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Pope to lay associations: Stay out on the existential peripheries, and avoid the desire for power

Pope Francis met with the moderators of associations of the faithful, ecclesial movements and new communities and urged them to stay out on the existential peripheries, warning them of the danger of the desire for power.
Pope meets with associations of faithful (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis met with the moderators of associations of the faithful, ecclesial movements and new communities and urged them to stay out on the existential peripheries, warning them of the danger of the desire for power.

"You have a true ecclesial mission, one that reaches out into the existential peripheries of our societies," Pope Francis told the representatives of lay association on September 16.

Pope Francis met with the moderators of associations of the faithful, ecclesial movements and new communities, gathered for a meeting organised by the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life. 

The Pope stressed the importance of the tasks of governance entrusted to the members in the lay groups, describing them as being nothing other than "a call to serve."

"But what does it mean for a Christian to serve?" asked the Pope. 

On several occasions, he said, he has pointed out two obstacles that a Christian may encounter on his or her journey and which may prevent him or her from becoming a faithful servant of God and others.

The first is the "desire for power," began the Pope. How many times have we made others feel our "lust for power"? the Pope asked. 

"Our desire for power is expressed in many ways in the life of the Church; for example, when we believe, by virtue of the role we have, that we have to take decisions on all aspects of the life of our association... and we delegate tasks and responsibilities for certain areas to others, but only in theory." 

However, in practice, the Pope explained that the delegation to others is emptied by the eagerness to be everywhere. This attitude is ugly and ends up emptying the ecclesial body of its strength. It is a wrong way of "disciplining," said the Pope.

The Pope went on to highlight another obstacle to true Christian service. "Disloyalty," he said. "We encounter it when someone wants to serve the Lord but also serves other things that are not the Lord. It is a bit like playing a double game," warned the Pope. 

He explained that we fall into the trap of disloyalty when we present ourselves to others as the sole interpreters of the charism, the sole heirs of our association or movement, or again when we claim to decide a priori who our successor should be. 

"No one is master of the gifts received for the good of the Church, no one should stifle them," said the Pope. 

The Pope stressed that "we are living members of the Church and for this, we need to trust in the Holy Spirit, who acts in the life of every association, of every member, acts in each one of us." For this reason, the trust in the discernment of charisms is entrusted to the authority of the Church. 

"Be aware of the apostolic power and prophetic gift that are handed over to you today in a renewed way," the Pontiff said. 

Pope Francis noted that the Decree on International Associations of the Faithful, promulgated on June 11, 2021, "urges us to accept some changes and to prepare the future from the present." At the origin of this Decree, Pontiff explained, "is the reality of recent decades that has shown us the need for the changes that the Decree asks of us."

Pope pointed out to the theme of their meeting, "The responsibility of governance in lay associations: An ecclesial service" is important not only for each of you, but for the whole Church. 

The Pope added that the Holy See has had to intervene in recent years, "initiating difficult processes of rehabilitation" on numerous occasions, which did include not only those "noisy" and "ugly" situations but also those of "the diseases that come from the weakening of the founding charism, which becomes lukewarm and loses its capacity for attraction."

Pope Francis expressed gratitude at beginning of the discourse, "And thank you for your presence as laymen and women, young and old, committed to living and witnessing to the Gospel in the ordinary realities of life, in your work, in so many different contexts - educational, social, and so on - this is the vast field of your apostolate, it is your evangelization."

The Pope further expressed his gratitude to them because, he said, "you did not stop" to serve others, especially in the poorest countries, during the pandemic. - Vatican News

 

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