INTERVENTION BY CARDINAL TARCISIO BERTONE
Wednesday, 17 October 2012
The transmission of the faith is a very fundamental task of the Church in being able to represent a description of her very own essence: she is in fact a community since always composed of the double movement of receiving and transmitting the precious treasure of the faith. This task is declined in a different way according to the situations and historical eras and today has taken on the profile of new evangelization in an ever growing way, that is to say the renewed announcement addressed to those who, while already being in contact, in different ways, with the Christian message, found themselves in being, to use the images of an evangelical parable, like the rocky terrain, or the one infested by briars, or even like the road, where evil steals the good seed of the Word (cf. Mt 13:18-22).
I am referring to n. 105 of the Instrumentum Laboris and in this intervention I would like to underline the contribution that the Pontifical Representatives and the whole of the structures of the Holy See, which coordinate the mission, hope to offer to the transmission of the faith in the context of the new evangelization.
In the first place, this is a specific service, which is that of watching over and protecting the libertas Ecclesiae. This is a service that is necessary for the mission of the Church, where “the legal or social order is inspired by philosophical and political systems which call for strict control, if not a monopoly, of the state over society”, as well as in “countries which accord great importance to pluralism and tolerance, but where religion is increasingly being marginalized” (cf. Benedict XVI, Speech to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps to the Holy See, 10 January 2011).
In these contexts, the action of the Pontifical Representatives, through the instruments of diplomatic dialogue with civic authorities and in accord with the episcopacy, aims not to seek anachronistic privileges, but to guarantee to the Church, in the best way possible, that freedom in the internal government and practice of one’s mission that is legitimately claimed, and that, when present, is reflected in benefits to others and other religious traditions, and nurtures the harmony of all society. In a similar way, the work of the Observers and Representatives of the Holy See at International Organizations, along with the service of the cause of peace and the defense of fundamental human rights, turns to guaranteeing the right of citizenship to the Church, for her institutions and, I would say, for the Christian vision of the human person, today endangered by certain basic elements of the so-called dominant culture.
With this service, the Pontifical Representatives also are conscious of the direct responsibility they have, as members of the Episcopal College, as to the proclamation of the Gospel and thereby the promotion of new evangelization.
This responsibility, first of all, is aimed at favoring communion between the members of the Episcopal College and the Roman Pontiff. Making present the solicitude, proper to the Successor of Peter, for the whole Church, her representatives are by nature called to being the builders of communion, which in itself is a powerful factor of evangelization (cf. Jn 13:35). First of all, this is a gift that comes from above, a gift however that appeals to our collaboration and is translated into a committed and daily task, which allows our different sensibilities to be translated into wealth and not into antagonism.
I would like to assure, before this qualified assembly, the commitment that the Nuncios and the Apostolic Delegates mean to activate to favor, on the one hand, the welcome at the episcopacies of the Pontifical Magisterium and the indications from the organisms of the Holy See, and on the other hand, in helping the Pope and his collaborators to know and understand ever better the reality of the local Churches, their riches and their difficulties.
Then, we must not forget the more direct work of the service of evangelization carried out by the Pontifical Representatives, when they are called to the various Dioceses for episcopal consecration, special occasions, or pastoral visits. Through this form of ministry they make present in a very special way, among the People of God, the person of the Pope, his care and solicitude for Christ’s whole flock, a presence that is especially felt by the faithful, and which contributes to making the Church’s Catholicity more visible.
Undoubtedly, the ministry of Papal Representatives lives throughout history, walks with the Church and always needs to renew and perfect itself to be equal to the needs of our times. For this reason, the Holy Father has decided to call all the Nuncios, the Apostolic Delegates and the Permanent Observers to a meeting for reflection in Rome next June, in continuation with the one held over 10 years ago on the occasion of the Great Jubilee 2000. It will be an opportunity for an exchange of experiences and to deepen the feeling of mission for the Pontifical Representatives in today’s circumstances. I am certain that I can count on your prayers for this.