Pope wants dialogue with bishops on Church ministries

A young woman reads during the celebration of Mass by Pope Francis on the Feast of Christ the King in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on November 22, 2020. In a written message released on August 24, 2022, Pope Francis invited bishops from around the conference world to join in a “dialogue” examining the diversity and growth of ministries in the church. (Photo CNS/Stefano Dal Pozzolo, swimming pool)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Fifty years have passed since Saint Paul VI instituted the ministries of lector and acolyte, opening them up to the laity, and Pope Francis wants a formal “dialogue” with the world’s episcopal conferences to discuss their experiences with the ongoing promotion of church ministries so that they foster unity and evangelism.

The pope made the proposal for dialogue in a message published by the Vatican on August 24 and dated August 15 – the 50th anniversary of his predecessor’s apostolic letter, Quédam of the ministry. This 1972 document determined that the “minor orders” would be called “ministries” and that these ministries – lector and acolyte – would be open to lay people and no longer reserved only for candidates for ordination.

Since then, Pope Francis has instituted other changes: amending canon law so that women can be officially installed as lectors and acolytes, and instituting the ministry of catechist as an official office and vocation in the Church.

In his message, the pope said that these last two efforts “should not be interpreted as supplanting previous doctrine, but as further development made possible because (the change) is based on the same principles – consistent with the thinking of the Second Vatican Council – which inspired ‘Ministeria quaedam.’

Therefore, he wrote, “The best way to celebrate today’s significant anniversary is precisely to continue to deepen the reflection on the ministries that Saint Paul VI initiated.”

“Every ministry is a call from God for the good of the community,” Pope Francis wrote.

The Christian community is called to carefully discern what the Holy Spirit is stirring up in relation to the concrete situation of each community, he added.

“Any ministerial structure that arises from this discernment is dynamic, living and flexible, just like the action of the Spirit”, and each structure must further deepen its roots in the Holy Spirit “to prevent this dynamism from becoming confusion, vivacity reduced to improvised improvisation and flexibility are transformed into arbitrary and ideological adaptations.

A ministry must be based on the solid foundation that its origin is God acting through the Holy Spirit and that its objective is always the common good and the building up of the community, he wrote.

“To be able to listen to the voice of the Spirit and not stop the process — being careful not to want to force (the process) by imposing choices that are the fruit of ideological points of view — I believe it is useful share the experiences of recent years, all the more so in this season of the synodal journey,” wrote Pope Francis.

For this reason, the pope said he wanted “to begin a dialogue on the theme (of the ministries of the Church) with the episcopal conferences in order to be able to share the richness of the ministerial experiences that the Church has lived during these 50 years”. .” Details would come later on the dialogue, which he wanted to begin “in the coming months”, he wrote.

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