|Interview With the Director-General of Regnum Christi
By Jesús Colina
ROME, 23 JULY 2008 (ZENIT)
Although the relationship between bishops
and movements at times can be difficult, with the collaboration of both,
the Church will achieve unity and new apostolic impetus, says the
director-general of the Catholic lay Regnum Christi movement.
Legionary of Christ Father Álvaro Corcuera spoke with ZENIT about the
relationship between movements and local Churches, and the progress
gained in that relationship since Pope John Paul II's meeting with
movements 10 years ago.
Regnum Christi, a lay movement recognized by the Holy See, has close
to 70,000 members. Father Corcuera is also the director-general of the
Legionaries of Christ.
Q: Recently the Pope exhorted bishops to welcome "with much love" the
various ecclesial movements that have arisen within the Church over the
past decades (cf. address to bishops attending a meeting organized by
the Pontifical Council for the Laity). How do you think the movements
should interpret these words?
Father Corcuera: We must thank Benedict XVI for these words. They
reaffirm our conviction that the ecclesial movements, which the Holy
Spirit has inspired within the Church, are not a problem but a gift.
Therefore, we should all welcome them with gratitude and pastoral
charity, so that with their lifestyle and characteristic apostolic
thrust, the new ecclesial movements may contribute effectively and
orderly to the common task of preaching the Gospel to the man of today.
To welcome the movements with love means to help them to be faithful to
the Church, to walk in step with the Church, not before or behind it.
Finding an open heart in the pastors that Christ has placed at the head
of the Church will help members of the ecclesial movements to be woven
peacefully, with their own charism, into the fabric of the local
Q: How can one understand that the existence of ecclesial movements
is compatible with the unity of the Church?
Father Corcuera: The fact that there is a diversity of spiritual
gifts is one more sign of the richness and variety with which the Holy
Spirit wills to embellish the one Church of Christ. Unity has no quarrel
with the variety of charisms; rather, it manifests that in Christ's
mystical body, every member has a specific function, which contributes
to the wellbeing of the whole body.
Moreover, the Church is the great family that God the Father has
formed with all those who believe in Christ and have received his
Spirit. And, as in all families, the different members that make it up
have different missions, different sensitivities and different
qualities. However, no one is better or worse. Simply all make up the
family of God.
In the Church, the Holy Spirit works with wisdom and love and, given
that every man and woman is unique, he leads each one on a different
spiritual path, toward his or her fulfillment in Christ. The movements,
of course, have their own spiritual style and attract people of
different sensitivities. However, far from breaking unity, this
— lived with humility and sincere love of the Church
enables the Bride of Christ to preach the Gospel to all men of all
cultures and sensitivities.
Q: If the Pope posed the questions of unity and acceptance it is
because at times there have been misunderstandings and disagreements in
the relationship of these movements with the local Churches. How should
one respond to these situations?
Father Corcuera: The first thing that comes to mind is that the
misunderstandings and disagreements that can emerge between movements
and local Churches must not discourage us. Rather, they are an
opportunity to reflect and exercise the virtues necessary to achieve
complementarity in harmony and in joint endeavors.
Reflecting further, I see that the history of the Church shows the
wonderful presence of Providence. On studying this history, one
discovers with astonishment how God leads his Church by the hand to her
fullness, and how he has not ceased to inspire charisms that he has
considered necessary in every moment to go out to meet his children, so
that the proclamation of the Good News of the Gospel is a "performative"
communication, which entails deeds and changes life, as Benedict XVI
says in his encyclical on hope.
The Gospel commits us to exercise attitudes and conduct that build the
necessary unity. "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one
body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Corinthians 10:17). The
fruit of this truth of the mystical body of Christ is communion in love,
which is our definitive vocation. And love leads all of us to accept
what each one has received, so that together we can fulfill the mission
of proclaiming the Gospel to all peoples and nations.
As Pope John Paul II recalled in his message to the 1998 World
Congress of Ecclesial Movements, "the movements were inspired by the
Spirit of Christ to give new apostolic impetus to the whole ecclesial
community." The movements take on this mission with a sense of
responsibility, seeking to grow to be able to serve more and better.
However, it is not growth for the sake of growth but as a loving
response to the Person loved.
Q: How do you assess the experience of ecclesial movements in their
relationship with their bishops and dioceses in the course of recent
Father Corcuera: In general, especially after the great meeting of
movements with John Paul II in 1998, we can speak of a positive
experience. A good integration of ecclesial movements has been achieved
in numerous dioceses. In some cases, human difficulties and
misunderstandings continue; however, they can be overcome with patience,
much dialogue and, above all, love of the Church and its mission. In
addition, exchanges and collaboration between different ecclesial
movements have increased notably, and this fact is of great importance
to be able to offer an effective service to the local Churches and their
Now that almost a year has passed, I am recalling the message given
to us by Cardinal Franc Rode, the prefect of the Congregation for
Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. It was
in July of last year, in the framework of the Youth and Family meeting
organized by Regnum Christi in Atlanta, Georgia. He told us that
wherever there is a Regnum Christ member
and the same can be said for the members of any other ecclesial movement
there is profound communion with the Vicar of Christ and all other
pastors, that communion with the Pope and with the Church is our
guarantee for apostolic fruitfulness.
He encouraged us to continue in this way, working hard in local
Churches, cooperating with the bishops, the parish priests and the
religious. He reminded us that the Church is our house and home, and
invited us to make it always the environment of our work and our
I don't think I can explain better than the cardinal what we hope our
love for the Church and our obedience to bishops and pastors to be. We
are committed to making this call come to life, putting our whole heart
and strength into it. To do so, we know that the best means is to be
formed in a profound spirit of prayer, in a lively, joyful and
transforming reception of the sacraments, in a solid living of the
theological virtues, which implies molding our heart to be meek and
humble like Christ.
Q: What is Regnum Christi doing to foster unity and further its work
within local Churches?
Father Corcuera: First of all, it continues to foster
as has been true since the days of our foundation
real experience of love of Christ, of the Church and of the Pope and
bishops in the Legionaries of Christ and members of Regnum Christi. It
must be a passionate and faithful love, obedient and motivated, willing
and joyful. This must be the real motor and meaning of any action.
And, needless to say, we want the members of Regnum Christi to be
fully inserted into their local Churches. To be part of the Regnum
Christi Movement entails a commitment to authenticity in Christian
living in all environments
family, work, friendships
and not less so in parishes and dioceses. Far from distancing the
members from diocesan and parish life, their membership in Regnum
Christi commits them to a more active participation, putting their
personal talents as well as the richness of the movement's charism at
the service of their pastors. They are also committed to being active
faithful in their parishes, apostles who know their pastors, pray for
them, welcome their teachings, know their needs and support their
As a movement, we seek to cooperate in the pastoral plans of dioceses
and parishes by contributing our spirituality and apostolic style. We
also seek to inform the bishops regularly about the activity we wish to
carry out in their dioceses and, in a special way, we seek to obey them
always with an attitude of service.
We must not forget either that the first way of serving the Church is
fidelity to our own charism, because it is a gift and responsibility. In
this connection, to live charity and to pay attention especially to the
Church's priorities and urgencies is the specific way that Regnum
Christi has of serving the local Churches.
Q: Allow me to add a question about the situation in North America,
where parish life is very organized and the role of the ecclesial
movements is not yet well defined. Sometimes, the impression can be
given that the movements "compete" with parish activities or create
parallel structures. Recently, Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore
intervened, asking for concrete information and setting certain norms
that Regnum Christi should fulfill in its pastoral work. How has it
taken up these guidelines?
Father Corcuera: I have known Archbishop O'Brien since he was the rector
of the North American College here in Rome. The first thing I sought to
do was to make contact with him so that there could be dialogue and we
could clearly understand his uncertainties, and those of the Baltimore
clergy. In our meeting at the beginning of June, the archbishop
explained his concerns to me and what he expected from us.
The meeting helped me a lot, and of course, we always have points that
we have to keep working on. After all, our mission has no meaning except
within the Church, and at the service of the Church.
Later, Archbishop O'Brien invited the Regnum Christi members of his
archdiocese for a frank and constructive exchange. Since then, we have
already given him all the information that he asked for, and we have
also made contact with the parish priests where there are Regnum Christi
members or activities. One of the factors that most impresses me about
Regnum Christi in Baltimore is that more that 70% of the members work in
at least one apostolate in their respective parishes.
When we begin with our work again in September, we will keep up personal
contact with [the parish priests] to invite them to our meetings and to
place our teams and our activities at their disposal in their parishes
and the life of the archdiocese.
I trust that in communion with the archbishop and the local clergy, we
are going to be able to overcome all difficulties and misunderstandings.