In the teachings that John Paul II has dedicated to the ecclesial movements and the new communities ever since the beginning of his pontificate, the relation between the charismatic dimension of the Church and her institutional dimension returns again and again. Recently he wrote: “I have often had occasion to stress that there is no conflict or opposition in the Church between the institutional dimension and the charismatic dimension, of which the Movements are a significant expression. Both are co-essential to the divine constitution of the Church founded by Jesus, because they both help to make the mystery of Christ and his saving grace present in the world” (Message to the participants at the World Congress of the Ecclesial Movements, in L’Osservatore Romano, 28 May 1998, 6). The Holy Father excludes any ecclesiology that presumes an incompatability or dialectical opposition between these two dimensions. He sees, on the contrary, a relation of complementarity between them.
The Pope clearly interprets these movements as charismatic manifestations of the Holy Spirit. The model for the relation between the new communities and the hierarchical structure of the Church may therefore be sought in the original community gathered round Jesus, especially in Peter, Paul and Mary.
The Pontifical Council for the Laity is glad to be able to offer the present volume in the first place to the bishops. We are certain that the bishops and all those who have pastoral responsibility for the movements will find in these pages valuable aids to guide them in the exercise of their delicate task. The material produced by the seminar’s work and published here represents as a whole a further contribution towards a better understanding of the relation between the charismatic dimension and the institutional dimension of the Church. It testifies to a dialogue which will have to be continued for the good of the movements, for the good of the Church, and for the good of the men and women to whom the Church is called to announce the Gospel today.
From the preface by Card. James Francis Stafford, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity
The Ecclesial Movements in the Pastoral Concern of the Bishops, Seminar proceedings, 16-18 June 1999 (€10).