Bishops must not straitjacket new movements: CDF

Bishops must avoid juridical straitjackets that deaden the novelty of new movements in the Church, the Vatican’s doctrine congregation says.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith this week issued a new document, Iuvenescit Ecclesia (“The Church Rejuvenates”).

This is the first document from the CDF in Pope Francis’s pontificate.

The letter stated bishops and new movements should recognise each other as “co-essential”.

Bishops must respect “the particularity of individual charismatic groups, avoiding juridical straitjackets that deaden the novelty which is born from the specific experience”.

The groups must obey the local bishop and avoid “any danger that the charismatic entities might be considered in some way as running parallel to the ecclesial life”.

The 32-page document is addressed to bishops around the world.

It addresses the relationship between hierarchical and charismatic gifts in the life and mission of the Church.

The new document insisted that both the hierarchical and charismatic gifts are given by God in order to build up the Church.

Therefore, they always must be in harmony and complement one another.

The bishop, “he who has received the gift to lead in the Church, has also the responsibility of keeping watch over the good exercise of the other charisms, in such a manner that all contribute to the good of the Church and to its evangelising mission,” the document said.

Speaking at the release of the letter, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, noted difficulties that can arise.

He said that “there have been some problems” with some of the lay movement groups setting themselves up as a sort of “counter-power to the bishops”.

At the same time, CDF prefect Cardinal Gerhard Müller said that a vision of the Church in which the bishops control everything “is not our vision”.

“Bishops are not the superiors, the commandants of the gifts of the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit is,” Cardinal Müller said.

The letter affirmed that the “Holy Spirit distributes the charismatic gifts to whomever he desires”.

“The same Spirit gives to the hierarchy of the Church the capacity to discern the authenticity of the charisms,” the letter added.

The document provided eight criteria that bishops can use in discerning whether a certain group’s charism can be properly inserted in the wider Church.


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