05/30/2006, 00.00
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Pope: 300,000 expected for Saturday's meeting with movements

Representatives from over 100 movements from around the world will meet in Rocca di Papa tomorrow for the second world congress based on the theme: "The beauty of being a Christian and the joy of communicating this". The ties of Benedict XVI with these movements go back a long time.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Around 300,000 people from around the world are expected to turn up for a meeting between Benedict XVI and ecclesial movements, set to take place in St Peter's Square on the vigil of Pentecost. This was announced this morning by Mgr Josef Clemens, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, as he presenting the second world congress of ecclesial movements and of new communities in the Vatican. The congress will take place in Rocca di Papa from 31 May to 2 June 2006, and the encounter of the pope will follow.

The congress, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, will have the theme: "The beauty of being a Christian and the joy of communicating this", inspired by the homily preached by Benedict XVI at the mass launching his pontificate. The three main talks will be entrusted to the Cardinals Christoph Schönborn, O.P., Marc Ouellet, P.S.S. and Angelo Scola: they will tackle Christological (Christ, "the most beautiful of Adam's sons"), church ("The beauty of being Christians") and pastoral ("Church movements and new communities in the mission of the Church: priorities and prospects") issues. Mgr Clemens said requests to participate in the meeting had been "very many" but "for logistical reasons, the number of participants will be limited to a little more than 300, representing more than 100 movements and new communities: just more than twice the church realities represented in the congress of 1998."

For his part, Mgr Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said: "The appointment Pope Ratzinger has set with movements and communities for 3 June is an important signal of continuity with the magisterium of John Paul II, who saw precious gifts of the spirit to the Church of today in these new aggregate realities, and a great sign of hope for mankind of our time." This was a conviction expressed by John Paul II especially on the occasion of the first meeting of the movements, held on 30 May 1998.

But even the ties of Pope Benedict XVI with church movements "date back a long time and they have a history about which he himself has talked on several occasions. The very first contact he had with these realities – that then intensified and deepened – dates back to the mid-sixties, when he was still professor in Tübingen. It was the difficult post-Conciliar period, but in the eyes of the theologian, these new charisms soon revealed themselves to be a providential gift. He wrote: 'Here, suddenly, something no one had planned. Here, so to speak, the Holy Spirit had taken the floor once again. And in young men and women, the faith was re-embraced, without 'ifs' and 'buts', without escape hatches or loopholes, lived in its totality as a gift, as a precious life-giving gift.' (J. Ratzinger, 'The theological locus of ecclesial movements' in 'Church movement', p.24)".

Besides, Cardinal Ratzinger should be given credit for the "proper theological collocation of church movements". This "should be identified in apostolicity, which is the dimension from which a particular bond emerges to unite it to the ministry of the Successor of Peter. He writes: 'The papacy did not create movements but it was their essential support in the structure of the Church, their ecclesial pillar […] The Pope needs these services and they need him, and in the reciprocity of these two types of mission, the symphony of ecclesial life is fulfilled' (Ibidem, p.39 and 46)".

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