharist correctly celebrated and worshipped transcends a purely formal pietistic and devotional attitude. On the contrary, it is Christ himself who accompanies the life of the Church and of each disciple (cf. Mane nobiscum Domine, 2). In their relationship with the Lord, the lay faithful can discover the “ path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever ” (Ps 16:11). In the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II indicates the fundamental requirements for the renewal of Christian life in relationship with Christ-Eucharist, and he opened the Year of the Eucharist so that the doctrine of the Eucharist can be a force in the life of the universal Church. The cycle of plenary assemblies on the sacraments of initiation is our contribution to the renewal promised by the Holy Father.
The fact that the cycle on the sacraments of initiation has taken place should not lead us to think that this topic has been exhausted. On the contrary, it leads us on to further reflection on how this initiation is structured in the Church. This is why the Pontifical Council for the Laity has chosen to concentrate on the parish. It continues to be the nearest means of access to the faith to the homes of the people and therefore it is the natural place to learn about the Christian faith. The Pope himself, on closing the Assembly on the Eucharist, indicated that reflection on the parish naturally leads to the rediscovery of Christian initiation: “The reflection on the sacraments of Christian initiation leads the attention naturally to the parish, the community in which the great mysteries are celebrated. The parish community is the heart of liturgical life; it is the foremost place for catechesis and initiation in the faith. In the parish there unfolds the path of initiation and instruction for all Christians. How important it is to rediscover the value and importance of the parish as a place in which the contents of Catholic tradition are transmitted!”. The 21st Plenary Assembly, according to the indications of the Holy Father, has laid the foundations for progressive study on the contribution of the lay faithful to the renewal of the parish. The parish is increasingly called to value the ecclesial gifts that the Holy Spirit has inspired among the lay faithful over the past number of years. In fact, many elements proper to the path of Christian initiation, culminating in the Eucharist, are noticeably present and being lived out. This is not only in the traditional forms of Catholic associations, but also in numerous ecclesial movements and new communities that are tended by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The problem of the Christian identity of the faithful is resolved in them through their strong sense of belonging to the Church that comes from an authentic rediscovery of faith. How to transmit this grace to all the faithful through the most accessible means available – the parish, is something that our Dicastery and the whole Church must work on with urgency.
The second international meeting to prepare for the 20th World Youth Day took place in the Kardinal-Schulte- Haus in Bensberg, the old seminary of the diocese of Cologne and today a very comfortable residential conference centre. The meeting took place from 6 to 9 January 2005, and there were over 250 participants from Bishops’ Conferences around the world – 70 nations were represented – from ecclesial movements, associations and communities and from the German dioceses, people active in youth ministry. The meeting was presided by Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, President of the German Bishops’ Conference. The topics on the agenda covered the spiritual and logistic preparation.
The priority is the spiritual journey and prayer, and all that the Holy Father wishes the young people to find at World Youth Day. Archbishop Ryłko spoke of his great hopes for World Youth Day. He said that a young Church can give rise to new impetus in society. He addressed the participants saying: “Your presence is a sign that World Youth Day has become part of youth ministry around the world and is a potent force in our work with youth. World Youth Days are not an end in themselves, but are linked to ordinary pastoral ministry in the dioceses and parishes”. Msgr. Heiner Koch, Secretary General of the German WYD 2005 Office, emphasised the importance of faith, “the great alternative for life in an era of hurry and rush”. In his talk on the topic “The spiritual journey to WYD in Cologne”, Msgr Koch began by stating that “the question asked by God is the decisive question of humanity”. “Many say they cannot see any God”, Msgr Koch continued, “ but behind that declaration can be found the many ways individuals react to God. That is why the first words of the theme for World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne has a particularly deep significance: ‘We have come’. So, during World Youth Day we want to be encouraged by God and his Message, and go out towards him”. Msgr Koch concluded by saying that “ during World Youth Day, people all over the world, including those who say they see no God, will be able to see thousands of young people who have set out as pilgrims to find Christ. Young people will fall down and worship, and they will say with the three Magi from the East: ‘we have come to worship him’ (Mt 2:2). World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne will be a time for pilgrimage and worship. These will be the two spiritual poles ”. Fr Ulrich Hennes, Joint Secretary of the Cologne WYD 2005 Office, presented the international version of the official theme song of the 20th World Youth Day. It was written by Gregor Linssen di Neuss. In the afternoon, the participants were received by Mayor Fritz Schramma at Cologne Town Hall. In his welcoming address, he said that it was not by chance that World Youth Day 2005 would take place in Cologne. The presence of the relics of the three Magi has a large part to play in this.
The day concluded with Holy Mass in the cathedral, presided by Archbishop Ryłko. In his homily, he reflected on the passage from Isaiah, “Arise, shine; for your light has come!” (Is 60:1). “Throughout their long journey the Magi allowed themselves to be guided by a star. In our lives God speaks in diverse ways. He speaks through signs, in his Word that we read and observe, in the sacraments, in prayer, in people we meet and in events and experiences we pass through in life”. Archbishop Ryłko emphasised: “The celebration of the feast of the manifestation of the Lord this year in this cathedral has a special significance because it opens the final stage of preparations for the forthcoming World Youth Day. The Church in Cologne is preparing to welcome a great crowd of young people from all over the world who will respond to the invitation of Pope John Paul II in August”. The Mass on the second day of meetings was presided by Most Reverend Franz-Josef Bode, Bishop of Osnabrück and President of the Youth Commission of the German Bishops’ Conference. He pointed out that “ the one who draws close to God cannot remain the same. They must proceed along another path or else give up and go back. Like the three Magi (cf Mt 2), they must allow themselves to be transformed in their way of thinking, feeling and behaving ”.
The work sessions were quite intense, and they dealt with various aspects of World Youth Day so that the participants could get an idea of all that is involved in the event. The issue of catecheses was presented by Archbishop Ryłko and Father Ulrich Hennes; general logistics by Hermann-Josef Johanns, Executive Director of the German WYD 2005 Office; Youth Festival and the Days of Encounter in the German dioceses by Father Georg Austen; liturgy by Father Ulrich Hennes; volunteers by Christoph Wild, head of that section. The discussions were chaired by Msgr Heiner Koch and Msgr Francis Kohn, head of the Youth Section in the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, spoke of the meaning of Worship when he gave a reflection on the theme for the 20th World Youth Day, “We have come to worship him”. He said: “It is a good thing that young people will come here for World Youth Day. They will learn from the Magi to fall down before Christ and worship him”. “When God comes to us, we have to make a decision. The Magi set out and followed the star and searched for Jesus until they found him”. “The first duty before God is to recognise him for who he is – God, that is, as infinite, eternal, elusive, awe-inspiring. A person kneeling before God is something wonderful. Those who worship find themselves at ease, and they have a sense of proportion and the measure of reality. They know that they are nothing and that God is everything. This is pure truth and justice. Worship is the beginning of each true prayer. Wherever people do not kneel in adoration, they are too high for God’s gaze, and so God disappears from their vision, the sun sets and it becomes very cold within. (...) Wherever people kneel in adoration, they are raised up and go to a higher level. The dominion of God does not oppress. It exalts the humble. Each person who speaks familiarly to God must admit that “the Almighty has done great things for me” (Lk 1:49)”. Bishop Josef Clemens, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity presided vespers. In a commentary on the reading from the Second Letter of Peter (1:3-4) he pointed out how it recalls the great gifts we have received with God’s call and the promise they hold for greater things in the future. “This certainty is the basis and the point of reference for all our strength in the faith and in our lives”.
In the course of the third day of meetings about major aspects of this world meeting of youth with the Pope, Cardinal Karl Lehmann spoke of the significance of World Youth Day for Germany; Matthias Kopp, as head of communications, spoke on that aspect of the organisation; Hermann-Josef Johanns, Executive Director of the German WYD 2005 Office, described the places where the events are to take place. Cardinal Lehmann, Bishop of Mainz and President of the German Bishops’ Conference, spoke of the importance of World Youth Day for his country. It will give the German people an opportunity to learn from contact with young people from other countries. “We can all learn from others. This openness towards others and meeting with others is a distinctive sign of Catholics”. The Cardinal recalled the seaquake in Asia and how it would also have an impact on World Youth Day. It shows how humanity is helpless in the face of this kind of catastrophe, and so are a “community united by destiny”. World Youth Day can also be a platform to promote greater solidarity and co-responsibility among nations, calling the younger generations to build through the courage of faith a “community of hope”. Bishop Franz-Josef Bode spoke of the pilgrimage of the WYD Cross throughout the dioceses of Germany. He recounted how it is an extraordinary experience. It is a luminous path where the mystery of Salvation meets the crosses of the past, with the intense experiences of crosses and suffering in the lives of people today, particularly the youth”. Msgr Francis Kohn announced the forthcoming production of a DVD on the pilgrimage made by the Holy Year Cross during the past twenty years. He also announced that the time has come for the Cross to travel to Africa. Communication has begun with African representatives to arrange for the Cross to be taken to their continent immediately after World Youth Day in Cologne. In the afternoon, the participants went to Marienfeld to see where the Vigil and Closing Mass of World Youth Day would take place. It is in the districts of Frechen and Kerpen, and the local mayors met the delegates. Then, on the invitation of Cardinal Meisner, there was dinner on a boat sailing down the Rhine, a time for celebration and fellowship with music and song.
The final day, Sunday 9, began with morning prayer presided by Bishop Josef Clemens who spoke of World Youth Day as an opportunity to build bridges with our gaze fixed on Christ. “In a world with yet more new tensions and conflicts, builders of bridges, pontifices, are needed, and they need firm foundations. This foundation is the Anointed One sent by the God, Jesus Christ”. “Pope John Paul II recognised the need for this bridge twenty years ago, and he designed a ‘construction project’. The cement is the Good News. We are firmly convinced that the year 2005, just begun, with the grace of God will be a year of grace for many young people and for adults too around the world”. Then the delegates went to the church at Altenberg for solemn Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Meisner. In his homily he said: “The people of Cologne have always regarded themselves to be fellow citizens of the three Magi. They are cosmopolitan and have opened Cologne to the world”. He also said that genuine faith does not become confused or falsified by the spirit of the times. “Now it is up to us to follow the tracks of the Magi in search of Christ. We do so today and during the coming weeks as leaders of the youth of the world, to find the Lord as we go forth from this place”.
When the delegates visited Marienfeld on the previous day, they placed a piece of earth that they had brought from their countries on the place where the papal altar will be built for the Vigil and Closing Mass of the 20th World Youth Day. Now in Marienfeld, near Cologne, there is soil from Egypt, Burundi, Venezuela, India and many other places. At the conclusion of the Mass in the church in Altenberg, Cardinal Meisner’s closing words to the youth representatives from around the world were to emphasise the symbolic importance of that gesture: “Through the soil that you left in Marienfeld you show that we can count on you and we thank you for that. Your availability is our hope”. The organisation machine can now proceed to face the challenges of the next few months in the knowledge that much has already been done.
The catechesis sessions at the 20th World Youth Day will follow tradition and take place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in churches and halls throughout the Archdiocese of Cologne. Hundreds of bishops from all over the world will lead the catechesis in over 30 languages. The topics for catechesis derive from this World Youth Day theme “We have come to worship him” (Mt. 2:2). This is a sequence to the 2004 theme “We wish to see Jesus” (Jn 12:21). The theme for WYD in Cologne is very much centred on Christ and is linked to the ancient tradition of veneration of the relics of the Magi in Cologne Cathedral.
The catechesis topic each day will be illustrated by a quotation from the second chapter of Saint Matthew’s Gospel that recounts the story of the Magi. This will link the catechesis with the Word of God, closely connected with the general theme of WYD 2005, and will develop various aspects each day. The following are the themes:
In order to give the dimension of pilgrimage to the three-day programme, there will be a pilgrimage catechesis. Groups will take turns to go on a walking catechesis to Cologne Cathedral. As they move along the route they will follow a meditation on “ Going on pilgrimage with witnesses to the faith ”. Each group will have the chance to participate in two catecheses at the catechesis sites, and they will miss a third one in order to go on the Cathedral pilgrimage. It fits into the scheme of the catechesis, inviting young people to take part actively and personally on a dynamic spiritual journey as they take their lead from the Magi who set out on pilgrimage, searching, finding and experiencing, and seeking the same goal: Christ.
In the month of October the Holy Father named as members of the Presidential Committee of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar General for His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome; Cardinal Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice; Cardinal Julian Herranz, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. The first meeting with the new committee took place on 22 November.
In the month of November the Holy Father named as Members of the Pontifical Council for the Laity Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, Archbishop of Florence, and Cardinal Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb.
The Pontifical Council for the Laity was sorry to hear of the death of our dear friend Jean Larnaud on 20 November 2004. His radiant Christian personality marked the activities and human relations of our Dicastery right from the beginning until our times. Jean Larnaud’s whole life was characterised by his vocation, by his witness of love for Christ and fidelity to the Church, by his competence as a lay person at an international level and by his transparent charity that showed in his characteristic cordiality, amiability and fine sense of humour that we all enjoyed. Jean Larnaud was one of the most relevant figures of the Catholic laity in the second half of the 20th century. His engagement at an international level revealed the human and Christian make-up of his personality. He was the founder, then Secretary General, and finally animator for 50 years of the Catholic International Centre of Cooperation with Unesco. His presence was decisive in setting up and orienting the Conference of International Catholic Organisations. He established close collaboration with the Permanent Committee of International Congresses for the Apostolate of the Laity and he was one of the protagonists during the preconciliar period when the role of the laity was being advanced. Pope Paul VI nominated him to be one of the auditors at the Second Vatican Council.
Jean Larnaud is the only person to have held the roles of Member or Consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Laity uninterruptedly since the beginning of our Dicastery until the present time. He took part in the working group set up by the Pope during the Council sessions to study the possibility of constituting the new body, consecrated by the conciliar fathers in article 26 of Apostolicam Actuositatem. We can say that Jean Larnaud was present at the birth of our Dicastery offering key suggestions concerning its profile, its composition and its aims. From the time of the creation of the Concilium de Laicis with the Motu Proprio Catholicam Christi et Ecclesiam of 6 January 1967, Jean Larnaud was one of the first members, and he remained throughout the experimental period. After the new structure of the Pontifical Council for the Laity was adopted with the Motu Proprio Apostolatus Peragendi of 10 December 1976, Pope John Paul II again named him as member and later as consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
Other dicasteries in the Curia availed of his advice and interventions. On many occasions he formed part of Holy See delegations, especially to the General Confederation of Unesco, and to numerous other international institutions. The Secretariat of State found him to be a trusted reference person they could consult in order to receive perspicacious advice in difficult situations.
Jean Larnaud was a true friend of the Popes. Paul VI held him in high esteem for his work and interventions at the Second Vatican Council and even more so during the post-conciliar renewal and crises. Karol Wojtyla, at the time archbishop of Cracow, was a consultor at the Consilium de Laicis during several mandates, and he regarded him highly and they established a sincere friendship. Each time he came to Rome, Jean Larnaud met his old friend John Paul II. In recent years, over dinner with the superiors of our Dicastery, the Holy Father always asked with affection about Jean Larnaud.
We are sincerely grateful and indebted to this dear brother, and while we mourn the loss of this close and loyal friend and collaborator here on earth, we are comforted by the sure hope of having a new friend in heaven.
Our Dicastery also remembers Reverend Giovanni Fornero, Director of the Office of Social Pastoral Work in the archdiocese of Turin and Consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Laity from 1996, who passed away on 4 June. On many occasions we benefited from the austere human gifts and deep spirituality of Don Fornero. He collaborated with the Italian bishops and the Pontifical Council for the Laity especially in the delicate task of the pastoral ministry of workers. Don Fornero started out with the direct experience of being a worker priest. He contributed to the development of YCW which started in 1977, and from there he was given the task of instructing the young workers’ groups in the diocese of Turin. His work was characterised by a competence that was ever more refined over the years. He became a much appreciated speaker in many areas where he contributed with simplicity and authority and showed his gifts of balance, sharpness, serenity and depth.
In particular, we wish to remember the discreet but significant participation of Don Fornero at the first Congress of the Catholic Laity of Eastern Europe that was held in Kiev from 8 to 12 October 2003. There we could once again benefit from his wide experience.
The Pontifical Council for the Laity received the following delegations of bishops who had come on ad limina visits: several groups of bishops from France came, thus completing the visits initiated the previous year; the bishops of Holland, the bishops of Australia, some groups of bishops from the United States, two groups of bishops from Colombia, the bishops of New Zealand and the Pacific Ocean, the bishops of Angola, Sâo Tomé and Principe, the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of the Indian Ocean.
The meetings allowed for useful exchange of information and ideas with the bishops. They represented places with widely differing conditions, and some of these are presently quite difficult. The visits were a further example of the ecclesial communion and charity felt for the Pope and his magisterium. Among the problems that emerged, and common to all the areas represented, was the growing tendency for the lay faithful to confine their faith to the private sphere. It has little relevance in social life, and sometimes has no influence on personal moral decisions. One of the questions discussed in this regard was the search for suitable criteria for adequate Christian instruction and development. It was emphasised that the Church cannot limit itself to engaging in the preparation of intra-church workers like catechists, lay ministers or other roles, even though they are indispensable. It must, first of all, be dedicated to the Christian instruction and development of the people of God so that they can faithfully witness to the Gospel at all levels in the cultural circumstances in which they live, through choices in life in consonance with the faith, as well as, where possible, with speaking out and social initiatives.
The preparation of World Youth Day which will take place in Cologne, Germany, in 2005, was another common theme of all the visits. The importance of these gatherings initiated by the Pope was emphasised. They have been opportunities to proclaim the faith to young people, and this can be seen in the abundant fruits of conversion produced by previous World Youth Days. The bishops themselves testified to this.
Another theme was that of the insertion of new movements and communities into the traditional ecclesial structure. It was pointed out that this new expression of Christian life should be seen, not as a problem, but as gifts and opportunities. They have proved themselves capable of strengthening the identity of the people of God in a cultural context that has become very secularised in most parts of the world.
The Pontifical Council for the Laity, within the framework of the redefining of the juridical status of the International Catholic Organisations according to the canonical norms currently in force, has passed the decrees of approval of the new version of the statutes of the International Movement of Apostolate in the Independent Social Milieus (MIAMSI) and of the International Coordination of Young Christian Workers (CIJOC). By decree dated 15 August, it recognised as an international lay association of pontifical right, the association Encounters of Married Couples, and approved its statutes “ad experimentum”.
By decree dated 15 August, it granted final approval of the statutes of the association Opera di Nàzaret. By decree dated 28 October, it granted juridical personality to the Neocatechumenal Way. By decree dated 1 December, it granted final approval of the statutes of the association Fraternité Charles de Foucauld. The Dicastery is presently examining the requests for canonical recognition presented by the following lay groups: Les maisons d’adoration, World Apostolate of Fatima, Alliance of the Holy Family International, Apostolate for Family Consecration, Communauté Fondacio, Comunità Cattolica d’Integrazione, Missionary Youth Service (SERMIG), Families of Nazareth Movement, Shalom Catholic Community, Comunità dei Figli di Dio.
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE LAITY
Most Rev. Stanislaw RYŁKO, President
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