Monsignor Miguel Delgado Explains What Movements Are and Who Should Join One
By H. Sergio Mora
ROME, 18 JULY 2012 (ZENIT)
Among the various events of the Year of Faith will be the Vigil of Pentecost on May 18 , dedicated to all old and new ecclesial movements. There will be a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle Peter, and prayers in St. Peter’s Square.
ZENIT interviewed Spanish priest Monsignor Miguel Delgado, under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, who said that the Pope’s meeting with the movements will be a moment of great importance during the year.
ZENIT: What is understood by new and old movements?
Monsignor Delgado: The new ones are those born shortly before the Second Vatican Council, such as the Focolare Movement founded by Chiara Lubich in 1943, and Communion and Liberation founded in the 50s by Father Luigi Giussani; and those that came after the end of the Council, such as Sant’Egidio Community, founded in Rome in 1968 by professor Andrea Riccardi, and many others. But also old ones such as the Marian Congregations, which are now called Community of Christian Life. All are invited to the May 18 event, as well as another related event: World Youth Day which will take place in Rio de Janeiro in July of next year.
ZENIT: What are the characteristics of an Ecclesial Movement?
Monsignor Delgado: In the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities every faithful who is a member assumes the commitment to live a particular charism that penetrates the whole of Christian existence, with time for Christian formation and evangelization. In these ecclesial realities, persons have the possibility to encounter and have others encounter Christ, that is, they are motivated to become apostles in the environments in which they live.
ZENIT: Do all Catholics have to belong to a Movement?
Monsignor Delgado: Certainly not, although there is in the Church the right of association; hence, the faithful are always free to take part in an Ecclesial Movement or not.
ZENIT: When do Ecclesial Movements have to be recognized by the ecclesiastical authority?
Monsignor Delgado: At a certain point of the Movement’s development, the right must come, not to suffocate but to guarantee in the future the continuity of Ecclesial Movements, as well as for an ordered use of charisms in the Church. Then there must be in every Movement the ecclesial criteria indicated in John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, as well as adherence to the magisterium, filial union with the Pope and with the pastors of the local Churches, the realization of the call to sanctity, etc.
ZENIT: How is recognition obtained?
Monsignor Delgado: The request for the eventual recognition of an Ecclesial Movement must always come from the interested individual; hence, it is a free act of every union of faithful. It is a procedure that needs time; it’s not the same as going to the civil registry and having a seal given. Moreover, the Holy See requires that the Movement have an international presence.
ZENIT: How do the charisms work?
Monsignor Delgado: In the most diverse ways, such as in personal witness of the faith, in the service of the neediest persons of society, through music, art, etc. It’s not that all must do the same thing: in this great concert each one must operate as it is. I am thinking of a Movement that works with musicals and that brings together and helps so many young people. They are persons who help to take Christ to others. I am thinking, for example, of the Diocese of Murcia in Spain, where there are so many communities of the Neo-Catechumenal Way and where the level of religious practice increased a lot. In the United States and in the whole of the American continent the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is present, as it is also in Africa.
ZENIT: What is the distinction between a lay Movement and a religious one?
Monsignor Delgado: It is necessary to know up close each ecclesial reality. The essential criteria that characterizes the proper vocation of the lay faithful is precisely their relation with the world: for example, a doctor who works in a hospital, a mother of a family who has to manage so many things related to the daily life of the family, a journalist who works in a radio station, etc. It is there that the laity must permeate the world with the Christian spirit and make God known to their families, friends and work colleagues.
ZENIT: What is the world’s state of health from the point of view of the faith?
Monsignor Delgado: Better than it seems, even if the situation isn’t easy. It is because of this that the Pope has called the Year of Faith and is speaking continuously on the subject of God. In my opinion, there are more lights than shadows. By nature, I’m not alarmist. Moreover, Jesus assured us that He is with us until the end of the world, but He didn’t say “without difficulties.” The Church is the continuous presence of Christ in history and it is the Lord who has sustained the navigation of this boat for more than two thousand years.