2016-02-02 L’Osservatore Romano
The Year of Consecrated Life, which began on 30 November 2014, ended with prayer and gratitude. On Tuesday afternoon, 2 February, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Pope Francis presided at the Eucharistic celebration in St Peter’s Basilica along with thousands of consecrated men and women celebrating their World Day.
In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, gave an accounting and indicated the horizons of this Year. The following is a translation of the interview, which was given in Italian.
Have the objectives proposed for the Year of Consecrated Life been reached?
I have a deep sense of gratitude to God and to Pope Francis for this Year. It has been like a touch of grace for us and has revitalized hope. It has led us to look at consecrated life in a positive way and also at the problems that are there: this means actual problems, such as aging or the lack of vocations on certain continents. We have rediscovered that basically there is a special vocation which is an integral part of the Church. It is not an appendage, it’s not something temporary that is about to end, but is a gift of God to the community. It has been like this from the very beginning; and we are certain that God will continue to call, even in many new forms. This profound sense of gratitude and hope is extremely important.
How is the Jubilee challenging consecrated people?
In places where I have been I’ve seen that the Year of Mercy is being experienced as an appeal to bring our relationship with God back into balance. He is the judge, but he is merciful. This definition expresses the profound identity of God. And we must transform it into personal and communitary consciousness. The fact that God employs mercy with us means that we too are called to be merciful toward others. In this sense, our relationships with others change a great deal.
How far along is the revision of the document ‘Mutuae Relationis’ on relationships between bishops and religious?
We have consulted and we are working together with the [men’s] Union of Superiors General and the [women’s] International Union of Superiors General. It is a very fruitful collaboration. The Pope has defined two central principles to work on: the spirituality of communion and the co-essentiality of the hierarchical and charismatic dimensions. I think we have to look at the relationship between hierarchy and charisms in the sense of communion. In the spirituality of communion, indeed, the relationships complete each other and become true, positive. And this is how difficulties in relating are overcome. The second principle is that of bringing back to light the co-essentiality of the hierarchical and charismatic dimensions, because these two dimensions come from the beginnings of the Church. The Holy Spirit who speaks in both dimensions does not contradict himself. This has some practical consequences, such as the need to restore true relationships in truth, in mercy, and in freedom. We must find this maturity for the good of the Church. This means that we need to be much more committed on the journey of communion among all the institutes, and between the institutes and the local Churches.