01-05-2006 - Traces, n.5
Movements In preparation for June 3rd

Coessential, Because
the Church Is Herself a Movement

Excerpts from John Paul II’s personal message to the participants at the World Congress of Ecclesial Movements, Rome, May 27, 1998

What is meant today by “movement”? A concrete ecclesial reality with predominantly lay membership, a faith journey and Christian witness which bases its own pedagogical method on a precise charism given to the person of the founder in specific circumstances and ways. The charism’s own originality, which gives life to a movement, neither claims nor could claim to add anything to the richness of the depositum fidei, safeguarded by the Church with passionate fidelity. Nonetheless, it represents a powerful support, a moving and convincing reminder to live the Christian experience fully, with intelligence and creativity. Therein lies the basis for finding adequate responses to the challenges and needs of ever-changing times and historical circumstances. In this light, the charisms recognized by the Church are ways to deepen one’s knowledge of Christ and to give oneself more generously to Him, while rooting oneself more and more deeply in communion with the entire Christian people. For this reason, they deserve attention from every member of the ecclesial community, beginning with the pastors to whom the care of the particular churches is entrusted in communion with the Vicar of Christ. Movements can thus make a valuable contribution to the vital dynamics of the one Church founded on Peter in the various local situations, especially in those regions where the implantatio Ecclesiae is still in its early stages or subject to many difficulties. I have often had occasion to stress that there is no conflict or opposition in the Church between the institutional dimension and the charismatic dimension, of which movements are a significant expression. Both are co-essential to the divine constitution of the Church founded by Jesus, because they both help to make the mystery of Christ and His saving work present in the world. Together they aim at renewing in their own ways the self-awareness of the Church, which in a certain sense can be called a “movement” herself, since she is the realization in time and space of the Father’s sending of His Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.