A theologian discusses the new ecclesial movements

Massimo Faggioli

Church historian and theology professor at St Thomas University, Minneapolis, Massimo Faggioli, discusses the role of the 'new ecclesial movements' in this interview with Radio Vaticana.

Later this year Liturgical Press will publish his latest book in English entitled Sorting Out Catholicism. A Brief History of the New Ecclesial Movements, so Philippa Hitchen sat down with the professor to discover more about the origin of these movements and the way they are changing the face of the Church.

Faggioli says the Church has always been invigorated by movements....but the beginning of the 20th century saw the development of a big unified movement called Catholic Action that every Catholic was supposed to be part of it....between World War II and the 1970s, he says, Catholic Action fragments and out of this body other movements develop with more specialised charisms...

Faggioli says it's hard to define them and though they usually begin informally or underground, these movements now are mostly recognised by the hierarchy. Listing some common characteristics, he says first they have a founder, in most cases a lay person, they have a rule, a common lifestyle that can be formally written or non-written, then they have an internal structure and then what defines them is a particular kind of relationship with the hierarchy...

Faggioli notes that in 1975 Pope Paul VI clearly recognises the movement of Communion and Liberation during a pilgrimage in Rome during Holy Week. Then Pope John Paul II has a policy of recognising most of them, and subsequently Pope Benedict and Pope Francis know well that the new Catholic Movements are an integral part of what being Catholic is today, especially with the focus on evangelisation...

They're growing fast but what's most interesting, Faggioli says, is their ability to rejuvenate the Catholic Church in a way that's not very typical – they begin as if the Church had recognised them already and then, after the fact, they convince their local bishops or the pope that they're an authentic embodiment and way of living the gospel – it's a huge phenomenon.

Read more:

New Ecclesial movements - changing the face of the Church? (Radio Vaticana)