With the encouragement of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, the Pontifical Council for the Laity is organising a seminar that will take place from 15 May to 17 May 2008, to which a significant number of bishops are invited to discuss the theme of movements in the Church. At the Pentecost Vigil on 3 June 2006, ecclesial movements and new communities took part in a remarkable gathering with the Holy Father in Saint Peter’s Square. This was preceded by a congress in which over one hundred leaders of these groups took part and which dealt with the theme: “The beauty of being a Christian and the joy of communicating it”. Following on from these two events, we feel that it would be appropriate to continue with this reflection together with pastors from all over the world. Through testimonies, discussions and exchange, there can be reflection on the ecclesial movements and new communities as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church of our times.
The years that have elapsed since a similar meeting took place in June 1999 have shown that there is more familiarity and greater awareness of the role of these groups in the new evangelisation. In this regard, Pope Benedict XVI follows the same line of thinking as the magisterium of the Servant of God John Paul II.
The terms of reference will be the words of Pope Benedict XVI “I ask you to approach movements with a great deal of love”. This phrase came in a talk addressed to a group of bishops in Rome for their ad limina visit.
During the seminar - at which some ecclesial movements and new communities will be represented - there will be lectures, working groups, testimonies and discussion. The high point will be the audience the Holy Father will grant to all the participants.