(Part 181)



June 15, 2016

From the time Ecclesial Movements and New Communities (EMNCs), such as CFC (and Focolare, Neocatechumenal Way, Communion and Liberation, etc.), emerged on the scene, sent by the Holy Spirit to help bring renewal in this third millennium, there have been constant tension and even outright conflict between the hierarchical Church and the EMNCs. It is a conflict between institutional and charismatic dimensions, both of which are crucial for the life and mission of the Church. While pastors appreciate EMNCs and generally welcome them for their good works, many also have reservations, since they claim that EMNCs take their parish leaders away, have their own agenda and priorities, and defer to their elders (often lay) rather than to the pastors.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI always encouraged the bishops to accept and embrace EMNCs, but some bishops did so only with some reluctance. This is because EMNCs were seen by clerics as disruptive within the Church. In some extreme cases, there was outright conflict, as when the bishops of Japan banned the Neocatechumenal Way and even ordered it out of their country. The Vatican had to intervene.

Now here we are again. The CDF has issued Iuvenescit Ecclesia. It seeks the “fruitful and ordered participation of the new groups in the communion and the mission of the Church.” It encourages both “sides” to respect each other. It emphasizes that the movements should not “be considered in some way as running parallel to the ecclesial life or not ordered in relation to the hierarchical gifts.” In this statement is the gist of the problem.

CFC for much of its life was like a parallel Church (as are the other EMNCs). With the restoration of 2007, and taking on the Core Value of Being a Servant to the Church, CFC-FFL tried to be much more integrated in the life and mission of the Church. However, I have come to realize that the ideal desired by the Church and the popes is not achievable. The reason is simple: By their very nature, EMNCs have their own life and mission, their own agenda and priorities, and their own (mostly lay) leaders. They are by their very nature not disposed to active participation and integration in local Church life, that is, the parishes. While better relations can be encouraged, our Church needs to be resigned to the inherent disconnect.

But now the Spirit has raised a movement in response to the call to the New Evangelization, one that can effectively bridge the gap. This is the Live Christ, Share Christ (LCSC) movement. LCSC emerges from the life and charism of CFC/CFC-FFL but has entered deeply into the heart of the Church in total service to her mission. It has taken the founding charism of CFC directly into parish life, including its BECs, such that the charism is effectively “articulated within the ecclesial communion.”

Looking at the criteria for discernment, LCSC fits the bill. They are as follows:

  1. “the primacy of the vocation of every Christian to holiness” — LCSC intends all Catholics to meet, live and share Christ. Its four pillars proclaim the gospel of chastity for the youth, seek to get every Catholic to read and study the Bible, help renew the family and defend life, and do extensive work with the poor. All these are practical prescriptions in responding to the call to holiness and authentic discipleship.
  2. “commitment to spreading the gospel” — LCSC is intended for rapid, massive and worldwide evangelization, much more massive than what CFC or other EMNCs have ever done. It is intended to mainstream Catholic lay evangelization, based in parishes. It intends to reach every Catholic, especially the lapsed ones.
  3. “profession of the Catholic faith” — LCSC focuses on helping revive and renew the Catholic Church. It intends to bring back the 99 lost sheep, back to God and back to the Church. It is not distracted by ecumenical or inter-religious initiatives, but seeks to strengthen first and foremost the Catholic Church.
  4. “witness to a real communion with the whole Church” — LCSC is based in parishes (but also does work outside parishes). It is a work of, by, in and for the parish. It integrates with Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs). It effectively serves both institutional and charismatic dimensions of our faith.
  5. “recognition of and esteem for the reciprocal complementarity of other charismatic elements in the Church” — LCSC seeks to collaborate with all parish ministries, Church organizations and EMNCs. It can help achieve unity in diversity. There is no competition or conflict between LCSC and other elements in the Church. It can lead to synergistic strength in our Church’s mission.

One way forward for the New Evangelization and the rejuvenation of our Catholic Church is LCSC.


CDF issues letter on relation between hierarchical, charismatic gifts

June 14, 2016

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has issued Iuvenescit Ecclesia [“The Church Rejuvenates”], a letter to bishops on the relationship between hierarchical and charismatic gifts in the life and the mission of the Church.

“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with this present document, intends, in the light of the relationship between the ‘hierarchical and charismatic gifts,’ to underline those theological and ecclesiological elements whose comprehension will encourage a fruitful and ordered participation of the new groups in the communion and the mission of the Church,” the CDF begins.

“For this purpose, first, some key elements both of the doctrine of charisms found in the New Testament and of Magisterial reflection on these new entities are presented,” it continues. “Successively, based upon certain principles of systematic theology, identifying elements of both the hierarchical and charismatic gifts will be presented alongside some criteria for the discernment of the new ecclesial groups.”

Iuvenescit Ecclesia offers two guidelines for bishops in dealing with the new movements. On one hand it calls for “respect the particularity of individual charismatic groups, avoiding juridical straitjackets that deaden novelty.” At the same time it afirms the need for “respect for the fundamental ecclesial regimen,” and emphasizes that the movements should not “be considered in some way as running parallel to the ecclesial life or not ordered in relation to the hierarchical gifts.”

At a Vatican press conference introducing the document, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, acknowledged that the emergence of new movements has sometimes caused conflict within the Church. “Despite the tensions inherent in this new integration, the fruits are far superior to the difficulties,” he said.

In an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the CDF, made a similar point, saying that the new movements have been “often a disruptive novelty,” requiring guidance and correction. Comparing the movements with “children who come into the world unplanned,” Cardinal Müller said: “Whoever’s truly a mother or father loves that child once it arrives and cares for it, just like– and sometimes even more than– all the rest.”

The new document has five sections:

  • The Charisms according to the New Testament
  • The Relationship between the Hierarchical And the Charismatic Gifts in the Recent Magisterium
  • Theological Foundation of the Relationship between the Hierarchical and Charismatic Gifts
  • The Relationship between Hierarchical and Charismatic Gifts in the Life and Mission of the Church
  • The Ecclesial Practice of the Relationship between Hierarchical and Charismatic Gifts

Among the charismatic gifts, states the Congregation, are “recent realities that can be described as groups of the faithful, ecclesial movements, and new communities.”

When “a gift presents itself as a ‘founding’ or ‘originating charism,’ this requires a specific recognition so that the richness it contains may be adequately articulated within the ecclesial communion and faithfully transmitted over time,” the Congregation continues. “Here emerges the decisive task of discernment that appertains to the ecclesial authorities.”

Among the Magisterium’s criteria for discernment are “the primacy of the vocation of every Christian to holiness,” “commitment to spreading the Gospel,” “profession of the Catholic Faith,” “witness to a real communion with the whole Church,” and “recognition of and esteem for the reciprocal complementarity of other charismatic elements in the Church,” according to the Congregation.


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