It was gratitude and thanksgiving to God for the gift of the 23rd WYD that took place in Sydney. It was a memorable event, a new Pentecost, a wonderful epiphany of the youthful Church overflowing with the joy of faith. In Sydney, young people once again surprised us by the quantity and quality of their participation. Yet again it was a cause of amazement for us to see the beautiful testimony they gave of their faith. WYD 2008 was a precious gift, not only for the Church in Australia and Oceania, but also for the universal Church. This can be seen in the many messages that still arrive, one year later, from all over the world.
Our gratitude also went to the Holy Father Benedict XVI for his presence and words addressed to the young people who were in Sydney. The Sydney WYD touched his heart deeply, and in his address to the Roman Curia on the occasion of the exchange of greetings for Christmas 2008, he presented it as a key to his reading of the entire year. He said that to understand the secret of the success of this event a great celebration of faith, their shared joy in being Christian , we must take into account a long process of preparation both practical and spiritual. [ ] 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.
It is gratitude directed to the Church in Sydney and all of the Church living in Australia for the exquisite welcome extended to the youth of the world who came to that country to gather round the Successor of Peter.
The meeting started off the spiritual path that will lead the youth of the world to Madrid in 2011, signalling another important stage in the history of WYD. This was the handover of the WYD Cross and Icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani from the Australian youth to the Spanish youth on Palm Sunday. Once again this was a moving and eloquent sign that the journey of faith of young people across the continents does not stand still, but it continues and moves forward. The next destination given by the Pope to the young people will be guided by the theme: Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith (Col 2: 7). Hosting WYD is a huge task because of the expectations of the whole Church: the Pastors and especially the young people. We say to our Spanish friends: Take courage! Do not be afraid! We are with you! You can count on our help! We know that WYD plays a large part in a cause dear to the Church: the evangelisation of the younger generations certainly a priority of the mission of the Church throughout the ages.
At the meeting there were delegates from about seventy countries in five continents and representatives of thirty four ecclesial movements and youth associations. This participation is significant because it links World Youth Day to regular youth pastoral ministry in local Churches around the world.
WYD has become a real catalyser in the pastoral engagement of the Church with the young generations. It has a role of guidance, inspiration and encouragement which is invaluable. Over the years it has been seen to be a wonderful observatory of the world of youth on the planetary scale that allows us to see emerging trends among the youth that do not usually find space in the mass media. It is thanks to World Youth Day that a new generation of youth has emerged that are capable of going against the tide with respect to the dominant culture. It is young people who are searching for the true meaning of life, young people who say yes to Christ and his Church. Statistically they are a minority. However, they are a creative minority (Arnold Toynbee), one of those minorities that are decisive for the future of humanity.
The Servant of God John Paul II, whose inspired idea it was to initiate the series of World Youth Days (Benedict XVI), defined it as a laboratory of faith for young people. Over the years, WYDs have also become laboratories of youth pastoral ministry. We owe them, not only a new generation of young people, but also the birth of a new generation of youth ministers. They are people who know how to respond to the real problems of the youth of our times and to the nostalgia that lies in their hearts, because they know how to accept the provocation of WYD that Benedict XVI spoke of in Cologne in 2005. He said to the German bishops: that the young people with their questions, faith and joy in faith will continue to provoke us to get the better of our faint-heartedness and weariness and urge us, in turn, with the experience of the faith that is given to us, with the experience of pastoral ministry [ ] to point out the way to them, so that their enthusiasm may be properly directed. The word provoke well describes the nature of the pastoral challenge that WYD presents to the Church. It reminds us that the pastoral ministry of the younger generations is not an appendix to the ordinary pastoral ministry of the Church, but it is at the centre, the core. It is a very demanding task, because young people have very high expectations of adults. They want to find authentic and coherent witnesses rather than masters. Youth ministry should not entail routine and mediocrity. It requires ongoing conversion of heart and the ongoing search of new ways to proclaim Christ. It commands true pastoral passion for young people. In the present cultural context characterised by an educational emergency, to which Benedict XVI does not cease to draw our attention, it is an arduous task. This too is a challenge to which those who wish to lead young people to the Gospel must know how to respond.
Card. Stanisław Ryłko
The Holy Father Benedict XVI has spoken several times about the engagement of the lay faithful in public life as being one of the priorities on the ecclesial agenda today.
There were clear calls made for this at the inaugural session of the 5th Conference of the Latin-American Bishops in Aparecida in May 2007 where Benedict XVI declared that it is time to overcome the notable absence in the political sphere, in the world of the media and in the universities of the voices and initiatives of Catholic leaders with strong personalities and generous dedication, who are coherent in their ethical and religious convictions. He followed this up on his visit to Cagliari in Sardinia in September 2008. On that occasion the Holy Father asked the faithful to evangelise, in the different milieus, the world of politics which needs a new generation of committed lay Christians who can seek competently and with moral rigour sustainable solutions of development.
The Pope returned to this topic in his address to the participants at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity on 15 November 2008. He entrusted the dicastery with the task 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 wishes to actively respond to the Holy Father, and therefore we are devoting the next Plenary Assembly, scheduled to take place in Rome from 20 to 22 May 2010, to this very sensitive and special area of the mission of the lay faithful.
Preparations for this event have already begun with several meetings and consultations. One of the most significant was a meeting which we shall enlarge on further on that was held in the dicastery offices with leaders and representatives of movements and new communities.
The lay faithful in public life:
As ecclesial movements and new communities are called to be involved in various spheres of public life, we can say that their charismatic, educational and missionary skills and the experiences of political involvement that they have already promoted and animated can enable them to give a distinctive contribution to the reflection that the Pontifical Council for the Laity is undertaking on this subject. With this conviction, the senior staff of the dicastery invited leaders and representatives of various international ecclesial groups to a meeting, held on 16 May 2009, at which there were addresses and testimonies by speakers who are particularly involved in the world of politics.
The keynote speech, which opened up a broad discussion among the participants, was given by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. He was invited principally because of his service to the Italian government as rector of the chaplaincy of the Chamber of Deputies. Demands and challenges for the lay faithful today in political engagement was the theme on which he gave a very helpful contribution. Archbishop Fisichella said that at a time in which we notice a certain disaffection for public responsibility, we need to reassert the truth that engagement in politics is a really pastoral action for Christians. It belongs to the very fabric of faith that becomes responsible witness for the building up of society.
The first requirement, therefore, is to understand the times in which we are living. There are changes happening today that will determine ways of thinking and conceiving personal existence for future centuries. He warned that in this phase we can stand at the window to observe the changes, or we can enter into direct engagement in order to understand it, and try to guide it towards positive ends. Another decisive requirement is to place at the centre of cultural and political action the two concepts of dignity of the person and the common good. To think that the quality of life will improve only because some services have been opened is illusory and deceptive if at the same time the concept of life is left to individual will. It is therefore necessary that we take an unambiguous stand regarding some laws that have been approved or are under study by various parliaments, in which the ethical question should emerge as a basic element, in order to verify that the dignity of the person and the common good are being respected. This way of policy-making can triumph, Archbishop Fisichella assured us, and it is able to clear suspicions and the veil of indifference, particularly among the younger generations who are not inspired by a passion for political involvement.
At a time in which the so-called individual rights could and in fact do dictate laws, a real challenge that politics must take up is that of recovering the concept of natural law as the point of referral. This law allows us to declare that the laws to which we appeal are not inventions of human ingenuity from times long past, but are the perennial rediscovery by each generation of something that is given to them as pure gift. This was recognised by the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, something that the biblical world called Gods law where the concept was enriched by a specific originality with respect to that understood by the Greco-Roman world. Archbishop Fisichella explained that justice does not only consist in respecting the norm, even if it were the most perfect that could be formulated, and nor is it concluded by guaranteeing equality to all citizens. Justice that goes together with rights must be capable of bringing out the real needs of each person, so that they can find their place and carry out their roles in the community. In this way, the search for the dignity of the person in the biblical vision continues to be the true basis of rights, and justice does not fully correspond to its purpose until it has fulfilled this task. The challenge is therefore to honestly recognise that in different epochs and regions a fundamental idea emerges and spreads: that there is an ethical content that human beings recognise immediately, almost instinctively, as a norm to cling to in order to live according to what they really are, and that finds confirmation in the immense diversified space of nature.
In conclusion, Archbishop Fisichella emphasised that principles like autonomy and laicité of the State are expressions of the originality of Christianity and its precious heritage for democracies, a conquest that carries the indelible presence of Christianity. It is up to the conscience of each citizen, and even more to that of each parliamentarian, to make decisions with full awareness that these decisions determine their own lives as well as the lives of entire generations. Conscience, however, is never neutral. It obliges us to choose on the basis of principles that, although inscribed in the intimacy of each person, need to be explained, motivated and matured. It is for this reason the Archbishop concluded that we are all called to sustain the commitment of those who dedicate their lives to the service of politics. It is not rhetorical to think that those who have responsibility in politics are obliged to have authoritative references to turn to in order to judge their own actions. The Word of God together with the living magisterium of the Church are a lamp for Catholics that allows them to reach a deeper comprehension of their own vocation and their own political action.
For this meeting, in order to hear testimonies from people involved in politics who try to live this commitment in coherence with the faith they profess, we invited the then-vice president of the European Parliament Mario Mauro and the Italian deputy Savino Pezzotta. From their reflections and testimonies we noted the strong message from both for the need to combat ideologies that continue to loom over politics today, like moral relativism that can be overcome by means of a sincere search for truth, for the nature of things; and the need to be in the midst of the human community in order to grapple with the prevailing fear and indifference with regard to politics, a difficulty that is very much encountered in our times, one that causes much suffering and solitude in those who do decide to commit themselves.
The Hon. Pessotta put forward some questions that were then taken up in the discussion that followed the lecture and the testimonies: what unity can be created among those who believe in the pluralism of party proposals? What elements of unity can Catholics put forward? And finally, who forms the new political classes?
Various interesting issues arose during the discussion, the most frequent being the need for renewed education in collaboration between the various educational institutions (family, school, Christian community, etc.), attention to the needs of all people and the ability to understand these needs, appreciation for the social doctrine of the Church, study of the concepts of institution and authority at a time when they are losing credibility. Corruption, the practice of injustice and an erroneous concept of politics seen exclusively as an activity that brings abundant earnings, are afflictions that need to be cured, for example in African countries, but also elsewhere.
It was also mentioned that there is an urgent need to eliminate the distance that is being created between the Christian community and the laity who wish to be involved in the public arena. Politics is learned by doing politics, it is learned out there among the people. For this reason it is important to launch the young people in the movements and communities into concrete involvement, even if it is also necessary to be aware of the vocation to public service of individual youth, and to discern who is really called to this path. To be in the field means being with the suffering and the poor, because it is only after experiences of this kind that we can be in a position to speak on their behalf.
At a time when there is no longer a shared vision on natural law and human rights, it is necessary to re-evaluate our unequivocal dialogue with those who have a different way of thinking from ours, and to search for a new common platform for the good of individuals and the community.
To conclude the discussion, Cardinal Ryłko pointed out that the Pontifical Council for the Laity is very aware that this is a sensitive area, and that to deal with this topic will require very much dedication of time, listening and verifying.
New staff at the Pontifical Council for the Laity
Since April this year, Ana Cristina Villa Betancourt joined the dicastery to head the Womens Section. She takes the place of María Rocío Figueroa Alvear, whom you will remember as the brilliant and professional organiser of the Congress marking the twentieth anniversary of Mulieris Dignitatem, Woman and man, the humanum in its entirety, held in February 2008.
Ms Villa, originally from Medellín (Colombia), is a member of the Marian Community of Reconciliation. We extend our heartiest welcome and wish her well in her work in the service of the dicastery and the Holy See.
From Sydney 2008 to Madrid 2011.
«My dear friends, next Palm Sunday we shall celebrate the twenty-fourth World Youth Day at the diocesan level. As we prepare for this annual event, I recall with deep gratitude to the Lord the meeting held in Sydney in July last year. It was a most memorable encounter, during which the Holy Spirit renewed the lives of countless young people who had come together from all over the world. The joy of celebration and spiritual enthusiasm experienced during those few days was an eloquent sign of the presence of the Spirit of Christ. Now we are journeying towards the international gathering due to take place in Madrid in 2011, which will have as its theme the words of the Apostle Paul: Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith (cf. Col 2:7). As we look forward to that global youth meeting, let us undertake a path of preparation together. We take as our text for the year 2009 a saying of Saint Paul: We have set our hope on the living God (1 Tim 4:10), while in 2010 we will reflect on the question put to Jesus by the rich young man: Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? (Mk 10:17).
With these words at the start of his message for the 26th World Youth Day, Pope Benedict XVI summed up the pastoral journey he is proposing to the youth of the world for the next few years: from Sydney to Madrid, from the life-giving breath of the Spirit to the firmness of faith in Christ, and on the way, meeting hope and a personal encounter with Jesus.
It was on this journey that youth ministry leaders from all over the world came together in Rome from 3 to 5 April 2009, on the invitation of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, for the conference From Sydney 2008 to Madrid 2011. It was the first international meeting in preparation for the event in Madrid, and it was an important opportunity for assessment and reflection. The organising committees from Spain and Australia were present, together with delegates from around seventy countries and thirty five communities, associations and Catholic youth movements, with a total of around one hundred and fifty participants.
The sessions began on Friday 3 April with an introductory speech by Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The cardinal pointed out that World Youth Days have become providential catalysers in pastoral ministry in the Church for the younger generations, and play an invaluable role of guidance, inspiration and encouragement [ ] World Youth Days have brought about a new generation of youth who are capable of going against the tide with respect to the dominant culture. Over the course of the years he continued WYDs have become laboratories of youth ministry. It is also due to WYD that a new generation of youth ministers has emerged that know how to respond to the real problems of the youth of our times. The word provocation he concluded is a good description of the pastoral challenge that WYD presents to the Church. It reminds us that the pastoral ministry of the younger generations is not an appendix to the ordinary pastoral ministry of the Church, but is at the centre, the core.
This was followed by an analysis of the main pastoral benefits of WYD 2008 at the local level given by Cardinal George Pell. He pointed out that there was an increase in vocations. He said that in New Zealand, the national seminary had practically doubled its intake of seminarians. There has also been an increase in Australia, a tendency that they had already noted during the preparations for WYD. This was a clear sign that good work was being done, not only logistically, but especially spiritually by involving parishes, dioceses, movements and associations, schools and families. The cardinal warned against over enthusiasm. WYD is not a magical formula. Preparations must be serious and must be in the service of evangelisation. He then spoke about a noticeable transformation: Australia today looks at the Church with different eyes. Many people have returned to it, not only young people, and their faith has been strengthened. Even non-Catholics look at the Church with different eyes and that is very important.
Bishop Anthony Fisher, auxiliary bishop of Sydney, gave the initial results of a survey commissioned by the local organising committee on the impact of WYD 2008 on the Australian participants. These are the main findings:
Seven out of ten people consider the experience to be one of the best in their lives ( the most notable parts of it were the Vigil, the Way of the Cross and the Final Mass);
it was important for the young people to discover the universal Church and to share their faith with other youth, and they now wish to live their faith more seriously and deeply;
many young people are now determined to be more considerate of others and to be engaged in various kinds of service; some have found their priestly vocation;
WYD has brought about notable renewal at parish and diocesan level.
Then, with a lively medley of pictures and data, Danny Casey, executive director of the Australian Committee, presented the delegates with an organisational assessment of the event in Sydney.
The afternoon session of Friday began with accounts of four experiences of youth ministry around the world. They were delivered by Sr. Eileen McCann, United States, Rev. Salvatore Niciteretse, Burundi, Jessica Joy Candelario, Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences Youth Desk, and Rev. Nicolò Anselmi, director of youth pastoral services of the Italian Bishops Conference. The experiences represented very different situations that were united in their vision of WYD as a driving force for regular youth ministry.
Rev. Eric Jacquinet, head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity Youth Section, concluded the days sessions with a reflection on WYD and youth ministry in the Church. World Youth Day was a prophetic intuition on the part of John Paul II. It is far more than an event, but is really a personal and community experience that brings the person of Jesus to the centre of the faith and lives of young people. The entire pastoral programme of WYD is directed towards an encounter with Jesus in the Church. Young people are called to walk together to meet Jesus and set out on pilgrimage along the roads of the world, together experiencing the joy of faith, and in a certain sense reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus.
On Saturday 4 April we started the path of preparation for WYD in Madrid 2011. Spain evangelized and evangelizing Spain, this is the way forward. Do not neglect this mission which ennobled your Country in the past and is the bold challenge for the future (John Paul II, Madrid, 4 May 2003): these words that John Paul II spoke when he visited Spain for the last time, were at the centre of the talk given by Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, when he addressed the one hundred and fifty delegates to tell them of the significance of WYD for the Church in Spain. Unlike Australia, the Gospel has resounded in Spain since its origins, and there has been great vitality in the faith. It is the birthplace of numerous vocational paths, yet it, like the rest of Europe, has a great need to renew its Christian roots. We must go out again and proclaim the Gospel, the Cardinal concluded, and take on the task of the new evangelisation by taking Christ to those places where he is unknown. This is one of the main challenges of the next WYD.
Most Reverend César Augusto Franco Martínez, auxiliary bishop of Madrid and president of the organising committee, outlined the central elements of the path of preparation for the 26th WYD, using the magisterium of Benedict XVI as a unifying thread. He pointed out that we must always remember that each World Youth Day is the fruit of a long external and internal path. That is why an essential element in preparation should be the celebration of faith that introduces young people to the mystery of the liturgy and the Christian mysteries, and the catecheses should be seen as an element of faith education to help young people to find the truth in Jesus Christ. Secondly, preparation should be guided towards a conviction that should grow in young Christians that they have within them the dynamic power of the future. As Saint Paul said, the truth does not deceive us [ ] As key players in the life of the Church and in WYD in particular, the truth they hold in their hearts will radiate out to their friends and contemporaries. Bishop Franco warned that we should emphasise that this speaks of Gods dynamic, and it seeks to reach out to the whole world starting with us. Finally, WYD must help young people to experience the joy of faith and to show them the true meaning of celebration. It is the Church being experienced as a communion of relationships in Jesus Christ [ ] For this reason, it is important that we should animate everything from this life experience that Jesus Christ created among his members and that young people in particular, once they discover it, want to be part of it. Young people need to be accompanied as they discover Gods love, present in the Church, and introduced to the commitment of love for others, also in the concrete terms of ecclesial communion in service and solidarity.
Reverend Javier Igea López-Fando, representing the Spanish Bishops Conference, described the situation of youth ministry in Spain. He admitted that it is not always easy, but that they were determined to use the perspectives and opportunities being presented by World Youth Day. Two young people spoke of their experiences in attempting to be Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith
On Saturday afternoon the Spanish committee presented their initial projects to welcome WYD to Madrid. They are working on these so that this can be the best WYD possible. The delegates then addressed the committee and offered their suggestions, pastoral and practical ideas, and observations from the experience in Sydney. There was a lively discussion that touched on many points. Attention was given to the question of the participation of young people from Africa, South America, Asia and disadvantaged countries. Young people from all over the world should have the opportunity of experiencing WYD.
The sessions continued with a presentation by Bishop Josef Clemens of the Pontifical Council for the Laity of the Message from Pope Benedict XVI to young people on the occasion of the 24th World Youth Day. He reminded us of the themes for WYD 2009, 2010 and 2011 which are contained in the Message, and pointed out the path of instruction that the Holy Father proposed to young Christians in order to prepare for the event in Madrid that refers to the three theological virtues: hope, charity and faith. As the French poet Charles Péguy wrote, if the three virtues are like three sisters, the youngest one, hope, leads the other two by the hand. This is undoubtedly why our path is beginning with hope, a subject that is very dear to Pope Benedict XVI, and to which young people are particularly sensitive. They are the first victims of the crisis in hope that is so diffuse nowadays. Bishop Clemens continued, the mission of the Church is therefore to restore to youth that which is vital for them: the ability to go forward, to be involved, to study in preparation for their future and the future of the world, and to become in their turn witnesses of hope.
At the end of the afternoon, Cardinal Ryłko closed the conference sessions and spoke of the importance of the role of the national leaders of youth ministry. Our experience of these few days was inspired by the Pentecost Cenacle, that is, the experience of a very young Church two thousand years ago, of a missionary Church that exploded with missionary zeal right to the ends of the earth, an experience of the Church that listens to the Holy Spirit. [ ] What is the Holy Spirit saying to the Church at this moment in time? The Holy Spirit calls the Church to the same mission as always: to evangelise, and in particular to evangelise the younger generations. How many times have we heard over the past two days that the evangelisation of youth is an undisputed priority in the life of the Church! He then recalled Pope John Paul IIs intuition that opened the way for WYD and his trust in young people at a time in history when they were viewed with diffidence. In speaking about the Cross being entrusted to youth twenty five years ago on Easter Sunday, he said that: it was a prophetic gesture [ ] Today the story of the WYD Cross is dotted with real miracles of grace and conversion. [ ] Thanks to this Cross, WYD is a continual event in the Church because wherever the WYD Cross goes, there it is World Youth Day.
With these words still fresh, on Sunday morning 5 April the delegates attended Palm Sunday Mass presided by Benedict XVI in Saint Peters Square, with the celebration of the 24th World Youth Day and the handover of the WYD Cross from the Australian to the Spanish youth. It was a significant and emotional moment that was a material sign of the Sydney youth handing on the baton to the youth of Madrid. Once again the path of World Youth Day was marked out by the simple Cross, the hope that comes from the risen Christ.
The San Lorenzo International Youth Centre has been continuing its mission of welcoming groups of young pilgrims visiting Rome and also a number of foreign students studying in Rome who find friendship and spiritual nourishment at the Centre. The international Mass on Friday evenings is the high point of each week, with the presence of a cardinal or bishop from the Roman Curia or from a foreign country.
On 22 April, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the WYD Cross, Pope Benedict XVI once again entrusted this Cross to the youth of the Centre. He asked them to take it to every corner of the earth as a sign of Gods love. In response to this invitation, a delegation from the Centre went to Abruzzo in Italy in the Pentecost season to take the WYD Cross to places destroyed by an earthquake in April. After a ceremony in Aquilas House for Students, a symbolic place representing the suffering of the city, the Cross was welcomed in the campsites of eight villages. It was received by those present in a climate of intense prayer and veneration.
The WYD Cross is increasingly seen to be a special means for young people to touch Christs love and the hope given by God. The Centre, a sanctuary for the WYD Cross, does everything possible to share this grace. There will soon be a new video about the Cross available.
The beginning of this new year of activity brings a new team to run the Centre. The incoming director is Rev. Eric Jacquinet, Head of Youth Section at the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The leaders are Bernard Marusic from Australia and Jill-Ann Martin from Belgium, members of the Emmanuel Community. We thank Leen den Blauwn and Roselyne Lauwick, who have concluded their mission here, for the work they have carried out over the past few years. Rev. Benoît de Baenst will continue with his service as chaplain. This team has the task of mobilising new volunteers from among the members of movements and communities or students in Rome. They will draw up a new plan for volunteers who will dedicate some time to welcoming visitors. There will be spirituality, community and missionary training taking place on certain evenings and weekends from November to April. The Centre is a place to discover ones faith and the Catholic Church for so many foreign students who are in Rome on an Erasmus programme. The Centre invites them and offers training as missionary volunteers.
As in previous years, the Emmanuel School of Mission will be involved in the Centre, in particular to provide the musical animation of the Friday international Masses and for the evangelisation missions with the WYD Cross.
The International Youth Forum is held every three years, and so, from 24 to 28 March 2010 (leading up to Palm Sunday), the Pontifical Council for the Laity will invite around three hundred young people, delegates from bishops conferences and major international movements and associations to come together for this purpose. Our last two Forums dealt with the themes: Witnessing to Christ in the university world (2004) and Witnessing to Christ in the world of work (2007). The next Forum will have the theme: Learning to love. There will be lectures, panel discussions, testimonies and working groups, and these will study how young people can respond to the Christian vocation to love in our times, a period when there is a crisis in marriage and the family, great inadequacies in education, and moral relativism. We shall dwell on the beauty of Gods love, on the Christian vision of sexuality, on preparation for Christian marriage and on the sacrament of matrimony. As there are different ways of witnessing to Christs love, there will also be testimonies on various vocations in the Church: religious life, priesthood, and social and political engagement.
As well as studying the theme, the Forum also provides an opportunity for participants from all over the world to have concrete experience of the ecclesial dimension. They also have a spiritual experience of prayer, of celebration of the sacraments and of pilgrimage in Rome in the footsteps of the saints. Then, when they return, the young people can give witness with conviction to their peers of all the beauty of the vocation to love.
When the Servant of God John Paul II instituted the Church and Sport Section within the Pontifical Council for the Laity, one of the main tasks entrusted to it was that of promoting a culture of sport that works towards the integral development of the person within the sphere of the Catholic education of youth. It is in the Catholic schools, parish youth clubs, parish centres and youth associations and movements that we often find that there is an intersection of the three basic paths in the integral development of youth. These are the paths of sport, education and faith. When they work together there can be fruitful pastoral ministry that the laity can develop for the well-being of so many boys and girls.
The first seminar held by the Section in 2005 dealt with an analysis in general terms of the sporting phenomenon in contemporary society, and the seminar in 2007 studied the role of sports chaplains. Now we turn our attention, in the next seminar, to lay people involved in sport, particularly in youth and amateur sports.
In the seminar on Sport, education, faith: a new season for Catholic sport associations, to be held on 6 and 7 November 2009 at Villa Aurelia in Rome, the Church and Sport Section will deal with the topic of sport associations in the Catholic world. It will examine and assess the opportunities that the Catholic sport associations can offer to the mission of education and evangelisation.
The Holy Father Benedict XVI recently said something on this theme when meeting with the clergy of Rome. He asserted that parish sports clubs and the same would go for all sports clubs run by the Church should be a place where youth not only find possibilities for their leisure time but above all for an integral human formation that completes the personality (26 February 2009). We shall study in what way sport played by so many young people in Church centres can be a way of integral human training of adolescents and young people.
Delegates at the meeting will include pastoral ministers from bishops conferences, representatives of Catholic associations at national and international level, and personalities with vast experience and competence in professional and youth sports.
The first morning will be dedicated to studying the factors and components needed if a sporting activity is to be a place of learning. The panel in the afternoon will be formed by athletes and professional trainers, and they will discuss what it means to be and to train true champions, that is, to educate people in upright behaviour that becomes a style of life on and off the playing field, and not measured by celebrity or victory.
The second day will be dedicated to specific opportunities that sport associations offer in order to witness to Christ, both in direct evangelising and in the exercise of Christian charity, or in ecumenical and intercultural dialogue.
The Pontifical Council for the Laity:
by decree of 8 December 2008 recognised the Milicia de Santa María (womens branch) as an international association of the faithful with approval of the statutes ad experimentum. The Milicia de Santa María seeks the holiness of its members, perfection in charity and the evangelisation of the world, in particular of young people. The Association responds to this ideal of holiness through total devotion to Our Lady Immaculate, Mother of God and Mediatrix of all grace.
By decree of 21 January 2009 it recognised the Associazione Internazionale Rinnovamento Carismatico Servi di Cristo Vivo, and approved the statutes ad experimentum. The charism of the association, in accordance with the experience and spirituality of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, is to pray and proclaim the new evangelisation in all social spheres in order to animate the temporal order with the Christian spirit. Devotion, love and personal experience of the Holy Spirit are the foundations of the life of the Association.
By decree of 21 January 2009 it approved the modifications to the statutes of the association LHeure de Présence au Cur de Jésus.
By decree of 22 January 2009 it granted definitive approval to the statutes of the Federación Mundial de las Obras Eucarísticas de la Iglesia.
By decree of 6 February 2009 it approved the new statutes of the International Federation of Catholic Parochial Youth Movements.
By decree of 25 March 2009 it approved the new statutes of the International Young Catholic Students.
By decree of 2 April 2009 it recognised the International Organization of Parish Cells of Evangelization with approval of the statutes ad experimentum. The Organisation unites and coordinates the Parish Evangelizing Cells, small groups of the lay faithful united through family, work or friendship ties, who meet together every week in order to nurture their faith and evangelise their surroundings. The idea inspiring the entire System is that of offering opportunities for personal and community conversion in the parishes so that they may become vibrant faith communities.
By decree of 20 June 2009 it approved the modifications in the statutes of the Emmanuel Community.
By decree of 29 June 2009 it recognised the Unione Cattolica Internazionale di Servizio Sociale Madeleine Delbrêl as an international association of the faithful with approval of the statutes ad experimentum. This is a revival of a lay association of the same name that was active in the first half of the twentieth century that aimed to spread the Christian sense of social service in the light of the magisterium of the Church. The UCISS was revived in 2006 to bring the aims of the original association up to our times, incorporating the social and cultural change reflected in the social professions, together with the new demands and contemporary moral issues.
By decree of 29 June 2009, it approved the new statutes of the International Catholic Conference of Guiding.
The Dicastery is presently studying the demands for canonical recognition submitted by the following groups: Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt, Movimiento de la Palabra de Dios, Legio Mariae, Chemin Neuf Community, Comunità Gesù Risorto, Misioneros de la Esperanza, Famiglia della Speranza, Comunità Nuovi Orizzonti, Hogar de la Madre, Movimiento Athletae Christi, Comunidades Cristianas Comprometidas EAS, Movimento Apostolico, Jesus Youth.
During the first semester of 2009 the dicastery received visits from the Latin Rite bishops of the Russian Federation, one group of bishops from Nigeria, three groups from the Bishops Conference of Argentina, the bishops from Peru, Venezuela and Vietnam. These were groups representing four continents, with the largest number coming from Latin American countries.
The bishops from Russia brought us up to date on the progress made in the small Catholic communities spread around the immense ex-Soviet country. They spoke of an improvement in relations with the Orthodox Church, not only at the level of ecclesiastical authorities, but also among the faithful. A great part of the population feel the effects of the long period of State atheism and they are now slowly approaching the faith. There are plenty of young people looking towards the Catholic Church. Ecclesial movements and new communities are contributing very much to ecumenism and evangelisation.
In our talks with the Nigerian bishops we heard about the main problems afflicting the country: relations with Islam becoming more aggressive, a pagan concept of marriage, tribalism, the spread of sects, continuing ancestral superstitions, inadequate faith education, the difficulties for young people, secularisation, and poverty that is particularly acute in certain zones. Nevertheless, in spite of these serious challenges, there are plenty of reasons for hope. We were told that the laity in Nigeria play a very important role: very many are catechists and leaders of small communities, and associations are widespread, both the more traditional and the movements and new communities, particularly the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The Church in Nigeria, together with the whole Church in Africa, follows the pastoral model of the Church as a family of families.
The bishops of Argentina, Venezuela and Peru are structuring their pastoral ministry for the lay faithful according to the lines of the 5th CELAM Conference (Aparecida), as we noted in the previous issue of our Newsletter. The faithful of Venezuela deserve particular mention. For several years they have been subjected to serious restrictions in their religious freedom and they are being unjustly attacked by the present government. The laity and their pastors courageously face the current adversity and do not allow themselves to be dragged into useless polemics or counterproductive disputes. They remain strong in their fidelity to the Lord thus benefiting the whole country and the government itself.
In Vietnam there are over six million Christians (6.8% of the population). The rate of religious practice is high, being between eighty and ninety per cent. The faithful everywhere show particular interest in the Word of God and study of the catechism, and they desire to contribute to the development of the Church and their country. The communist government has a different policy that consists of cautiously making some openings and showing unjustified arrogance. Until now there has not really been religious freedom. The Church is controlled and limited in its activities. Interference from the State remains in the nomination of bishops and ordination of priests; bishops, priests and religious are under constant control. The government places obstacles and difficulties in the way of those who wish to become Catholic. There is a shortage of places of worship, the churches that were returned are dilapidated, and it is very difficult to obtain a permit to build churches and open parishes. A prohibition is in force that prevents the teaching of religion in schools. The State oversees all charitable, social, educational and cultural activities of the Church and imposes birth control on families. The Church, in spite of the restrictions, is very active. Most of the laity gather in organisations of lay apostolate. The interest in faith education is very noticeable, especially in urban areas, where the atheistic propaganda of the State combines with the secularised models from the West. The evangelisation and assistance that the Vietnamese Church gives to ethnic minorities is very important, as they are neglected by the government and international institutions.
Between January and June 2009, Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, met with leaders and representatives of the following movements, associations and new communities: Institute for World Evangelisation (ICPE Mission);
Rinnovamento nello Spirito Santo; Chemin Neuf Community; International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS); International Federation of Catholic Parochial Youth Movements (FIMCAP); SantEgidio Community; Christian Life Community; International Movement of Apostolate in the Independent Social Milieus (MIAMSI); International Coordination of Young Christian Workers (ICYCW); Comunità Shalom di Riva del Garda; Comunion and Liberation; World Union of Catholic Womens Organisations (WUCWO); Emmanuel Community; Missionary Community of Villaregia; Christian Life Movement (CLM); Jeunesse Lumière.
On 10 January Cardinal Ryłko, together with the secretary of the dicastery Bishop Josef Clemens, was present at a gathering in Saint Peters Basilica to mark the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the Neocatechumenal Way to the diocese of Rome. Benedict XVI greeted the initiators of the Way, Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández, the community of the Neocatechumenal Way in Rome, itinerant catechists from all over the world and families on mission.
On 30 January Cardinal Ryłko was in the church of San Pasquale in Rome to preside at the annual thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS).
On 28 February he gave the inaugural lecture of the university course Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in Society that was under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and organised by the International Forum of Catholic Action (IFCA) and the Pontifical Gregorian University Laikos, in collaboration with the Christian Life Community (CVX). The objective of the course was to present the reflection and experience of lay Catholics twenty years after the publication of the apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici.
On 17 April he celebrated Holy Mass at the Roman centre of apostolate of the consecrated members and coworkers of the Regnum Christi Apostolic Movement.
On 25 April he celebrated Holy Mass in Rimini for the participants in the annual spiritual exercises of the Communion and Liberation Fraternity.
On 2 May he presided at one of the Eucharistic celebrations for the participants at the 32nd national gathering of groups and communities of the Rinnovamento nello Spirito Santo that took place in Rimini.
On 19 June he was at the Vatican Radio Press Office to speak at the presentation of the book Essere comunità per fare missione on the history, spirituality and activities of the Missionary Community of Villaregia.
On 21 June he spoke at the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the foundation of the Association Comunità Shalom di Riva del Garda (Trento) on the theme Institution and charism in the Church: co-essentiality. He also presided at the closing Mass of the event.
The secretary of the dicastery, Bishop Josef Clemens, received the visits of leaders and representatives of Action Catholique des Milieux Indépendants, the International Union of European Guides and Scouts European scouting Federation (UIGSE-FSE), World Organisation of the Cursillo Movement, Foyer de Charité, the International Catholic Conference of Scouting (ICCS), the International Forum of Catholic Action, Regnum Christi Apostolic Movement, Scouts et Guides de France and Unum Omnes.
On 28 January Bishop Clemens gave a talk at the diocesan theological college in Fabriano-Matelica on the theme Ecclesial movements and new communities in the mission of the Church: theological position, and pastoral and missionary perspectives.
On 29 January he delivered the same address to the priests meeting with Most Reverend Giancarlo Vecerrica, bishop of the diocese.
Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry, undersecretary of the dicastery, received the visits of representatives and leaders of the Movimento Laicale Guanelliano, Comunidade Católica Palavra Viva, Jesus Youth Movement, Italia Solidale, Escuelas de la Cruz, Movimento Apostolico and the International Coordination of Young Christian Workers (ICYCW).
On 14 March, Prof. Carriquiry represented the dicastery at the Mass in Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome on the occasion of the first anniversary of the death of Chiara Lubich.
On 28 March in Rome he gave a talk on the new era of associations of the lay faithful at the course organised to mark twenty years since the apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici, organised by the International Forum of Catholic Action (IFCA) and the Laikos Institute of the Pontifical Gregorian University, in collaboration with the Christian Life Community.
On 23 and 24 April, he gave some lectures in a seminar on some canonical and pastoral aspects relating to ecclesial movements and new communities at the Theological Faculty of Lugano in Switzerland.
On 30 May he was in Ariccia (Rome) at the 33rd national congress Proclamation that becomes Action of the Living In Spirituality Movement to give a talk on the fostering of the role of the laity. Ana Christina Villa also attended the congress.
On 5 June he was at the international centre of Communion and Liberation in Rome to meet with the leaders of the Centre, the vice president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and some diplomatic representatives from Latin America.
Msgr. Miguel Delgado Galindo, bureau chief in the dicastery, received visits by leaders and representatives of the Priests for Life association from America, Foyers de Charité and the International Catholic Union of the Press (UCIP).
Rev. Eric Jacquinet, head of the Youth Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity met with several groups, often in the places where they were carrying out their activities: representatives of the Focolare Movement, International Union of European Guides and Scouts European Scouting Federation, LArche Community of Rennes, International Forum of Catholic Action (IFCA), Emmanuel Community, Communauté du Verbe de Vie, the Anuncio group, Mouvement Eucharistique des Jeunes from France, AGESCI, Scouts et Guides de France, Catholic scouts from Portugal, the School of Evangelisation in Paray le Monial (France) and in Altötting (Germany) run by the Emmanuel Community, the Pèlerins danseurs from Namur (Belgium), Chemin Neuf Community.
Ana Cristina Villa Betancourt met with representatives of the World Union of Catholic Womens Organisations (WUCWO).
During the course of the first six months, the president of the dicastery, Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, met with Most Reverend Edward Philip Wilson, President of the Australian Bishops Conference; Most Reverend Julian Charles Porteous, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, (Australia); Most Reverend Pierre dOrnellas, Archbishop of Rennes (France); Most Reverend Henryk Marian Tomasik, Auxiliary Bishop of Siedlce (Poland); Car-dinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid (Spain); Most Reverend Dominique Rey, Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon (France), who was accompanied by legislators and officials from the diocese; Monsignor Livio Melina, President of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Research on Marriage and the Family in Rome. He also received visits from the leaders of the Canadian Conference of Religious; leaders of the Union of the European Conferences of Major Superiors (UCESM); Fernando Martín Herráez, incoming President of the World Conference of Secular Institutes (CMIS); Encarnación del Pozo, incoming General Minister of the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS); leaders of the European Forum of National Laity Committees; of World Vision International; of the Scuola di Cultura Cattolica in Bassano del Grappa (Vicenza).
He presided and guided one of the sessions in a theological-pastoral congress that took place as part of the 6th World Meeting of Families in Mexico City organised by the Pontifical Council for the Family, from 14 to 18 January, on the theme The family as teachers of human and Christian values.
He participated in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, held in the Vatican from 17 to 20 February on the theme The current situation of the formation of priests in the seminaries of Latin America.
On 13 March he presided at a thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration for the 26th anniversary of the San Lorenzo Youth Centre.
On 24 April he gave the introductory address at a seminar organised by the Karol Wojtyła Chair of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Research on Marriage and the Family on the theme Love and its direction: the spirituality of marriage according to Karol Wojtyła.
As part of the activities organised in Lamezia Terme (Catanzaro) to celebrate the Year of Saint Paul, on the invitation of Most Reverend Luciano Cantaforo, on 8 May Cardinal Ryłko gave a talk on Priests and the Movements to the diocesan clergy, and he presided at a solemn Eucharistic celebration for the associations and movements of the diocese.
On 30 May, during a meeting with the priests of the Archdiocese of Warsaw (Poland), he gave a talk on The training of the lay faithful, the great challenge of our times.
The secretary, Bishop Josef Clemens, met with the presidential committee of CELAM; Most Reverend Egon Kapellari, bishop of Graz-Seckau (Austria), accompanied by Rev. Karl Schauer and Helmut Pertl, respectively the rector of Mariazell Shrine and mayor of the town; Most Reverend Ivan Prendja, archbishop of Zadar (Croatia); Most Reverend Jean-Christophe Lagleize of the diocese of Valence (France); Most Reverend Karl-Heinz Wiesemann, bishop of Spira (Germany); Most Reverend Walter Mixa with the deacons of the diocese of Augsburg (Germany); Most Reverend Benoît Rivière, bishop of Autun (France); Most Reverend Paul Khoarai, bishop of the diocese of Leribe (Lesotho); Most Reverend Manfred Scheuer, bishop of the diocese of Innsbruck (Austria); Most Reverend Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising (Germany); Frère Alois Löser, prior of Taizé; Dr. Manfred Lütz, Mrs Christiana Habsburg-Lothringen and Mr Edio Costantini, members of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; the executive committee of The Hong Kong Central Council of Catholic Laity; the leaders of Centro Sportivo Italiano; Lord Daniel Brennan, president of the Catholic Union of Great Britain.
On 10 February Bishop Clemens presided at a Eucharistic celebration in Saint Peters Basilica for the staff of the Office for the Pastoral Ministry of Circus Workers of the German Bishops Conference.
On 19 February he spoke at the press conference to present the third edition of the Clericus Cup in Rome.
On 24 March at the offices of Vatican Radio, he took part in a press conference to present the sport-cultural-religious event In the footsteps of Saint Paul, from Jerusalem to Rome, 23 April to 27 May.
From 18 to 23 April he was in Jerusalem and Bethlehem to preside at the 6th marathon /pilgrimage in the Holy Land, organised by the John Paul II Foundation for Sport in collaboration with the Church and Sport section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and various sports associations, the first stage of the In the footsteps of Saint Paul event.
On 22 May he addressed words of greeting at the conference Sport, religion and international relations: The contribution
On 26 May he read out the conclusions of the seminar on sport pastoral ministry in the light of the writings of Saint Paul Vince in bono malum, held at the Pontifical Urban College De Propaganda Fide. Rev. Kevin Lixey also took part.
The undersecretary Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry received the visit of the Executive Committee of The Hong Kong Central Council of Catholic Laity and representatives of the United Bible Societies.
On 13 March in Lecce, on the occasion of the Week of Faith promoted by the Archdiocese, he gave a lecture on Vocation and mission of the lay faithful today.
On 4 June in Rome he gave a lecture as part of a cycle of meetings held by the Mulieris Dignitatem Research Centre of the Saint Bonaventure Pontifical Faculty of Theology, on the theme, Work in the light of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
On 11 June he gave a talk at the Pontifical Mater Ecclesiae College in Rome to a group of young leaders of the Regnum Christi Apostolic Movement.
Rev. Eric Jacquinet met with leaders of the youth ministry pastoral services of the French and Italian Bishops Conferences, the Swiss National WYD Committee, the leaders of the John Paul II Centre in Loreto together with Most Reverend Giovanni Tonucci, pontifical delegate at the Loreto Shrine, and youth ministry leaders of the dioceses of Rome, Paris, Rennes, Evreux and Montpellier (France).
He also met with Most Reverend Marc Aillet, Bishop of Bayonne (France) with a group of priests from his diocese; Rev. Xavier dArodes, ecclesiastical councillor of the French Embassy to the Holy See; the managerial staff of Radio Espérance (France).
From 30 May to 2 June, Rev. Jacquinet led a delegation from the San Lorenzo International Youth Centre on pilgrimage with the WYD Cross to the area affected by an earthquake in the province of Aquila in Abruzza.
From 7 to 9 June he took part in a science congress in Kielce (Poland) on John Paul II and young people.
On 13 June in Paris, he took part in a meeting of youth pastoral ministry leaders from the dioceses of France in preparation for WYD 2011 in Madrid.
Rev. Kevin Lixey, Head of the Church and Sport Section, met with Edio Costantini, member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and president of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport; Gen. Br. Gianni Gola, president of the International Military Sports Council (CISM) together with the commander of the Swiss Guards, Daniel Anrig; representatives of the group I pellegrini di Verona; the leaders of the Polisportive Giovanili Salesiane; Pius Segmüller from The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA).
From 16 to 19 April Rev. Lixey took part in the Congress of the International Catholic Federation for Sports and Education (FICEP) held in Prague (Czech Republic), and spoke on the significance of the Year of Saint Paul, sport and its implications in education.
From 23 April to 27 May he took part in some stages (in Greece, Malta, Italy Pozzuoli and Rome) of the torch relay In the footsteps of Saint Paul, organised by the John Paul II Foundation for Sport.
Ana Cristina Villa Betancourt met with Rev. Philip Chavez, founder and director of Amator Institute; Margherite A. Peeters, director of the Institute for Intercultural Dialogue Dynamics in Brussels; Rev. Zdzislaw Josef Kijas and Professor Laura Tortorella, respectively scientific director and director of teaching methodology at the Mulieris Dignitatem Institute for studies on the man-woman uni-duality.
On 1 June, Ms Villa took part in the course entitled Women at the Well, organised in Rome by the Lay Centre Foyer Unitas, and gave a talk on Women in the Church Today.
Rev. Antonio Grappone represented the dicastery at the symposium on The Apostolic Penitentiary and the Sacrament of Penance: Historical-juridical-theological background and pastoral perspectives, held in Rome in the Palazzo della Cancelleria on 13 and 14 January.
He took part in the 29th Congress of the Vittorio Bachelet Institute, organised by Azione Cattolica Italiana on the theme: Crisis in politics and the common good: in search of a new public ethic, held in Rome on 13 and 14 February.
Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko received the visit of the Speaker of the Canadian Senate, the Hon. Noel Kinsella, accompanied by two senators and the Ambassador of Canada to the Holy See, H.E. Anne Leahy; H.E. Larry Yu-yuan Wang, Ambassador of China to the Holy See; Julieta Vals Noyes, Chargé dAffaires, and Rafael Patrick Foley from the Embassy of the United States of America to the Holy See.
Most Reverend Josef Clemens met with the Prime Minister of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, H.E. Hans-Henning Horstmann, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Holy See, H.E. Francis Campbell, Ambassador of Great Britain to the Holy See, H.E. Hanna Suchocka, Ambassador of Poland to the Holy See.
The Undersecretary of the dicastery celebrates forty years of marriage
On 26 June 2009, the Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry, and his wife Lídice, celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary with a Eucharistic celebration presided by Cardinal Angelo Comastri at the cathedra altar in Saint Peters Basilica. It was in thanksgiving for the years spent together, many of which thirty-seven were spent in the service of the Holy See. The celebrations were attended by seven cardinals, fifteen bishops and over fifty priests, as well as many colleagues from the Roman Curia, representatives of the diplomatic corps, leaders of associations, ecclesial movements and new communities, and friends from Italy and Latin America. The Mass was followed by a reception in the Vatican gardens where they were joined by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The officials and senior staff of the dicastery also expressed their joy to the couple that they had reached such a significant stage in their lives.