The right of association in the Church – the theological and canonical bases


On 2 September 2013, Cardinal Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, attended the 45th National Congress of the Italian Canonists’ Association. He opened the proceedings with a keynote address on “The right of association in the Church – the theological and canonical bases”.

Cardinal Rylko pointed out that the right of association is a natural right of each person. It is firmly established in human social nature, and it is likewise a fundamental right of all the faithful in the Church. As the Church too, the new people of God, has a social nature, this right has constitutional importance. For this reason, associations of the faithful are not placed within the sphere of ecclesiastical organisation. They belong to the areas of freedom and autonomy so that they can achieve ecclesial goals of a different nature that contribute to the spread of the Christian message. Associations of the faithful are structures of communion. All of them – traditional associations and the more recent foundations, as well as ecclesial movements and new communities – are signs of hope. They demonstrate the vitality of the Church which is always being renewed by the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are abundantly bestowed for the common good of the entire Church.

The full text of Cardinal Rylko’s address in the original Italian

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