Rumold van Geffen reports on a meeting of ecclesial movements which was held recently at the Focolare Centre for Unity in Welwyn Garden City, Herts.
At Pentecost 1998, Pope John Paul II invited all the new Movements and Ecclesial Communities to Rome to affirm that they were recognised as a co-essential part of the Church as a whole. Ever since that date representatives of many of the New Movements have started to meet on a regular basis in many countries worldwide. This year's meeting here in Britain was held on 25 June.
As well as from Focolare there were representatives from Charismatic Renewal, Chemin Neuf, Madonna House, Schoenstatt, Sword of the Spirit (Antioch Community), Neocatechumenal Way and the Sion Community.
We rejoiced with Charismatic Renewal in the fact that they are now officially recognised by the Roman Catholic Church during the Pentecost celebrations in the Vatican under the name CHARIS.
The following is a link to their approved statutes: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vH7wbJDdIon7VwdUyGjFys3IygVsVoQo/view
In the afternoon, the meeting in Welwyn Garden City centred on a sharing of how each Movement was absorbing the Word of God in their daily life. This sharing was introduced by Deacon Adrian Cullen, who spoke about the Bishops of England and Wales' initiative to dedicate the year 2020 to Sacred Scripture under the name: 'The God Who Speaks', and which will take place in cooperation with the Bible Society.
In the morning, the sharing was about the challenge of trying to communicate to the new generations the constant moral teachings of the Church. Bishop John Sherrington presented an overview of the cultural factors which make communication of such truths difficult to be heard and then facilitated the sharing of questions and thoughts from members the Movements who recognise that these can be very difficult teachings to hand onto young people.
Bishop Sherrington quoted St. Oscar Romero who helped us understand that Christianity is not merely a collection of truths to be believed, rules to be followed, or prohibitions. Seen that way, it puts people off. Rather 'Christianity is a person who loves me immensely, who demands and asks for my love. Christianity is Christ.' It therefore becomes necessary that we invite everybody we meet to change from being 'nomads', people who move from one water-hole to the next, (i.e. from one excitement to the other) to becoming 'pilgrims', people who are on the way but already know their goal, (i.e. holiness in Jesus Christ). This means that only if we are able to invite the new generations to come with us on this pilgrimage can we share with them the centuries old wisdom of the Church contained within its moral teaching and together with them find new ways in which it is expressed.
There was a candid and open sharing by all present which felt very much in conformity with the words of the apostle Paul: 'When I am weak, then I am strong' (2 Cor. 12: 10).
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