Category Archives: Church Leadership

Message of the Synod Assembly on the pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation

Vatican City, 18 October 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the Message of the Third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation” (5-19 October). The speakers were Cardinals Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil, delegate president; Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and president of the Commission for the Message and Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India. The full text of the message is published below:
“We, Synod Fathers, gathered in Rome together with Pope Francis in the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, greet all families of the different continents and in particular all who follow Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We admire and are grateful for the daily witness which you offer us and the world with your fidelity, faith, hope, and love.
Each of us, pastors of the Church, grew up in a family, and we come from a great variety of backgrounds and experiences. As priests and bishops we have lived alongside families who have spoken to us and shown us the saga of their joys and their difficulties.
The preparation for this synod assembly, beginning with the questionnaire sent to the Churches around the world, has given us the opportunity to listen to the experience of many families. Our dialogue during the Synod has been mutually enriching, helping us to look at the complex situations which face families today.
We offer you the words of Christ: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me”. On his journeys along the roads of the Holy Land, Jesus would enter village houses. He continues to pass even today along the streets of our cities. In your homes there are light and shadow. Challenges often present themselves and at times even great trials. The darkness can grow deep to the point of becoming a dense shadow when evil and sin work into the heart of the family.
We recognise the great challenge to remain faithful in conjugal love. Enfeebled faith and indifference to true values, individualism, impoverishment of relationships, and stress that excludes reflection leave their mark on family life. There are often crises in marriage, often confronted in haste and without the courage to have patience and reflect, to make sacrifices and to forgive one another. Failures give rise to new relationships, new couples, new civil unions, and new marriages, creating family situations which are complex and problematic, where the Christian choice is not obvious.
We think also of the burden imposed by life in the suffering that can arise with a child with special needs, with grave illness, in deterioration of old age, or in the death of a loved one. We admire the fidelity of so many families who endure these trials with courage, faith, and love. They see them not as a burden inflicted on them, but as something in which they themselves give, seeing the suffering Christ in the weakness of the flesh.
We recall the difficulties caused by economic systems, by the “the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose” which weakens the dignity of people. We remember unemployed parents who are powerless to provide basic needs for their families, and youth who see before them days of empty expectation, who are prey to drugs and crime.
We think of so many poor families, of those who cling to boats in order to reach a shore of survival, of refugees wandering without hope in the desert, of those persecuted because of their faith and the human and spiritual values which they hold. These are stricken by the brutality of war and oppression. We remember the women who suffer violence and exploitation, victims of human trafficking, children abused by those who ought to have protected them and fostered their development, and the members of so many families who have been degraded and burdened with difficulties. “The culture of prosperity deadens us…. all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us”. We call on governments and international organizations to promote the rights of the family for the common good.
Christ wanted his Church to be a house with doors always open to welcome everyone. We warmly thank our pastors, lay faithful, and communities who accompany couples and families and care for their wounds.
***
There is also the evening light behind the windowpanes in the houses of the cities, in modest residences of suburbs and villages, and even in mere shacks, which shines out brightly, warming bodies and souls. This light—the light of a wedding story—shines from the encounter between spouses: it is a gift, a grace expressed, as the Book of Genesis says, when the two are “face to face” as equal and mutual helpers. The love of man and woman teaches us that each needs the other in order to be truly self. Each remains different from the other that opens self and is revealed in the reciprocal gift. It is this that the bride of the Song of Songs sings in her canticle: “My beloved is mine and I am his… I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine”.
This authentic encounter begins with courtship, a time of waiting and preparation. It is realized in the sacrament where God sets his seal, his presence, and grace. This path also includes sexual relationship, tenderness, intimacy, and beauty capable of lasting longer than the vigour and freshness of youth. Such love, of its nature, strives to be forever to the point of laying down one’s life for the beloved. In this light conjugal love, which is unique and indissoluble, endures despite many difficulties. It is one of the most beautiful of all miracles and the most common.
This love spreads through fertility and generativity, which involves not only the procreation of children but also the gift of divine life in baptism, their catechesis, and their education. It includes the capacity to offer life, affection, and values—an experience possible even for those who have not been able to bear children. Families who live this light-filled adventure become a sign for all, especially for young people.
This journey is sometimes a mountainous trek with hardships and falls. God is always there to accompany us. The family experiences his presence in affection and dialogue between husband and wife, parents and children, sisters and brothers. They embrace him in family prayer and listening to the Word of God—a small, daily oasis of the spirit. They discover him every day as they educate their children in the faith and in the beauty of a life lived according to the Gospel, a life of holiness. Grandparents also share in this task with great affection and dedication. The family is thus an authentic domestic Church that expands to become the family of families which is the ecclesial community. Christian spouses are called to become teachers of faith and of love for young couples as well.
Another expression of fraternal communion is charity, giving, nearness to those who are last, marginalized, poor, lonely, sick, strangers, and families in crisis, aware of the Lord’s word, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. It is a gift of goods, of fellowship, of love and mercy, and also a witness to the truth, to light, and to the meaning of life.
The high point which sums up all the threads of communion with God and neighbor is the Sunday Eucharist when the family and the whole Church sits at table with the Lord. He gives himself to all of us, pilgrims through history towards the goal of the final encounter when “Christ is all and in all”. In the first stage of our Synod itinerary, therefore, we have reflected on how to accompany those who have been divorced and remarried and on their participation in the sacraments.
We Synod Fathers ask you walk with us towards the next Synod. The presence of the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in their modest home hovers over you. United to the Family of Nazareth, we raise to the Father of all our petition for the families of the world:
Father, grant to all families the presence of strong and wise spouses who may be the source of a free and united family.
Father, grant that parents may have a home in which to live in peace with their families.
Father, grant that children may be a sign of trust and hope and that young people may have the courage to forge life-long, faithful commitments.
Father, grant to all that they may be able to earn bread with their hands, that they may enjoy serenity of spirit and that they may keep aflame the torch of faith even in periods of darkness.
Father, grant that we may all see flourish a Church that is ever more faithful and credible, a just and humane city, a world that loves truth, justice and mercy”.

Province IX bishops study self-sustainability in the Philippines

This article from the Episcopal News Service is worth reading by anyone interested in how churches can work with their community on economic development issues. It shows how the church and businesses in the community can work together and both come out stronger.

It also shows the down-side of the “Not invented here” attitude. As this article shows we can all learn from each other. Not only did the Province IX bishops learn much from what they saw in the Philippines, but we in the U.S. and the rest of the world could learn a lot from them as well.

 

Like the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, we should look for new and unique ways to reach out to, and build the communities we serve.

 

Province IX bishops study self-sustainability in the Philippines.

Harris County Churches Delinquent on Property Taxes?

This story from one of our local news radio stations should prove educational for pastors, and church administrators from all over the country.

 

Churches on Delinquent Property tax rolls

Foursquare President Elected to a Second Term

LOS ANGELES, May 28, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — The president of The Foursquare Church is to serve a second term, continuing to lead the more than 6,600 U.S. credentialed ministers through a season of major change.

Glenn Burris Jr. was ratified Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in a historic vote at the denomination’s annual convention, the first giving qualified absentee voters a voice in choosing their next leader. Glenn will officially begin his next five-year term Sept. 1, 2015, which will end Aug. 31, 2020.

More than 1,300 voting ministers and delegates on site at Foursquare Connection 2014 this week, taking place in Dallas through May 29, and 731 credentialed ministers who returned absentee ballots, voted to ratify Glenn to continue in his role for another five years, precluding the nomination and selection of a new president. According to Foursquare bylaws, 75 percent of the votes cast is required in order for the president to be ratified.

“It’s very humbling to serve you at any level. … Thank you for your trust and confidence,” Glenn told the convention body upon accepting the ratification, before three former Foursquare presidents—Jack Hayford, Paul Risser and Harold Helms—prayed for Glenn, anointing him with oil. “What a great future the Foursquare church has,” he said, referencing the Reimagining of Foursquare discussed throughout this year’s convention.

“I take the responsibilities of the president’s office very seriously, and I will continue to strive for excellence in serving The Foursquare Church and God’s kingdom,” Glenn said in a statement.

The appointment is being widely welcomed within the denomination as an important decision at a time of transition. Foursquare is in the midst of significant organizational changes intended to better position its churches and members for more effective ministry.

Glenn, who has served in various ministry roles with Foursquare since his first appointment in 1976, has earned widespread appreciation for the way he has headed the Reimagine Foursquare process, a reevaluation unparalleled in the movement’s 91-year history. His collaborative leadership approach has been welcomed as national and local leaders, as well as lay members, have been involved in prayer, research and discussion on issues related to church organization, government and practice.

Proposals for realignment organizationally, financially, structurally and pastorally are being presented at this week’s gathering in Dallas, with further research and discussion to follow as changes are implemented. More than 3,000 people from across the U.S. and overseas have gathered in Dallas under the theme, “Multiply.”

A graduate of Mount Vernon Bible College in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Glenn served as a youth pastor and senior pastor before taking on district and national leadership roles. He became supervisor of Foursquare’s historic Southeast District in 1992, and 10 years later was appointed general supervisor of the U.S. national church.

Glenn and his wife, Debbie, have two adult children, two grandchildren and a third grandchild on the way this summer.

As president, Glenn leads a denomination with around 1,700 churches and 7,000 credentialed ministers in the U.S. Globally, there are more than 7.5 million Foursquare members in 136 countries, around 99,000 licensed ministers, and more than 68,000 churches and meeting places.

Officially named the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, The Foursquare Church was founded in 1923 by Aimee Semple McPherson. A pioneering evangelist, she opened the historic Angelus Temple in Los Angeles and was known for her creative use of media in ministry.

A Pentecostal movement, Foursquare draws its name from what members embrace as the essential four-fold ministries of Jesus: Savior, Baptizer With the Holy Spirit, Healer, and Soon-Coming King.

For more information on The Foursquare Church, visit foursquare.org. For an interview with President Glenn Burris Jr., please contact Brad Abare at comm@foursquare.org.

10th Annual Church Security Conference

FRISCO, Texas, May 27, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — The National Organization of Church Security & Safety Management (NOCSSM™) will present its Tenth Annual Church Security Conference to be held at New Life Church in Colorado Springs on August 8-9, 2014.

Session highlights:
“Initial Responder™” Tactics (What to do until SWAT gets there?), Pastoral Protection, Close Quarters Combat, Active Shooters, Armed Security Teams, Control and restraint techniques, Childcare Security, Mission Trip Security — these are all buzzwords that every church is dealing with. Church leaders are asking, “What are the liabilities? What are other churches doing to address these issues?” and “What is legal in my state?”

“Each year we try to have new speakers and new subject matter to add to our attendee’s security skill set.” says Chuck Chadwick (President of NOCSSM),”This year is no different. It is hard for me to believe that we have been helping to protect our church families by providing ‘Real Solutions’ for the ‘Real World’ of church security for over ten years.”

Special sessions this year will include former United State Secret Service agent and Church Security Director Brian Gallagher who will be speaking on Pastoral Protection. New Life Church’s Security Director, Jeff Kowell’s demonstration of team security drills and exercises. Carl Chinn will also be presenting a special session on the newly announced “Gatekeeper Program™” being deployed in Colorado and other western states. Carl will also be speaking about the New Life Church shooting of 2007. Chuck Chadwick will be presenting on Armed “Initial Responder™” Tactics.

While not all churches have the degree of concern as a mega-church, every church wants to meet the unthinkable with a degree of preparedness.

The two day conference is the best training attendees can get and a great value to every church. We anticipate to sell out very quickly.

For further details go to www.nocssm.org

About NOCSSM
The National Organization of Church Security & Safety Management (NOCSSM) is dedicated to church security and safety issues through the implementation of security and safety measures specifically designed and time tested for churches.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Chuck Chadwick –
cchadwick@nocssm.org
The National Organization of Church Security & Safety Management (NOCSSM™)
972-712-8818
www.nocssm.org

Traveling with Saints

Traveling with Saints
By Edward M. Dougherty, M.M.

Maryknoll Superior General reflects on how two popes to be canonized this spring have influenced his life.

Few people ever get the chance to travel with a saint. I did! In September 1988 I was in the contingent of international church people and journalists that accompanied Pope John Paul II on his fourth pastoral visit to Africa.

When Pope Francis recently announced that he would canonize Pope John Paul along with Pope John XXIII on April 27, I was elated and relived my up close and personal encounter with Pope John Paul.

I can still recall the plane ride to southern Africa when we members of the pope’s entourage were given the opportunity to ask him questions. The questions came rapid-fire in many languages — French, Italian, Polish, English — and he replied in the language of each speaker. I was really impressed.

When my turn came, as a missioner I naturally asked, “Do you have a word for missionaries in Africa?” I waited anxiously for the answer. I will always remember his deep, strong voice bestowing a blessing on the missionaries in Africa and saying how he and the entire Church are grateful for the missioners’ tremendous efforts to share the Gospel. Then he paused and added how encouraged he was to see the African church becoming missionary itself.

Having served in Africa as a Maryknoll priest, I felt proud. Here was the pope affirming not only missioners’ work of evangelization but also the faith of the people in receiving it and handing it on.

Throughout our visit — to Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique — I could tell this pope felt the love of the people and loved them in return. Reserved but warm, he seemed to enjoy the lively African singing and dancing that marked every liturgy he celebrated wherever we went.

In Mozambique, then embroiled in a violent civil war, the warring parties issued a ceasefire for the duration of the pope’s visit. That was miraculous. But he reminded the priests and religious in this country of their role in promoting a lasting peace. He asked them rhetorically, “How can one give witness and preach to the people the new commandment (of love) without promoting, through paths of peace and justice, their authentic progress?” Peace did not come immediately but the pope’s presence certainly planted seeds of hope for a future free from fear and conflict.

John Paul II was pope for over 25 years and, in my opinion, succeeded in presenting the global face of the Church and, by his numerous trips to countries throughout the world, strengthening the ties of Rome with the local churches he visited.

I never, of course, had the privilege of meeting Pope John XXIII personally. I was only in the fourth grade when he became pope in 1958. I thought he was a courageous man, inspired by the Holy Spirit to bring the Church into the modern world. His convening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962 had far-reaching effects on countless lives, including mine.

Like other Catholics who remember a time when the Mass was totally in Latin, I was happy to participate in the liturgy in my own language following Vatican II. As a diocesan seminarian in my native Philadelphia before transferring to Maryknoll in 1974, I experienced the influence of this future saint in “opening the windows” of the Church and urging priests and religious to leave the confines of their rectories and convents and take the Gospel into the streets. Because of this unprecedented papal exhortation, every Thursday we seminarians were required to leave our desks and go out to do field work in parishes to get hands-on preparation for our future work as priests.

A few years ago a former Maryknoll priest associate, Father Don Larmore, with whom I served in Tanzania, gave a retreat on the life and times of John XXIII. It prompted me to recall the powerful hope that John inspired as well as the welcoming and compassionate style that marked his papal leadership. Father Larmore reminded us of how as papal nuncio in Bulgaria, the future pontiff promoted interreligious dialogue and even as pope remained a simple pastor, concerned with ordinary people’s needs and the run of the mill things of life.

John XXIII died in 1963, mourned throughout the world and remembered as “good Pope John.” He was buried in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Following his beatification by Pope John Paul II, in 2001 John’s body was moved from its original place to the altar of Saint Jerome, where it could be seen by all the faithful. At that time I was serving as Procurator General for the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in Rome, and I can attest that the grave of Pope John XXIII is one of the most visited sites there.

So, I am excited about the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. They inspire me in my own role as Superior General of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. They are great role models for the Church today, John XXIII for his openness and desire to make the message of Christ relevant to the modern world and John Paul II for being an ambassador of Christ to that world.

Last year at a meeting of religious superiors in Rome, I had the privilege of meeting the man who now walks in the footsteps of John XXIII and John Paul II, Pope Francis. I came home encouraged by this spiritual father, who reaches out to all. He truly continues the legacy of the two he will canonize as saints, that is, people who had a call to holiness and acted on it. May we all follow their example.

Free Live Webcast to Offer Thousands of Church Leaders Access to Evangelism Conversation at Exponential East 2014

ORLANDO, March 18, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — To help as many as possible church leaders “rethink” evangelism, Exponential has announced plans for a high-quality live webcast from the upcoming Exponential East 2014 conference in Orlando. The webcast is free to anyone who registers for it.
Featuring 25 leading voices in the Church today, the live webcast will include 10 sessions streamed live over three days from Tuesday, April 29, to Thursday, May 1.
Exponential is continuing last year’s discipleship conversation, this year focusing on what Jesus said was His core mission on earth: “…to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10)–and how we as Jesus’ disciples can look to His example to join Him in that mission. The webcast’s sessions will focus on five key areas: ReThinking Evangelism; ReThinking Outreach; ReThinking Witness; ReThinking Preaching; and ReThinking the Commission.
“This webcast offers leaders who can’t make it to Orlando, or are leaving a spouse or team members at home, a solid solution for encouraging and equipping them through what we believe are critical conversations for the church as we focus on helping awaken an evangelistic impulse,” says Exponential Director Todd Wilson. “It’s the second best thing to being onsite.”
Collectively, webcast viewers will hear from 25 key leaders: Andy Stanley, Bill Hybels, Nicky Gumbel, Dave Gibbons, James Meeks, Greg Nettle, Matt Chandler Jeanne Stevens, Oscar Muriu, Choco De Jesus, Michael Frost, Larry Osborne, Alan Hirsch, Danielle Strickland, Damien Boyd, Dave Travis, Dave Ferguson, Vince Antonucci, John Teter, Jim Burgen, Hugh Halter and via video Tim Keller, Craig Groeschel, Louie Giglio and Ed Stetzer.
For the last two years, Exponential has partnered with LifeWay Christian Resources to present the high-quality webcast. In 2013, the Exponential Orlando webcast drew an estimated 40,000 viewers in 93 countries while the Exponential West 2013 webcast featuring programming similar to Orlando’s drew 15,000-plus viewers worldwide. Exponential believes this year’s webcast from Orlando has greater potential to reach many more.
“The cross-section of speakers we’ve enlisted to lead these main sessions is possibly the strongest in the conference’s seven-year history,” Wilson says. “We’re thrilled to offer this caliber of teaching on evangelism to a global audience.”
The webcast will again feature DVR functionality, allowing for flexible viewing times. The DVR functionality and free access offer church and ministry leaders prime opportunities to host the webcast for their launch teams, small group leaders, staff, network and even their church.
“The Seek + Save theme and rediscovering these five biblical truths are of critical importance to every church planter,” says Exponential President Dave Ferguson.
“Recent research tells us that only 18 percent of Americans will set foot in a church this weekend, but Gallup reports that 92 percent of the U.S. population says they believe in God. We have to come to grips with the reality that many churches have lost their ability to connect with people who actually believe in God. We have to rethink evangelism because we have to rethink how we reach this group of people who believe in God but have not found a safe place in our churches.
“I believe the webcast will be an important equipping tool to challenge and inspire everyone in the church to help people find their way back to God.”
Exponential East speaker Hugh Halter adds, “If God could change the world through men and women who traveled by land and sea just to share the story of Christ, imagine what can happen when countless thousands of people around the world share the story of Christ through a webcast!”
“New technology is going to help take powerful ideas that are changing the game in the United States and make them accessible across the globe,” says author Alan Hirsch, a thought leader and key mission strategist for churches across the Western world. “It’s all about movement. Very exciting.”
For a detailed schedule of the webcast and a full list and description of the five key areas that Exponential 2014 will explore, go to exponential.org/webcast.
Anyone wanting to participate in the webcast experience can register for free at exponential.org/webcast. During the live webcast, participants will receive periodic emails alerting them to upcoming sessions and speakers.
MEDIA REQUESTS: Exponential Director Todd Wilson, Exponential President Dave Ferguson and select webcast speakers are available for media interviews. Photos available on request.
Founded in 2008, Exponential is a growing movement of leaders committed to accelerating the multiplication of healthy, reproducing churches. Providing a national platform and distribution channels for championing church planting, Exponential spotlights and spreads actionable thought leadership (principles, ideas and solutions) through conferences, magazines, books, digital media and learning communities. Exponential is one of the premiere distribution channels of church planting resources for hundreds of national influence leaders, including Francis Chan, Alan Hirsch, Rick Warren, Matt Chandler and Mike Breen. For more information, visit exponential.org.

High Profile Lawyer Takes Sainthood Case

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 7, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — The sainthood cause for Fr. Aloysius Ellacuria, C.M.F. has just received a special gift for the New Year. Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, whose office is in Rome, will act as “postulator” of the cause. Dr. Ambrosi is “happy to accept the role of Diocesan and Roman Postulator for the future Cause of Beatification and Canonization of Fr. Aloysius Ellacuria, C.M.F.”Father Aloysius was the well-known Claretian missionary priest who exercised a saintly ministry within Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Antonio, Texas. Last year Archbishop Jose Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles lamented that he “lacked funds and canon law experts for a sainthood cause.” While disappointing, a group called “The Friends of Father Aloysius” continued in its determination to “take up the torch” for the lengthy and costly process of canonization.

“Securing the services of an experienced and recognized canon lawyer is a miracle in itself,” according to Fr. Manion, “since there are very few experts in the field of canonizations.” The postulator, as he is referred to, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, continues to work on other well-known Catholic sainthood causes including, John Cardinal Newman who was recently beatified, Pope John XXIII, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Frs. Stanley Rother and Emil Kapaun, and many others. Fr. Kevin Manion representing The Friends of Father Aloysius is delighted.
“Although we still have many details to work out, including the financing,” stated Manion, “today’s announcement confirms we are on the right track.”

New Documentary Answers Question: Who is Pope Francis?

‘Francis: The Pope From the New World’ to air on FOX Business Oct. 20
ROME, Oct. 14, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — A new documentary delves into the life story and thinking of Pope Francis, the man who has fascinated Catholics and non-Catholics alike since stepping onto the world stage earlier this year. It will air on the FOX Business Network on Sunday, Oct. 20, at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.
Francis: The Pope From the New World traces the remarkable rise of Jorge Mario Bergoglio who has become the first pope from the Americas, the first pope who is a Jesuit, and the first to take the name Francis. The hour-long program features interviews from around the world, with close friends, fellow priests, co-workers, his biographer, and the poor of Buenos Aires. Most of the interviews and much of the film were shot on location in Argentina.
“This documentary arrives as the world realizes that a very special man has assumed the leadership of the Catholic Church, and this begins — but does not end — with his gestures of humility and care for everyone,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, one of the documentary’s executive producers. “Still, what remain largely unknown to the public are many details of Pope Francis’ life, the work he has done and the ways in which he has defended the voiceless and Catholic principles. This documentary delves into those stories.”
The documentary begins with the electrifying moment when the new pope stands before the crowd in St. Peter’s Square on March 13, the day of his election. It then takes viewers through both the ordinary and climactic events of his life, from family dynamics, to his call to the priesthood, to his support for the San Lorenzo soccer team, to his care for those in the slums of Buenos Aires.
It traces his work for those threatened in Argentina’s Dirty War that coincided with Fr. Bergoglio’s time as Jesuit provincial, his advocacy for those affected by economic and political turmoil, and the opposition he sometimes encountered from Argentina’s political elites.

THE COUNCIL OF CARDINALS: A NEW CONSTITUION FOR THE CURIA

Pope Benedictus XVI

Pope Benedictus XVI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vatican City, 3 October 2013
(VIS) – The reform of the Curia and the attribution of of more incisive
role to the laity were among the principal themes considered yesterday
afternoon and this morning in the meeting of the Council of Cardinals,
instituted by the Pope to assist him in the governance of the Church,
said the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi
S.J., in a briefing with journalists.

Before commenting on
the issues discussed by the cardinals, Fr. Lombardi referred to the
words of the Pope at the end of the audience with participants in the
meeting held to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of John XXIII’s
encyclical, “Pacem in terris”, in which he recalled the victims,
currently numbered at 90, of the shipwreck this morning near the Italian
island of Lampedusa. “In the light of this new tragedy”, he said, “we
understand more clearly the value and meaning of the first trip of
Francis’ pontificate”.

Moving on to the work of the Council of Cardinals, he
stated that the Pope was present yesterday in the afternoon session,
held between 4 and 7 p.m. “The Holy Father goes to pray at the Chapel at
seven o’clock, and that is the end of their collaboration, although the
the cardinals may join him together, if they see fit. This morning he
was not present as he received in audience the participants in the
meeting organised by the Pontifical Council ‘Justice and Peace’”.

The cardinals worked principally on the reform of the
Curia. “The direction of their work would not indicate an updating of
the apostolic Constitution ‘Pastor Bonus’, with retouches and marginal
modifications”, explained Lombardi, “but rather, a new constitution with
significant new aspects. It will be necessary to wait a reasonable
amount of time following this Council, but the idea is this. The
cardinals have made it clear that they do not intend to make cosmetic
retouches or minor modifications to ‘Pastor bonus’”.

The intention of the cardinals is to emphasise the nature
of the service on the part of the Curia and the universal and local
church “in terms of subsidiarity, rather than the exercise of
centralised power. The intended direction would be to put this into
practice in the service of the Church in all her dimensions”.

Another important theme was the nature and functions of
the Secretariat of State, which “should be the secretariat of the Pope;
the word State should not give rise to doubt. This body serves the Pope
in the governance of the universal Church. The meeting of the Council is
very useful at the moment, in view of the directions the Pope will give
to the new Secretary of State, who will assume his role shortly, on 15
October”.

Again in relation to
the Curia, the Council will address the matter of relations between the
heads of the dicasteries and the Pope, and co-ordination between the
various bodies. “In this context, mention was made of the role of a
‘Moderator Curiae’ (moderator for the Curia), and the functions of such a
figure. The issue was touched upon but no decision has been made as to
whether it will form part of the new constitution; however, it is in
fact one of the hypotheses suggested by the Council”.

With regard to a
possible reorganisation of the administration of temporal goods, the
cardinals touched upon this matter but without exploring the theme in
depth, since they are awaiting the “reports of the referring commissions
on the matter, who will communicate the results of their work [to the
Council]”.

The question of the laity merited “significant attention”
from Council members, as they had received many suggestions and
questions on this subject from their various areas of origin. “When
dealing with the reform of the curia and its institutions, the Council
also plans to give more specific attention to issues relating to the
laity, so that this dimension of the life of the Church is properly and
effectively recognised and followed by the governance of the Church. Now
there is a Pontifical Council for the Laity, but it is still possible
to think of ways of strengthening this aspect”.

This morning, in view of the preparations for the next Synod, debate on the matter was reopened.

Finally, Lombardi
said that yesterday no date had been set for the next meeting of the
Council, although mention was made of a meeting in spring next year, of
an informal nature. “The intention”, he concluded, “is to continue,
without waiting for too long. Also, it would be incorrect to assume that
nothing happens between one meeting and another; the cardinals and the
Pope continue to exchange opinions and messages, even in the absence of a
plenary meeting of the Council”.

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