La Santa Sede Menu Ricerca
La Curia Romana Pontifici Consigli


NEWS 9/2004




The President to the readers

Dear readers,

After the necessary settling-in period following last October’s changes at the Pontifical Council for the Laity, our Council has begun working in earnest. Our first event in 2004 was the Seminar on “Women and men: diversity and mutual complementarity”. In response to the appeal made in Christifideles Laici – which is the real Magna Carta of our Council – we regularly return to this issue, to focus ever-more clearly on the anthropological basis of the status of men and women, in the knowledge, as the Pope said in his Letter to Women, “that ‘womanhood’ and ‘manhood’ are complementary not only from the physical and psychological points of view, but also from the ontological. It is only through the duality of the ‘masculine’ and the ‘feminine’ that the ‘human’ finds full realisation”. (cf. no.7). The Seminar reflected on the sexual identity of, and relations between, men and women, in the light of the Magisterium of the Church regarding the dual unity of the human person, set against the background of the socio-cultural changes taking place today.

But the main event we organised in the first half of this year was the 8th International Youth Forum, on the theme “Youth and the university: witnessing to Christ in the university world”. Those taking part took the lead for their reflections from a consideration of the crisis affecting contemporary culture, a culture emptied of values, which is enclosing people in immanence and stifling them, with massive repercussions on the world of higher education which is engaged in the delicate process of redefining the role of the university as a place of education, in which theoretical and practical knowledge is produced. The spread of weak thinking, which produces weak personalities that shy away from seeking the truth, the ever-widening gap between ethics and market-driven scientific research, the fragmentation of knowledge, and the contradictory half-answers offered by modern science, generating existential and cultural bewilderment, are all symptoms that demonstrate the urgent need to recover the sapiential dimension of knowledge and science in the universities, and the holistic vision of the human person which is an essential condition for all education, in order to restore harmony between faith and reason, and the relationship between mentor and student which has always signified communion of life, and served as the special channel for handing on values. For this is the only way to ensure that the period spent in higher education coincides with a process of human and spiritual growth for young Christians who are called to creatively play a leading role in their own formation and education, and, in the undergraduate world combine a commitment to rigorous scientific research with bearing living witness to an authentic Christian life. As a major cultural event, the Forum was an extraordinary ‘epiphany’ of the young face of the Church, which attracts others and radiates hope. Preparations are continuing meanwhile for the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, which is giving rise to enormous expectations in many countries, especially in the Church in Germany, which is living through this period with commitment and enthusiasm.

The 21st Plenary Assembly is almost upon us, scheduled for November, and preparations are now well under way. Every Department/Decastery of the Roman Curia sees their Plenary Assembly as a major opportunity to dialogue, study, monitor and lay out plans of work for the future. At this yearÂ’s Plenary Assembly, the Members and Consultors of the Pontifical Council for the Laity will be focusing their discussions on an issue of very direct relevance to the laity, which explains why the Council plans to invest so much effort in it in the immediate future: the parish, and the rediscovery of the parish, as the Church living among the homes of her sons and daughters (cf Christifideles Laici, no. 26).

As for our publications, the long-awaited Directory of International Associations of the Lay Faithful is to appear shortly, containing the information submitted to us by the movements, groups, communities themselves, and has entailed an enormous amount of work to produce. It provides a kind of “snapshot” of the history, identity, activities and the diffusion of so many different examples of associations created in the contemporary Church as the expression of that “Christian spring” of which John Paul II speaks so hopefully. Even though we know that it will be hard for this directory to keep pace with the vitality and constant evolution of this new phase in the life of Lay associations, we are convinced that it will be a useful working tool for all those who, in one way or another, are involved in this specific field.

At the beginning of this year, to give voice to the Holy SeeÂ’s concern for an area that is playing an increasingly important part in peopleÂ’s lives, and where it is urgently necessary to appeal to fundamental values, the Holy Father created a “Church and Sport” Section in the Council. We are happy to extend a warm welcome to Fr Kevin Lixey L.C. who has come from Michigan to head this Section. And we are also happy to warmly welcome a new member to our Secretariat: Miss Thérèse-Marie Dessaivre, a French Focolare member. The Council recently said goodbye to Miss Martine Butruille and Mrs Gabriella Fontana Nicoletti upon their retirement after long years of generous service. In May, the Holy Father appointed Fr Fernando Vergez L.C., the former personal private secretary of the unforgettable Cardinal Pironio, to head the Holy SeeÂ’s Internet Office. To all of them we offer our deepest gratitude, and wish them our LordÂ’s blessings.

I will now leave you to get up-to-date with the details of what our Council has been doing during the first six months of the year, and send you all my very best wishes.




The 21st Plenary Assembly


The 21st Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity will convene in Rome on 24-28 November at the “Villa Aurelia”. Following on from the past three Plenaries, that dealt with Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist – a kind of triptych to help the Lay faithful to rediscover the deepest sense of the sacraments of Christian initiation – this year's Assembly will address the theme “Rediscovering the true face of the parish” (cf Christifideles Laici no. 26). It will be the first step in a reflection on the theological and pastoral renewal of the parish. This is an issue to which the Pontifical Council for the Laity will be devoting particular attention over the coming years. The two days of study and debate will revolve around five working papers, prepared by scholars and experts on the subject. The first paper will deal with “The parish in a changing world: the great socio-cultural and religious challenges”. The second will be on “The mystery of the Church present and working within the parish”, while the third will provide “A historical- juridical and pastoral approach” to the parish as an institution. The fourth will be on “Building up the parish community together: councils, ministries, offices, services and other forms of Lay cooperation and co-responsibility”, while the fifth will focus on “The parish as a 'community of communities”.

The 21st Plenary Assembly, which will be attended by the Council's Members and Consultors, will also set aside several opportunities for reflection and dialogue. At the beginning of the meeting there will be ample time for all the participants to exchange their views on “The crucial issues facing the Laity today”. On the last day, the meeting will consider the Council's future programmes, but will also set aside time to discuss the substance and input for reflection on the theme chosen for the 11th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: “The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church” in the light of the Holy Father’s Encyclical Letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, and within the framework of the Year of the Eucharist recently instituted by the Holy Father.




Women and men: diversity and mutual complementarity


On 30 and 31 January 2004, a Seminar was held in Rome at the Pontifical Council for the Laity on the theme “Men and women: diversity and mutual complementarity” (Christifideles Laici, no.50), attended by fifty people from different backgrounds: men and women representing Lay associations and ecclesial movements, bishops, priests and experts in disciplines related to the subject matter. The Seminar set out to examine the anthropological, theological, philosophical and social-cultural significance of the male and female identity, and to deal with the issue of the vocation, mission and role of men and women in the life of society and the Church. The seminar was opened by Mgr Stanisław Ryłko, who spoke of the far-reaching changes brought about by contemporary culture, which had helped to consolidate the tendency to radically redefine the identity of men and women. Referring to the Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity declared that any discussion of the dignity of both genders necessarily had to be grounded on solid anthropological and theological foundations, because the very essence of the human being, qua man and qua woman, could only be properly understood by starting from the roots – the structure of the human person, “who never exists as a neutral being but as a sexual being”. The first day's work was devoted to analysing the sociocultural changes that have been brought about by the modernisation of Western societies, and the consequences and repercussions this has had on the awareness of the male and female identity. In this regard, one very interesting paper was given by Professor Lucetta Scaraffia on the agents of change which, throughout the 20th century, had revolutionised women's lives and had led to the fulfilment of that process of women's emancipation that had undermined the values of traditional societies and led women to distance themselves from their natural role in order to occupy the role that offered them greater social and financial prestige: the male role. Vincent Aucante, speaking immediately after Professor Scaraffia, examined the question of fatherhood from the phenomenological point of view. He said that, in this role reconstruction process, the status of men had undergone huge repercussions because it had had to be constantly redefined in terms of the role of women. Examining the stages in a child's growth (conception, gestation, birth and infancy), Aucante demonstrated that men can fully exercise their fatherhood only in relation to motherhood, which is one of the features of the female identity that women are increasingly tending to reject. After the paper by Karna Swanson, describing the various forms of feminism across the years, Manfred Lutz spoke of the effects that the changes in the past century have had on relations between men and women, of which the main one had been the breakdown of marriage, and hence of the family. But, said Lutz, “the turbulent upheavals of recent years have given rise everywhere to a great yearning for happy, stable relationships, so that young people can realise their hopes for family security in a faithful relationship”. This being so, the only way to make this greatly sought-for happiness possible was through the Catholic view of marriage, whose character of sacramental objectivity guaranteed a stability which outlives purely transient feelings, thanks also to the knowledge of being in the hands of God. Concluding this analysis, Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin and Marguerite Peeters examined the role of the strategies proposed by the United Nations, its Agencies, and the Non-Governmental Organisations. They pointed out that as a result of the United Nations Conferences in the 1990s, particularly the 1994 Cairo Conference and the 1995 Beijing Conference, there was clearly a process in progress to deconstruct the system of traditional values, in order to establish a new world ethos based on individualism. The strategies had caused people to distance themselves from Catholicism, and given widespread currency to the idea that everything could be constructed and deconstructed in terms of the “values” that happened to be fashionable at one particular time or other, making it very difficult to reach an objective judgement about the rights and duties of every person towards themselves and to others, respecting their differences. On the morning of 31 January, the meeting set out to examine the teachings of the Church to find elements that could be useful for answering the many questions raised about the equal dignity of men and women, and the way to develop a genuine attitude of reciprocity. On this, the second day, the keynote paper was by Mgr Carlo Caffarra, who proposed a meditation on the history of woman within the history of salvation, because, as he said, “it is from this history that the truth about woman emerges: the original truth, the disfigured, and the transfigured truth”. The original truth about woman can be found in the Genesis account of her creation, where we find the reason that led God to create her (cf. Gen 2.18), which was principally to break man's loneliness and make it possible for people to establish communion by giving themselves to each other. This short passage in Holy Scripture reveals that humans fulfil themselves in two ways, each having equal dignity, by virtue of sharing the same nature, while differing in their interior configuration: masculinity and femininity. Through original sin, this truth was disfigured. The first damage caused by sin was their loss of nakedness, the sign of possessing true freedom in the sense of being their capacity for self-giving. Man and woman thereby lost the capacity to make this mutual giving of self, even though the yearning to relate to one another remained in them. The original truth of woman, so disfigured, was redeemed in Christ who, “by his incarnation wished to have the unique relationship which every human person has with women: the relationship of the son with his mother”. Through the relationship between Christ and woman, the truth about woman was fully revealed. Mary was the key to interpreting this because, by consenting to the Incarnation of the Word, She made it possible for Life to become visible, manifesting the most profound Truth about woman: it is woman in whose femininity is the vocation to protect and save human life, and not to allow it to be degraded. Later on in the day, Attilio Danese and his wife Giulia Paola Di Nicola addressed the meeting, stressing the educational responsibility of the family, as the place in which the female and male identity was formed; Fr Denis Biju-Duval spoke about cultural life as a sphere for dialogue, and offered a number of elements for a pastoral ministry paying closer attention to the needs of men and women; Maria Eugenia de Pfennich reflected on the life of the Church as the place for participation and collaboration. Professor Guzmán Carriquiry made a particularly important contribution, dwelling on two aspects of the loss of male identity: male absenteeism in ecclesial life, and the crisis of the father figure. He said the changes that had taken place in the past century had increased apathy among men, who were increasingly abdicating their family duties and ecclesial responsibilities. This had led not only to the loss of the cooperation which used to exist between men and women, but also of that “completeness of the human being in the original bipolarism of being male and female”. One valuable way of recovering this bipolarity was once again through the experience of marriage, in which the union between man and woman for which God had made provision at the moment of Creation, was elevated by sacramental grace to epitomise the spousal relationship that existed between God and his Church. Winding up the Conference, Mgr Ryłko said that it was now more urgently necessary than ever before to recover that sense of wonder at the greatness of the human person as revealed to us by God, and to revive in men and women of our age the realisation of their own specificity. Today we needed Christians who lived their status in life consistently, and who communicated to the world the message of the Church about the vocation of man and woman; but to do this, Christ had to be at the heart of the existence of each and every one, because creatures could not express themselves fully without their Creator. The proceedings of the Seminar will be published in the “Laity Today” series by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.



Witnessing to Christ in the university world


The 8th International Youth Forum, organised by the Youth Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, was held at Rocca di Papa on 31 March-4 April 2004 (Palm Sunday) at the “Better World” Congress Centre. The main protagonists of the Forum were the 250 young men and women aged between 20 and 26 from a hundred different countries, nominated by their Bishops’ Conferences and by the main Catholic youth movements, associations and communities. The theme of the Forum raised an essential aspect of the life and the formation of the younger generation: “Young people and the university: witnessing to Christ in the university world”. For four days, with the help of guests and speakers from five continents, they set out to investigate the undergraduate world in order to understand the political and cultural context of universities throughout the world, to see how these seats of learning had also managed to create “educational communities” able to provide society with young men and women who are capable of discerning, with integrity, the most important values in their lives. The main purpose was to give the delegates tangible means with which to reflect and to develop, to be able subsequently to hand them on and provide formation in their own communities, associations and movements at home. But in addition to this, the Forum was an experience of faith for all the young delegates, in that it gave them the possibility to sense first-hand the universal dimension of the Church, to recognise Jesus in the faces of their brothers and sisters who, while different, are close to them through the faith. The working sessions, meetings and leisure periods alternated with moments of prayer and celebration, led by the young people from the Emanuel School of Mission. In this short account we shall try to offer a round- up of the daily events at the International Forum, and the main issues addressed there.

Wednesday 31 March: “Young People and the University Today”

The Forum was opened by an introductory address by Mgr Stanisław Ryłko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, who set out what was nothing short of a fully fledged policy statement, stressing the value of the formative dimension of the Forum, and offering a very specific perspective to the issues to be addressed. He linked the two aspects of the reflection proposed by the meeting – faith and knowledge. “It is so important today to recover the notion of the reasonableness of faith! There is so much need in todayÂ’s world for faith to be bold, and so much need for bold reasoning that is receptive to mystery!” He then forcefully emphasised what might be considered to be the main purpose of the Forum: “Christ needs bold witnesses in universities all over the world. We must take on board the words of St Paul: ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!Â’ (1 Cor 9.16)”. Mgr Josef Clemens, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, then read out a message from John Paul II. After emphasising the need to rediscover the link that still exists between the Church and the University, the pope urged young people to approach their period of university life as a crucial phase in the search for truth: “Jesus is the truth of the universe and of history, the meaning and the destiny of human existence, the foundation of all reality! It is your responsibility, you who have welcomed this Truth as the vocation and certitude of your lives, to demonstrate its reasonableness in the University environment and in your work there”. The period of undergraduate study should therefore be an opportunity for young people to deepen their relationship with Jesus, with the help of prayer, “seeking out sound University professors and lecturers”, but above all playing an active part in the life of the Church associations, movements and communities within the university environment, such as the university parishes and chaplaincies. Because, as the Pope reminded them, “You must build the Church within your Universities, as a visible community which believes, prays, gives account for our hope, and lovingly welcomes every trace of good, truth and beauty in University life”. The dayÂ’s work then continued with a paper by René Rémond, an internationally famous political scientist, who began at once by emphasising the essential need for the university to respect the purposes for which they were originally established: to train people for professions, to hand on knowledge, but also to prepare young people for adult life and to help form their personality: “It is at university that the personality is formed. This means defending the intellect. Christians must be in the front line in defending the exercise of reasonÂ… We must also use our intellect in relation to the faith, against ideologies and against irrationalism. I believe that it is incumbent on us to defend culture and respect the intellect”. Along similar lines to René Rémond, Mary Ann Glendon, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, and also a member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, pointed out that poor religious formation is one of the main dangers threatening our society. It was precisely for this reason that she invited young people to become better acquainted with the vast intellectual tradition of the Church, and the wealth to be found in the ChurchÂ’s social teaching to respond to the challenges of contemporary society. “No Catholic who has taken the trouble to look into this heritage of knowledge can remain silent when people claim that faith and reason or religion and science are incompatible”. This was followed by a first round of interventions by young people from different continents, and in the afternoon 16 working groups met, enabling the students to voice their expectations and offer their points of view regarding the university world. The day ended with a round table at which three university professors and three undergraduates discussed the topic: “What university do we need today?” Nikolaus Lobkowitz, President of the Catholic University of Eichstätt, spoke about a method of study which leads from knowledge to wisdom: Loreto Ballester, Professor of Chemistry at the Complutense University of Madrid, spoke of the educational dialogue between the master and the student today; Willy Bongo-Pasi Moke Sangol, a professor at the Department of Philosophy at Kinshasa University, showed that it was possible to create a community within the university world.

Thursday, 1 April: "Study and Life"

Opening the second day’s work in Rocca di Papa, Giorgio Vittadini, Professor of Statistics at the Bicocca University of Milan, spoke about “The undergraduate years: a time of holistic human growth”. Starting with Man, he analysed the period in which he had attended university to draw attention to the fact that the thirst for truth and the fact that life is freely given was “that explosion of joy, that human response which is typical of the Christian”. In his opinion, “politics, too, cannot avoid having Man as its main concern”. Several young people offered a number of important observations on “study and unity of life”. In particular, the delegate from Uzbekistan, Nigora Igamberdiyeva, said that her meeting with the Church and her progress as a catechumen had given a new meaning to her university studies; from the United States, Katie Pierce focused on the possibility of creating genuine human relations there; Jonathan Ravat from Mauritius spoke about his experience of social commitment; Michela Scavone, from Italy, stressed the importance of joining associations and movements during the university period, and Angelo Porras, a Peruvian medical student, raised the difficult issue of finding employment. In the afternoon all the delegates went to St Peter’s Square where they met the Holy Father together with young people from the Rome Diocese to celebrate the 19th World Youth Day. At that gathering, several delegates to the Forum from Argentina, Spain, Poland, the United States, the Philippines, France and Canada thanked the Holy Father for having visited their countries on past World Youth Days, creating a spiritual linkage between the Rome diocesan celebration of World Youth Day with the path that John Paul II and young people from all over the world have been walking along together for the past 20 years.

Friday 2 April: "The University and truth"

The first speaker was Professor Alejandro Llano Cifuentes, Professor of Philosophy and former Rector of Navarra University (Spain) on “The University, Truth and Freedom”. Regretting the way in which the university today was being “instrumentalised” by the State, the market, and ideologies which were only concerned about “giving students vocational training to help them clamber up the social ladder as quickly as possible”, Professor Llano recalled that “the strength of the university does not lie solely in its financial resources or its political backing. The source of its strength lies in the capacity of its members to think originally, freely and with creative energy…” This, according to Professor Llano, made it necessary for us to aim at overcoming the now-dominant relativist vacuum and “reinvent” the academic system. He was followed by Mgr Józef Zycinski, Bishop of Lublin. Addressing the question of “the university and truth” he emphasised that the search for the truth about the universe and the human person had been conducted for so long in cooperation between science and religion: “Science and theology are not mutually exclusive, but complete one another. We should therefore avoid creating any artificial conflicts between them. What we should be trying to do, conversely, is move beyond the limited perspective of each of these disciplines in order to reach the fullness of truth about realityÂ… God has given human beings the courage to use imagination, and the capacity for reflection, so that we can discover the whole truth about the work of creation on which the mark of GodÂ’s wisdom has been imprinted”. This opened the way for the discussions at the round table in the afternoon on “Faith, Ethics and Culture”, at which the following people took part: Marco Bersanelli, an astrophysicist and cosmologist, who discussed “The Mystery of the Universe”; Margarita Bosch, Professor at the Institute of Bioethics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, on “The Development of Biogenetics”; Marco Impagliazzo, Professor of Contemporary History at the Perugia University for Foreigners, who spoke on “Humanistic Thought”; Gregory Burke, the Rome correspondent of Fox News, from the United States, on “The Communications Revolution”; and Dominique Vermersch, Professor of Public Economics and Ethics at the École Supérieure Agronomique, Rennes, France, on “The New World Order”. From this round table it emerged that Catholics are being called by God to bear witness in every sphere in which they are committed, and that science can only take shape within appropriate moral and anthropological borders; knowledge alone, or mere data, cannot meet the quest for truth and a thorough understanding of the world, which is an essential need of the human being. For this reason, faith enlightens reason, which is the starting point for thought and for understanding events which can be verified using the scientific method. Consequently, a smattering of science distances us from God, while a sound understanding of science brings us closer to our Creator. In the evening, setting aside for a short time the great issues of the debate, the International Youth Forum spent one of its most important moments: the Vigil of Reconciliation. Nearly 20 priests and bishops made themselves available to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in more than ten different languages, to give everyone the possibility of receiving ChristÂ’s forgiveness. The participants were asked to write down one commitment that they intended to implement in their university life.

Saturday 3 April: "The University and Christian Witness"

SaturdayÂ’s topic, for the last day of the Forum, brought together all the results of the work carried out on the previous days, and focused on the objectives that the Pontifical Council for the Laity had set when it had organised it. Valuable input came from Mgr Andrés Arteaga Manieu, the Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago and Vice- Chancellor of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, who spoke about “The Christian presence in the University”. He emphasised the way in which identity, outreach and discernment were essential to the tasks of Christians in the universities. The university was a mission land, he said, the “new Areopagus”, where Christians were faced with many other proposals, and had to discuss them with a strong identity of their own, giving proof of their creativity. Mgr Arteaga emphasised the importance of associations and movements, but pointed out that they have to bear witness of communion and unity both among themselves and within the Church. The need for a clear and coherent Christian identity was also the crux of the remarks by the speakers at a round table on “Forms of witness and annunciation within the University”, attended by Mgr Lorenzo Leuzzi, Director of the Office of the Pastoral Care of Universities, of the Rome Vicariate and the Coordinator of the European Pastoral Ministry of Universities on “University Pastoral Care”; Fr Konstantin Spiegefeld, Director of the Office of the Pastoral Care of Universities, Vienna, Austria, on “Ecclesial Movements, Associations and Communities”; Tanios Chahwan, General Secretary of the Commission of Young Catholics from the Middle East, on “Ecumenical Dialogue”; Tity Antony, of the Jesus Youth Movement, India, on “Interfaith dialogue”; Alexey Youdine, Professor of the History of Religion, the History of the Catholic Church and Interfaith Dialogue, at the Russian State Humanitarian University of Moscow and member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, on “Dialogue with Non-Believers”; and lastly Egide Irambona, an undergraduate at the Faculty of Law of Bujumbura University, Burundi, on “The challenges due to states of conflict”. The last speakerÂ’s testimony was particularly moving, considering the dramatic nature of the events he recounted, but also because of the firmness with which Egide tried, through prayer and by setting up a community of Christians that cut across all ethnic divisions, to resolve the conflicts in his own life environment. In the afternoon the working groups submitted their reflections and proposals from the meeting and their daily dialogue. Their idea included the need to seek to strike a better balance between study time and time for formation and Christian growth; the importance of bearing witness to the faith, forcefully, intelligently and joyfully, and considering truth as something to be experienced and not merely an idea. It fell to Mgr Stanisław Ryłko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, to close the meeting: “What has this Forum meant to those of us who have attended it? It has been an extraordinary spiritual adventure, an extraordinary experience of the Church; we have been able to sense what it really means to be the Catholic, universal Church! We are different in so many ways, but we are all one thing. This Forum will continue, and indeed must continue, because each one of us must take home the fundamental problems that have been addressed over the past few days: this is the challenge that we must take up. But now, each participant has acquired a new awareness: in the world there are many other young people who share our same ideals. We are not on our own, and there are many of us, and the Church accompanies us as a mother and teacher. In the world, as Christians, we are a minority. But this is not a threat to us: where the risk lies is that we may become insignificant and be sidelined due to our fault. The risk is that the salt may lose its savour, that the yeast will no longer ferment, that the light may flicker out. Not only in the university but also in life, Christ is counting on each one of his young disciples”. After the Forum, the young delegates celebrated the 19th World Youth Day in St PeterÂ’s Square together with John Paul II and young people from the Rome Diocese, as a great final celebration of happiness. The Youth Section is currently preparing the proceedings of the Forum and a photograph album on the main events.



On the Way to Cologne


Over the past few months preparations for the 20th World Youth Day have been ratcheted up. Following a series of meetings in Rome with the members of the German Office, Mgr Stanisław Ryłko, the President, Mgr Josef Clemens, the Secretary, and Fr Francis Kohn, the head of the Youth Section, visited Cologne on 9-12 May. This gave them an opportunity to hold very useful working meetings with Joachim Cardinal Meisner, the Archbishop of Cologne, and his Co-workers, and to visit the places in which the Holy Father is scheduled to meet the young people. One particularly important meeting was with the representatives of the German Bishops' Conference and the officials of the Union of German Catholic Youth) (Bund der Deutschen Katholischen Jugend - BDKJ), an umbrella organisation for various lay movements in Germany. Mgr Ryłko and Mgr Clemens also gave a press conference jointly with Mgr Heiner Koch, the Secretary General of the German Office for WYD 2005, which was attended by numerous journalists. The discussions and the joint reflection with the Cologne Office were very useful and made it possible to confirm the main policies adopted for the 20th WYD in both pastoral and logistical terms.

The Organisation and Programme for WYD 2005

After several days' meetings in the German dioceses (11-15 August) young people will soon be arriving in the Cologne diocese (which includes the cities of Cologne, Bonn and Düsseldorf) to begin the celebration of the 20th World Youth Day. The main thrusts of the programme have already been decided, and the aim is to set in motion a simple and unambiguous spiritual dynamic around the theme chosen by the Holy Father: “We have come to worship Him” (Mt 2.2). These verses from St Matthew's Gospel will be the thread running throughout the celebrations and the catechesis for WYD. The usual form of catechesis (on the morning of 17, 18 and 19 August) will change this year to enable all the young people to make a pilgrimage, in turn, to Cologne Cathedral, to venerate the relics of the Three Wise Men. During this pilgrimage, there will be a “travelling catechesis” which will include a short stop for prayer by the reliquary of the Three Kings, and conclude with an international Mass celebrated on the banks of the River Rhine. The Reconciliation Centre will also be set up there, where the young people can receive the sacrament of reconciliation administered all day long in different languages, and also pray before the Blessed Sacrament which will be permanently exposed, or before the World Youth Day Cross. The inaugural Mass will be celebrated in Cologne, in the Polla- Rheinwiesen Park, presided by Cardinal Meisner, on Tuesday 16 August, where the first meeting between the young people and the Holy Father will take place on the afternoon of Thursday 18 August. On the evening of Friday 19 August the Way of the Cross will be held in several parishes in the Cologne diocese, and at the same time there will be three major processions in the cities of Cologne, Bonn and Düsseldorf. The high point of the World Youth Day will be the Vigil and final Eucharistic Celebration at which the Holy Father will preside on the evening of Saturday 20 August and the morning of Sunday 21 August.

The Youth Festival

The Youth Festival will be held in various places in the Cologne diocese (in the churches, but also in the public parks and in the streets) on the afternoon and evening of 17, 18 and 19 August (excluding the welcoming ceremony and the Way of the Cross), and will include numerous events to share the artistic, religious and spiritual experiences of life and faith of young people from all over the world. Prayer meetings will therefore be organised, but there will also be exhibitions, vigils, concerts, recitals, films, dancing and theatrical performances, as well as meetings with diocesan bishops and opportunities for sharing, organised by Movements, Associations and Communities. These activities must be consistent with the spirit of the World Youth Day, in other words, open to all, and based on the pastoral theme of the WYD 2005, using simple materials, and with a clear religious inspiration.

Any groups wishing to promote any such events should send their proposals to the German Office of WYD 2005 ( or to the Pontifical Council for the Laity as soon as possible, and at all events by no later than 30 November 2004.


Registration will begin on 1 September 2004, and should preferably be made in groups. Registration forms are available from the Pontifical Council for the Laity , and must be returned, fully completed, as soon as possible to the Youth Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (or to the German Office in the case of German groups).

The Bishops' Conferences and International Movements, Associations and Communities can also gather the registrations from the various national groups in order to submit more homogenous data to the Pontifical Council for the Laity. After registration and after receiving a registration number, the German WYD 2005 Office will send out a second form to group leaders in order to gather the practical information needed to organise their stay in Cologne. The Internet site can also be used for registration, giving immediate access to the second phase of the registration operation.

Solidarity and "Pilgrim Packages"

Following what has now become an established tradition, a Solidarity Fund has been established to finance participation by young people from the poorer countries. Every participant will make a contribution of EUR 10 to this fund (or its equivalent in US dollars) upon registration.

As far as accommodation expenses in Cologne are concerned, the WYD 2005 Office is proposing a number of “packages”, which also include “simple” accommodation with a sleeping bag (with families or in parish halls, schools, gyms or tents), food, public transport in the Cologne diocese, insurance cover, and a “pilgrim’s bag”. To encourage as many people as possible to attend, the prices have been set in terms of the economic situation of their home countries. 5% reductions are also available for groups registering by 31 December 2004, and 3% for those registering by 31 March 2005.

Preparatory Meeting

In January, an international meeting will be held in Cologne to prepare the 20th WYD, to which representatives of the BishopsÂ’ Conferences and the leading international youth Movements, Associations and Communities will be invited. In due course more detailed information will be sent to them.

The Pilgrimage of the Cross

Thursday 22 April 2004 was the 20th anniversary of the delivery by Pope John Paul II of the Holy Year Cross to the youth of the world. To recall the event the Youth Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Fondazione Gioventù Chiesa Speranza organised a round table at the International Youth Centre of San Lorenzo together with a photographic exhibition and a film on the history of the Cross, which has now become the WYD Cross.

The anniversary was recalled by the Holy Father on 4 April, Palm Sunday, in the course of the Mass celebrated in St Peter's Square: “Nearly 20 years have passed since the Holy Year of the Redemption when I gave the great Jubilee Cross to youthÂ… Since then the Cross continues to be passed across numerous countries of the world in preparation for World Youth Day. The Cross has travelled across the continents, as a torch passed from hand to hand, and brought to various countries. It has become a luminous sign of faith inspiring young generations of the Third Millennium. Today it is in Berlin!” At the end of the Mass, during the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted Mgr Franz-Josef Bode, the head of the Youth Pastoral Ministry of the German Episcopal Conference, and addressed the youth of Germany in a live television broadcast: “I greet with great joy you young Germans who, with your leaders and chaplains, have gathered closely around the Cross which has journeyed through numerous European countries. The Cross will now set out again, travelling through your Country to reach Cologne, where the 20th World Youth Day will be celebrated in August 2005. I encourage the entire Church in Germany to prepare for this great event”. Since then the Pilgrimage of the Cross has continued throughout Germany, attracting large numbers of young people as it has passed by: between April and June it was welcomed in the dioceses of Berlin, Passau, Görlitz, Erfurt, Bamberg, Trier, Fulda, Hildesheim, and Ulm, where it was present at the 95th Katholikentag, the great Congress of German Catholics.



Juridical Recognition and Approval of Statutes

 The Pontifical Council for the Laity:

By decree dated 21 January, recognised the Confederazione Internazionale dei Centri Volontari della Sofferenza as an international lay association of pontifical right, and approved its statutes “ad experimentum”.

By decree dated 25 March, recognised the statutes of the Comunità Papa Giovanni XXXIII association.

By decree dated 25 March, recognised the statutes of the Pro Deo et Fratribus – Famiglia di Maria association.

By decree dated 24 May, recognised the Comunità Domenico Tardini as an international lay association of pontifical right, and approved its statutes.

By decree dated 30 May, recognised the World Organisation of the “Cursillo Movement” and approved its statutes “ad experimentum”.

The Council is currently in the process of examining 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, Communauté Fondacio, Comunità Cattolica d'Integrazione and Servizio Missionario Giovani (SER.MI.G).



The New “Church and Sport” Section


The recent Olympic Games in Athens and the millions of people who watched it from all over the world have once again drawn attention to the importance that sport occupies in the lives of all our societies. Moreover, the practice of different sports disciplines, which today are tending to move ever-further away from the original ideals of sport, is making it urgently necessary to draw attention in this field to certain fundamental values.
It was precisely to ensure that the concern of the Holy See is expressed in such an important nerve point in contemporary culture that the Holy Father recently instituted the new “Church and Sport” Section within the Pontifical Council for the Laity, with the following remit: 1) to be a benchmark in the Church for national and international sports organisations; 2) to sensitise the local churches to the importance of the pastoral ministry of sports environments, while reminding them of the need to encourage cooperation between Catholic sports associations; 3) to foster a sports culture, as a means of bringing about the holistic growth of the individual person at the service of peace and brotherhood between peoples; 4) to promote the study of specific issues relating to sport, particularly from the ethical point of view; 5) to organise and support initiatives to encourage Christian witness by sportsmen and sportswomen.
Fr Kevin Lixey, LC, a young North American priest, has been appointed to head this new Section. As we welcome him to take up his new responsibilities, the Council hopes that the institution of the “Church and Sport” Section will provide an opportunity for all who work in the world of sport – sports officials, fans and athletes – to give a new creative impetus to their commitment in what is now considered by all to be one of the frontiers of the New Evangelisation. For the healthy practice of sport – which is capable of reconciling the complex demands raised by the cultural and social changes currently taking place with the unchanging needs of the human being – can be a school of virtue that is capable of educating people in the values that lie at the very heart of living together in solidarity and peace.



Catholic Action International Congress and Pilgrimage

From 31 August to 2 September this year, a Congress will be held in Rome at the “Domus Pacis”, promoted by the International Catholic Action Foundation and Italian Catholic Action (ACI) in conjunction with the Pontifical Council for the Laity on “Catholic Action in the 3rd Millennium”. Against the background of a Church in which new lay groups have been created in the past few decades, we felt it important to dedicate a congress to Catholic Action which is working in terms of its own identity, and is seeking support to renew itself and to promote itself wherever it is already present. The purpose of the Congress is therefore to show the world the topical relevance of Catholic Action at the beginning of the 3rd Millennium in accordance with the teachings of Vatican II and the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, and in the light of the Magisterium of John Paul II who recently stated that “the Church needs Catholic Action, Duc in altum, Catholic Action! Have the courage of the future!” More than 250 people have been invited to the Congress, including numerous bishops, priests and members of the laity, mainly Catholic Action officials from different countries throughout the world, bearing witness to the work it is carrying out in communion and collaboration with the Pastors, as an important service to the ordinary pastoral ministry of the local Churches. The Congress programme includes among other things a paper by Mgr Stanisław Ryłko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, on “Catholic Action, a Gift of the Spirit to the Church of our Age”, and a presentation by Paola Bignardi, President of the Italian Catholic Action, of the policy manifesto, “A Catholic Action for the 3rd Millennium”. During the Congress there will be times for sharing experiences and reflecting on the presence of Catholic Action in different countries and continents; the issues of Christian formation and the path of holiness which the Association is promoting will also be addressed, and the means of extending the experience of Catholic Action to new countries, to present the renewed face of Catholic Action at the service of the Church's mission. After the deliberations in Rome, the Congress will continue with a pilgrimage to Loreto, which will be joined by thousands of members of Italian Catholic Action and other associations and movements.
The pilgrimage will reach its peak on Sunday 5 September with the Solemn Mass presided over by the Holy Father, in the course of which three members of the Association will be beatified: the doctor, subsequently ordained to the priesthood, Pedro Tarrés y Claret from Barcelona, and two young Italians,
Alberto Marvelli and Pina Suriano.




Contacts with Associations and Movements

• On 12 January Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry and Dr Lucienne Sallé received the World Coordinator and the new officials of the International Catholic Conference of Guiding (CICG-ICCG).

• On 12 January Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry and Fr Miguel Delgado Galindo met the head of Cooperatori Amigoniani.

• On 13 January Mgr Stanisław Ryłko received the visit of the new General Moderator of Communauté du Verbe du Vie.

• On 14 January Fr Miguel Delgado Galindo met the Ecclesiastical Assistant of the World Organisation of the Cursillo Movement.

• On 17 January Mgr Stanisław Ryłko met the head and a number of members of the Bethlehem Community (USA).

• On 17 January Mgr Stanisław Ryłko received the President and some of the officials of the Foederatio Internationalis Pueri Cantores.

• The President of the International Union of Catholic Jurists visited the Pontifical Council for the Laity on 22 January for discussions with Mgr Josef Clemens and Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry.

• On 23 January Mgr Josef Clemens received the Coordinator of the Jesus Youth International Team.

• On 26 January Mgr Stanisław Ryłko met the Federal President and the new Ecclesiastical Assistant of the International Union of European Guides and Scouts - Federation of European Scouts (IUEGS-FES).

• On 29 January Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry met the General Secretary of the International Catholic Rural Association.

• On 29 January Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry met the General Secretary of the International Secretariat of the International Movement of Catholic Students Pax Romana for consultations regarding their statutes.

• On 5 February Mgr Josef Clemens and Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry attended a celebration of Mass in St John Lateran celebrating the 36th anniversary of the foundation of the Sant'Egidio Community.

• On 5 February Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry received the Superior General and Procurator of the Union of St Catherine of Sienna.

• On 5 February Mgr Josef Clemens received the Ecclesiastical Assistant of the International Coordination of Young Catholic Workers.

• On 6 February Mgr Stanisław Ryłko and Mgr Josef Clemens and Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry met the General Ecclesiastical Assistant and President of Italian Catholic Action and the President of the International Forum of Catholic Action.

• On 16 February Mgr Stanisław Ryłko received the President and a number of officials of the Opera di Nazaret.

• On 17 February Mgr Josef Clemens and Fr Miguel Delgado Galindo received the founder of the Communauté du Divin Amour and some of their Co-workers.

• On 18 February Fr Miguel Delgado Galindo received the visit from the President of the Movimento della Speranza which practises the spirituality of the Religious Institute “The Daughters of St Anne”.

• On 20 February Mgr Stanisław Ryłko, Mgr Josef Clemens, Fr Miguel Delgado Galindo and Dr Lucienne Sallé received the officials of International Movement of Apostolate in the Independent Social Milieus.

• On 21 February Mgr Stanisław Ryłko met the Executive Committee of the Community of Christian Life.

• On 24 February Dr Lucienne Sallé received a number of officials of the Ecole de la Foi, Fribourg.

• On 2 March Mgr Stanisław Ryłko and Mgr Josef Clemens received the President and the Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Union of Catholic German Youth.

• On 6 March Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry met the national officials of Rinnovamento nello Spirito Santo (RNS), accompanied by a number of members of the Focolari Movement and the Community of SantÂ’Egidio. In the course of the meeting they explained the plan to convene a conference on the work of the Holy Spirit in the 20th century.

• On 9 March Mgr Josef Clemens celebrated Mass in the Church of San Lorenzo in Damaso in the course of the annual meeting of the Council of International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services.

• On 15 March Mgr Josef Clemens received the President and the Director of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services.

• On 17 March Mgr Josef Clemens received the officials of the Silenziosi Operai della Croce Movement.

• On 20 March Mgr Josef Clemens received the Secretary General of the International Military Apostolate (AMI).

• On 22 March Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry and Fr Francis Kohn met the international Moderator and the head of the Rome Community of the Shalom Community.

• On 22 March Mgr Stanisław Ryłko and Fr Francis Kohn met the Founder of the Oeuvre Points-Coeur.

• On 24 March Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry received the new Superior General of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.

• On 29 March Mgr Stanisław Ryłko met the International Director and the United States Director of the Families of Nazareth Movement.

• On 5 April Fr Miguel Delgado Galindo met the Founder of the Encounters of Married Couples Association.

• On 6 April Fr Miguel Delgado Galindo met the President of the International Movement of Apostolate in the Independent Social Milieus in the process of reframing their statutes.

• On 15 April Mgr Stanisław Ryłko and Mgr Josef Clemens met the General Moderator of the  Communauté de Béatitudes.

• On 18 April Mgr Stanisław Ryłko received the President and other members of the Catholic Health Association (USA).

• On 24 April Mgr Josef Clemens received the visit of the Director General of the Steering Committee of the Movement for a Better World.

• On 24 April Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry and Fr Miguel Delgado Galindo received the President and the Executive Secretary of the Institute for World Evangelisation – ICPE Mission.

• On 25 April Mgr Stanisław Ryłko celebrated Mass in the course of the spiritual exercises of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation in Rimini.

• On 8 May Mgr Stanisław Ryłko and Mgr Josef Clemens took part in the meeting “Together for Europe” in Stuttgart (Germany), promoted by the Focolare Movement, which was attended by representatives of other Christian movements.

• On 13-15 May Mgr Stanisław Ryłko attended events for the 50th anniversary of the Light and Life

Movement in Poland. In the course of his pilgrimage of thanksgiving at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa he presided at the Eucharist and gave a paper on Church movements.

• On 24 May Fr Francis Kohn met the President of Faith and Light.

• On 26 May Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry and Fr Miguel Delgado Galindo met the officials in Rome from the Heralds of the Gospel Movement.

• On 31 May Mgr Josef Clemens, Fr Francis Kohn and Dr Lucienne Sallé met the world team of International Young Catholic Students.

• On 8 June Fr Francis Kohn met the officials from the Jeunesse Lumière School of Evangelisation.

• On 18 June Mgr Josef Clemens received the visit from the General Moderator of the ADSIS Community.

• On 21 June Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry received the Director General of the Cruzadas de Santa Maria.

• On 22 June Fr Miguel Delgado Galindo received the President and the General Secretary of the International Catholic Migration Commission.

• On 23 June Mgr Stanisław Ryłko met the officials of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in France.

• On 24 June Mgr Josef Clemens received the officials of the Nazareth Movement (Slovakia).

• On 24 June Mgr Josef Clemens and Fr Kevin Lixey met the President and a number of officials of Catholic International Federation of Sport and Physical Education (FICEP).

• On 25 June Mgr Stanisław Ryłko celebrated the inaugural Mass of the World Assembly of the International Coordination of Young Catholic Workers in Viterbo (Italy) which was attended by Dr Lucienne Sallé representing the Pontifical Council for the Laity. In the course of the meeting Mgr Josef Clemens, Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry and Fr Francis Kohn visited the delegates.

• On 30 June On 30 June Fr Kevin Lixey met the President of the Italian Sports Centre.



Other Engagements


• On 23 January Mgr Stanisław Ryłko received the officials of the LAIKOS Programme at the Institute of Religious Sciences at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

• On 25 January Mgr Josef Clemens and Fr Francis Kohn received the General Secretary and the Secretary of the German WYD 2005 Committee in Cologne. Over the past few months meetings with the Committee members have increased.

• On 5 February Mgr Stanisław Ryłko, Mgr Josef Clemens and Fr Francis Kohn met the Bishop responsible for the Youth Pastoral Ministry Commission of the United States Bishops' Conference accompanied by a number of members of the Secretariat.

• On 13 February Mgr Josef Clemens attended the presentation of the book “A People Born from the Gospel” on the life of Chiara Lubich and the origins of the Focolare Movement.

• On 19 February Mgr Stanisław Ryłko and Mgr Josef Clemens received the President and officials of the Central Committee of German Catholics.

• On 12-14 March Mgr Stanisław Ryłko attended the international meeting on “Europe of the Spirit” at Gniezno (Poland).

• On 25 March Mgr Josef Clemens met Bro. Roger of the Taizé Community.

• On 25 March Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry received the Founder of Oasi Città Aperta.

• On 25 March Mgr Josef Clemens met a group of regional German parliamentarians from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

• On 26 March Mgr Josef Clemens and Fr Francis Kohn met the Youth Interns Group from the World Council of Churches.

• On 28 April Mgr Josef Clemens attended a seminar organised by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on “Ethics and Public Administration”.

• On 30 April-1 May Mgr Stanisław Ryłko gave two papers at the “Papa Luciani” Spirituality and Cultural Centre on “The Christian Commitment in Contemporary Society” and “Rediscovering the Gospel of Work”.

• On 12 May Mgr Josef Clemens attended the General Assembly of the German Catholic Media Association ahead of WYD 2005.

• On 21 May Mgr Josef Clemens attended the European Laity Conference in Vienna celebrating the Mitteleuropäischer Katholikentag, where he gave a paper on the role of the Lay Apostolate in the formation of the New Europe.

• On 26 May Fr Francis Kohn met the Bishop responsible for World Youth Day 2005 at the German Bishops' Conference.

• On 7 June Mgr Josef Clemens had a meeting at the Youth House in Düsseldorf with the Presidents and the Spiritual Assistant of the German Catholic Youth Union ahead of the WYD 2005 and subsequently met the official of the German BishopsÂ’ Conference Responsible for the Pastoral Ministry of Sport, and some of his Co-workers.

• On 7 June Mgr Josef Clemens attended the press conference in Cologne for the presentation of the exhibition “The Faces of Christ” organised by the Gioventù Chiesa Speranza Foundation that will be held at the forthcoming WYD 2005.