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La Curia Romana Pontifici Consigli


NEWS  17/2008




The President to the Readers


Dear friends,

In this issue of our Newsletter you will read about the 23rd Plenary Assem­bly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, a high point in the life of the dicastery to which I would like to draw your attention.

In our plenaries there is a coming together of experiences of faith, both personal and ecclesial, of members and consultors – cardinals, bishops, priests and, most of all, lay men and women – coming from countries in the five continents. Each time we meet, the diversity of the experiences recounted, the listening, the dialogue, the prayer together help us savour once again the Church in its universality, seen from the perspective of the vocation and mission of the lay faithful.

“Twenty years since Christifideles laici: history and development, new chal­lenges and tasks” was the theme of the Assembly. In this apostolic exhortation, the Servant of God John Paul II gave us an integral and brilliant synthesis of the teach­ing of Vatican II on the laity, enriched by the post­Council experience compiled during the Synod of Bishops in 1987. In Christifideles laici, the Pontifical Council for the Laity from the beginning found it to be a dependable compass and a won­derful source of inspiration for its work in the service of the lay faithful. Twenty years later, we felt it was time to take it in hand again both in order to read it in the light of the life of the Church and the world at the start of the new millennium, and to evaluate how it has been received by the lay faithful of the present generation.

The publication of Christifideles laici had strong resonance in the Church. Immediately defined as a true magna charta of the Catholic laity and a milestone on the path of the lay faithful in the Church, it showed that the “ hour of the laity ” that had burst onto the scene with the Council, had not stopped. The general secre­tary of that Synod, Monsignor Jan Schotte, said at the Vatican press conference: Christifideles laici is a true vademecum for the whole Church and especially for lay men and women called to go out to the LordÂ’s vineyards. It can be a faithful daily companion for all the laity (cf. “ LÂ’Osservatore Romano ”, 30­31 January 1989). Twenty years later this function continues and it remains an established point of reference for the faith development of the laity who are keenly aware of their voca­tion and mission.

Cardinal Eduardo F. Pironio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity at the time of the publication of Christifideles laici, pointed out that its true and great­est newness is in the placing of the subject of the laity within an authentic ecclesi­ology of communion; the lay faithful are not considered separately and in isolation, but within the global context of a Church that is essentially ‘communion in ChristÂ’ (cf. Lumen gentium, 1) and at the same time ‘universal sacrament of salvationÂ’ (Lumen gentium, 48) (cf. LÂ’Osservatore Romano, 30­31 January 1989). This is pre­cisely the key to the underlying interpretation of the theology of the laity in Vatican II. The apostolic exhortation calls us back to renewed wonderment at the mystery of the Church, for it is missionary communion. It is an organic communion charac­terised by diversity and complementarity in its vocations and conditions of life, ministries, charisms and responsibilities (cf. Christifideles laici, no. 20). Every member has a role to fill. All are necessary and cannot be isolated spiritually or remain passive. Here we have the vibrant call to responsibility and active participa­tion of the lay faithful in the life and mission of the Church. The words of Christ in the document: “ You too go into my vineyard ” (Mt 20: 4) resound like a refrain. The missionary vocation of the lay faithful is distinguished by the secular dimen­sion that is proper to it (secular nature). They live in the world at the “ frontiers of history ”: the family, the workplace, culture, economics, politics, science, technol­ogy and social communications. It is right there that the Lord calls them to be wit­nesses and builders of the Kingdom of God.

Central to Christifideles laici is the question of the identity of the lay faithful, synthesised in two words: vocation and mission. That of the lay faithful emanates from Baptism and is a true vocation. John Paul II wrote: “ It is no exaggeration to say that the entire existence of the lay faithful has as its purpose to lead a person to a knowledge of the radical newness of the Christian life that comes from Baptism, the sacrament of faith, so that this knowledge can help that person live the respon­sibilities which arise from that vocation received from God ” (Christifideles laici, no. 10). The Pope strongly emphasised the Christocentric character of the lay voca­tion. The laity and all the baptised are “ children of God ”, “ members of the Body of Christ ”, “ living temples of the Spirit ” and “ new creatures ”. They participate in ChristÂ’s priestly, prophetic and royal function. They are called to holiness, immersed in the world in which they live. The writer of the Letter to Diognetus described very clearly the identity of the lay person: “ the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. [Â…] Such is the ChristianÂ’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself ” (nn. 5­6; Funk, 397­401).

The major challenges of post­modernity facing the disciples of Christ show yet again how much need there is for genuine persuasive Christian witness. In these times when God is so often forgotten, and there is a “ tired Christianity ” (Benedict XVI) among so many of the baptised, there is an urgent need for a new generation of Christians. We need Christians to be animated with joy and enthusiasm for the faith, and with missionary zeal that enables them to go courageously against the tide of the secularising culture that dominates the scene today, always ready to respond to any one who calls them to account for the hope that is in them (cf. 1 Pt 3: 15). These Christians are truly the salt of the earth and the light of the world. They know how to convince the world that Christianity is an exciting life pro­gramme that leads to true freedom and corresponds fully to the desire for happiness that all men and women carry in their hearts. They are lay faithful who know how to build new Christian communities that are not closed in on themselves in a sterile attitude of self­sufficiency, but courageously go forth towards new frontiers of mis­sion. Now more than ever, faith education is absolutely a pastoral priority. It is pre­cisely this sphere that moulds the identity of the lay faithful rooted in Baptism. After twenty years, the caution given by Christifideles laici is still valid: “ A new state of affairs today both in the Church and in social, economic, political and cul­tural life, calls with a particular urgency for the action of the lay faithful. If lack of commitment is always unacceptable, the present time renders it even more so. It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle ” (no. 3).

With gratitude to God for all we have been given to experience during this past year, I wish all of you who follow our work with such interest, a new year where every day is spent in the faithful companionship of the Lord and illuminated by his Word.


Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko



Benedict XVI and WYD in Sydney


World Youth Day in Sydney was certainly an event that absorbed much of the attention of the Pontif­ical Council for the Laity for the last couple of years. The importance of the gathering, its success in terms of impact on youth culture, and moreover, the benefits of the trajectory leading up to these international events and the follow­up, were amply touched upon dur­ing the traditional meeting of the Holy Father with the cardinals, bishops and members of the Roman Curia for the exchange of Christ­mas greetings on 22 December 2008.

His Holiness Benedict XVI dedicated two long paragraphs of his discourse to an analy­sis of the event that we wish to publish in this issue of our newsletter. In remembering three specific events in 2008 that come immedi­ately to mind (WYD in Sydney, the visits to the United States and France, and the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God), the Holy Father spoke in particular about the event in Australia as “ a great celebration of faith that brought together more than two hundred thousand young people from every part of the world. It brought them closer, not only externally in the geographical sense, but through their shared joy in being Christian, it also brought them closer internally ”.

The Pope continued: “ On occasions like these, the Church takes on a public profile and, with the Church, so does the faith itself, and, if nothing else, also the question of God. This public manifestation of faith is a chal­lenge to anyone who wishes to understand the present time and the forces at work within it. The phenomenon of World Youth Day, in par­ticular, has increasingly become a subject of debate, in an attempt to understand this species, so to speak, of youth culture. Aus­tralia had never seen so many people coming from all continents, not even during the Olympics, as it did during World Youth Day. And although fears were expressed before­hand that this mass influx of young people might create some problems for public order – clogging traffic, disrupting daily life, sparking violence and drug abuse – all these fears proved unfounded. The event was a celebra­tion of joy, a joy that in the end spread even to the doubtful, and when all was said and done, no one was inconvenienced. Those days were festive for everyone. Indeed, it was only then that people came to realize what a celebration really is – an event where people, so to speak, step outside themselves, beyond themselves, and thus are truly with themselves and with others. What, then, really happens at a World Youth Day? What are the forces at play? Pop­ular analyses tend to view these days as a vari­ant of contemporary youth culture, a sort of rock festival in an ecclesial key, with the Pope as its main attraction. Such analyses presume that, with or without faith, these festivals would be basically the same; and thus the whole question of God can be set aside. Even some Catholics would seem to agree, seeing the whole event as a huge spectacle, magnifi­cent perhaps, but of no real significance for the question of faith and the presence of the Gospel in our time. They might be ecstatic celebrations, but in the end they would really change nothing, nor have any deeper effect on life.

This, however, leaves completely unex­plained the real nature of these Youth Days and the specific character of their joy, and their power to build communion. First of all, it has to be realized that World Youth Days do not consist only of the one week when they are brought to the attention of the world. They are preceded by a long process of preparation both practical and spiritual. The Cross, accompanied by the Icon of the Mother of the Lord, goes on pilgrimage to many countries. Faith, in its own way, needs to see and to touch.

The encounter with the World Youth Day Cross, which is touched and carried, becomes an interior encounter with the One who died for us on the Cross. The encounter with the Cross awakens within the young people the remembrance of the God who chose to become man and to suffer with us. We also see the woman he gave to us as our Mother. The solemn World Youth Days are nothing if not the culmination of a long process in which the young people turn to one another and then, together, turn to Christ. In Australia it was not by chance that the Way of the Cross, winding through the city, became the high point of those days. Once again, it summed up everything that had occurred in previous years, while pointing to the One who gathers us together: to that God who loves us all the way to the Cross. Thus, the Pope himself is not the star around which everything revolves. He is completely and solely a Vicar. He points beyond himself to the Other who is in our midst. In the end, the solemn liturgy is the centre of the whole event, because in it there takes place some­thing that we ourselves cannot bring about, yet something for which we are always awaiting. Christ is present. He comes into our midst. The heavens are rent and the earth filled with light. This is what makes life joy­ful and free, uniting people with one another in a joy that cannot be compared to the ecstasy of a rock festival. Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “ The important thing is not to be able to organize a party but to find people who can enjoy it ”. According to Scripture, joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5: 22). This fruit was abundantly visible during those days in Sydney. Just as a long journey precedes the celebration of World Youth Day, a continuing journey follows it. Friendships are formed which encourage a different way of life and which give it deep support. The purpose of these great Days is, not least, to inspire such friendships and so to create places of living faith in the world, places which are, at the same time, settings of hope and practical charity ” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia for the tra­ditional exchange of Christmas greetings, Monday 22 December 2008).



Sydney 2008, an event of extraordinary impact


Once again we have been able to experi­ence that World Youth Day is an eccle­sial event of extraordinary impact. Over two hundred thousand young people “ invaded the city of Sydney for the celebrations. This was an exceptional number considering the geo­graphical distance of Australia from most parts of the world. The pilgrims came from over one hundred and seventy nations and five conti­nents. They attended catechesis in over two hundred and thirty venues in the city in twenty­nine different languages. The number of bishop catechists was over two­hundred and seventy. A thousand priests were available for confes­sions during the week of celebrations. Around eight thousand volunteers worked with the Aus­tralian Committee for WYD 2008. Together with the Pope there were four thousand priests and deacons, four hundred and twenty bishops and twenty­six cardinals.

The impact of this and all WYDs is in the way they move not only the young pilgrims towards conversion, but also the dioceses that welcome them and the host countries. We are all amazed witnesses of these three conversions worked by the Holy Spirit, for they went well beyond expectations.


Many young pilgrims with great expectations

WYD always attracts young people from all over the planet. Sydney was no exception. Notwithstanding the high cost of the journey, a large number of young people set out and travelled to the event. They had saved for months and prepared for the trip in groups of fellow travellers. The distance and cost could have been prohibitive for many, but the dio­ceses and movements know how to mobilise people and managed to send large groups. The final registration figures amount to about one hundred thousand Australians and over one hundred thousand from the rest of the world. These numbers may not seem as high as usual, but it was an amazing turnout con­sidering the distance to be covered by pil­grims from most countries.

How was it such a success? There are sev­eral reasons. In an era of internet and globalisa­tion, young people are certainly more aware of international gatherings. Besides, Australia is considered to be an exotic country by many. A deeper reason for this success is explained by the fact that the younger generations are searching for fellowship. It was enough to see groups of youngsters stop on the street and exchange a few words even though they had never met before. They were eager to meet new people. Many of them had a longing for a spiri­tual experience. Venues reserved for prayer were always well frequented. Eucharistic ado­ration was particularly popular. Prayer sessions were animated by communities like Taizé, Saint JohnÂ’s, Emmanuel, the Missionaries of Charity and Youth 2000 and the venues were always full. Many observers emphasised the quality of listening, silence and recollection during the celebrations with the Pope, even when the surroundings may not have seemed to lead to quietness. Many were particularly touched by the Way of the Cross which was a live performance. Our young people are immersed in a world of images, and those scenes depicting the passion of Christ left a deep impression on them.

The catechesis sessions also demonstrated what young people are looking for. The talks given by bishops for three consecutive morn­ings were followed with much interest. The bishops themselves experienced great joy in teaching young people who desired to find answers concerning the faith. Some groups, when they returned to their countries, asked their bishop to continue giving catechesis. This shows that they are happy to learn more about the faith and to have the opportunity to meet their bishop, opportunities they claim come far too seldom.

It is quite touching to read what young people wrote on their return home from Syd­ney. They had experienced a real encounter with Jesus Christ within the Church gathered together. The Holy Spirit had shown them the love of the Saviour and had set them on the road. They now meet in groups to help them remain faithful to the grace received. Their aspirations to witness to their faith have encouraged them to take initiatives in their local areas. In this way the Church acquires a new face!

How can we not give thanks to the Holy Spirit for this great Pentecost? We know that the benefits will be great for the dioceses of these young pilgrims and the movements of which they are members. The Church is working for the younger generations who are our hope and reason to praise the One who makes all things new.


Dioceses being renewed

It is not only the youth who were renewed in their faith, but also the dioceses. So many dioceses were mobilised to send their young people. On this occasion it was the dioceses of Oceania who did not want to miss this opportunity as it was the first time WYD was hosted in that part of the world.

Renewal was also particularly felt in those dioceses that hosted young people for the days in the dioceses that preceded WYD in Sydney. Many parishes worked hard to find accommo­dation for pilgrims, to offer meals, to show them the area, and to have times of sharing and prayer. This all brings growth and benefit to the ecclesial community. Personal contact gives much hope to small parish communities. The youth themselves were very moved by the welcome they received by families and small parishes. They discovered the treasure of the faith and generosity of the Church in the world. This reciprocal experience of fellow­ship in Christ and the beauty of the Church touched many hearts, and this gives life to the Church community.

The place that was most transformed dur­ing this WYD was undoubtedly Sydney. Three yearsÂ’ hard work involved large num­bers of the faithful and priests, most of them volunteers. Some people were somewhat sceptical about their secularised country, where the Catholic Church is a minority, being willing to welcome WYD. However, they say they were “ converted ”. They saw the work of the Holy Spirit in the public proclamation of the faith by the Pope, bish­ops, priests and young people in the way they showed their joy in being Christians. A kind of freedom had come about that could be seen on peopleÂ’s faces. Places that have hosted WYD in the past must have had this experience. After WYD in Paris in 1997, it became normal to be able to organise public gatherings of Catholics in capital cities that were strongly secular. The PopeÂ’s visit to Paris in September of that same year when the civil authorities collaborated notably, is one example. We can hope that it will be similar in Sydney and all of Australia.

Many dioceses were touched by WYD, including those that joined the event from a distance. In Hungary, Poland, France, Spain and many other countries, they had a kind of “ WYD 2008 beyond Sydney ” in which they linked up with Australia via television and internet. This new possibility is due to devel­opments in the means of communication, and it helped to narrow the distance from the WYD venue. This gathering of young Catholics is even more universal thanks to this possibility. In a “ global village ”, all feel they can join in, even from home. It is a won­derful manifestation of the universal Church.


A secularised country on the move

It was lovely to see the Word of the Gospel being proclaimed publicly in a secularised country. All were impressed by the opening speech given by the prime minister. He clearly stated that he was happy that WYD was hosted in Australia to support the work of the Catholic Church which had given so much to his coun­try. This courageous speech was given by a non­Catholic in a country of western culture. The State was very involved in the logistic organisation of the event, more than ever before in the history of WYD. We could see how parts of the city centre were cut off to allow for the major ceremonies, places that had a wonderful view of the harbour. There were flags and banners all over town, and police and buses were at the service of the pilgrims. More­over, the spectacular Way of the Cross went through the most significant places in Sydney, passing public monuments and main streets, and left an indelible mark on the city. We add to this the testimony of joy the young people gave to the local people, some of whom had previously been worried about possible distur­bances and public places being vandalised by foreigners. Their worries proved unfounded. This proclamation of the Gospel in words and deeds was certainly good news for Sydney and its inhabitants. Like Saint Paul, we know that wherever the word of God is loudly proclaimed, sooner or later it will bear fruit.


A Word that conveys responsibility and delivers a mandate

The PopeÂ’s addresses were central to the event. He offered the Word of God to the pil­grims to reach their minds, touch their hearts and work on their conversion. From the time of his arrival, Benedict XVI taught the young peo­ple about salvation in Christ, something he often does. The Pope also spoke of our beauti­ful world that he had been observing from the plane, a world that is also a battlefield and place of suffering that Jesus came to heal. Young people are often surrounded by con­sumerism that can lead to despair, and they are hurt by divisions. The Pope reminded these youth that they are ‘new creaturesÂ’ through Baptism, and that the Holy Spirit, source of hope, dwells within them. At the vigil, after contemplating the gifts of the Spirit that pro­duce communion, the Pope urged the youth: “ let unifying love be your measure; abiding love your challenge; self­giving love your mis­sion! ”. During the concluding Mass the Holy Father confirmed twenty­four young people, and this was a reminder for all of us of the gifts received from God through this sacrament. During this ‘PentecostÂ’ with the young people, the Pope had some incisive questions for them: “ What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm founda­tions, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects him in the name of a falsely­conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the ‘powerÂ’ which the Holy Spirit is even now pre­pared to release within you? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make? ”

We know that these strong words that confirm and give responsibility, were heard. We believe that, in one way or another, they will bear fruit in the lives of these young people and of the whole Church.


International meeting of youth ministry delegates: from Sydney to Madrid

From 2 to 5 April 2009, delegates from differ­ent countries and international movements and associations will meet in Rome to evaluate the experience of WYD in Sydney and to initiate the preparations for Madrid. The handover of the Cross is a significant symbol of this chang­ing of the guard. The Cross of the redemption was given by John Paul II to young people, and so it became the WYD Cross. The youth of Australia will pass it on to the youth of Spain, and then it will go on pilgrimage around their country in preparation for WYD in Madrid.


The themes for the next three WYDs

The Holy Father Benedict XVI, following the recent custom, has indicated the themes for the next three World Youth Days, the last of which is the international WYD in Madrid in 2011. This provides a course with stages in a spiritual journey that will lead the young people to the world meeting in Madrid scheduled for 16 to 21 August 2011. The themes are the following:

• 24th World Youth Day (2009): We have set our hope on the Living God ” (1 Tim 4:10).

• 25th World Youth Day (2010): Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? (Mk 10:17).

• 26th World Youth Day (2011): Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith ” (cf. Col 2:7).



Goodbye to Msgr Kohn and welcome to Rev. Jacquinet


In September, after the return of the delegation from the Pontifical Council for the Laity from their memorable experi­ence in Sydney, Msgr Francis Kohn fin­ished his term as head of the Youth Sec­tion. From April 2001 he had been in the service of the Holy See in our dicastery. Msgr Kohn is a member of the Emmanuel Community and was ordained for the dio­cese of Paris. Before coming to Rome he was parish priest at Holy Trinity church in Paris from 1986 to 1995. He served on the organising committee for WYD in Paris (1996­1997), just one of the many activi­ties he has undertaken over the years. He has served in many areas in the Emmanuel Community, one of these being youth min­istry at international level, and direction of the school of evangelisation run by that Community in Paris.

As head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity Youth Section he worked with dedication and passion in preparing World Youth Days in Toronto (2002), Cologne (2005) and Sydney (2008).

He has recently been named postulator for the cause of canonisation of Pierre Goursat, founder of the Emmanuel Com­munity.

We remember his dedication to the service of the Holy See and young people, and the passionate engagement that char­acterised his work in the Youth Section. We convey our gratitude and prayers for his service in the vineyard of the Lord.

The new head of section is also French, Reverend Eric Jacquinet from the diocese of Lyon. Until now he was parish priest and episcopal delegate for sacramental and liturgical ministry, and worked with young people, married cou­ples and priests. He published various works on the Heart of Jesus, compassion, and recently, on accompanying the divorced and remarried.

We extend our cordial greeting of wel­come.



Twenty years since Christifideles laici


History and development, new challenges and tasks

The members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for the Laity met from 13 to 15 November 2008 for the 23rd Plenary Assembly. A notable feature of the gathering was the number of recently nominated mem­bers and consultors who made up one third of the total and who were attending for the first time. The topic for the first two days of our Assembly was “ Twenty years since Christifideles laici: History and development, new chal­lenges and tasks ”. It was chosen because of the anniversary of this essential document for the lay faithful, a document defined as their magna charta by the Holy Father during the audience. The discussions were based on four talks and two panel discussions. Special effort was made to allow enough time for debate. Cardinal Ryłko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, opened the assembly with a warm welcome for the new people present, and he outlined the main areas for subsequent discus­sion. Cardinal Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice, gave the first talk. He spoke of recent developments in the theology of the laity under­stood in the light of the ecclesiology of com­munion, and he pointed out the progress and weaknesses. Archbishop Reinhard Marx of Munich brought us up to date with efforts being made in the faith development of the laity with the resources and difficulties encountered. Pro­fessor Carriquiry, under­secretary of our dicastery, has extensive experience in this field, and he presented a clear picture of develop­ments in new movements that have emerged since the Council. During the last twenty years they have been moving towards a high level of “ ecclesial maturity ” of which Christifideles laici had spoken, and they have been opening up more and more to the universal mission of the Church. Bishop Dubost of Evry spoke of the co­responsibility of the lay faithful in build­ing the Christian community based on experi­ences in his diocese. The contributions all drew inspiration from the responsibility of the lay faithful in public life, touching on the crucial points that pertain to the secular character that is proper to the baptised of our times. Lola Velarde strongly condemned all contemporary politics that arc inspired by nihilistic ideologies and arc coordinated at a planetary level. They directly attack the family institution and put fundamental rights into question like the right to life and freedom of education. They do so in order to promote subjective pseudo-rights, harmful for individuals as well as for the com­munity. Thomas Han, one of the "doyens" among our members, presented the major eco­nomic and power interests that move those poli­tics. Their immediate effects are seen in the fur­ther impoverishment of people in the third world who are already living in miserable con­ditions. Carl Anderson spoke of the impor­tance of education founded on Christian humanist principles in order to give the new generations the capacity to deal with the current problems in our rapidly changing society. We could not fail to speak about the role of the lay faithful working in the mass media, and this topic was explored by Josep Miro i Ardèvol. An Italian member of parliament, Luca Volontè, dealt with the delicate problem of lay Catholics engaged in politics. Finally, Alessandro Zuccari spoke of the international order. He pointed out the serious economic and social conditions of so many poor countries, espe­cially in Africa and Asia, and he indicated pos­sible ways to achieve greater international jus­tice.

The lively debate enriched the talks and contributions with the participation of all our members and consultors. The publication of the proceedings would never be able to give a full picture of the atmosphere of interest and participation of our assembly. The morning of the third day was devoted to the audience with the Holy Father. The discourse of Benedict XVI placed in evidence the contemporary nature of Christifideles laici that "while taking up again the teachings of the Council, [it] orients the discernment, examination and orientation of lay efforts within the Church faced with the social changes of these years ”. The encouragement given by the Council and renewed by Christifideles laici has meant that “ lay partici­pation has grown thanks to pastoral, diocesan and parish councils revealing itself to be very positive insofar as it is animated by an authen­tic sensus Ecclesiae”. The clear acceptance of the contribution of the laity and the recognition of the unmistakable “ ecclesial criteria ” on the part of the Christifideles laici, have made way for a maturing of how a “ clear awareness of the ChurchÂ’s charismatic dimension has brought about an appreciation and esteemed the more simple charisms that Divine Providence bestows on individuals as well as those that bring great spiritual, educational and mis­sionary fecundity ”. In this respect, the Holy Father thanked “ the Pontifical Council for the Laity in a very special way, for the work completed during the last decades to welcome, accompany, discern, recognize and encourage these ‘ecclesial realitiesÂ’, favouring the knowledge of their Catholic identity, helping them to insert themselves more fully into the great tra­dition and the living fabric of the Church, and promoting their missionary development ”. The Pope then spoke about youth and recalled the World Youth Day held in Sydney: “ The new generations are not only the preferred audience of this transmission and sharing ” of the rich deposit of Catholic faith, “ but also those whose hearts await truth and happiness in order to be able to give Christian witness, as happens already in an admirable way. I myself have been witness to it in Sydney ”. After speaking about the youth, Benedict XVI dwelt briefly on the “ dignity and participation of women in the life of the Church and of soci­ety ”, a theme that is close to his heart. It is true that “ man and woman, equal in dignity, are called to enrich themselves mutually in com­munion and collaboration, not only in matri­mony and in the family, but also in society and all of its dimensions ”, and so women have a special task: that is “ to be knowledgeable of and courageous in facing their demanding work, for which, however, they do not lack the support of a distinct tendency towards holi­ness, of a special acuteness in the discernment of our timeÂ’s cultural currents, and of the par­ticular passion for human care that character­izes them ”. The Holy FatherÂ’s final point was “ the secular nature that is characteristic of the lay faithful ”. After emphasising that the world in its complexity is “ a theological place, an environment and a means in which and through which to realize their vocation and mission ”, in particular for “ witness of charity especially with the most poor, suffering and needy, just as it is to assume every Christian task aimed to construct conditions of ever greater justice and peace ”, the Pope made a direct request to our dicastery: “ therefore I ask the Pontifical Coun­cil for the Laity to follow with diligent pastoral care the formation, witness and collaboration of lay faithful in the most varied situations, in which the authentic nature of human life in society is at risk. In a particular way, I confirm the necessity and urgency of the evangelical formation and pastoral accompaniment of a new generation of Catholics working in poli­tics, that they be coherent with the professed faith, that they have moral firmness, the capac­ity of educated judgment, professional compe­tence and passion for service to the common good ”. The Pontifical Council for the Laity, which carries out its work in the service of the Holy Father, has decided to dedicate the next plenary assembly to the theme of the engage­ment of the lay faithful in public life, in partic­ular in politics. After the clarifying and pro­grammatic discourse of the Pope, the 23rd Ple­nary Assembly drew up its conclusions in the afternoon of the third day, a very short but nonetheless full session. The president explained the duties and responsibilities of the members and consultors, particularly for the benefit of those who were new. Bishop Clemens, secretary of the dicastery, opened a debate on the programme for the coming years that also served to reflect on the programmatic guidelines indicated by the Holy Father. A large number of members and consultors took part in the discussions and there was barely time to hear all who wanted to speak. The assembly concluded with dinner, thus sealing the three days of intensive work and sharing and communion in love for Christ and for the Church.



The prospective programmes of the dicastery


At the end of a year filled with events, the members and consultors at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity were presented with some of the initiatives that will occupy the dicastery in the near future.

The recent 23rd World Youth Day held in Sydney confirmed once again the power of these gatherings that were launched with such determination by the servant of God John Paul II and carried forward with equal conviction by Pope Benedict XVI. Now the senior staff of the dicastery and the Youth Section are already involved in the organisa­tion of the next international World Youth Day to be held in Madrid in 2011, and are in contact with the Spanish organisers. In this newsletter we have presented the themes for the 2009­2011 WYDs, and the next appoint­ment will be for the leaders of youth ministry from bishopsÂ’ conferences and international movements and associations.

The Youth Section is also organising the 10th International Youth Forum to be held in March 2010. The theme will be of interest to the younger generations: learning to love. It will deal with contemporary questions like the difficulty many youth in our time have with lasting commitments, the consequences of parentsÂ’ divorce for young people and remedies that can be offered, the responsibili­ties of educators, preparation for marriage and many other open problems. It will deal with topics in Christian anthropology, with particular reference to the teachings of the Holy Father Benedict XVI and the “ theology of the body ” of John Paul II.

The Church and Sport Section is now fully operative due to the many contacts established with major sporting associations. Together with the Italian Sporting Centre and the new John Paul II Foundation for Sport, it is organising the 6th Marathon for Peace that will go from Jerusalem to Rome, passing through Greece, Malta and the south of Italy, and will take place in May and June 2009. In autumn there will be the third Church and Sport seminar that will deal with the educa­tional importance of amateur and juvenile sport, a dimension that exists thanks to Catholic sporting associations. The aim of the seminar is to value the social, recreational and educational dimensions of sport so that it can educate in Christian virtues to be lived in life.

The ongoing activity of the dicastery is concerned with maintaining continuing rela­tions with movements and new communities, with particular attention given to those in the course of being recognised at an international level. The Section for Women continues with its network of collaborators at an international level that includes scholars and experts on the theme of the Christian vision of womenÂ’s con­ditions and the complementarity between men and women. Contacts with the worldÂ’s bish­ops remains constant and important. The topic discussed with them most often in our meet­ings is of course the need for a more effective presence of the lay faithful in public life.

It is for this reason that we hope to devote the next plenary assembly in 2010 to the engagement of the lay faithful in politics and culture. It is a topical theme and increasingly more important, especially since political debate has included crucial themes like the right to life, the protection of the family, free­dom of education and religious freedom. These are vast areas that may need to be taken in stages and from different aspects, and will need to include a reflection on the faith education of the lay faithful, their sense of belonging to the Church, and especially the theological and ecclesial significance of their secular nature.



Juridical recognition and approval of statutes


The Pontifical Council for the Laity:

by decree of 12 January 2008 approved modifications made to the statutes of the Adsis Communities;

by decree of 26 August 2008, gave de­finitive approval to the statutes of the In­ternational Union of European Guides and Scouts­European Scouting Federation;

by decree of 12 September 2008 ap­proved the new statutes of the Internation­al Federation for Catholic Associations of the Blind (FIDACA);

by decree of 12 October 2008 recognised the Canção Nova Community as an inter­national association of the faithful with ap­proval of the statutes ad experimentum;

by decree of 18 October 2008 approved the new statutes of the World Union of Catholic Teachers (WUCT);

by decree of 24 October 2008 recognised Hogares Nuevos­Obra de Cristo as an in­ternational association of the faithful with approval of the statutes ad experimentum;

by decree of 28 October 2008 gave de­finitive approval to the statutes of the Union of Catholic Apostolate;

by decree of 31 October 2008 approved the new statutes of International Independ­ent Christian Youth (JICI);

by decree of 25 December 2008 recog­nised the Fondacio Community as an inter­national association of the faithful with ap­proval of the statutes ad experimentum.


The Dicastery is presently studying the demands for canonical recognition submitted by the following groups: The Catholic Inte­grated Community, Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt, Comunità Cenacolo, Cellule Parrocchiali di Evangelizzazione, Pan­American Health Care Network, Fédération Internationale des Centres de Préparation au Mariage, Movimiento de la Palabra de Dios, Chemin Neuf Community, Comunità Gesù Risorto, Unione Cattolica Inter­nazionale di Servizio Sociale “ Madeleine Delbrêl ”, Misioneros de la Esperanza, Co­munità Nuovi Orizzonti, Hogar de la Madre.


Latest pubblications


Youth series

• Witnessing to Christ in the world of work: Proceedings of the 9th International Youth Forum, Rocca di Papa 28 March – 1 April 2007.




•                     Woman and man, the humanum in its entirety: On the 20th anniversary of the apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem, International Congress, Rome, 7­9 February 2008.

•                     “ I ask you to approach movements with a great deal of love ”, Seminar for Bishops, Rocca di Papa (Rome) 15­17 May 2008.



Ad limina visits


The Ad Limina visits recommenced in September and took place more frequently because they would be suspended in October during the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God. We re­ceived visits from several bishopsÂ’ conferences from Latin America: Nicaragua, Paraguay, Panama, Uruguay, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile. We also had visits from the bishops of Kaza­khstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Taiwan. In the meetings with the Latin­American bishops we were made aware that the Conference in Aparecida has left a distinct mark on the Church in America. The bishops had shown that they were very aware of the problems of their countries, and these were synthesised in the concluding document of Aparecida: “ The exodus of the faith­ful to the sects and other religious groups, the cultural currents opposed to Christ and the Church, the discouragement of priests at the magnitude of pastoral work, the scarcity of clergy in many regions, the changes in cultural paradigms, globalisation and secularisation, the serious problems of violence, poverty and injustice, the spread of a culture of death ” (no. 185). Unfor­tunately there is even in Christian circles a harmful cultural fashion to try to restart the pagan re­ligions. This was denounced in Aparecida by the Pope himself: “ The Utopia of going back to breathe life into the pre­Columbian religions, separating them from Christ and from the univer­sal Church, would not be a step forward: indeed, it would be a step back. [Â…] In effect, the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre­Columbian cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture ” (Benedict XVI, Address to the 5th CELAM Conference, no. 1, 13 May 2007).

The bishops did not appear to be discouraged by all these problems. On the contrary, they had many reasons for hope firmly founded on the many graces the Lord is granting to their Churches. They are working hard on faith development in line with the PopeÂ’s wishes: “ At the beginning of this new phase that the missionary Church of Latin America and the Caribbean is preparing to enter Â… an indispensable pre­condition is profound knowledge of the word of God. To achieve this, we must train people to read and meditate on the word of God: this must become their staple diet, so that, through their own experience, the faithful will see that the words of Jesus are spirit and life ” (ibid. no. 3). Instruction in the faith takes place in diocesan structures which are often base communities, and also to a large extent in ecclesial movements and new communities that are contributing to the renewal of the Church in that area: “ The new movements and communities are a gift of the Holy Spirit for the Church. Within them the faithful find the possibility of Christian instruction, and to grow and commit themselves in the apostolate until they become true missionary disciples ” (Aparecida Concluding Document, no. 311). The renewal of catechesis could be built on a solid base of “ the great mosaic of popular piety which is the precious treasure of the Catholic Church in Latin America, and must be protected, promoted and, when necessary, purified ” (Benedict XVI, Address to the 5th CELAM Conference, no. 1). The bishops also spoke of the commitment of the lay faithful in the political life of their countries which leaves a lot to be desired. It is striking, and was mentioned by the Pope (cf. ibid, no. 4), how few Catholics are active in public life in a continent where the baptised form the great ma­jority. For this reason the bishops are offering “ social catechesis and a sufficient formation in the social teaching of the Church ” (ibid. no. 3), in order to “ guide consciences and offer a life choice that goes beyond the political sphere. To form consciences, to be the advocate of justice and truth, to educate in individual and political virtues: that is the fundamental vo­cation of the Church in this area. And lay Catholics must be aware of their responsibilities in public life; they must be present in the formation of the necessary consensus and in oppo­sition to injustice ” (ibid. no. 4).



Contacts with association and movements


Over the course of the second semester of 2008, the president of the Pontifical Coun­cil for the Laity, Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko met with leaders and representatives of the following movements and associations:

Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships, Christian Life Movement, Promoting Group of the Movement for a Better World, International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, Foederatio Internation­alis Pueri Cantores, Work of Nazareth, Emmanuel Community, Fraternity of Com­munion and Liberation, Pope John XXIII Community. The Cardinal met with the new presidents of the Focolare Movement and Azione Cattolica Italiana: Dr Maria Voce and Prof. Francesco Miano.

• On 3 November Cardinal Ryłko was at the basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome to preside at the Thanksgiving Mass for the recognition of the Cançao Nova Commu­nity as an international association of the faithful.

• On 23 November he took part in the cel­ebrations in Würzburg, Germany, for the 40th anniversary of the SantÂ’Egidio Com­munity and presided at the Eucharistic cel­ebration in the cathedral.

• On 17 November he presided at a Eucharistic concelebration in the basilica of Saint Paul outside the walls for an inter­national group of the secular institute of the Sisters of Mary of Schönstatt.


Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary of the dicastery, met with leaders and delegates of the Pro Sanctitate Movement, Aid to the Church in Need, Emmanuel Community, International Catholic Conference of Scouting (ICCS), International Military Apostolate, “ Heart of Jesus ” Community, Kolping International, Bonifatiuswerk der deutschen Katholiken (Work of Saint Boni­face), and the Federation of German Catholic Youth.

Together with Dr Rocío Figueroa, Bishop Clemens met with the leaders of the Inter­national Union of the Guides and Scouts of Europe (UIGSE­FSE).

• On 30 October he was in Assisi to speak at the Second International Meeting of Bishops who accompany the new Commu­nities of the Catholic Charismatic Move­ment, organised by the International Coun­cil of the Catholic Fraternity of Charis­matic Covenant Communities and Fellow­ships. He spoke on “ Ecclesial movements and new communities according to Cardi­nal Joseph Ratzinger ”. Bishop Clemens also presided at the opening Mass of the 13th International Conference of the Catholic Fraternity.

• On 14 December he presided at Mass on the third Sunday of Advent in the church of Saint Onofrio in Rome for the Catholic Integrated Community present in this city.


The undersecretary of the dicastery, Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry, during the last six months of the year met with leaders and rep­resentatives of the Colombian association Espiritualidad de los Hijos y de las Hijas de Dios, the French association Mouvement Chrétien des Cadres et Dirigeants (MCC), the Brazilian community Palavra viva, and also the “ Living In ” Spirituality Movement, Work of Nazareth, Manquehue Apostolic Movement, and Marianist Lay Communities.


Msgr Miguel Delgado Galindo, bureau chief in the Pontifical Council for the Laity, met with leaders of Couples for Christ, the Colombian association Espiritualidad de los Hijos y de las Hijas de Dios, and the Ger­man association Bonifatiuswerk der deutschen Katholiken (Work of Saint Boni­face).


Rev. Eric Jacquinet, the new head of the Youth Section, met with leaders and repre­sentatives of the following movements and communities: Jesus Youth International, Forum of Catholic Action (IFCA), SantÂ’Egidio Community, Shalom Catholic Emmanuel Community. Rev. Jacquinet also Community, Christian Life Community, visited the Emmanuel School of Mission in Communauté St. Jean, International Rome several times.



Other engagements


The president of the dicastery, Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, during the second half of 2008 met with Bishop Leo. M. Drona of San Pablo (the Philippines); the members of the presidential committee of the Consilium Con­ferentiarum Episcoporum Europae (CCEE) with the president, Cardinal Péter Erdö, and the new secretary general Rev. Duarte da Cunha; the new Father General of the Company of Jesus, Fr Adolfo Nicolás. Cardinal Ryłko met with Mr Edio Costantini, president of the John Paul II Sport Foundation. Cardinal Ryłko also took part in the following meetings and congresses:

• He presided at the closing Mass of the “ Freude am Glauben ” congress in Fulda, Ger­many, from 12 to 14 September organised by the Deutscher Katholiken Forum.

• On 17 September he presided at a Eucharistic concelebration and delivered the homily during the convention for new bishops organised in Rome by the Congregation for Bishops.

• On 25 September he spoke at the 22nd Chapter General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Chris­tians on the topic “ The educational crisis of our times in the magisterium of Benedict XVI”.

• As part of the activities to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the election of John Paul II to the papacy, he gave an address on 11 October on “ John Paul II, educator of youth ” at Warsaw University.

• He presided at one of the sessions of the international congress on “ Christ, Church, Man: Vatican II in the pontificate of John Paul II” that took place in Rome from 28 to 30 Octo­ber organised by the Pontifical Faculty of The­ology of St. Bonaventure – the Seraphicum.

• On 5 November he took part in the inaugural ceremony for the academic year of the Pontifi­cal University of the Holy Cross.

• On 18 November he gave a talk on “ Youth ministry in the magisterium of Benedict XVI” to the priests of the archdiocese of Chieti­Vasto who were gathered together for their monthly spiritual retreat.


The secretary of the dicastery, Bishop Josef Clemens, met with the Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, Cardinal George Pell; the presiden­tial committee of the Brazilian BishopsÂ’ Con­ference; Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg, Ger­many; Archbishop emeritus of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter. Bishop Clemens also met with Frère Alois Löser, prior of Taizé, and with Fr David M. Kammler OP, General Promoter of the Lay Dominican Fraternities.

• On 2 and 3 of September he was in Freising, Germany, to take part in the 6th World Congress on the pastoral care of Gypsies, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. He coordinated a panel discussion by national directors on the theme of the evangelisation and human advancement of young Gypsies faced with the challenges of religious, cultural and ethical pluralism.

• On 7 and 8 September he was at the shrine of Mariazell in Austria to preside at the Eucharis­tic celebration on the occasion of the first anniversary of the apostolic visit of Pope Bene­dict XVI. On that occasion he met with repre­sentatives of some movements and associations that are members of the Council for the Laity in Austria.

• On 10 and 11 October he led the Holy See delegation to the 8th European Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth, held in Kiev, Ukraine, on the theme: “ The future of the Council of Europe youth policy: AGENDA 2020 ”.


• From 2 to 5 July the undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry, was in Monterrey, Mexico, to take part in the 3rd International Congress on the spirituality of the Cross. He gave a talk on “ The cry of humanity in search of salvation, solidarity and life ”. The Congress was organ­ised by the Family of the Cross, an organisation composed of various associations who live according to the spiritualty of the Cross. Dr Rocío Figueroa was also present, and she gave a talk on 4 July on “ Woman as creator of new culture in times of crisis ”.

• On 25 August Prof. Carriquiry received an honorary degree in law and politics from Fasta (Fraternidad de Agrupaciones Santo Tomás de Aquino) University in Mar del Plata, Argentina. As part of the ceremony he gave a lectio magis­tralis on the topic “ Sixty years after the Uni­versal Declaration on Human Rights. Underly­ing questions: between the natural law tradition and cultural relativism ”.

• On 27 September Prof. Carriquiry was in Madrid to give a talk at a commemorative cere­mony marking the centenary of the birth of Rev. Tomás Morales SJ, founder of the secular institute Las Cruzadas and Los Cruzados de Santa María and the youth movement Milicia de Santa María.


• Dr Rocío Figueroa took part in the regular meetings of the Working Group of the Forum of Catholic­inspired Non­governmental Organi­zations. The Working Group is formed by rep­resentatives of some major NGOs of Catholic inspiration and by representatives of the Secre­tary of State and the Pontifical Council for the Laity.


• On 5 July 2008 Rev. Kevin Lixey LC, head of the Church and Sport Section, was in War­saw, Poland, for the inauguration of the 20th Parafiada Games in which young people from Eastern European countries took part. He attended the symposium on sport which fol­lowed on “ Movement forms minds, hearts and bodies ”, organised by the Parafiada Committee at the headquarters of the Polish Olympic Com­mittee. The Parafiada Games are organised by the Parafiada Movement that emerged in Poland at the end of the nineteen­eighties in the tradition of the Order of the Pious Schools run by the Piarist Fathers.

• From 17 to 20 July Rev. Lixey attended the 60th FISEC (International Sports Federation for Catholic Schools) Games held in Malta from 15 to 21 July 2008. One thousand young people participated, ranging in age from 14 to 17 and coming from various European countries. At the same time there was a Youth Forum (two young people from each country) on the values transmitted through sport, and a meeting of FISEC delegates.


Rev. Eric Jacquinet, head of Youth Section, met with representatives of the Greek­Catholic Church in Ukraine; from Tivoli diocese; from the diocese of Montauban in France; from youth ministry leaders of the Salesians and the Legionaries of Christ. He also met with Bishop Dominique Lebrun of Saint­Etienne in France with a group of pil­grims from the diocese; and a group from the Seminary of St. Jean Eudes in Caen, France, who were in Rome on pilgrimage.

• On 2 and 3 November Rev. Jacquinet gave a talk on “ The Church and young people ” during a seminar on youth ministry held in Lourdes, France, on the invitation of Bishop Jacques Per­rier of Tarbes and Lourdes.

• On 30 and 31 December he was in Brussels to take part in the 31st European Youth Meeting organised by the Taizé Community.


Ambassadors to the Holy See received by Car­dinal Ryłko during the second half of the year were: H.E. Anne Leahy, Ambassador of Canada to the Holy See, and H.E. Kagefumi Ueno, Ambassador of Japan to the Holy See. On 31 October Cardinal Ryłko was in Bassano del Grappa (Vicenza) to take part in the cere­mony of conferral of the International Gold Medal Prize for Merit in Catholic Culture to Prof. Mary Ann Glendon, Ambassador of the United States of America to the Holy See.

Bishop Clemens met with H.E. Ben­Hur Oded, Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See; Ms Anne Therese Giles, Councillor of the Embassy of Australia to the Holy See; H.E. Francis Camp­bell, Ambassador of Great Britain to the Holy See. Bishop Clemens also met with Mr Harald Him­mer, Vice­President of the Senate of the Repub­lic of Austria with a delegation, and Dr Her­mann Kues, Parliamentary Secretary of State in the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. On 17 November he was conferred with the Großes Goldenes Ehrenzeichen mit Stern für Verdienste um die Republik Österreich by the Ambassador of Austria to the Holy See, H.E. Martin Bolldorf.