Catholic News Service reports that Pope Benedict told a joint audience of nearly 200 bishops linked to the Focolare and Sant Egidio movements that bishop can turn to Catholic lay movements not only when he needs an organised group to implement his pastoral plans, but also when he needs to care for his own soul.
When a movement gathers its "bishop-friends" together, it helps them experience "a more intense communion of hearts, a stronger mutual support and a greater shared commitment to showing that the church is a place of prayer and charity, a house of mercy and peace," the Pope said.
The Pope says that from his days as a professor in Germany he has been convinced that "really, the movements are a gift of the Holy Spirit to the church."
The fact that the movements have reached out to bishops who draw strength from their spirituality and activities proves that "the diversity and unity of gifts and ministries are inseparable in the life of the church," he said.
Pope Benedict said the variety of lay movements responds to the variety of needs and blessings found among the world's peoples.
"In the rich Western world where, even though a culture of relativism exists, at the same time there is a widespread desire for spirituality, and your movements witness to the joy of the faith and the beauty of being Christian," he said.
In the world's poorest countries, he said, "they communicate the message of solidarity and make themselves the neighbours of the poor and the weak" with love that is both human and divine.
He prayed that in forming solid friendships, the bishops and the movements would help each other in the work of evangelisation, service to the poor and peacemaking.
Catholic lay movements can help bishops care for their own souls, pope says (Catholic Online, 8/2/07)
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9 Feb 2007