Cardinal Francis Stafford. Wikimedia Commons

Stafford: Church and Movements in America

In Washington, DC for a symposium on John Paul II, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity on charisms and mission meets with the Washington CL community: a sincere testimonial of fatherhood and friendship.
Steve Brown

From September 6 to 8, 2002, a conference entitled, “The Achievements of John Paul II: Community, Family, Culture” was held at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. The conference was held on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of The John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. His Eminence Cardinal Francis Stafford, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, spoke in the first session of the conference about “Community, Family and Culture: John Paul II’s Pontificate and the Task of the Laity.” After his address, during the question and answer session, someone asked how it is possible in the present Church to meet and to live a community that springs forth from the beauty of the presence of Christ and one in which His mercy may support and correct us. The Cardinal’s answer stressed the crucial importance of the movements in the Church as a place where one can meet, live, and follow Christ present today. In particular, he made reference to the Neo-Catechumenate Movement, and then with everyone’s full attention stated that most of what he had said during his address had been learned from the Communion and Liberation Movement and from the charism of Msgr Luigi Giussani.

His visit to Washington also coincided with a meeting that the Washington Communion and Liberation community had organized to launch the School of Community for the upcoming year and in particular to introduce the work for the month of September, namely, the fourth chapter of At the Origin of the Christian Claim. We invited Cardinal Stafford to celebrate Mass for us, and he readily accepted. He began his remarks by saying that he has known Communion and Liberation for some years and that he holds great hope for our presence in the world and in the United States. He added that the Holy Father has indicated his great admiration, respect, and love for Msgr Giussani. He spoke of being a young priest when Pope John XXIII announced that there would be a Vatican Council II and asked the world to pray for a new Pentecost. Cardinal Stafford said that he had asked himself: How can there be a new Pentecost? Is this not bold, or even vain? However, he said that he could happily report that he has been proved wrong. He said that, without question, the new Pentecost is being realized in the lay movements. He remarked that the institutional Church is living a crisis and that the charismatic element of the Church (the gifts of the baptized laity with their secular character) was crucial. At the conclusion of the Mass, Fr Lee Fangmeyer, a diocesan priest who belongs to Studium Christi and who was one of the concelebrants, thanked Cardinal Stafford and then described to him the reality of the Movement in Washington, DC. His Eminence responded by saying, “Look, I am going to tell the Holy Father about you all and he is going to be very happy.” As he was leaving, the Cardinal begged us to greet Fr Giussani and to thank him for all that he has done and is doing. He assured us of his prayers for Msgr Giussani so that he might support and sustain us along our path for being the hope for the Church and for the world.