The Holy See
back up





The President to the readers

Dear readers,

As I address you for the first time as President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, I relive the emotions I felt on 4 October last when His Holiness entrusted to me the leadership of this dicastery. The spirit of obedience and trepidation with which I accepted the appointment were accompanied by a deep feeling of gratitude to the Holy Father who thus chose to reconfirm the trust that he in his kindness has always shown towards me. With confidence that the Lord will help me carry out my new responsibilities, I shall try not to disappoint him and to always work with all my strength for the benefit of the christifideles laici and of the Church.

My service to the Holy See began in 1987 in this Pontifical Council where I was head of the Youth Section until 1992. Then I transferred to the Secretariat of State, and I returned here in December 1995 as Secretary. Except for that short parenthesis, my work in the Roman Curia was continuously tied to this dicastery with which I have deep bonds. As Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity I have had the privilege of collaborating first with Cardinal Eduardo F. Pironio, the kind-hearted pastor who was extraordinarily sensitive to the cause of the laity in the Church, a bishop of rare spirituality, a passionate servant of the Word of God. Then I worked with his successor at the head of this dicastery, Cardinal James Francis Stafford, whom I had known from World Youth Day in 1993 when he was Archbishop of Denver. From our first meetings I was impressed by his keen pastoral outlook, his solid theological thought, and his great human gifts. His presidency was an important period in the life of our dicastery. This publication gives me another opportunity to express my gratitude for the years we worked together and for the friendship that he never failed to show me and which I feel honoured to have received. Once again I wish to convey my best wishes for his new assignment as Major Penitentiary of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary conferred on him by Pope John Paul II. I would like him to know that I shall continue to count on his good advice.

Another notable change in the Pontifical Council for the Laity was the naming of the new Secretary, Bishop Josef Clemens, whose appointment was announced on 25 November last. Originally from the archdiocese of Paderborn in Germany, Bishop Clemens was private secretary to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for 19 years, and for the past few months he has been under-secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life. Bishop Clemens received his episcopal ordination from Cardinal Ratzinger on 6 January this year in the Vatican Basilica. We welcome him most cordially, and we recommend his ministry to your prayers.

We are both aware that we have received a very committing spiritual and pastoral heritage from those who have preceded us over the years in the leadership of this dicastery. With grateful hearts and a great sense of responsibility, we accept this as a treasure to keep and make fruitful, and we invoke the Holy Spirit to illumine our path and to enable us to help the lay faithful all over the world to know how to respond adequately to the challenges presented by our times. These are challenges to vocations and to the mission of the disciples of Christ who are called to witness to the Lord and proclaim him to the world.

That which is essential to the vocation and mission of the christifideles laici has recently been evoked by the Congress of lay Catholics of eastern Europe that was organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in Kiev in Ukraine last October. The Kiev Congress, an ecclesial event of great significance that you can read about in this Notiziario, is a milestone in the history of our dicastery. The work of the dicastery with the lay faithful has in a sense drawn the main guidelines for the immediate future. We heard testimonies about so many Christians who had lived through times of mass persecution prompted by the atheistic communist regime. They confessed their faith in Jesus Christ, sometimes even to martyrdom. The simplicity with which these accounts were given was very moving. It was a strong call that we should not lose the sense of our identity as Christians in our everyday lives, one that is founded on Baptism, on Confirmation, on the Eucharist; to rediscover the faith as a personal encounter with Christ that changes our lives, giving us the strength to go against the tide and to be signs of contradiction in the culture that dominates the world; to work for the consolidation of this new phase in the associating of lay faithful in the Church. The Holy Father continuously points out that this is a gift of the Holy Spirit for our times and a luminous sign of hope for people and for the world. These are the areas to be concentrated on by the Pontifical Council for the Laity for the next few years.

As we enter this new stage in the life of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, we allow Pope John Paul II to point out the way: “Duc in altum!” These words resound for us today and invite us to be grateful for what has passed, to live the present with passion, and to open to the future with trust: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever!” (Novo millennio ineunte, 1).


Kiev, a meeting-point of hope and renewed missionary thrust

In Kiev, the ancient site of the baptism of the Rus, for the first time, the Pontifical Council for the Laity convened a meeting of around 300 people coming from 14 countries of the ex-Soviet Union, led by their respective pastors, together with members of ecclesial associations and movements that work in that geographical area, representatives of Catholic organisations that work with the Churches in Eastern Europe, and observers from other Churches and ecclesial communities.

On the one hand, the Kiev Congress is part of a series of regional and continental congresses that have been organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in Asia, Oceania, Central America, Europe and the Middle East, and on the other hand it was a very new event that would have been unthinkable in those countries a short time ago. They suffered from repression and antireligious propaganda for years and could not have normal and regular exchange and experiences with the rest of the Christian world.

A time of hope and courage

The Congress opened on Wednesday 8 October in the afternoon with a reading of the Holy Father’s message by the Papal Nuncio in Belarus, Bishop Nikola Eterovic. It spoke of the “painful separation, which has caused a kind of asphyxia among the Christian communities of the East”, and it emphasised the new responsibility entrusted to the laity of “passing on to future generations the heritage of Christian faith”. The Pope stressed that “The Lord asks you who have been stalwart witnesses of faith in times of trial and persecution, and in the time that has now seen you regain religious freedom, to prepare the soil for a vigorous rebirth of the Church in your Countries”. He went on to say that “a precious contribution in this regard can be made by associations, church movements and new communities, the experience of which has given birth to fruitful pedagogical paths and a renewed apostolic enthusiasm”. Reminding us that the rediscovery of the role of the laity in the mission of the Church came with the Second Vatican Council, the Pope exhorted the lay faithful to allow Christ to shine out in their personal lives, in all sectors where people work for peace and for a social order that respects human dignity. “For the laity, this is a time of hope and courage!”, the Pope says, and he encourages them to make their families “true domestic Churches” and their parishes “true schools of prayer and Christian life”.

Messages of greeting were also received from Cardinal Moussa Ignace Daoud, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and from the Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. Following the reading of the Holy FatherÂ’s message, there were words of introduction from Cardinal Stafford and words of welcome from Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians, and Archbishop Marian Jaworski of Lviv of the Latins. In a climate of celebration, the greetings and presentations of delegations alternated with songs composed to celebrate the visit to Ukraine of Pope John Paul II in June 2001, others to celebrate the Congress, and traditional Ukrainian songs.

Call to holiness

The first day of work sessions, Thursday 9 October, was dedicated to the central themes of the mission of the laity. The talks were given by the Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk (“The mission of the Church at the dawn of the third millennium”) and by Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko (“You will be my witnesses: the hour of the laity”). Cardinal Vlk gave testimony concerning the years of “forced secularism” experienced during the communist regime, and he emphasised very strongly the person of Christ as a “source of hope”, and the need to embrace the crucified Jesus in the “sacrament of sorrow” in order to understand, follow and proclaim the Risen Christ. Archbishop Ryłko described the lay person and the lay mission, insisting on the dimension of communion and the ecclesial character of their witness. These are interwoven in their vocation and mission, and they find their deepest foundation in Baptism. He invited the laity to be conscious of their participation in the “threefold mission of Christ: priestly, prophetic and royal. To be authentic apostles and credible witnesses of Christ in the world, the life and faith of Christians must be intimately united, in other words, they must live in holiness. We are not speaking of ‘second categoryÂ’ holiness but of real authentic holiness”. In the afternoon there was a round table session on “From persecution to freedom: to be Christians in our times”. It was moderated by Alexey Youdine from Moscow. The thread of the interventions was the recognition – in spite of poverty, difficulties and problems of all kinds that are found in the ex-Soviet regions – of a timid and mysterious Church, yet completely real, that responds to the desires and longings of the suffering humanity of those countries.

Laity in the Church and in society

On Friday 10 October, the work sessions were preceded by a presentation of the various kinds of presence the laity hold within the Church and in society. The keynote talks were given by Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Moscow (“The participation of the laity in the life of the parish community: liturgy and sacraments, proclaiming the Gospel, witnesses of charity”), and Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry (“Educating in the faith: the contribution of the associations of the faithful and of the movements to the mission of the Church”). With the pontifical magisterium as a basis, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz analytically outlined the duties and the charisms of the laity in parish ministry, appealing to the sensus Ecclesiae that must be the life-blood of every activity. Prof. Carriquiry described the main criteria on which lay movements are built (ecclesiality, synthesis between faith and life, incarnation of being a visible sign (a sacrament) of communion, authentic Catholicism, openness to grace), and he gave an invitation to follow in the footsteps of the Holy Father and “make the Church a home and a school of communion”. Then he introduced some invited members of ecclesial movements to give witness. In the afternoon, the round table session was moderated by Dr Jean-François Thiry (Moscow). It centred on the theme “Apostleship of the laity: priorities and commitments”, and there were many witnesses of mission in the world of work, schools, families and society.

Blood of the martyrs and seeds of new life

Saturday 11 was dedicated to two fundamental themes in the history and life of the Christian communities in these countries: martyrdom and the desire for unity. The first talk was also a testimony entitled “The blood of the martyrs, seeds of new life: the martyrs of yesterday call the attention of the Christians of today”, and it was given by Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek, Archbishop of Minsk. He told his own story and that of the Church and described in a simple and moving way episodes of authentic Christian heroism. The primate of the Belarusian Catholic Church (a veteran of soviet prison camps where he spent 10 years from 1945 to 1954) authoritatively consigned to the laity of today the mission to witness to Christ to the full, a mission that his generation had acquitted through resistance and fidelity to the Church at the cost of life itself. The second talk (“Ut unum sint: gift and challenge of unity”) was given by Father Josef Maj, S.J. of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. He gave a clear and complete description of the papal magisterium on ecumenism. He underlined that this topic is not a mere appendix. It appears in all the major papal documents as an indispensable dimension of Christianity. A spirit of prayer is the authentic way to express and construct the necessary formal steps in this field. In the afternoon there was a round table session on the theme “Youth, hope of the Church and of peoples”, moderated by Prof. Viktor Krul (Moscow). Cardinal Stafford said a few words to close the proceedings and the lay participants read their own concluding message.

Marked by a profound climate of prayer, the Congress sessions were scheduled around the daily Eucharistic celebrations in the Greek-Catholic and Latin rites presided respectively by Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Cardinal Marian Jaworski and Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz. Particularly significant was the liturgical memorial of the martyrs in the byzantine rite on Saturday 11 in the evening presided by Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, and the Eucharistic celebration open to all the faithful of Kiev on the Sunday morning presided by Cardinal James Francis Stafford. The gathering closed with the solemn presentation to all those present of a copy of Christifideles laici and a rosary blessed by the Pope. This could be described as a viaticum for the road of witness and mission in the world.


General Assembly of the Conference of ICOs

“Make Human Society More Humane: Christian Values Leading from Violence to Peace” was the theme of the latest general assembly of the Conference of International Catholic Organisations (CICO) that took place in Rome from 1 to 7 December 2003. The aim was to deepen relations between the Conference and the dicasteries of the Roman Curia. There were many cardinals and representatives from the dicasteries taking part in the sessions. They included Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and Msgr Gabriele Caccia and Msgr Xavier Désiré representing the Secretariat of State.

Archbishop Ryłko opened the sessions of the Assembly by reaffirming that the Church depends very much on the Christian witness of the ICOs in the world. While speaking of peace, a specific theme of the assembly, he pointed to the witness given by the Holy Father “for all of us a luminous example of an intrepid builder of peace who has no fear of going against the tide to defend this precious birthright of humanity”. In this context he recalled the words of Pope John Paul II in Assisi on 27 October 1986: “I humbly repeat here my own conviction: peace bears the name of Jesus Christ [...] There is no peace without a passionate love for peace. There is no peace without a relentless determination to make peace [...] Peace awaits its prophets [...] Peace is a workshop, open to all [...]

This assembly was especially significant because of a reflection that took place on the identity and mission of the International Catholic Organisations in view of the reformulation of their juridical status according to the new institutional norms framework of the Code of Canon Law of 1983. This process of revision already under way, has been a significant opportunity for the ICOs to re-examine the twofold mission that they are intended to carry out: on the one hand, the promotion of the apostolic and missionary life of their own members by assuring them adequate opportunities for education in the faith; on the other hand, the capacity to organise and manage an incisive Christian presence at the international level.

The interventions of Msgr Pietro Parolin, Undersecretary for relations with the States, and of Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry, Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, were particularly appropriate in this regard. Prof. Carriquiry gave an analysis of the multiple fruits resulting from the work of the juridical reassessment of the statutes of the ICOs, in conformity with the “criteria of ecclesiality” indicated in the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici (n. 30) and in the norms of the Code of Canon Law (Book II, Part I, Title V). Prof. Carriquiry went on to say that the vast majority of the ICOs have informed the Pontifical Council for the Laity about their progress in this process of revision which is increasingly bringing to light the importance and significance of associative life in the Church. There are numerous signs of this vitality. We only have to think of the increasing number of associations that ask for official recognition, either at the diocesan and national level or at the international level. Besides, the diversity of charisms expressed specifies the common aim they all wish to follow: to be at the service of the evangelisation of the world in fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church. In this sense, the work of these associations cannot but enrich the life of the Church, operating in synergy with the Holy See, and making a wonderful contribution to the dialogue with various international organisms and agencies. Finally, Prof. Carriquiry emphasised that the rereading of the statutes has given each ICO the opportunity to review their own history, to return to their own roots and original charism, and thus it has become an opportunity to renew their awareness of their own identity and aims.


Ecclesial movements and new communities.

Meetings for common reflection (2)

In the previous number of Notiziario we spoke of the initiative by the Pontifical Council for the Laity to invite ecclesial movements and new communities to periodic meetings for common reflection on questions that are particularly relevant in public life. The purpose is to hear their opinion on international situations and learn about how they spread awareness of the various problems that touch the lives of the people of our times. The second of the meetings took place on 20 June last and it dealt with the theme: “The contribution of Christians to the building of Europe”.

Cardinal James Francis Stafford opened the session by calling to mind Pope John Paul II’s ongoing invitation to “start afresh from Christ” by keeping our gaze fixed on the event of his presence, that is, on the Church “home and school of communion”, and by collaborating in his work of evangelisation in the world through the construction of new ways of living that are generated from charity. The normal and principle way for dialogue and collaboration among ecclesial movements and new communities is through relations with the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The dicastery is in close communication with these groups and aims to be the “common house”. It is convinced that their experience and initiatives are essential contributions to the fulfilment of the tasks it renders in the service of the Holy Father and the christifideles laici. Ecclesial maturity, a necessary stage on the path to growth of ecclesial movements and new communities according to Pope John Paul II, can be verified above all in their spirit of communion and their missionary commitment.

The keynote speech was given by Msgr Aldo Giordano, Secretary General of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CEEC). Speaking from his observations from the secretariat of the CEEC, he mentioned some of the concerns felt by the Bishops’ Conferences and the Churches in Europe regarding the times this continent is presently going through. He described the present situation and the lively debate taking place, and he affirmed that the Churches concur with Pope John II in preferring to refrain from speaking of extending the European Union but to use the terms “re-unification” or the “europisation” of Europe. It is a Europe of all the nations, peoples, cultures and churches, and not just a group of countries. The idea they have of the Europe of tomorrow is not that of a continental fortress that closely guards its own well-being, but rather a continent with a foreign policy marked by criteria of solidarity. Among the proposals advanced concerning the European Constitutional Treaty, three are regarded as important: Europe and its values of reference, the juridical recognition of the identity and role of the Church, the Christian roots of Europe. As regards the first, problems remain concerning the foundation, contents and interpretation of values, too often reduced to simplistic rhetoric. The need for the existence of a light to explain and guide the interpretation of values and the importance of recognising that public power is not absolute, are certainly some of the motives that urge the Church to ask that the constitutional treaty should guarantee space, including juridical, to religions with their institutions, and to freedom of religion. Msgr Giordano took the words of the Holy Father to say: “A Europe which disavowed its past, which denied the fact of religion, and which had no spiritual dimension would be extremely impoverished in the face of the ambitious project which calls upon all its energies: constructing a Europe for all!” (Speech to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, 13.01.2003).

The point that continues to raise discussion, including in public opinion, with contrasting viewpoints, is that of explicit reference to God or to Christian roots to be contained in the Preamble or in the text of the Treaty. Why is there such fear and reticence? Msgr Giordano explained that in the current debate there are some rather dated contrasting ideologies that bear weight. There is a notable ignorance of religion and Christianity and a tendency to reduce them to moral terms, and there is authoritarianism in some kinds of secularism. Msgr Giordano insisted that Christians still have a responsibility to be present, even though they have been accused of being incapable of intervening in the debate. They have to show that reference to God and Christianity is a historical and cultural fact and not a defence of privileges, divisions between the Churches, or the use of religion or the name of God to justify violent positions. After describing the situation, Msgr Giordano gave a series of reflections indicating a new perspective to approaching the topic: “It is not a case of arriving at a minimum with which everyone can impersonally and ‘boringly’ agree, but to explore the true and deep treasure that each one and each experience can give. Christianity has something great to give if it finds a space to be really itself, to be able to show its face, its essence. To try to please everyone by watering down everything does not contain anything new and is subtly violent because it does not respect the true deep identity of each one”. A Europe therefore that is a new laboratory of inculturation of Christianity, of evangelisation and historical incarnation of Christianity, would be more significant for the other continents. On the one hand, the construction of Europe calls Christians to give their own contribution to the building of a European “home” able to host diverse peoples without destroying individual identities and without falling into destructive conflict over differences or into terrorism; and, on the other hand, it calls them to answer the question concerning the meaning of life and history. Therefore, the first contribution they can give to the construction of a new Europe is precisely to proclaim Christ present in our midst, whose love is at the origin of the home and communion among all people. This communion is co-essential to the work of the new evangelisation and the places or paths it must follow are catholicity, ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. From this point of view, ecclesial movements and the new communities are already a European family.

In the course of the debate that followed Msgr Giordano’s talk, it was made clear that Christians must be a significant presence in Europe and should even take the responsibility of public positions. How should the laity become more present in public life? How can we awaken this giant that is the Christian laity? One outstanding example is Saint Benedict and the “movement” that spread out from his example. The effectiveness of this movement was due to the fact that it started from a position of strong interior faith. It started from the ground up in building terms (not looking back to the past, to a world that was ending) and in terms of freedom (it was not tied to any social, juridical or political format). Christians, and particularly the movements, should build from the base up to the generation – always reviewable – of those forms of new life already in action. Christians do not want privileges but only libertas Ecclesiae to be able to build. This does not mean disregarding the institutional dimension because the cultural impact of the norm cannot be disregarded, and they will be decisive in designing future scenarios.

Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko made the affirmation that there is a need for Christians to live the Gospel with coherence and to know how to pass its message to others in a convincing way. In the debate that accompanies the process of building a new Europe, adult Christian personalities are needed who are well prepared and who are experts so they can present and sustain the reasons for the Church at an institutional level. It is one of the tasks of the ecclesial movements and new communities to train these personalities who are then sustained in their work by a people whose lives are a reflection of that for which they hope.

The last few interventions concentrated on the vocation that Europe has in relation to the rest of the world. It is said that if Europe is not to be born old, it must not close in on itself. In a spirit of solidarity, it must take up its missionary zeal once again, and work for a new evangelisation that can become culture and that is truly animated by Christian hope because it is open to universal horizons.

Those present at the meeting represented the following: ADSIS, Neocatecumenal Way, Communion and Liberation Fraternity, Chemin Neuf Community, Beatitudes Community, Emmanuel Community, Comunità Missionaria Villaregia, St Egidio Community, Pope John XXIII Community, Organismo Mundial de Cursillos de Cristiandad, Teams of Our Lady, Foyers de Charité, Gruppo Promotore del Movimento per un Mondo Migliore, Teresian Association, Institute for World Evangelisation - ICPE Mission, International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, Memores Domini, Focolari Movement, Movimento di spiritualità “Vivere In”, Regnum Christi Movement, Schoenstatt Movement, Christian Life Movement, “Seguimi” Gruppo Laico di Promozione Umano-Cristiana, The Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships.

The third meeting will take place on 14 February 2004 on the theme: “Churches in the countries of the ex-Soviet Union, crossroads of hope and paradigm of a renewed missionary thrust for associations of the lay faithful”.

8th International Youth Forum

After a pause for reflection, the Pontifical Council for the Laity is resuming the tradition of the International Youth Forum. The first was in 1987 together with World Youth Day in Buenos Aires in Argentina, and it took place about every two years until WYD in Rome in the year 2000. It was then decided to change the format and to put more emphasis on the educational aspect.

The International Youth Forum will now contain some modifications intended to improve the event. A notable innovation is the fact that it is now held separately from World Youth Day. In this way, the dicastery will be able to devote more attention to it and to give it a separate identity and space. Secondly, compared to the past, future forums will concentrate on a more specific theme and give more in-depth study to some aspect of the world of youth. This will provide a further opportunity for youth to learn, reflect and share.

The next International Youth Forum is the eighth such event. The theme will be: “Youth and university: witnessing to Christ in the university world”. It will take place in Rocca di Papa near Rome from 31 March to 4 April 2004 and it will gather around 300 people, mostly young university students who are delegates from the Bishops’ Conferences and many ecclesial movements, associations and communities invited by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. There will be about thirty guests, people engaged in campus ministry in various ways, who will accompany the youth in their reflection.

In addition to plenary sessions, talks, and round table sessions, the Forum will have study groups according to language where the youth can discuss the topic of the day: “Youth and university today” (31 March), “Studies and life” (1 April), “University and truth” (2 April), “University and Christian witness” (3 April).

On Sunday 4 April at the conclusion of the Forum, the delegates will all take part in the Rome diocesan celebration of the 19th World Youth Day in Saint PeterÂ’s Square. The Holy Father will preside at the celebrations.


Youth pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

The Spanish Bishops’ Conference and the diocese of Santiago de Compostela have informed the Pontifical Council for the Laity of a major event being organised for the Compostela Holy Year 2004. There will be a pilgrimage of young people coming from various European countries to Santiago de Compostela. The theme will be: “Witnesses of Christ for a Europe of hope”. From 31 July until 5 August 2004 groups of young pilgrims will converge in Santiago after following different pilgrim roads suggested by the organisers. The European meeting of young Christians will commence on 5 August. It will be an opportunity for them to reflect on Europe’s Christian roots in the light of the post synodal apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Europa. It will conclude with an evening prayer vigil on Monte del Gozo on 7 August following the Mass in the Plaza del Obradoira.

This meeting is one answer to the Holy Father’s invitation to young people to be “sentinels of morning” on the old continent. It could also be seen as a stage in the preparation for the 20th World Youth Day that Pope John Paul II has chosen to have in Cologne in Germany in 2005.


The road to Cologne

World Youth Days

In order to facilitate the pastoral preparation for 2005, the Pope has already announced the theme for the 20th World Youth Day. It relates to the ancient tradition of the veneration of the relics of the Magi in Cologne Cathedral: “We have come to worship him” (Mt 2:2). The 19th World Youth Day will be a time of spiritual preparation, and its theme will be “We wish to see Jesus” (Jn 12:21). Both themes confirm the Christocentric character of World Youth Day. They contain the idea of “looking” and emphasise the importance of searching for the meaning of life and truth and of living it in prayer and the interior life.

The theme for 2004 invites us to reflect on the link between contemplation and evangelisation, according to the indications that Pope John Paul II gave in his apostolic letter Novo millennio ineunte: “the men and women of our own day – often perhaps unconsciously – ask believers not only to “speak” of Christ, but in a certain sense to “show” him to them. And is it not the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make his face shine also before the generations of the new millennium?” (n. 16).

The theme for 2005 is an occasion to concentrate on the sacrament of the Eucharist and its link with the prayer of adoration through a deepening into the meaning of “real presence” and of adoration as a personal offering to God responding to his love. It is a theme that allows for a deepening into the idea of pilgrimage, of “setting out”, both from the interior point of view and the outward action. World Youth Day, like the Christian life, is an adventure in which God invites us to leave behind our security and to follow him trusting fully and always accepting the newness that the presence of Christ brings to our lives. The Magi were pagans and yet they set out on a long journey. This pilgrimage is open to all and World Youth Day is an invitation to evangelise those who are far from the Church and also people who are not Christians. They too might be drawn by curiosity or the desire to meet Christ and get to know him personally.

The themes selected by the Pope for 2004 and 2005 can help inspire reflection and meditation for the next two years and they can be studied in small groups. They can also be taken as themes for future activities of young people like gatherings and pilgrimages.

Preparation of WYD in Cologne

Contacts and communication continue between the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Cologne Committee who are in charge of the logistic organisation of this World Meeting with the Holy Father. World Youth Day 2005 will take place in this German city from 16 to 21 August. The official logo for the event was presented last June. It depicts the essence and characteristics of World Youth Day in Cologne.

The Cross represents Christ, around whom the event centres. It is red to represent love, passion and suffering. The moving star is in gold, and it is a reminder of the birth of Jesus and the pilgrimage of the Magi, but it is also a point of reference that seems to guide the youth of the world towards Cologne for World Youth Day. Cologne Cathedral, where the relics of the Magi have been venerated for centuries, is in red, a colour that associates the Church with the Cross. The elliptical arc that appears like the letter C, indicates Christ as well as Communio – universal communion of the Church. It also represents the protective arm of God that embraces the Church and the entire world. The arc bends towards the Cross and opens up towards it. It is an invitation to face the Crucified and Risen Christ and to adore him, as it says in the theme for the 20th World Youth Day: “We have come to worship him” (Mt 2:2). The lower part of the arc recalls the Rhine river and also the Church that is represented as a boat, reminding us of Noah’s saving arc. The colour blue symbolises water.

The official theme song for WYD 2005 will soon be chosen. There is a competition going on in Germany at the moment to find the most suitable text and music for the occasion. Meanwhile, the Cologne Committee are preparing the logistics to welcome the young people. Registration will start a year beforehand.

The WYD Cross

It is known as the “Holy Year Cross”, the “Jubilee Cross”, the “WYD Cross”, the “Pilgrim Cross”. Many call it the “Youth Cross” as it was given to young people to take around the world to any place at any time.

This is the big wooden Cross that Pope John Paul II had placed near the main altar in Saint Peter’s Basilica where it could be seen by everyone during the Jubilee of the Redemption. At the end of the Holy Year, the Pope entrusted the Cross – the symbol of our faith – to young people. His words on that occasion were: “My dear young people, at the conclusion of the Holy Year, I entrust to you the sign of this Jubilee Year: the Cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption” (Rome, 22nd April 1984). The youth responded to the Holy Father’s request. They took it to the San Lorenzo Youth Centre beside Saint Peter’s Square, and this was to be its home when it was not on pilgrimage around the world. The first pilgrimage of the Holy Year Cross was in July 1984 to Munich in Germany.

During the twenty years that have passed, the Cross has travelled all over. Young people have carried it on their shoulders in many countries and cities, and it has always been present at World Youth Day. It can been seen up at the altar near the Holy Father, as it was at WYD 2002 in Toronto.

Since Palm Sunday 2003 when a delegation of young people from Canada passed the World Youth Day Cross on to young people from Germany, the Cross has been on pilgrimage around the countries of Europe. It is accompanied by the WYD Icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani that was presented to the youth of the world by the Holy Father in Saint PeterÂ’s Square last Palm Sunday. The pilgrimage is presently taking place throughout Europe, north, south, east and west. It will go to Berlin in Germany for Palm Sunday to mark twenty years since the Holy Father entrusted it to young people. Then it will commence its official pilgrimage around Germany. This will conclude with World Youth Day in Cologne in August 2005.

Friday prayer at San Lorenzo Youth Centre

On Palm Sunday last year, Pope John Paul II asked that the San Lorenzo Centre be a place for prayer in preparation for the 20th World Year Day which will be in Cologne next year. Responding to this mission with great enthusiasm, the Centre has prayer every Friday evening and all young people are invited. There are two hours of Eucharistic adoration, the opportunity for the sacrament of Reconciliation, the Holy Rosary in several languages, and Holy Mass animated by different groups and communities.

These apostolic endeavours have been aided by the homilies and witnessing of cardinals and bishops who were invited to preside at the Masses. This gave the young people present an opportunity to understand the Church better and their role within it. Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe reminded them that all baptised people must be aware of their missionary vocation. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Most Rev. Angelo Comastri, Most Rev. Felix Anthony Machado and Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk gave examples of the Holy Father and Mother Teresa to explain the meaning of total self-giving to God. Cardinal José Saraiva Martins spoke about the call of every Christian to holiness and how this was the only way to find happiness. Cardinal Poupard spoke of how youth, culture and the Church are connected. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal Godfried Danneels and Most Rev. Paul Josef Cordes gave meditations on the three theological virtues.

Cardinal James Francis Stafford gave the first of these Friday prayers, and he urged the participants to be authentic witnesses of the Gospel. Most Rev. Stanisław Ryłko encouraged all young people to promote the new evangelisation as they follow their path through life.


Juridical recognition and approval of statutes

The Pontifical Council for the Laity:

By decree dated 26 August, recognised the Union Internationale des Guides et Scouts dÂ’Europe - Fédération du Scoutisme Européen as an international lay association of pontifical right, and approved its statutes “ad experimentum”.

By decree dated 28 October, recognised the Union of Catholic Apostolate as an international lay association of pontifical right, and approved its statutes “ad experimentum”.

By decree dated 6 December, recognised the Federación Mundial de Adoración Nocturna a Jesús Sacramentado y otras Obras Eucarísticas as an international lay association of pontifical right, and approved its statutes “ad experimentum”.

The Pontifical Council for the Laity is currently in the process of examining the requests for canonical recognition submitted by the following lay groups: Les maisons dÂ’adoration, World Apostolate of Fatima, Encounters of Married Couples, Alliance of the Holy Family International, Apostolate for Family Consecration, Organismo Mundial de Cursillos de Cristiandad, Communauté Fondacio, Comunità Cattolica dÂ’Integrazione, Servizio Missionario Giovani (SER.MI.G.).


Contacts with associations and movements

• From 4-6 July Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko had several meetings in Paris with the leaders of the Emmanuel Community.

• From 7-9 September Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry took part in an international meeting on “Between war and peace: religions and cultures meet”, organised at Aachen in Germany by the St Egidio Community.

• On 8 December the Dicastery was visited by Rev. Séamus Freeman, President of the Union of Catholic Apostolate.

• On 16 September, Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry, Rev. Miguel Delgado Galindo and Dr Lucienne Sallé received the President, Mr Fabricio Rodé, and the ecclesiastic assistant, Rev. Antoine Sondag, of the Mouvement International des Intellectuels Catholiques.

• On 20 September Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko and Dr Lucienne Sallé received the leaders of the Confédération Européenne des Associations Familiales Catholiques .

• On 22 September Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received the leaders of the International Catholic Conference of Scouting. They had met with Rev. Francis Kohn on 19 September.

• Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko gave an intervention during the spiritual retreat for leaders of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services at Castel Gandolfo near Rome from 21- 25 September. About one thousand charismatics from 72 countries took part in the event “Twelve days of blessings” during which there was also a consultation and a pilgrimage to some of the major Italian shrines.

• On 24 September a message of greeting from Card. James Francis Stafford was sent to the 20th Meeting of the international council of the Alliance of Catholic Knights.

• A message of greeting from Card. James Francis Stafford was sent to the North American regional conference of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations that took place in Minneapolis, USA, from 24-25 September. The President of the association, Ms Eugenia Diaz de Pfennich, visited the Dicastery on 4 June.

• On 26 September Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko and Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry received the founder of the Fraternidad de Agrupaciones Santo Tomás de Aquino, Fr Aníbal Fosbery, O.P.

• On 26 September Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko met with Mr Georges Bonneval, Moderator of the Communauté Verbe de Vie.

• On 30 September Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received Mme Cathy Brenti of the Béatitudes Community.

• On 30 September Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received Mr Salvatore Martinez, national Coordinator of the Rinnovamento nello Spirito Santo. They had a further meeting on 17 October.

• A message of greeting from Card. James Francis Stafford was sent to the International Congress of the Servizio di Animazione Comunitaria (Core group of the Movimento per un Mondo Migliore) that took place in Rome with the theme “Spirituality of communion for a world in solidarity”.

• On 17 October Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received Prof. Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

• On 20 October Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko met with Prof. Marco Impagliazzo, the new President of the St Egidio Community.

• On 23 October Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko met with Mr Henry Capello, President of the Youth Arise International Federation.

• On 28 October Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko and Rev. Miguel Delgado Galindo received Mr Jerome F. Coniker, President of the Apostolate for Family Consecration.

• On 28 October Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry received the leaders of the Opera di Nazaret.

• On 29 October the Dicastery was visited by the leader of the Movimento Apostolico Manquehue, Mr J. Manuel Eguiguren.

• On 30 October Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received the members of the executive council of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships who were in Rome for their annual meeting that took place from 29 October to 3 November.

• On 5 November Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry met with the President, Prof. Jan Peters, and with the Secretary General, Msgr Guy-Réal Thivierge, of the International Federation of Catholic Universities.

• On 10 November Rev. Miguel Delgado Galindo and Dr Lucienne Sallé received Mme Agnès Dandois, Secretary General of the Association Internationale des Charités.

• Dr Lucienne Sallé took part in a meeting of the executive committee of Caritas Internationalis that was held in Rome from 11-13 November.

• On 15 November Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko gave an intervention at an international training congress of the St Egidio Community. 150 people from 52 countries from every continent took part.

• On 17 November Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry and Rev Miguel Delgado Galindo received the President, Prof. Jorge A. Serrano, and the Secretary General, Mr Dominique Vergnon, of the Bureau International Catholique de lÂ’Enfance.

• On 18 November Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko presided at the Mass of thanksgiving in the Church of St Benedetto in Piscinula in Rome that the Heraldos del Evangelio wished to offer to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

• On 26 November Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko met with Mr Luis Figari, founder of Sodalitium Christianae Vitae.

• On 28 November Rev. Miguel Delgado Galindo received the General Administrator of the Teresian Association, Dr. María Angeles Mazón.

• On 28 November Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received Mr Ernesto Olivero, founder of Servizio Missionario Giovani.

• On 28 November Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry received Dr Vincenzo Conso, Secretary General of the International Catholic Rural Association.

• Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko gave an intervention at the opening session of the Conference of ICOs assembly, and he presided at the concluding Mass. The assembly took place in Ciampino near Rome from 30 November to 7 December. Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry spoke of the work of reformulation in course on the juridical status of the International Catholic Organisations. The Dicastery was represented by Dr Lucienne Sallé.

• On 1 December Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received Mme Isabelle Biondi, executive director of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations.

• On 4 December Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko met with a representative of the Nomadelfia Community.

• Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko gave an intervention at the annual retreat of the European Focolare members that took place at the Mariapoli centre in Castel Gandolfo near Rome from 5-8 December. He read the message addressed by the Holy Father to the foundress, Chiara Lubich, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Focolari Movement which was founded in Trento on 7 December 1943.

• On 8 December Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko presided at a Mass in the basilica of Santa Cecilia in Rome in commemoration of the 32nd anniversary of the foundation of Sodalitium Christiane Vitae.

• On 11 December Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received the leaders of the Schoenstatt Movement in Europe.

• On 12 December Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko met with some of the leaders of the Neocatechumenal Way in Germany.

• On 16 December Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko and Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry received the Ecclesiastical Assistant, Most Rev. Francesco Lambiasi, and the President of Azione Cattolica Italiana, Ms Paola Bignardi. There were other meetings with leaders of ACI on 1 October when the President of the Forum Internazionale di Azione Cattolica, Ms Maria Grazia Tibaldi was present, and again on 13 November.

• On 17 December Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received Dr Loreto Ballester, President of the Teresian Association.

• On 19 December Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received Prof. Giorgio Feliciani, vice-president of the Communion and Liberation Fraternity.

Other engagements

The Dicastery was represented by Elizabeth Hawkins at the 17th General Assembly of Syndesmos that took place in Durres in Albania from 14-22 July.

Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko gave an intervention at the 2nd MeetinGiovani organised by the Comunità Missionaria de Villaregia from 21-24 August. There were one thousand young people there from various parts of the world. They received a message of greeting from the Holy Father.

On 30 August at the conclusion of the “Meeting in Rimini 2003” that had the theme: “Is there a man who desires life and longs for happy days”?, Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko gave a talk entitled: “From Krakow to Rome”, in homage to Pope John Paul II on the 25th year of his pontificate. Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry also spoke at the Meeting. He took part in several encounters on Latin America.

Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko gave an intervention at the executive council meeting of the Youth Arise International Federation in Rome from 25-27 September. He spoke on the prophetic dimension of the work of associations with young people and on the spiritual path of preparation for WYD 2005.

On 20 October Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received the Archbishop of Tarragona in Spain, Most Rev. Lluís Martínez Sistach.

On the 5 November, on the invitation of the Pontifical Archbishop-Delegate of Loreto, Most Rev. Angelo Comastri, Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko was in Ancona for the inauguration of the academic year of the Istituto Teologico Marchigiano which is linked with the Theological Faculty of the Pontifical Lateran University. He spoke on the topic: “John Paul II: the Pope chosen to take the Church into the third millennium”.

On 3 December, Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received Bishop Michel Santier of Luçon in France.

On 10 December Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko met with Msgr Sebastiano Corsanego who reported on his work in the service of confraternities in India.

On 12 December Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received the leaders of the Zentralkomitee des Deutschen Katholiken.

To continue with preparations for WYD 2005, on 21 July Rev. Francis Kohn met with the joint Secretary of the German Organising Committee, Rev. Georg Austen. On 26 September he met with the joint Secretary Rev. Ulrich Hennes, the head of catechesis, Rev. Joseph Funk, and the head of liturgy, Rev. Manfred Kollig. On 28 and 29 October he met with the General Secretary Rev. Heiner Koch, the joint Secretary Hermann-Josef Johanns, and the head of communications, Matthias Kopp.

On 4 July Rev. Francis Kohn met with Rev. Paolo Giulietti, head of youth ministry for the Italian BishopsÂ’ Conference. From 17-20 July he took part in the European symposium “University and Church in Europe”, organised in Rome by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CEEC) and by the Episcopal commission for Catholic education, school and university of the Italian BishopsÂ’ Conference, on the occasion of the 7th centenary of “La Sapienza” University in Rome. From 14-17 August he took part in the Paray-le-Monial International Youth Forum in France organised by the Emmanuel Community. On the 17 and 22 September he met with the international team of Jesus Youth, a movement of young university students that started in India and has spread around Asia and other countries in the world. On 26 September he received the members of the international council of the Youth Arise International Federation and the secretary of the Laity Council in Lebanon, Tanios Chawan to whom the Patriarch of the Middle East has entrusted the coordination of youth ministry in the countries of the region. On 1 November he took part in the meeting of the Comité Jeunes of the Emmanuel Community. On 14 November he gave an intervention at the congress of Giovani per un mondo unito of the Focolari Movement. On 21 November he met with Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon in France, accompanied by 50 young priests from the diocese. On 29 and 30 November he took part in the 3rd National Session of youth ministry in Nantes in France. On 20 and 21 December he took part in the Prayer Vigil in the Basilica of Lugano and the solemn Mass in the basilica of the Sacred Heart in which the youth of Switzerland, together with their bishop Most Rev. Pier Giacomo Grampa, received the WYD Cross. During the year, Rev. Francis Kohn took part in several of the prayer sessions organised in the San Lorenzo International Youth Centre. He met with the youth from the Vienna Akademie, a school of evangelisation that specialises in the media; with the youth of the Emmanuel School of Mission in Rome; with the youth of the Akademie of Altötting in Germany, a school of evangelisation that specialises in music.

Ad limina visits

During the second half of 2003 the Pontifical Council for the Laity received the following delegations of bishops on ad limina visits: three groups of bishops from India, the bishops of the Philippines, the bishops of England and Wales, the bishops of Belgium and the first three groups of bishops from France.

During the course of the visits, representatives of the dicastery not only learned useful information about the Church in those countries, but also had the opportunity to dwell on themes related to the involvement and participation of the laity in the life of the ecclesial community.

Attention was drawn to the need for preparation for the 20th World Youth Day which is scheduled to take place in Cologne in 2005. In this context, there was a reminder of the need for the local Churches to have times of evangelisation of youth, to care for their education in the faith and to involve them more and more in the fabric of Church life.

Another topic of particular interest to the bishops is that of ecclesial movements and new communities. Their apostolate has become more appreciated, especially at the level of the local Church, and they are undoubtedly a valid area for the education and growth in the faith of the christifideles laici. In these meetings in our dicastery, Pastors are frequently reminded to accompany these new forms of lay gatherings and movements with paternal and cordial care, and to help them integrate quietly and humbly in the diocesan pastoral ministry.

The education in the faith of the laity is an ongoing dimension of individual and associative life and must always be a concern of pastoral work.

Other topics discussed were the following: pastoral councils, the contribution of the laity to catechesis, the vocation and mission of women in the Church, the active and coherent presence of the lay faithful in social, political and cultural life.


Pontifical Council for the Laity

Most Rev. Stanisław Ryłko, President

Most Rev. Josef Clemens, Secretary

Prof. Guzmán CARRIQUIRY, Under-Secretary



• LAITY TODAY series

• YOUTH series



The publications are published in four language editions: English, French, Italian and Spanish.

Volumes in the LAITY TODAY series, the YOUTH series, the DOCUMENTS and the NEWS can be received on payment of an overall annual subscription of e 31.

Orders can be made directly at our offices or by means of a cheque made out to the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

The latest volumes published

• Ecumenismo e dialogo interreligioso: il contributo dei fedeli laici (LAICI OGGI, 6) Study Seminar. Rome, 22-23 June 2001 (Italian version only)

In preparation

• Directory of international associations of the lay faithful

• Proceedings of the 20th Plenary Assembly. Rome, 21-23 November 2002