Message to Cardinal Stafford on the Statutes of the Way 4/5/2001
S. John Paul II
Vatican City, April 5, 2001
John Paul II has sent a message to Cardinal James Francis Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, confirming the competence of the dicastery in the approval of the Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, “Once they are duly drafted” and instructs “to continue accompanying the Way also in the future ”.
This is the text of the message: “To the venerable brother Cardinal James Francis Stafford, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity,
1. Four years have passed since that memorable January 24, 1997, when I met the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way, as well as with the many responsibles for the communities of the Camino scattered throughout the world. In that circumstance, joining in their prayer of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for the valuable fruits produced by the Way during its thirty years of life, I stressed the importance of some inescapables demands, on which the very existence of the Way depends. Among these included the drafting of a precise regulation in the form of Statutes with a view to their formal juridical recognition (cf. Address to a group of members of the Neocatechumenal Way, January 24 1997, n. 4: L’Osservatore Romano, Spanish language edition, February 7, 1997, p. 8). In this way, a new and decisive phase opened for the future of this ecclesial reality.
2. Already in the apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici (December 30, 1988) I reminded that “no charism is dispensed from the relationship and submission to the pastors of the Church” (n. 24) and I referred to what is written about it in the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium: “The judgment about its authenticity (of the charisms) and the regulation of their exercise belongs to those who guide the Church. It is their responsibility above all not to quench the Spirit, but to examine everything and keep what is good (cf. 1 Thes 5, 12. 19-21) ”(n. 12). Indeed, only on this condition charisms, in their diversity and complementarity, may contribute to the common good (cf. Christifideles laici, 24). For this reason, the process of recognition and acceptance of charisms is not easy. It requires a deep discernment of the will of God and must be accompanied by constant prayer, so that hearts may be opened docilely to the voice of the Spirit in ecclesial communion. The culmination of this process is the official act of recognition and approval of the statutes as a rule of life clear and safe, a moment in which the ecclesial realities involved always live with great joy and with deep gratitude to God and the Church. Indeed, being a new starting point, it is a visible sign of a mature ecclesial identity (cf. ib., 30).
3. I am aware with what zeal and pastoral concern the Pontifical Council for the Laity has strived and continues to strive to accompany the Neocatechumenal Way in this decisive stage of its life, that is, in the elaboration of its Statutes. Mr. Cardinal, I have entrusted this very delicate task to that Pontifical Council for the Laity, for the authority that is incumbent upon them, in accordance with the canonical norms in force, as well as for the unique experience it has in this matter. Precisely on this point is founded the hope that this process, which is already approaching its final phase, will be successful. In expressing to the Pontifical Council for the Laity my great appreciation and gratitude for the seriousness and rigor in carrying out the task entrusted to them, I confirm its competence in approving these Statutes, once they have been duly drafted, and I entrust them to continue accompanying the Way also in the future. I am sure that, in fulfilling this mandate, the Pontifical Council for the Laity will be able to count on the collaboration and the spirit of filial docility of the Neocatechumenal Way. Entrusting to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, the activity of the presiding dicastery, I cordially impart to you, venerable brother, as well as to his collaborators, my affectionate blessing ».