ASSISI, Italy – More than 700 Charismatic Catholics from all continents gathered together in Assisi for the 13th International Conference of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities from 30 October – 2 November.
In the midst of continuous praise and worship led by celebrities like Ricardo of Brazil, many prominent speakers reflected on the covenant communities, the unconditional love and fellowship among members, and the outward signs of the presence of Holy Spirit. Speakers included cardinals, archbishops, bishops and lay leaders.
The secretary of the Pontifical Council of the Laity, Bishop Joseph Clements, in his paper, ‘The Ecclesial Movements and the New Communities in the thought of Joseph Ratzinger’, emphasised that “obedience and communion with the local bishop” and “communities are the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the Church”. Cardinal Giovanni praised the commitment of the members in living a profound relationship and lifestyle to grow into holiness in the service of the Church.
Representatives of different continents shared the blessings and problems of their communities. In many parts of the world faith is declining but the Holy Spirit is stirring up and using the communities to help strengthen the Church. Community members are living the Gospel way of life, joyfully serving the poor and needy and evangelising non-believers and lapsed Catholics. By the power of the Holy Spirit a strong bond of unity prevails throughout.
Jean-Luc Moens, Presiding Elder of the Emmanuel Community in Paris with more than 3,000 members, reported producing more than 210 priests, with one ordained bishop recently, and have about 100 seminarians currently under formation.
Persecutions are common from both within and outside the Church. With the power of the Holy Spirit and humility, the communities survive well and are growing very fast.
Preceding the Conference was a meeting of 67 Bishops interested in these new communities and the Catholic Fraternity Council Meeting.
The first such meeting was held in Brazil in 2006. The meeting considered ‘The Charisms in the Life of the Particular Church’. Charisms are gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Bishops looked at criteria for the discernment of charisms in the Church with special reference to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. As they did this, they took into account the contribution of the very common worldwide phenomenon of ecclesial movements and new charismatic communities. In this they were guided by the thoughts of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI.
Mindful of the mission of the Church, the meeting also reflected on ‘Charisms for Evangelisation’. Clearly, charisms are meant for service in the Church and for evangelisation as well. Their exercise is motivated by charity, which is the greatest gift of all.
Malaysia was represented at the Council Meeting held from 27-30 October by the Light of Jesus Christ Covenant Community (Kota Kinabalu) and Bread of Life Covenant Community (Kuching). The 53 council members passed a resolution to organise the next (14th) International Conference at Assisi from 29 October to 2 November 2010 with a special emphasis on the youth. The meeting also called on members to dwell on charity, pastoral care, accountability, and integral formation of members on theology and heart.
The Sarawak representatives ended the Conference with a faith tour to witness the Eucharistic Miracle at Lanciano and the newly-extended Basilica and monastery at Giovanni Rotondo where St Padre Pio lived.
Archbishop John Ha/Peter Wong