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Pope Francis :The Mission
Pope’s Address on Pastors and Laity: Exploring Ways of Participation - ZENIT - English: The Holy Father’s address to participants in the Conference organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.
(ZENIT News / Vatic an City, 18.02.2023).- On Saturday morning, February 18, Pope Francis met — in the Bishops’ Synod Hall in Vatican City -, with the participants in the International Conference for Presidents and Referents of the Episcopal Commissions for the Laity. The Conference took place from February 16-18 and focused on the theme “Pastors and Lay Faithful Called to Journey Together.”
Here is the text of the Holy Father’s address, with phrases in bold added by ZENIT.
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I thank Cardinal Farrell and I greet you, representatives of the Episcopal Commissions for the Laity, leaders of Ecclesial Associations and Movements, officials of the Dicastery and all present.
You have come here from various countries to reflect on the shared responsibility of Pastors and lay faithful in the Church. The title of your Conference speaks of a “call” to “move forward together,” thus setting the subject within the broader context of synodality. The path that God is indicating to the Church is precisely that of a more intense and concrete experience of communion and journeying together. He asks the Church to leave behind ways of acting separately, on parallel tracks that never meet. Clergy separated from laity, consecrated persons from clergy and the faithful; the intellectual faith of certain elites separated from the faith of ordinary people; the Roman Curia from the particular Churches, Bishops from priests; young people from the elderly, spouses and families disengaged from the life of the communities, Charismatic Movements separated from parishes, and so forth. This is the worst temptation at the present moment. The Church still has a long way to go to live as a body, as a true people united by the same faith in Christ the Saviour, enlivened by the same Spirit of holiness and directed to the same mission of proclaiming the merciful love of God our Father.
[A People United in Mission]
This last aspect is critical: a people united in mission. This is the insight that we must always cherish: the Church is the faithful holy People of God, as Lumen Gentium affirms in nos. 8 and 12. The Church is neither populist nor elitist, but the faithful holy People of God. We cannot learn this theoretically, but through lived experience. Only then may we seek to explain, as best we can; but if we do not live it we cannot explain it. A people united in mission, then. Synodality has its origin and ultimate purpose in mission: it is born of mission and directed to mission. Let us think of the earliest days, when Jesus sends the Apostles and they all return happy, for the demons “fled from them”: it was mission that brought about that sense of the Church. Sharing in mission brings Pastors and laypersons closer together; it builds a unity of purpose, manifests the complementarity of the differing charisms and thus awakens in all the desire to move forward together. We see this illustrated in Jesus Himself, who from the beginning surrounded Himself with a group of disciples, men and women, and, with them, carried out His public ministry. Never alone. When He sent the Twelve to proclaim the Kingdom of God, He sent them “two by two.” We see the same thing in Saint Paul, who always proclaimed the Gospel with co-workers, including laypersons and married couples, not by himself. This has been the case at times of great renewal and missionary outreach in the Church’s history: Pastors and faithful together. Not isolated individuals, but a people that evangelizes, the faithful holy People of God!
[Shared Responsibility in the Formation of the Laity]
I know that you have also discussed the training of laypersons, which is indispensable for exercising shared responsibility. Here too, I would stress that such training must be directed towards mission, not just towards theories, otherwise they will fall into ideology. And that is a terrible scourge: ideology in the Church is plague-like. To avoid this, formation must be mission-oriented, not academic, limited to theoretical ideas, but practical as well. It must arise from hearing the Kerygma, be nurtured by the word of God and the Sacraments, help people to grow in discernment, as individuals and in community, and engage from the beginning in the apostolate and in various forms of testimony, however simple, which can lead to closeness to others. The apostolate of the laity is primarily that of witness! The witness of one’s own experience and history, the witness of prayer, the witness of serving those in need, the witness of closeness to the poor and the forgotten, and the witness of welcome, above all on the part of families. That is the right training for mission: going out towards others, learning “on the ground.” And at the same time, an effective means of spiritual growth.
From the beginning, I have said that “I dream of a missionary Church” (cf. Apostolic Exhortation. Evangelii Gaudium, 27; 32). “I dream of a missionary Church”. Here, an image from the Book of Revelation comes to mind, when Jesus says: “I am standing at the door, knocking; if you [. . . ] open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you” (Revelation 3:20). Today’s drama in the Church is that Jesus keeps knocking on the door, but from within, so that we will let Him out! Often we end up being an “imprisoning” Church, which does not let the Lord out, which keeps Him as “its own,” whereas the Lord came for mission and wants us to be missionaries . . .
It is in this perspective that we can properly approach the issue of shared responsibility on the part of laypersons in the Church. The need to enhance the role of the laity is not based on some theological novelty, or due to the shortage of priests, much less a desire to make up for their neglect in the past. Rather, it is grounded in a correct vision of the Church, which is the People of God, of which the laity, together with the ordained ministers, are fully a part. The ordained ministers, then, are not masters, they are servants: shepherds, not masters.
This means recovering an “integral ecclesiology,” like that of the first centuries, when everything was unified by membership in Christ and by supernatural communion with Him and with our brothers and sisters. It means leaving behind a sociological vision that distinguishes classes and social rank, and is ultimately based on the “power” assigned to each category. The emphasis needs to be placed on unity, not on separation or distinction. The layperson is more than a “non-cleric” or a “non-religious”; he or she must be considered as a baptized person, a member of the holy People of God, for that is the Sacrament which opens all doors. In the New Testament, the word “layperson” does not appear; we hear of “believers,” “disciples,” “brethren” and “saints,” terms applied to everyone: lay faithful and ordained ministers alike, the People of God journeying together.
In this one People of God that is the Church, the fundamental element is our belonging to Christ. In the moving accounts of the Acts of the early martyrs, we often find a simple profession of faith: “I am a Christian”, they would say, “and thus I cannot sacrifice to idols”. These were the words, for example, spoken by Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna, and by Justin and his companions, laypersons. These martyrs did not say: “I am a Bishop, or ” I am a layman_ — I am of Catholic Action,” “I am of this Marian Congregation, I am a member of the Focolare Movement.” No, they said simply: “I am a Christian.” Today too, in a world that is increasingly secularized, what truly distinguishes us as the People of God is our faith in Christ, not our state of life considered in itself. We are the baptized; we are Christians; we are the disciples of Jesus. Everything else is secondary. “But, Father, also being a priest?” — “Yes, that too is secondary” — “And what about a Bishop?” — “Yes, that is secondary” — “Even a Cardinal?” — “That too is secondary.”
Our common belonging to Christ makes us all brothers and sisters. As the Second Vatican Council states, “the laity by divine condescension have Christ as their brother . . . they also have as their brothers those who, placed in the sacred ministry . . . . exercise in God’s family the office of Pastors” (Lumen Gentium, 32). Brothers and sisters with Christ, and brothers and sisters with priests, fraternity with everyone.
[A Unitary Vision of the Church]
In this unitary vision of the Church, where we are first and foremost baptized Christians, the laity live in the world and at the same time belong to the faithful People of God. The Puebla Document expressed this nicely: laypersons are men and women “of the Church in the heart of the world,” and men and woman “of the world in the heart of the Church.” True, the laity are called to live their mission chiefly amid the secular realities in which they are daily immersed. Yet that does not mean that they do not also have the abilities, charisms and competence to contribute to the life of the Church: in liturgical service, in catechesis and education, in the structures of governance, the administration of goods and the planning and implementation of pastoral projects, and so forth. For this reason, Pastors need to be trained, from their time in the seminary, to work collaboratively with laypersons, so that communion, as a lived experience, will be reflected in their activity as something natural, not extraordinary and occasional. One of the worst things a shepherd can do is to forget the people from which he came, to lack that memory. We can address to him that much-repeated word from the Bible: “Remember”. “Remember where you were taken from, the flock from which you were taken in order to return and serve it, remember your roots” (cf. 2 Timothy, 1).
[Shared Responsibility between Laypersons and Pastors]
This experience of shared responsibility between laypersons and pastors will help to overcome dichotomies, fears and reciprocal mistrust. Now is the time for Pastors and laypersons to move forward together, in every sphere of the Church’s life and in every part of the world! The lay faithful are not “guests” in the Church; it is their home and they are called to care for it as such. Laypersons, and women in particular, must be better appreciated for the skills and for the human and spiritual gifts they bring to the life of parishes and dioceses. They can assist, with their “everyday” language, in the proclamation of the Gospel by engaging in various forms of preaching. They can cooperate with priests in training children and young people, helping engaged couples in preparation for marriage, and accompanying couples in marital and family life. They should always be consulted whenever new pastoral initiatives are planned at all levels, local, national and universal. They should be given a voice in the pastoral councils of the particular Churches and should be present in diocesan offices. They can assist in the spiritual accompaniment of other laypersons and contribute to the training of seminarians and religious. Once I heard a question: “Father, can a layperson be a spiritual director?” Indeed it is a lay charism! A spiritual director may be a priest, but the charism is not priestly as such; spiritual accompaniment, if the Lord gives you the spiritual ability to do so, is a lay charism. Together with their Pastors, laypersons must bring Christian witness to secular life: to the worlds of work, culture, politics, art and social communications.
We could put it this way: laity and Pastors together in the Church, laypersons and Pastors together in the world.
I am reminded of the last pages of Henri de Lubac’s book, Méditation sur l’Église. There, he explains that the worst thing that can happen to the Church is the spiritual worldliness that goes by the name of clericalism, which “would be infinitely more disastrous than any simply moral worldliness.” If you have time, read those last three or four pages of de Lubac’s Méditation sur l’Église. Quoting various authors, he seeks to show that clericalism is the ugliest thing that can happen to the Church, worse even than those times of papal mistresses. Clericalism must be “chased away.” A priest or a Bishop who falls into this attitude does great harm to the Church. But it is a contagious disease: for the clericalized laity are a worse plague in the Church even than priests or Bishops who have fallen into clericalism. Please, remember that laypersons are laypersons.
Dear friends, with these few observations, I have wanted to point to an ideal, an inspiration to help us in moving forward. How I wish that all of us might cherish in mind and heart this lovely vision of the Church! A Church that is intent on mission, where all join forces and walk together to proclaim the Gospel. A Church in which what binds us together is our being baptized Christians, our belonging to Jesus. A Church marked by fraternity between laity and Pastors, as all work side-by-side each day in every sphere of pastoral life, for they are all baptized.
I encourage you to promote in your Churches all that you have received in these days, in order to continue together the renewal of the Church and her missionary conversion. From my heart I bless all of you and your loved ones, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. Thank you.
Translation of the Italian original by the Holy See
Friday, February 10, 2023
St. Scholastica, Virgin, sister of St. Benedetto
St. Scholastica, Virgin, sister of St. Benedetto - Information on the Saint of the Day - Vatican News https://www.vaticannews.va/en/saints/02/10/st--scolastica--virgin--sister-di-s--benedetto.html
Thursday, February 9, 2023
Vocational Boom Continues in Korea: Seoul Now Has 1,000 Ordained Priests - ZENIT - English
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Monday, February 6, 2023
3 Marian Prayers: Our Lady of China, Our Mother of Africa, Our Lady of Vailankanni - National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Sunday, February 5, 2023
Saturday, February 4, 2023
This is the state of religious life in the United States: vocations, age, data, etc. - ZENIT - English
ZENIT News / Washington, 02.01.2023).- Since 2010, the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University to conduct a survey of women and men religious who profess perpetual vows each year in a religious congregation, province, or monastery based in the United States.
For this project, CARA was asked to gather information about the characteristics and experiences of these religious and report the findings to the Secretariat for use with the World Day of Consecrated Life in February. CARA then programmed the questionnaires into an online survey to give respondents the option of completing the survey either online or on paper. This report presents results of this survey of women and men religious of the Profession Class of 2022.
To obtain the names and contact information for these women and men, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) contacted all major superiors of men and women religious institutes in the United States that were identified by the USCCB Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. Each major superior was asked to provide contact information for every member of the institute who was scheduled to profess perpetual vows in 2022.
CARA then contacted these men and women religious by e-mail or mail to explain the project and ask them to complete a brief survey. After repeated follow-ups, CARA received a response from 484 of 737 major superiors, for an overall response rate of 66% among religious institutes. Three religious institutes were not interested in participating in the studies. In all, the major superiors provided contact information for 168 members (88 women and 80 men) who professed perpetual vows in religious life in 2022.
Of these 168 identified women and men religious, a total of 114 religious members, including 62 sisters and nuns and 52 brothers and priests, responded to the survey by January 14, 2022. This represents a response rate of 67% of the 168 potential members of the Profession Class of 2022 that were reported to CARA by major superiors of men and women religious The questionnaire asked these religious about their demographic and religious background, education and work experience, previous ministry or service and other formative experiences, encouragement and discouragement to consider religious life, initial acquaintance with their institutes, and vocation/discernment programs and experiences. This report presents analyses of each question from all responding religious.
This report presents findings from a national survey of women and men religious who professed perpetual vows in 2022 in a religious institute, province, or monastery based in the United States. To obtain the names and contact information for these women and men, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) contacted all major superiors of men and women religious institutes in the United States that were identified by the USCCB Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
Each major superior was asked to provide contact information for every member of the institute who was scheduled to profess perpetual vows in 2022. CARA then contacted these men and women religious by e-mail or mail to explain the project and ask them to complete a brief survey. After repeated follow-ups, CARA received a response from 484 of 737 major superiors, for an overall response rate of 66% among religious institutes.
Three religious institutes were not interested in participating in the studies. In all, the major superiors provided contact information for 168 members (88 women and 80 men) who professed perpetual vows in religious life in 2022. Of these 168 identified women and men religious, a total of 114 religious members, including 62 sisters and nuns and 52 brothers and priests, responded to the survey by January 14, 2022. This represents a response rate of 67% of the 168 potential members of the Profession Class of 2022 that were reported to CARA by major superiors of men and women religious.
Major Findings Demographic Background
- Eight in ten responding religious institutes (82%) had no one professing perpetual vows in religious life in 2022. One in ten institutes (10%) had one perpetual profession and about one in sixteen (8%) reported two or more. In total, the religious institutes report 168 newly perpetually professed members (88 women and 80 men) in 2022.
- The average age of responding religious of the Profession Class of 2022 is 33. Half of the responding religious are age 34 or younger. The youngest is 25 and the oldest is 75.
- Four in five responding religious (78%) were born in the United States. On average, the respondents who were born outside the United States were 21 years old when they first came to the United States and lived here for 22 years before perpetual profession.
- Two in three responding religious (66%) report their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian, European American, or white. One in six (16%) members of the Profession Class of 2022 identifies as Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian. One in ten identifies as Hispanic/Latino(a). Four percent identifies as African/African American/black. And just three respondents identify as mixed race or other.
- More than nine in ten responding religious (92%) have been Catholic since birth. Among those who became Catholic later in life, their average age at the time of their conversion was 11.
- Almost all respondents (95%) report that when they were children, they had at least one parent who was Catholic.More than four in five (84%) report that both parents were Catholic.
- Almost all (95%) respondents were raised by their biological parents during the most formative part of their childhood. Besides, one in ten (12%) report being raised by their grandparents during the most formative part of their childhood.
- During the most formative part of their childhood, nine in ten (91%) respondents were raised by a married couple, living together. One in twenty respondents were raised by one parent who was widowed. Three percent was raised by one parent who was either separated or divorced. Three percent was raised by an unmarried couple who lived together, or married couple living separately, or one parent either single or unmarried.
- Almost all responding religious (97%) of the Profession Class of 2022 have at least one sibling. More than one in five (23%) have one brother or sister. Two in five (39%) report having two or three. A third (35%) have four or more siblings.
- Two in five (40%) respondents are the eldest in their family. Two in five (37%) of respondents are somewhere in the middle of their family. Women are more likely than men religious to be someone in the middle of their family; meanwhile, men are more likely than women to be the eldest. One in five (18%) are the youngest. Just 4% is the only child in his or her family.
- Three in ten (30%) report having a relative who is a priest or a religious.
Education, Work, and Ministry Experience
- Just over one in ten (12%) responding religious report being home schooled at some time in their educational background. Among those who were home schooled, the average length of time they were home schooled was 11 years.
- Nearly half of the responding religious (48%) attended a Catholic elementary school, which is higher than that for all Catholic adults in the United States (16%). These respondents are also more likely than other U.S. Catholics to have attended a Catholic high school (36% of responding religious, compared to 8% of U.S. adult Catholics) and much more likely to have attended a Catholic college (36% of responding religious, compared to 5% of U.S. adult Catholics).
- The Profession Class of 2022 is highly educated. Two in ten responding religious earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute. Three-fourths (75%) entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree.
- Most responding religious did not report that educational debt delayed their application for entrance to their institute. Among 6% of respondents who did report educational debt, however, they averaged about less than a year of delay while they paid down an average of $34,000 in educational debt. Friends, family members, and parish are the most common source of assistance for paying down educational debt.
- More than four in five (84%) had work experience prior to entering their religious institute. More than a half (53%) were employed full-time and three in ten (31%) were employed part-time before entering their religious institute. Among those who report work experience, the main work fields are business, education, and healthcare.
- More than eight in ten responding religious (84%) served in one or more specified ministries before entering their religious institute, either in a paid ministry position or as a volunteer. The most common ministry experience reported by respondents was service as an altar server (51%), followed by youth ministry/campus ministry (50%), faith formation, catechetical ministry, RCIA (48%), and lector (46%).
- Nearly nine in ten (87%) participated in one or more religious programs or activities before entering their religious institute, with the most common ministry being the youth ministry or youth group (50%), with half participating in this ministry. Two-fifths of respondents (42%) participated in Catholic campus ministry/Newman Center. A third (35%) participated in young adult ministry or group before entering religious life.
- Over nine in ten responding religious of the Profession Class of 2022 (94%) participated in one or more of these prayer practices or groups on a regular basis prior to entering their religious 4 institute. Nearly eight in ten (77%) participated in Eucharistic Adoration. Seven in ten respondents (70%) did rosary or had retreat (68%). Six in ten (58%) had spiritual direction before entering their religious institute.
Consideration of Religious Life and Choice of Religious Institute
- On average, respondents report that they were 18 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, with half being 18 or younger when they first did so.
- More than nine in ten (93%) responding religious report that someone encouraged them to consider a vocation to religious life. Men are more likely than women to be encouraged by a parish priest, friend, mother, and parishioner; meanwhile, women are more likely than men to be encouraged by a religious sister or brother.
- More than half (52%) report that they were discouraged from considering a vocation to religious life by one or more persons. Women are more likely than men to report being discouraged from discerning a religious vocation (64% compared with 37% of men religious).
- On average, respondents report having known the members of their religious institute for three years before they entered. Three-tenths (28%) report being first acquainted with their institute through the recommendation of a priest or advisor. A quarter report being first acquainted with their institute in or through a sponsored institution or work of the institute (e.g., school, hospital) (26%) or through print or online promotional material published by the institute (24%).
- Most (93%) had participated in at least one of these programs or experiences prior to entering their religious institute. Among the vocation programs and experiences about which they were asked, respondents are most likely to have participated in a “Come and See” experience. Threefourths (75%) report participating in this program before they entered their religious institute. Men are more likely than women to participate in this experience.
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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Monday, January 16, 2023
A Day in the Life
A Day in the Life