By Francesca Merlo
Twenty-seven Bishops’ Conferences were represented in St Mary’s College Oscott in Birmingham, England. The fourty representatives of Bishops’ Conferences from all over Europe held their meeting from 1st to 4th of July and focused this year’s reflection on the relationship between the hierarchical and charismatic dimension in the Church. The theme, introduced by Fr Martin Michalíček, CCEE General Secretary, was inspired by the 2016 document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “Iuvenescit Ecclesia”.
To discuss the charismatic aspect of the church, Dr. Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement, recalled that that there is a “co-essentiality of hierarchical and charismatic gifts in the Church.” She explained that, “aroused by the same Spirit, they both have the same origin and the same purpose…”
Dr. Voce expressed the importance of overcoming the temptation to self-preservation. She said “ensuring the ecclesial nature of the charisms should not mean relegating them to the Church, but rather pushing them outwards, each according to its own specificity. It is not a question of doing the same thing all together, standing still “at home”, but of setting out in the most diverse directions, animated by the common anxiety to reach the ends of the earth”.
Bringing Christians together
The Archbishop Emeritus of Southwalk, Bishop Kevin McDonald, who gave the second report, recalled the words of Pope Francis when he described the Catholic Charismatic Renewal as “a current of ecumenical grace”. “This is crucial,” said Archbishop McDonald, as “for him the Charismatic Renewal is an intrinsically ecumenical reality and a gift, and I say this to point out from the beginning that our topic has a clear ecumenical dimension”. Therefore, he explained, the Charismatic Renewal should bring Christians together, and encourage reconciliation between separate Christian communions. He concluded his speech by saying that “the key word must surely be the discernment of which Pope Francis speaks a lot. The discernment of gifts within the Church is vital, but discernment must also be exercised in relation to the broader cultural and religious horizons that form the globalized world in which we live”.
The General Secretaries then gave reports on activities carried out throughout the year and presented commitments scheduled for the next.