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Bishops and Consecrated Persons: Journeying in Communion

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November 01, 2016

antonianumREFLECTIONS - The key words of the International Meeting for Episcopal Vicars and Delegates for Consecrated Life are communion and reciprocity. The Meeting started on October 28. The Meeting then proceeded in the Clementine Hall in the Vatican with an audience with the Holy Father who exhorted the participants to: «love Consecrated Life and, to this end, seek a profound knowledge of it. Construct mutual relations starting from the ecclesiology of communion, from the principle of co-essentiality, from the just autonomy that is due to consecrated persons».

In the afternoon Gianfranco Ghirlanda S.J. spoke about the juridical aspects regarding the Bishops' care and vigilance of the Institutes of Consecrated Life. He affirmed: "Consecrated Life in general, and the individual Institutes, are a gift of the Spirit not only to those who are called to this form of life, but also to the Church, because Consecrated Life forms part of the same nature of the Church. That is why it is subject to the hierarchical authority; however, this same authority, as all the faithful, is subject to the Spirit, and thus, for the good of consecrated persons and the Institutes, it needs to ensure that the evangelical counsels are rightly interpreted not only theoretically in Constitutions and Rules, but also in practice".

Sr Nicla Spezzati, ASC, Under-secretary at the CICLSAL, in her keynote speech, looked at the journey that Consecrated Life in doing with the aim of identifying some converging points in the local Churches in the light of the Magisterium of Vatican II and Pope Francis. Moreover, consecrated persons are urged to make theirs the invitation to grow in missionary communion as a process of a fruitful relationship. Sr Nicla added: «In the Novo millennio ineunte, Pope St John Paul II invites us to commit ourselves to nurture and dilate spaces of communion, day by day and at every level, in the texture of the life of every Church. Missionary communion may be a vital proposal, a shared journey, and an efficacious space for such a growth».

Leonello Leidi C.P., Head of Office at the Congregation, highlighted the theological and juridical criteria which diocesan Bishops need for the discernment, accompaniment and ecclesial recognition of the new gifts of Consecrated Life. He also spoke about the issues linked to the ageing and decrease in numbers of members, and the eventual extinction of Institutes with reference to what the Code says about particular cases like fusion, union and suppression and the Congregation's praxis. He underlined: «If, on one hand it is the Spirit who continues to donate new chrisms to the Church, on the other hand, as Vatican II reminds us, the responsibility to discern their genuineness, their usefulness for this time and their orderly formation lies with those who have authority in the Church, that is, the Bishops in communion with the Roman Pontiff».

H. Ex. Mgr José Rodríguez Carballo O.F.M., Archbishop Secretary at CICLSAL, emphasized communion and reciprocity: «Mutuae relationes happen where there is an authentic meeting between persons or groups of persons, where there is mutual respect, and a humble dialogue held in a spirit of fraternity». On the contrary, Mutuae relationes cannot exist where the diverse vocations and missions are not respected, and where dialogue is lacking. «Mutuae relationes are always a two-way journey. If they are successful, the merit is of the Bishop and the consecrated persons; if they fail, experience tells us that both sides are to blame».

Vittoria Terenzi

Press Office - CICLSAL

Cell. 380/3444483

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