Intervention of Card. Stanisław RYŁKO, President of the Pontifical Council for the
Laity (VATICAN CITY)
The greatest challenge facing the Church today is the formation of a laity that is
mature in faith, and aware of their vocation and mission in the Church and the world.
It is essential to form strong and convinced Christian identities, to reawaken the
daring of a visible and incisive presence of the lay faithful in public life, a presence
that operates according to the principles of the Church’s social doctrine. In the
field of forming the laity a vast space for action opens up for the dioceses and parishes,
but also for Catholic schools and universities that are called on to look for educational
means and methods that are increasingly responsive to the real needs of the faithful,
following the teachings of the Christifideles laici, the Magna Carta of the Catholic
laity. In a world marked by spreading secularism, faith can no longer be taken for
granted, not even among the baptized. It is necessary therefore to get back to basics,
that is, to urgently promote concrete itineraries of a real, true post-baptismal Christian
initiation, considering that - as the Pope writes - “Being Christian is not the result
of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a Person, which
gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (Deus caritas est no. 1).
our time, one of the great signs of hope for the Church is the “new era of group endeavors
of the lay faithful” (Christifideles laici no. 29) that, after Vatican Council II
sees the birth of so many ecclesial movements and new communities. A true gift of
the Holy Spirit! These new charisms give origin to pedagogic itineraries of extraordinary
efficacy for the human and Christian formation of the young and adults, and unleash
in them an astonishing missionary urge of which the Church today has particular need.
These new communities, obviously, are not an alternative to the parish, but are rather
a precious and necessary support in its mission. In a spirit of ecclesial communion
they help and stimulate the Christian communities to move from a logic of simple conservation
to a missionary logic. Pope Benedict XVI, continuing the work of the servant of God,
John Paul II, never tires of asking for ever-greater openness of the Pastors to these
new ecclesial realities. In 2006, the Pope, addressing Bishops on an ad limina visit,
affirmed: “I therefore ask you to approach movements very lovingly. Here and there,
they must be corrected or integrated into the overall context of the parish or Diocese.
Yet, we must respect the specific character of their charism and rejoice in the birth
of communitarian forms of faith in which the Word of God becomes life” (Osservatore
Romano, 19 November 2006). It is therefore truly to be desired that the Churches
of the Middle East should open up with growing faith to these new group endeavors.
We must not be afraid of that novelty of method and style of announcement that they
bring: it is a healthy “provocation” that helps overcome the pastoral routine that
is always waiting in ambush to compromise our mission (cf Instrumentum laboris no.
61). The future of the Church in this region of the world really depends on our ability
to listen in a docile manner to what the Spirit says to the Church today, through
these new group endeavors as well.