The President to the Readers
One of the problems that causes the most concern nowadays is undoubtedly the major crisis in education that has emerged from post-modern culture. It is a challenge that the Church cannot ignore, and the Holy Father Benedict XVI has spoken on this topic several times. When referring to this real Â educational emergency Â in his speech on 11 June 2007 at the opening of a Convention held by the Diocese of Rome, he made reference to the increasing difficulty in transmitting to the younger generations the values that give a basic structure to life, a difficulty that involves every organisation with educational aims. He explained that it is Â an inevitable emergency in a society, in a culture, which all too often makes relativism its creed Â. Here Â relativism has become a sort of dogma Â and Â the light of truth is missing; indeed, it is considered dangerous and ÂauthoritarianÂ to speak of truth, and the end result is doubt about the goodness of life Â. In this Â liquid society Â (Z. Baumann) Â a society without certainties that lacks the firm pivotal role of shared values Â, that denies the existence of truth and substitutes it with the limitless pluralism of opinions, education becomes an arduous task if not actually impossible. Â If the people could receive an education then they would be better Â is the title of an appeal that appeared in Â Atlantide Â (N. 4/12/2005) in which one of the statements made is this: Â Something is happening that has never happened before: there is a crisis in the ability of a generation of adults to educate their own children. In recent years they have heard from the new pulpits Â school and university, newspapers and television Â that freedom is the absence of ties and history, that you can become great without belonging to anything or anyone, and by simply following your own preferences and pleasures. It has become normal to think that everything is the same, that nothing has real value except money, power and social position Â. It is a humus that generates and multiplies personalities that are confused, fragile and inconsistent. This crisis is found wherever education takes place, even in the local Church in the parishes and Catholic associations, but it particularly affects the family, the place par excellence for the education of the younger generations. In a recent report from the research institute Eurispes with ÂTelefono AzzurroÂ on the conditions of childhood and adolescence, young Italians emerge as the Ânow generationÂ who want everything right away. Their perception of time emphasises immediacy and the present, as the future is hazy and uncertain. They are Âchildren in chargeÂ of parents who are afraid to be demanding, and nervous
about aggressive reactions from the small children. In an article entitled ÂS.O.S. education: permissive parents and children-in-chargeÂ, published in Avvenire on 16 November 2007, Paola Simonetti made reference to the Eurispes report and noted that parents who are absent from the home too much because of work or other reasons, have a sense of guilt that causes them to be excessively permissive with their children and this compromises any serious educational relationship. The emergency in education also seems to stem from a crisis among the educators themselves Â parents, teachers and university lecturers, and also priests and religious involved in pastoral work. They Â are easily tempted to abdicate their educational duties and may even no longer understand what their role, or rather, the mission entrusted to them, is Â as Benedict XVI said in the speech cited above. The widespread crisis in the role of educator as teacher, guide and persuasive witness of the important values in life, inevitably also has repercussions on the pastoral work of the Church, especially in youth ministry. It is necessary therefore that each person
who has been entrusted with the task of educating, should rediscover their high vocation to help the younger generations grow in humanity. What can be done to emerge from an emergency that is putting at risk the very foundations of social coexistence and the future of society? Of course, Christians cannot give in to the nihilistic tendencies of post-modern culture. In a context in which there is increasing demand for spaces that are truly capable of educating individuals, and where it is agreed that the heart of every educational process is always instruction in the correct use of freedom and to know how to make the right choices, Â the ChurchÂs commitment to providing education in the faith, in discipleship and in witnessing to the Lord Jesus is more than ever acquiring the value of a contribution to extracting the society in which we live from the educational crisis that afflicts it, clamping down on distrust and on that strange Âself hatredÂ that seems to have become a hallmark of our civilization Â. These words from the PopeÂs address call us to hope as the basis of every educational itinerary. Benedict XVI providentially dedicated his second encyclical Spe Salvi to hope. It throws new light on the task of the instruction of the baptised in a vibrant and coherent faith, and is fundamental for the Church and all its educational and pastoral activities. This was our perspective during the preparations for WYD held in Sydney, and in the Seminar on the theme: Â Sport: an educational and pastoral challenge Â, both of which you can read about in this issue. I would not like to conclude without sharing with our Readers the deep emotion with which I learned of the decision of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to call me to the College of Cardinals with the title of deacon of the church of the Sacred Heart of Christ the King. This is a new and important gesture of trust on the part of the Pope that commits me to serving the Successor of Peter and the cause of the lay faithful in the Church with even greater care, and I hope never to neglect this. I ask
you for your prayers for this intention.
Card. Stanisław Ryłko
Benedict XVI and the movements
The Pontifical Council for the Laity will hold a seminar for bishops on the theme Â I ask you to approach movements with a great deal of love Â. This theme has aroused a great deal of interest among prelates from around the world. It was originally planned for 22 to 24 November 2007, but will now take place from 15 to 17 May 2008. The programme remains the same, as does the venue, the Mondo Migliore Centre in Rocca di Papa.
The movements and new communities in the words of the Holy Father.
A brief review
In the previous issue of our News we presented a short collection of the teachings of Benedict XVI on the ecclesial movements and new communities. With this article we shall complete the presentation of what the Pope has said on this theme during the early years of his pontificate. As we said in the previous article, the Holy Father recognises in the movements one of the most evident fruits of the renewal brought about by the Second Vatican Council. In fact, their birth and development help us to correctly understand the Council itself: Â I think we have to rediscover the CouncilÂs great legacy. It is not a spirit reconstructed from texts but consists of the great Council texts themselves, reinterpreted today with the experiences we have had which have borne fruit in so many movements and so many new religious communities Â (24 July 2007, to the clergy of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso). In our secularised and individualistic world the movements reawaken in the faithful an awareness of belonging to the Church: Â The Eucharistic form of Christian life is clearly an ecclesial and communitarian form. Through the diocese and the parish, the fundamental structures of the Church in a particular territory, each individual believer can experience concretely what it means to be a member of ChristÂs Body. Associations, ecclesial movements and new communities Â with their lively charisms bestowed by the Holy Spirit for the needs of our time Â together with Institutes of Consecrated Life, have a particular responsibility for helping to make the faithful conscious that they belong to the Lord (cf. Rom 14:8). Secularization, with its inherent emphasis on individualism, has its most negative effects on individuals who are isolated and lack a sense of belonging. Christianity, from its very beginning, has meant fellowship, a network of relationships constantly strengthened by hearing GodÂs word and sharing in the Eucharist, and enlivened by the Holy Spirit Â (Sacramentum Caritatis, 76).
Movements and new communities have therefore shown that they can effectively stand up against the relativistic mentality and at the same time reignite and sustain Christian hope in the serious situations of poverty that afflict so many nations: ÂIn the rich Western world, where even though a relativistic culture is present, at the same time a widespread desire for spirituality is not missing, and your movements witness the joy of the faith and the beauty of being Christian in great ecumenical openness. In the vast depressed areas of the earth, they communicate the message of solidarity and
draw near to the poor and the weak with that human and divine love that I wished to repropose to the attention of all in the Encyclical Deus Caritas EstÂ (8 February 2007, to the bishop-friends of the Focolare movement and the SantÂEgidio Community). The vitality of the movements impels
them towards a strong missionary commitment: ÂThe ecclesial movements and new Communities are a providential instrument for a renewed missionary outreach; welcome and promote them in your dioceses, since the Holy Spirit uses them to awaken and deepen faith in hearts and to proclaim the joy of believing in Jesus Christ Â (26 May 2007, to the bishops of Mozambique).
Collaboration with these new movements has proved to be useful for evangelisation: ÂMy thoughts turn to the priests, the men and women religious and the laity who work so generously, often in the face of immense difficulties, in order to spread the truth of the Gospel. Many of them cooperate with or actively participate in the associations, movements and other new ecclesial realities that, in communion with the Pastors and in harmony with diocesan guidelines, bring their spiritual, educational and missionary richness to the heart of the Church, as a precious experience and a model of Christian life Â (11 May 2007, to the bishops of Brazil).
An increasing number of the faithful find in the movements an opportunity to receive adequate instruction in the faith, and in a special way to rediscover the sacraments of Christian initiation. ÂEach Christian community is called to be a place where people can be taught about the mysteries celebrated in faith. In this regard, the Synod Fathers called for greater involvement by communities of consecrated life, movements and groups which, by their specific charisms, can give new impetus to Christian formation. In our time, too, the Holy Spirit freely bestows his gifts to sustain the apostolic mission of the Church, which is charged with spreading the faith and bringing it to maturityÂ (Sacramentum Caritatis, 64).
For this reason the presence of the movements contributes significantly to the growth in maturity of the laity: ÂIn the ecclesial communities of Latin America there is a notable degree of maturity in faith among the many active lay men and women devoted to the Lord, and there are also many generous catechists, many young people, new ecclesial movements and recently established Institutes of consecrated life Â (13 May 2007, to the 5th CELAM General Conference). The engagement of the lay faithful in culture and politics is essential if the living conditions in their countries are to improve. Therefore, Â it is time to overcome the notable absenceÂin the political sphere, in the world of the media and in the universitiesÂof the voices and initiatives of Catholic leaders with strong personalities and generous dedication, who are coherent in their ethical and religious convictions.
The ecclesial movements have plenty of room here to remind the laity of their responsibility and their mission to bring the light of the Gospel into public life, into culture, economics and politics Â (13 May 2007, to the 5th CELAM General Conference).
Naturally, not everything can be solved by politics: Â The living Church, the Church of the little communities, the parish Church, the movements, must form as many centres in the outskirts and thus help to overcome the difficulties that the leading politics obviously cannot manage to resolve, and at the same time, we must also think that despite the great focuses of power, contemporary society itself is in need of solidarity, of a sense of lawfulness, of the initiative and creativity of all Â (1
September 2007, to the young people gathered in Loreto). Families find support in these new ecclesial movements: ÂToday, however, it is possible for husbands and wives to overcome their difficulties and remain faithful to their vocation with recourse to GodÂs support, with prayer and participating devotedly in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. The unity and strength of families
helps society to breathe the genuine human values and to be open to the Gospel. The apostolate of many of the movements called to work in this context in harmonious understanding with the dioceses and parishes contributes to this Â (13 May 2006, to the Pontifical Council for the Family). In our fragmented society, it is not sufficient to follow the very necessary preparation for the sacrament of matrimony because Â the great crises come later. Consequently, ongoing guidance, at least in the first 10 years, is of the utmost importance. In the parish, therefore, it is not only necessary to provide preparatory courses but also communion in the journey that follows, guidance and mutual help [...]. The presence of a network of families that help one another is important and different movements can make a considerable contributionÂ (24 July 2007, to the clergy of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso). It is precisely in this field, on the other hand, that Âthere is also a growing number of national and international lay movements which promote the renewal of married and family life as well as a greater community experience Â (8 September 2005, to the Mexican bishops).
On many occasions Benedict XVI pointed out the importance of movements and communities for young people: Â It is only in this way that young people Â with the support of their respective parishes, movements and communities, in which it is possible to experience the greatness and vitality of the Church Â will be able to experience work as a vocation and true mission Â (28 March 2007, to the participants at the 9th International Youth Forum). The Pope urges young people to be Â prepared to make an impact with an authentically Christian witness in the contexts of study and work, to be committed to the parish community, to groups, movements, associations and every social milieu Â (29 March 2007, to the youth of Rome).
The words of Benedict XVI clearly show the role that the new ecclesial groups can take in helping in the renewal of parishes: ÂAs we have seen, associations and movements, which are undoubtedly a source of enrichment, play an important role in the world of youth. The Church must make the most of these realities, and at the same time she must guide them with pastoral wisdom, so that with the variety of their different gifts they may contribute in the best possible way to building up the community without ever entering into competition Â each one building, so to speak, its own little church Â, but respecting one another and working together for the one Church Â for the one parish as the local Church Â to awaken in young people the joy of faith, love for the Church and passion for the Kingdom of God. I think that precisely this is another important aspect: this authentic communion on the one hand between the various movements whose forms of exclusivism should be
eliminated, and on the other, between the local Churches and the movements, so that the local Churches recognize this particularity, which seems strange to many, and welcome it in itself as a treasure, understanding that in the Church there are many ways and that all together they converge in a symphony of faith. The local Churches and movements are not in opposition to one another, but constitute the living structure of the Church Â (21 August 2005, to the German bishops). Pastors are therefore called to make the most of the possibilities offered by the new associations: Âit seems to me that precisely during the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II, a fruitful combination between the constant element of the parochial structure and, let us say, the ÂcharismaticÂ element, was created, which offers new initiatives, new inspirations, new life. Under the wise guidance of the Cardinal Vicar and the Auxiliary Bishops, all parish priests can together be truly responsible for the growth of the parish, taking in all of the factors that can come from the movements and the living reality of the Church in varied dimensions Â (13 May 2005, to the clergy of Rome).
The sports chaplain - educator and pastor
On the 7 and 8 of September 2007, the Â Church and Sport Â Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity hosted an international seminar on the theme: Â Sport: a pastoral and educational challengeÂ. The aim of the seminar was to reflect on the role of the priest as a sports chaplain since he can serve as an initial door of entry for pastoral ministry to the growing world of sport, a world that encompasses both the professional and amateur level and that finds its culmination at the major sporting events. Pope Benedict XVIÂs appeal for the world of sport Âto be illuminated by God through Christ Â (Letter on the occasion of the Winter Olympic Games in Turin, 29 November 2005), and his speech on ÂEducating in the faith Â given at the opening of the Diocese of Rome Convention (11 June 2007), provided a general background for our reflections on the role of the sports chaplain. In this light, the chaplain emerged as one who is actively engaged in bringing the presence of Christ to the world of sport as both guide and friend to athletes and a bold witness to the Gospel and to the dignity of the human person engaged in sport. An essential priority of pastoral work is that of bringing new generations closer to the faith, and this pertains especially to the youth who practise sports as this activity can and should be an educational and formative experience. Nonetheless, because today Âevery educational task seems more and more arduous and precarious due to the increasing difficulty encountered in transmitting the basic values of life and correct behaviour to the new generationsÂ (Benedict XVI, Inaugural speech at the Diocese of Rome Convention, 11 June 2007), and because sport itself at times loses its educational capacity, it was essential that this seminar reflect on these educational challenges and seek ways in which they could be overcome by those engaged in the pastoral ministry to sport. From this analysis, the sports chaplain was also seen as a potential guide for athletes who are immersed in the world of relativism and materialism, and where parents and educators often abdicate their personal responsibility in their instruction. Whereas the task of education passes through freedom, it also requires authority. Here the sports chaplain can provide an authoritative voice that is all the more convincing as he gains the respect of athletes through genuine service that entails spending time with
them and showing a sincere interest in their good. In fact, it was noted that whereas coaches, fellow players, and even parents can have a vested interest in only the sporting success of the player, the chaplain is there exclusively for their ultimate good regardless of the outcome of their performance.
Although the focus of the seminar was specifically on the role of the chaplain, these efforts to evaluate the ChurchÂs pastoral ministry to date revealed the immense opportunities that sporting activities offer to the laity and their creative and apostolic action. Coaches, parents, sport directors and volunteers can and must contribute to recovering the formative dimension of sport, and they can use the opportunities offered by sport for the Â socialisation of faithÂ. The seminar was an opportunity for chaplains of Olympic teams and those involved in the organisation of large sporting events to have an initial exchange of ideas and to discuss initiatives and ways of working together suited to their specific ministry. We are grateful for the generous collaboration and wide range of experiences that the participants and speakers from around the world brought to the table. The proceedings of the seminar are in the process of being edited and will be published in English and Italian.
On the way to Sydney
The Second International Preparatory Meeting for WYD 2008
The second preparatory meeting for WYD 2008 took place in Sydney from 15 to 17 October 2007. Around two hundred people representing the international and local Church came together for the meeting. The conference opened after lunch on Monday 15 with words of welcome by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, and an aboriginal dance by some local schoolchildren. Archbishop Ryłko addressed the assembly and spoke of the new generation of youth workers who have discovered in World Youth Day a providential gift for the evangelisation of todayÂs youth, and who dedicate themselves to this pastoral work with real passion and enthusiasm. On behalf of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Archbishop Ryłko thanked all youth ministers, and he gave special thanks to the Church in Sydney and Australia for the great service they are rendering to the universal Church. He then reminded those present of some pivotal points outlined by the Holy Father to help in pastoral engagement: the centrality of God in a personÂs life, the rationality of faith, freedom and beauty. Cardinal Pell spoke to the assembly about what it means to the Church in Australia to host World Youth Day, and how it should mark local youth ministry for the foreseeable future. The Catholic Church is well established in Australia and reaches out to many through its network of schools and hospitals. The challenges nowadays are general religious indifference, a tendency to trivialise Christ and Christianity, and confusion on moral issues. It is time to be active in offering the faith, and this is the task of young Christians. The embers of faith are still glowing; they just need to be fanned into flame. Bishop Anthony Fisher, Coordinator of WYD08, gave an account of the journey of the WYD Cross and Icon in Oceania, New Zealand and Australia and of the pastoral activities under way in preparation for WYD. Activ8 (Act 1 v. 8) is the pastoral programme of events, activities and materials developed by WYD08 to prepare young people for World Youth Day. It is available on the www.wyd2008.org website and can be downloaded and used all over the world. Prayer cards have been distributed to encourage young people to pray, and Eucharistic adoration is encouraged to pray for WYD and the future of the Church. The ePilgrimage electronic journal comes out every month in four languages, and the website receives an extraordinary number of hits every day. Bishop Clemens gave an introduction to the Holy FatherÂs Message for WYD 2008. He pointed out that both the place of this WYD and the theme made it a particularly missionary event. Bishop Clemens pinpointed several areas for study and discussion under three main headings: recognise the true identity of the Spirit; be clearly aware of the ongoing active presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church; put the Gospel into practice at the dawn of the third millennium. He concluded by suggesting some concrete ways of putting the Holy FatherÂs recommendations into practice. The second day was dedicated to logistic information from the various WYD08 departments and federal and state government representatives. Delegates were informed of the preparations under way regarding registrations, accommodation, transport, meals, youth festival, security, pilgrim information, etc. As the main events of WYD 2008 will take place within the city of Sydney, the morning of the third day was dedicated to site inspections for the events of WYD 2008, beginning with Mass at Mary McKillopÂs Memorial Chapel. A very short coach trip brought the delegates to visit Barangaroo, the waterfront where the opening Mass will take place and where the Holy Father will arrive in Sydney by boat. They also visited locations like the Opera House forecourt and the Domain where youth festival events and the stations of the cross will take place. The trip concluded with lunch at Randwick Racecourse, venue for the prayer vigil and closing Mass. In the afternoon, there were further briefings and a question-and-answer session. Most of the questions had already been written down, collected and sorted, and therefore the answers were prepared by the relevant heads of department. The main areas of concern to delegates were the desire for community singing during the main events rather than concerts, the choosing and equipping of animation groups for catechesis, the number of languages used in translations during the events, the location of priests during the closing Mass and the distribution of communion, difficulties in having to pay for registration by credit card, difficulties in finding flights to Australia around the time of WYD, visas, satellite broadcasting and other ways to reach the youth who cannot go to Sydney, etc. After evening prayer in St. MaryÂs Cathedral Crypt, there was a farewell dinner at the hotel. That was when the news arrived that Archbishop Ryłko was to be named cardinal in the November consistory. Cardinal Pell went to the stage to make the announcement to the delegates who greeted the news with sustained applause and genuine pleasure. Archbishop Ryłko addressed a few words to the delegates saying that it was very significant that he should learn that news while he was in Sydney with WYD organisers from all over the world. Sydney now has another reason for holding a special place in his heart. On the days following the International Preparatory Meeting, the PCL had further meetings with the Sydney WYD organisers. On Thursday morning this included a visit to Parliament House where the Lower House was in session. The Deputy Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House greeted the guests. Meetings then took place with the World Youth Day Coordination Committee (WYDCA). This committee was set up in 2006 to coordinate the planning and delivery of New South Wales services to support the WYD event. Several spokespersons presented the planning and progress in various areas: venues, transport, policing, health, etc. In the afternoon a representative from the Federal Government spoke of the areas involving the Commonwealth Government including visas and air transport. The meetings on Friday were in the WYD08 offices, and there was an exchange of information on the part of the PCL and the heads of the various departments. Msgr Kohn had talks with Fr Danny Meagher and his team about catechesis planning. From past experience, there will be ongoing collaboration and frequent communication between the PCL and the local WYD organisers on the question of catechesis as the time approaches. Before leaving Sydney, Archbishop Ryłko had the opportunity to visit Rosemary Goldie in Randwick where she has now retired. He conveyed the greetings of the PCL staff in Rome. Rosemary dedicated many years of her life working for the laity in the Church. She was Secretary of Copecial, and she was one of the lay auditors at the Second Vatican Council. As the countdown clock on the facade of Sydney Cathedral continues to turn, the task of the Sydney WYD team and of the PCL intensifies in ongoing communication and collaboration, in spite of the great physical distance that separates us.
The journey of the WYD Cross and Icon
The World Youth Day Cross and Icon of Our Lady have been travelling around Australia since 1 July when they arrived in Sydney after a memorable and grace-filled journey in Africa, Asia and Oceania. Thanks to modern technology, young people all over the world can follow the journey step by step. The full programme is on the WYD website; the JCI (Journey of the Cross and Icon) team post a daily blog with photographs; some parishes and towns make their video of the visit available on the internet; and hundreds of photographs are shared online. The team of young people who accompany the Cross and Icon on their pilgrimage are having a unique opportunity to experience the variety contained within their homeland, and to witness the simple faith of its people, a quality that does not often reach the headlines. The journey in Australia began with the arrival of the Cross and Icon in Sydney airport. They were greeted by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Premier of New South Wales, and hundreds of youth, clergy and laity. A group of young New Zealanders formally handed the Cross and Icon over to the Australians. They were taken to the shrine of Blessed Mary McKillop, and then in procession through the streets of Sydney and over Harbour Bridge to a park where thousands were gathered to celebrate their arrival. From then on, they were taken in procession down streets, into shopping centres, hospitals and retirement homes. Very often, people joined the procession as it passed and followed the Cross to its destination. There were vigils, stations of the cross, passion dramas, concerts and liturgies in churches and parks. The Cross and Icon left Sydney and continued on their journey through the towns and cities along the coast, sometimes making trips inland, sometimes visiting islands. They were taken on boats across lakes and bays, on trucks escorted by motorcycles or on armed personnel carriers with police escort, on horse-drawn buggies, ÂsurfedÂ from hand to hand over the heads of crowds of schoolchildren, and taken down mines. Sometimes churches were too small for the Cross to stand upright. When they reached Darwin, they were joined by a group of 50 youth who accompanied them on the Great Crossing Ghan Pilgrimage which took them by railway right down through the centre of Australia, passing AyerÂs Rock and several remote towns and communities. One town is so hot that the church and many houses are underground. Then they reached the southern part of Australia to visit the communities there.
25th anniversary of the San Lorenzo International Youth-Centre
The San Lorenzo International Youth Centre at the church of San Lorenzo in Piscibus, very close to Saint PeterÂs Square in Rome, completes 25 years of activity in March 2008. The Centre was opened at the desire of Pope John Paul II and managed by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. It is a place of welcome, prayer, instruction and encounter for young people on pilgrimage to Rome from all parts of the world. It is also the home base of the World Youth Day Cross. It was inaugurated by Pope John Paul II on 13 March 1983. In order to celebrate this key anniversary, the Pontifical Council for the Laity is organising a series of celebrations and events involving the young people who frequent the Centre, the animators who have given service during this time, the associations, communities and movements of young Catholics who have provided volunteers to welcome pilgrims and groups and to animate activities at the Centre. The Holy Father Benedict XVI will celebrate Holy Mass in the church of San Lorenzo. There is a three-day programme of events concluding on Sunday 16 March with participation in Palm Sunday Mass presided by the Holy Father in Saint PeterÂs Square. In addition to the Masses and prayer vigils, these events include an encounter for reflection and testimonies on the theme: Â The history and mission of San Lorenzo International Centre Â. The present and past animators will take part, and those who were there at the birth of the Centre. There will be testimonials from young people who have taken turns in giving service to the Centre over the years.
Ad limina visits
In the early part of 2007 the Pontifical Council for the Laity received the regional bishopsÂ conferences of Italy. We reported on these meetings in the previous issue of Notiziario. From the month of May there were visits from prelates from other parts of the world. We met with bishops from Africa (Mozambique, Benin, Gabon and Kenya), Central America (Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic) and Europe (Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, Ukraine and Portugal), as well as bishops from the Arabicspeaking countries of North Africa (Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco). Notwithstanding their specific differences, all the bishopsÂ conferences wanted the discussions to concentrate on certain basic themes, thus showing the common concerns of the whole Church. First of all there was an awareness of the need to put instruction in the faith at the centre of pastoral work with the laity. It was emphasised that Christian instruction is effective only if it involves every dimension of the person, that is, when it not only contributes to intellectual or political growth, but also, and especially, to spiritual and moral growth, guiding the existential options of the faithful and reinforcing communion among them and a sense of belonging to the Church. It is precisely for this reason, in various geographical and cultural contexts, even when very far from each other, we are seeing a rediscovery of the itinerary of Christian initiation being also offered to adults. It is thanks to this that all dimensions of life are being taken into account, and so helping the faithful to distance themselves from attitudes and ways of thinking that are contrary to the ways of followers of Christ. Particularly in Europe, but now in every part of the world, each person must learn to stand up to the effects of secularisation, and to avoid being seduced by models that fascinate but delude. In Africa and in Central America there is need for mature faith free from compromises in order to avoid falling into behaviour and beliefs of a superstitious or tribal kind and to resist the aggressive advance of the sects. In the Muslim countries of North Africa, the tiny Christian minority need to have sufficient resources within themselves in order to resist the strong pressure coming from an increasingly assertive Islam. Another important topic shared by all the bishopsÂ conferences discussed in our meetings was about the Christian presence in public, political and cultural life. Beyond the difficulties the faithful encounter, at times very serious, where religious and political freedom is inexistent or limited, we must recognise that there is progress in the awareness of the laity about the importance of engagement in public life, both at personal level and, where possible, in association with others. This greater awareness is attributed to the progressive circulation of the social doctrine of the Church which demonstrates the universal validity of its principles in different situations and great adaptability in its application. On their part, the ecclesial movements and new communities, now widespread on each continent, are giving greater attention to the major political and cultural themes that characterise our times. We could also see that the youth around the world are looking forward to the next World Youth Day due to take place in Sydney from 15 to 20 July. Even if the numbers physically present at this 23rd WYD are less numerous than in the past, mainly due to the high costs involved in such distant travel, the Â spiritual Â participation in the event that we have been informed about is really impressive. Many bishopsÂ conferences and dioceses, in order to respond to the growing interest shown by their young people, are doing what they can to allow them to be present Â virtually Â at the events, and for some time now a large number of parishes and movements have been involved in preparations. Even poorer countries will be represented in Sydney by delegations of young people, thanks in part to the financial aid being extended for this purpose by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
Contacts with associations and movements
Â On 3 July Archbishop Stanisław Ryłko received the Founder of the Chemin neuf Community, Fr Laurent Fabre, SI.
Â On 12 July Bishop Josef Clemens was at Castel di Guido (Rome) with a group of members of the Regnum Christi Apostolic Movement who were there for a course of study.
Â Archbishop Ryłko presided at the Opening Mass of the Foederatio Internationalis Pueri Cantores (FIPC) Congress that took place in Cracow (Poland) from 10 to 15 July.
Â On 17 July Bishop Clemens received the leaders of the Silent Workers of the Cross Association (SODC).
Â On 23 July Msgr Francis Kohn met with George Dixon and Christine Brandmeir, President and General Secretary respectively of the International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth (MIJARC).
Â On 5 September Archbishop Ryłko received the Founder of the Couples for Christ Association, Frank Padilla.
Â On 14 September, Archbishop Ryłko received Nelson Giovanelli, cofounder of Fazenda da Esperança.
Â On 17 September at the Salesianum in Rome, Bishop Clemens presided at the thanksgiving Mass for the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the movement Hogares Nuevos-Obra de Cristo.
Â Archbishop Ryłko presided at the opening Mass of the 13th General Assembly of the Community Animation Service (Movement for a Better World) that took place in Rome from 7 to 26 October.
Â On 23 October Archbishop Ryłko received Hervé-Marie Catta of the Emmanuel Community.
Â On 31 October Archbishop Ryłko received the leaders of the International Catholic Union of the Press (UCIP); and the leaders of the Comunità Gesù Risorto.
Â On 5 November Archbishop Ryłko was in Rimini for the funeral of Fr Oreste Benzi, Founder of the Â Pope John XXIII Community Â Association.
Â On 7 November Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry met with Ezequiel H. Reggiani, regional leader in Latin America for the Comunidades Laicas Marianistas (CLM).
Â On 9 November Archbishop Ryłko and Bishop Clemens received Rev. Robert Tyrała, ecclesiastical assistant of the Foederatio Internationalis Pueri Cantores (FIPC).
Â On 10 November Archbishop Ryłko received Moysés Louro de Azevedo Filho, Founder of the Shalom Catholic Community.
Â On 20 November Bishop Clemens received George Dixon Fernandez, president of the International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth (MIJARC).
Â On 22 November Archbishop Ryłko received prof. Matteo Calisi and Archbishop Alberto Taveira Corrêa, respectively president and ecclesiastical assistant of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships.
Â On 23 November Bishop Clemens received Dr Baldur Hermans, Secretary General of the International Catholic Conference of Scouting (ICCS); he presided at solemn Mass in the Cathedral of Velletri for the feast of Saint Clement.
Â On 29 November Archbishop Ryłko received a group of members of the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCSPax Romana).
Â On 4 December Cardinal Ryłko received Karen Hurley, President of the World Union of Catholic WomenÂs Organisations (WUCWO).
Â On 4 and 5 December Bishop Clemens was in Cologne for the opening Mass of the jubilee year for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Internationales Kolpingwerk (IKW).
Â On 13 December Bishop Clemens received the council members of the association La Dieci from Bassano del Grappa (Vicenza).
Â On 17 December Cardinal Ryłko received Rev. Nicola Giordano, Founder of the ÂLiving InÂ Spirituality Movement.
Â On 18 December Cardinal Ryłko received Dr Roberto Fontolan, director of the International Centre of Communion and Liberation (CL) and Rev Stefano Alberto, one of the leaders of the Fraternity.
Â On 22 December Cardinal Ryłko received Salvatore Martinez, President of the association Rinnovamento nello Spirito Santo.
Â On 26 December Cardinal Ryłko was in Rimini to preside at the Mass for the Feast of the Recognition during which hundreds of young people were recognised as being ready to return to normal life after following a course of renewal in the therapeutic community of the Â Pope John XXIII Community Â Association.
Â On 4 July Archbishop Ryłko, Bishop Clemens, Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry and Msgr Francis Kohn met with Cardinal George Pell, Bishop Anthony Fisher and Danny Casey.
Â On 5 July Msgr Kohn met with Christa Langen Peduto, Rome correspondent for several German publications.
Â On 24 July Msgr Kohn met with Bishop Jean-Yves Riocreux of Pontoise (France).
Â Archbishop Ryłko took part in the 9th annual meeting of the young Catholics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in Central Asia which took place at the Marian Shrine of Oziornoje from 11 to 15 August.
Â From 12 to 16 August, Msgr Kohn took part in the International Youth Forum of the Emmanuel Community in Paray-le-Monial (France) where he gave a talk on the history of World Youth Day and the theme for the next one in 2008.
Â On 30 August Bishop Clemens received Hans-Henning Horstmann, Ambassador of Germany to the Holy See.
Â Archbishop Ryłko, Prof. Carriquiry and Msgr Kohn took part in the Agorà of young Italians in Loreto with Pope Benedict XVI on 1 and 2 September.
Â On 18 September Fr Kevin Lixey LC met with Carlo Mazza, director of the national office for pastoral work in the areas of leisure, tourism and sport of the Italian BishopsÂ Conference.
Â From 5 to 7 October Bishop Clemens took part in the 7th Congress on Â Joy in Faith Â organised in Fulda (Germany) by the Deutscher Katholiken Forum on the theme: Â The Church in our country Â.
Â On 22 October Archbishop Ryłko received Anne-Marie Plunkett, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See.
Â On 25 October Bishop Clemens received Archbishop Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, President of the Peruvian BishopsÂ Conference.
Â On 26 October Archbishop Ryłko received Cardinal Antonio M. Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid; Bishop Aleksander Kaszkiewicz of Grodno and President of the Belarus Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Â On 5 November Bishop Clemens and Prof. Carriquiry received the members of the presidential committee of the Latin American BishopsÂ Council (CELAM).
Â On 7 November Archbishop Ryłko received Antonio Zanardi Landi, Italian ambassador to the Holy See.
Â On 10 November Bishop Clemens received a group of leaders of the Â Sport and Youth Â Commission of the Bavarian Parliament.
Â On 13 and 14 November Archbishop Ryłko gave a lectio magistralis to open the academic year of the Catholic University of San Antonio in Murcia (Spain). He presided at the solemn opening Mass of the 2nd International Congress of Confraternities, and also gave a talk on ÂThe mission of the laity and the new evangelisation Â.
Â On 14 and 15 November Bishop Clemens was present at the presentation of the Annual Directory of the diocese of Gurk in Villach (Austria), and he gave a talk on ÂSport, games and spiritualityÂ, and he met with Hans Gerd Schütt, director of the ÂChurch and SportÂ Commission of the German BishopsÂ Conference.
Â On 20 November Bishop Clemens took part in a press conference arranged by CONI to present the second series of the ÂClericus Cup Â.
Â On 22 November Bishop Clemens received Bishop Carlos Aguiar, president of the Mexican BishopsÂ Conference.
Â On 23 November Msgr Kohn received Jean-François Lemercier and Didier Jeffredo, organisers of WYD 2008 for the French BishopsÂ Conference.
Â On 26 November Fr Lixey met with Dietmar Heeg, the new president of the pastoral commission of the Catholic International Federation of Sport and Physical Education (FICEP).
Â On 30 November Bishop Clemens gave a talk on World Youth Day at a prizegiving ceremony for the one hundred best young graduates of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany).
Â On 7 December Bishop Clemens received Edio Costantini, President of the Centro Sportivo Italiano (CSI).
Â On 11 December Cardinal Ryłko and Bishop Clemens received John Watkins, Vice-Premier of New SouthWales.
A new format for the Pontifical Council for the Laity web page
In an effort to illustrate the activities of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in a clearer and more orderly way, and in order to facilitate consultation of the materials, it was decided to rearrange the web page given to our Dicastery on the internet website of the Holy See. As yet the new format only applies to the page in Italian. From the home page (www.vatican.va) you choose the Italian language, and continue to Roman Curia, Pontifical Councils, and finally Â Laity Â. Within the web space given to our Dicastery you can visit the pages concerned with the aims and goals, offices and sections, activities under preparation, complete lists of the publications of the Dicastery, etc.
These pages will be available in English, French and Spanish in due course.