The spirit of Catholic Action distinguishes itself through three fundamental elements: its apostolate (or the purpose of Catholic Action), prayer and formation.
This is how Sain Pope John Paul II describes it:
“I have full trust in you because Catholic Action, by its very nature, has close relations with the Pope and consequently with Bishops and Priests and this is its most important characteristic. Every ‘ecclesial’ group offers ways and means as to how one can live his Baptism and Confirmation more intensely; but Catholic Action is bound to do this in a very special way, because it gives that direct help to the Hierarchy, by sharing in all its apostolic anxieties”
(30th December 1978).
“Catholic Action must be revived. Without it the infrastructure of Catholic associationism in Poland would be incomplete”
(during the ad limina visit by Polish Bishops 12th January 1993).
“Today I am eager to repeat once again: the Church needs Catholic Action! Our memories of it must not be reduced to a nostalgic withdrawal into the past but must grow into awareness that the Holy Spirit has made a precious gift to the Church, a heritage that is called, at the dawn of this third millennium, to bring forth new fruits of holiness and of the apostolate, extending the ‘implantation’ of the Association to many other local Churches in different countries”(Saint Pope John Paul II, 10th August 2004)
“Duc in altum, Catholic Action! Have the courage of the future. May your history, marked by the shining example of Saints and Blesseds, shine today as well for fidelity to the Church with that freedom of those who allow themselves to be guided by the breath of the Spirit and forcefully tend toward the great ideals. You have in your tradition the magnificent witnesses of lay people whose contributions were crucial to the growth of the human city”. Over the last 100 years, more than 60 members of Catholic Action, all from different countries, have been declared saints or blessed by the Church after a Canonical process. Amongst them, innumerable laity, children, youth, married, men and women, have found within Catholic Action an authentic "school of sainthood". (Saint Pope John Paul II).
Many decades ago the laity in many nations began to dedicate themselves increasingly to the apostolate. They grouped themselves into various kinds of activities and societies which, while maintaining a closer union with the hierarchy, pursued and continue to pursue goals which are properly apostolic. Of these associations, or even among similar and older institutions, those are specially noteworthy which followed different methods of operation and yet produced excellent results for Christ's kingdom. These societies were deservedly recommended and promoted by the popes and many bishops, from whom they received the title of "Catholic Action," and were often described as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate of the hierarchy.
Whether these forms of the apostolate have the name of "Catholic Action" or some other title, they exercise an apostolate of great value for our times and consist in the combination and simultaneous possession of the following characteristics:
Organizations in which, in the opinion of the hierarchy, the ensemble of these characteristics is realized, must be considered to be Catholic Action even though they take on various forms and titles because of the needs of different regions and peoples.
The most holy council earnestly recommends these associations, which surely answer the needs of the apostolate of the Church among many peoples and countries, and invites the clergy and laity working in them to develop the above-mentioned characteristics to an ever greater degree and to cooperate at all times with all other forms of the apostolate in a fraternal manner in the Church.
POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION CHRISTIFIDELES LAICI OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II ON THE VOCATION AND THE MISSION OF THE LAY FAITHFUL IN THE CHURCH AND IN THE WORLD.
31. The Pastors of the Church even if faced with possible and understandable difficulties as a result of such associations and the process of employing new forms, cannot renounce the service provided by their authority, not simply for the well-being of the Church, but also for the well-being of the lay associations themselves. In this sense they ought to accompany their work of discernment with guidance and, above all, encouragement so that lay associations might grow in Church communion and mission.
It is exceedingly opportune that some new associations and movements receive official recognition and explicit approval from competent Church authority to facilitate their growth on both the national and international level. The Council has already spoken in this regard: "Depending on its various forms and goals, the lay apostolate provides for different types of relationships with the hierarchy... Certain forms of the lay apostolate are given explicit recognition by the hierarchy, though in different ways. Because of the demands of the common good of the Church, moreover, ecclesial authority can select and promote in a particular way some of the apostolic associations and projects which have an immediately spiritual purpose, thereby assuming in them a special responsibility".
Among the various forms of the lay apostolate which have a particular relationship to the hierarchy, the Synod Fathers have singled out various movements and associations of Catholic Action in which "indeed, in this organic and stable form, the lay faithful may freely associate under the movement of the Holy Spirit, in communion with their bishop and priests, so that in a way proper to their vocation and with some special method they might be of service through their faithfulness and good works to promote the growth of the entire Christian community, pastoral activities and infusing every aspect of life with the gospel spirit"(117).
The Pontifical Council for the Laity has the task of preparing a list of those associations which have received the official approval of the Holy See, and, at the same time, of drawing up, together with the Pontifical Council for the Union of Christians, the basic conditions on which this approval might be given to ecumenical associations in which there is a majority of Catholics, and determining those cases in which such an approval is not possible(118).
All of us, Pastors and lay faithful, have the duty to promote and nourish stronger bonds and mutual esteem, cordiality and collaboration among the various forms of lay associations. Only in this way can the richness of the gifts and charisms that the Lord oflers us bear their fruitful contribution in building the common house: "For the sound building of a common house it is necessary, furthermore, that every spirit of antagonism and conflict be put aside and that the competition be in outdoing one another in showing honour (cf. Rom 12:10), in attaining a mutual affection, a will towards collaboration, with patience, far-sightedness, and readiness to sacrifice which will at times be required"(119).
So as to render thanks to God for the great gift of Church communion which is the reflection in time of the eternal and ineffable communion of the love of God, Three in One, we once again consider Jesus' words: "I am the vine, you are the branches" (Jn 15:5). The awareness of the gift ought to be accompanied by a strong sense of responsibility for its use: it is, in fact, a gift that, like the talent of the gospel parable, must be put to work in a life of ever-increasing communion.
To be responsible for the gift of communion means, first of all, to be committed to overcoming each temptation to division and opposition that works against the Christian life with its responsibility in the apostolate. The cry of Saint Paul continues to resound as a reproach to those who are "wounding the Body of Christ": "What I mean is that each one of you says, 'I belong to Paul', or 'I belong to Cephas', or 'I belong to Christ!' Is Christ divided?" (1 Cor 1: 12-13). No, rather let these words of the apostle sound a persuasive call: " I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment" (1 Cor 1 :10).
Thus the life of Church communion will become a sign for all the world and a compelling force that will lead persons to faith in Christ: "that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Tn 17:21). In such a way communion leads to mission, and mission itself to communion.
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II TO THE YOUTH OF ITALIAN CATHOLIC ACTION Hall of Popes Saturday, 21 December 1996
I kindly thank you, dear boys and girls of Catholic Action, who have come from various parts of Italy for this appointment — by now customary — that enables us to exchange greetings for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
I welcome you with joy: from the children, to the boys and girls, to the adolescents. I greet you with affection, together with your leaders and your teachers, beginning with the National President and the General Chaplain. Thank you for the expressions of affection you addressed to me.
In last year’s Christmas meeting, the message I gave the boys and girls of Catholic Action was “Let us give children a future of peace”. I am certain that you received it with great seriousness. I know that I can count on the young people of Catholic Action.
This year, thinking of the next World Day of Peace, I entrust you with the task of living and spreading forgiveness, thus becoming peacemakers. Looking at the crib, where the little Child lies in the straw of the manger, we can easily understand what forgiveness is: it is reaching out to the other who offended me, coming close to him who drew away from me. God was faithful to sinful humanity to the point of dwelling among us.
The beautiful Christmas carol Tu scendi dalle stelle says: “Oh, how much it cost you to have loved me!”. The Son of God loved us, who offended him; we too must love those who offend us, and thus conquer evil with good. To hate sin but to love the sinner: this is the way to peace, the way that the Lord teaches us from the mystery of his birth. When I look at you, boys and girls, I see as it were Jesus' peers. To these young contemporaries of Jesus I wish to offer a Blessing and a cordial wish for a Merry Christmas!
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF CATHOLIC ACTION Saturday, 18 October 1997
Dear Young People of Italian Catholic Action,
1. Welcome to St Peter’s Square!
You have wanted to visit the Pope at the end of your national convention. Thank you for coming: you bring joy and enthusiasm.
I have come among you to greet you and to bless you all. I know that you come from all over Italy: I also send a greeting to your relatives, who are with us in spirit at this moment.
I particularly thank your National President, Mr Giuseppe Gervasio, the General Chaplain, Archbishop Agostino Superbo, and the National Director and Assistant of Catholic Action Youth. They have organized this happy event and, together with your two representatives, have wished to express to me the sentiments of you all.
I greet your teachers, who generously contribute to the human and Christian, ecclesial and missionary growth of the children and young people given to the Church by divine Providence through the apostolic experience of the ACR. I greet the chaplains and women religious present, the teachers of Gospel life in the guidance of both children and educators on the way of faith. I also address a cordial greeting to Minister Rosi Bindi, to the Mayor of Rome and to the President of the Lazio Region, and thank them for coming.
2. Dear young people, you are keeping this appointment, long awaited and prepared for, under the festive and joyful banner: "There is more fun together". This is the motto you have adopted and it aptly summarizes the message of your national meeting. You visibly express in it the journey of the whole Church towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and, in a certain way, you anticipate an important aspect of it by telling everyone that celebrations are only authentic if they are experienced "together".
We are referring to the Christian celebration which always arises from a personal encounter with Christ Jesus, welcomed into the Church’s concrete experience as friend and Lord. You do this in your groups and in your parishes.
It is he, the Lord Jesus, who fills the heart with joy, with his full and lasting joy, and thus makes it possible to celebrate in brotherhood and solidarity with others.
In following Jesus, the one true Saviour of the world, you young people are invited to grow in knowledge and love of the heavenly Father, and to perform concrete acts of love and hope in the course of everyday life. Thus your commitment to making peace possible will continue, starting in the places where you spend your days: home, school, the parish, the town, the city, Italy.
Your commitment to peace then spreads to your peers who are living in less favourable situations in other nations of Europe and the world. I am thinking, for example, of Sarajevo and of the very beautiful bridge of friendship you have built with the young people of Bosnia-Hercegovina.
In an ever more intense friendship with Jesus Christ you are increasing the Church’s communion; with your talents and according to your valuable abilities, you are putting yourselves at the service of Christian communities so that they may be ever more faithful to the Gospel.
3. Young people of Italian Catholic Action, the Pope has confidence in you! This is why he does not hesitate to suggest that you follow Jesus by imitating the example of the saints. Today the Church is celebrating the liturgical feast of St Luke the Evangelist. You are certainly very familiar with his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Meditate deeply on God’s Word, in private and together. It will help you to understand your vocation ever better and to become fearless witnesses to Jesus.
A few days ago, we commemorated St Francis of Assisi, patron of Italy and of Italian Catholic Action. What a teacher of the evangelical life, what a sound model of an apostle of Christ is this great saint, who is known and venerated all over the world!
In addition to him, who gave up everything for love of the Lord, I would like today to present another saint to you, who died when she was only 24, exactly 100 years ago: St Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who tomorrow I shall proclaim a doctor of the Church. Little Thérèse would of course have been an excellent member of the ACR, at least before entering Carmel! She was full of vitality, faith and enthusiasm for Jesus and the Gospel. She wanted to belong completely to God, and chose to become a Carmelite nun. Her short life was totally consumed by love of God and by the desire to make him loved by the whole world. Thérèse has bequeathed to us as her testament the simple and secure way of love filled with trust in God. She called it the "little way", because it is open to those who, as Jesus says, can become "little", that is, humble and simple. In fact it is the way of trustful abandonment into God’s hands, relying more on him than on one’s own strength. Young people, develop your personality and become strong and mature, but do so in a way that your heart remains humble, pure and "little" before God, ever ready to love your brothers and sisters: only in this way does one enter the kingdom of heaven, where the greatest is the one who is smallest, and the most important is the servant of all.
4. I would now like to ask you to express publicly and to repeat together, in unison, the pledges to the Christian life and mission which you make every year as members of the ACR. Dear young people, you know you have become, by Baptism, children of God and living stones of the Church:
— Do you want to foster intimacy and friendship with Jesus Christ in prayer and in the sacramental life?
(The young people say: Yes!)
You know you are called by the Lord Jesus to become apostles of joy and builders of hope in the Christian community:
— Do you want to make your own contribution, individually and as a group, to building up the Church in the communities to which you belong?
(The young people say: Yes!)
You know you are called, even at your young age, to be generous witnesses to the newness of Christianity:
— Do you want your peers, your friends, your families, your towns and cities to be touched by the joy of the Gospel and the love of Christ?
(The young people say: Yes!)
5. Dear young people, may the Holy Spirit, gift of the heavenly Father and of Christ his Son, help you to remain faithful to these commitments and to grow in the joy of Christian friendship, allowing the Lord to work great things in you. He also wants to make you a gift to the Church and to all humanity.
This is why I entrust you to Mary, the gentle young girl of Nazareth, the Mother of the Lord and of us all, that she may watch each day over your progress on the paths of truth and peace. Together with Christ, with Mary, with the saints and with the ACR, there really is more fun! A special blessing to all of you and to your families.
Dear young people, you have filled St Peter’s Square as it seldom is. I thank you and hope you have a nice Sunday.
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER POPE JOHN PAUL II TO ADULT MEMBERS OF ITALIAN CATHOLIC ACTION Saturday, 5 September 1998
1. “Adults together: Pilgrims of hope”.
Dear brothers and sisters, these are the words that accompanied the course of your preparation for this national meeting in the See of Peter. I welcome you with affection. I greet your General Chaplain, Bishop Agostino Superbo, and the National President and Vice-Presidents, and am deeply grateful for their warm words on behalf of you all. I extend an affectionate welcome to the Cardinals and Bishops present. I also greet the Prime Minister, Hon. Romano Prodi, the Mayor of Rome and all those who have honoured this meeting with their presence.
You have called yourselves pilgrims, dear adults of Catholic Action, who are advancing with hope towards the Jubilee of the Year 2000. This date, which marks our entry into the new millennium, needs men and women who can look joyfully to the future. It needs women and men who can build that future with trust and hard work, striving to direct all temporal affairs to God. You are adult pilgrims who share the Church's vision as she passes through temporal events towards the heavenly homeland: “Sunday after Sunday the Church moves towards the final ‘Lord’s Day’, that Sunday which knows no end” (Dies Domini, n. 37).
Your journey did not only start today. Yours is a long pilgrimage which has been traversing the history of this country for a long time. This is why you wanted to begin your national assembly yesterday by meeting in Viterbo at the grave of Mario Fani who, together with Giovanni Acquaderni, founded the “Catholic Youth Society” 130 years ago. Since then, profoundly holy men and women have marked your journey. I will just mention one of the most eminent, Ven. Giuseppe Toniolo, the 80th anniversary of whose death occurs this year.
They are men and women of the past who sowed the seed so that you, the adults of today, may be ready to take up your responsibilities as you face the difficult and fascinating present. 2. Being adult is not a condition that is merely acquired with age. Rather it is an identity that should be formed by having sound guideposts wherever we are called to live. Being lay Christian adults is a vocation that must be acknowledged, accepted and practised. This is why as adult members of Catholic Action you see yourselves as continual pilgrims through history. You are walking on the paths of history “together”.
Your association has been recognized by the Magisterium as a form of ministry for the local Church, with the aim of serving her in the Diocese and the parish, as well as in places and situations where people have their own human experiences. This service, inherent in your being lay adults in the Church and in the world, finds its source in Baptism and Confirmation. For many, it is later confirmed by Matrimony; for everyone, it receives its principal strength from the Eucharist.
Through the sacramental life and by strengthening the primacy of the spiritual life, you are called to make your contribution to building the Church as a home “living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters” (Christifideles laici, n. 26). Thus you must be committed to being a living home, where every member feels part of one family. Indeed, as Catholic Action, you must be a family of families, in which the dignity and subjectivity of every family is defended and has an active role in pastoral action.
3. Everyone must bring his own gifts, his own skills. No one should feel useless or a burden, since the Lord assigns a task to everyone. The Church grows rich in apostolic energy when these individual gifts are placed at the service of the whole community.
May your membership in Catholic Action thus be understood as a service to the growth of ecclesial communion: a communion which must not be expressed in vague affection alone, but must be put into practice as an organized solidarity between all the members of the local Church. Moreover, as an association that exists throughout Italy, you must work with all your strength to reinforce communion between all the Churches in Italy and between the latter and the Church of Rome, which presides in charity.
The unbreakable link with the hierarchy, and in particular with the Successor of Peter, belongs to the very nature of your association. May your love for the Pope continue to be expressed in that joyful and prompt acceptance of his Magisterium which is proper to your long-standing tradition.
4. Your association wishes to be a home among the homes of men. This expresses your missionary dimension. The Second Vatican Council already assigned a necessary role to Catholic Action in “the implanting and growth of the Christian community” (Ad gentes, n. 15). For you, this means rediscovering today that missionary zeal which is also necessary for the Churches of age-old Christianity. As I said about these in Redemptoris missio, there are “entire groups of the baptized [who] have lost a living sense of the faith or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel” (n. 33).
Moreover, the urgent need to “re-make the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community” (Christifideles laici, n. 34) has become even more pressing today. This is why your apostolic action must acquire a cultural dimension; it must be capable, that is, of creating among people a mentality that stems from inalienable Christian values and is interwoven with them.
May your formation therefore be ever more attentive and open to the problems raised by society today. May it also be able to create that political culture which in every age and in every way works for the common good and the preservation of values. A culture which knows how to nurture human life: “This is a particularly pressing need at the present time, when the ‘culture of death’ so forcefully opposes the ‘culture of life’ and often seems to have the upper hand” (Evangelium vitae, n. 87).
5. Dear brothers and sisters, the Pope urges you to continue to be pilgrims of hope, concerned for the future of every woman and every man you meet on your way. Be able to show Jesus Christ to everyone as a friend and comforter in all human misery, and as the transcendent Lord of history. I accompany you with my prayer. Walk with trust towards the new millennium: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever!” (Heb 13:8).
You say you are adults, but you behave like young people. It is a good sign!
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER TO THE CHILDREN OF THE ITALIAN CATHOLIC ACTION Tuesday, 21 December 1999
Dear Boys and Girls of Italian Catholic Action,
I am pleased to welcome you today, as I do every year, at this meeting which gives us the opportunity to exchange best wishes for a Holy Christmas and the New Year. With great affection I greet each of you along with the national president of Catholic Action and the general chaplain. I greet you one and all, and embrace you with warm affection. I thank you for the words and sentiments you have expressed to me. They are particularly welcome because they are accompanied by your remembrance in prayer. Thank you, dear children, for all this.
We have now reached Holy Christmas, a very significant celebration for Christian families. My thoughts naturally turn to your families and to all the families of the world. When you go home, take the Pope's greeting to your loved ones and his most fervent wishes for serenity and peace. At the same time, remember all those who will be unable to spend these holy days in tranquil joy.
Christmas is a special day that invites us to solidarity and to love; it invites us to open our hearts to our brothers and sisters, especially to those in need. The Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem, brought the world the precious gift of Love so that, like a radiant light, it would dispel the darkness of selfishness and sadness from man's heart and fill his mind with true joy. This is what I wish for each of you and for the various groups of Catholic Action you represent: may you rediscover divine love, which surrounds human life and gives it full meaning. May Our Lady, who gave the world our Redeemer at Bethlehem, help you to welcome him into your hearts.
Dear boys and girls, this year the joy of Christmas is combined with that of the Jubilee Year, which will begin precisely on the Holy Night with the solemn opening of the Holy Door in the Vatican Basilica. Prepare yourselves to observe fervently this extraordinary time of grace; be apostles to your peers by helping them to understand the genuine spirit of the Holy Year and to live it deeply.
Once again I thank you for this welcome visit and I cordially bless you, your friends, your families and all who guide you on your path of human and spiritual growth. Happy Christmas!
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II TO THE MEMBERS OF CATHOLIC ACTION YOUTH Thursday, 21 December 2000
1. Thank you, dear young people of Catholic Action Youth, for your traditional Christmas visit. When the ACR arrives, it means that Christmas is not far off!
You have come in pairs, like Jesus' disciples, from the different regions of Italy, accompanied by a teacher for each Diocese. I greet you with deep affection and extend a special greeting to the most senior leaders who have accompanied you.
Perhaps some of you were present at the Children's Jubilee last 2 January. That was the first important meeting of the Jubilee and I remember that Catholic Action worked very hard for the event. Now, dear young people, we are almost at the end of the Holy Year. So I ask you: how have you lived these months? Of course, in comparison with a year ago, you have grown noticeably. At your age one more year is a lot and the changes are more obvious. But can you say that you have also grown as Christians? Has your friendship with Jesus become stronger and deeper?
2. The ACR has certainly helped you to grow as disciples of Christ. With your groups you have made an even lovelier, richer and more joyful journey during this Year of the Great Jubilee which will certainly be fruitful. Together with your teachers and assistants, you have decided to become even more missionary, more capable of bringing to others the joy of having met Jesus. I am pleased with this missionary effort, and I tell you once again that I set great store by your collaboration in spreading the Gospel in families, at school, in sports activities and everywhere.
For my part, I accompany you with prayer so that, like Jesus, you may grow in wisdom and grace, before God and men. This will happen if you always love Our Lady and let her guide you. May the example of the shepherd children of Fátima, Francesco and Giacinta, whom this very year I had the joy of beatifying, show once again that children have a special bond with the Virgin Mary. With her help, they can reach the peaks of holiness.
I would like to give you a piece of advice: go to Bethlehem and bring the newborn Jesus this membership card, the "number one". He must not be left out by the ACR and the ACR must not let him down. These are my wishes for all of you gathered here.
Thank you again, dear friends, for your visit and for your gifts. I bless you with great affection, as well as all your friends in Catholic Action, your relatives and your teachers.
ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II TO THE REPRESENTATIVES OF ITALIAN CATHOLIC ACTION Friday, 26 April 2002
Dear young people and adults of Catholic Action!
1. I am very pleased to welcome you to this special Audience on the occasion of your 11th National Assembly. Catholic Action and the Pope have a close relationship that has become stronger in time. In fact, from its beginning, your Association has had in the person and the teaching of the "white Father" (bianco Padre) an excellent source of guidance for its programmes and action. This bond can be described as a firm friendship, that takes shape in a few important meetings: every year at Christmas, the young people of ACR (Roman Catholic Action) come to greet me, every three years we meet on the occasion of the National Assembly, as we do this morning for the opening of the 11th National Assembly.
In a special way I greet Cardinal Camillo Ruini, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and the Bishops who have come with you, the National President, Mrs Paola Bignardi, the General Ecclesiastical Assistant, Bishop Francesco Lambiasi, and the other assistants and directors. I welcome each one of you taking part in the Assembly, and all your registered members.
On this occasion, first of all, I want to thank you for your love for the Church, which through faith you consider as your family. Thank you for your involvement in the ordinary life of the parish communities. I know that "you are there", even when your presence prefers discreet ways of interacting among the People of God in humble daily service.
May your ecclesial service never be reduced to mere activism, but be a concrete sign of the compassion with which the Lord draws near to the sufferings of the poor and asks each person to open his heart to the tragic situations of those in difficulty.
Continue to build bonds of communion and dialogue within the People of God: through the Pastoral Councils, and in your relations with priests and with other groups and movements. Your service will be much more appreciated when in a gentle and serene way you reveal the mature face of an active and informed laity.
For this end, it is important to shape true Christian consciences, through the direct formation of youth and adults, children, old people, families and teenagers. In this context, I want to address a word of special appreciation to all those who in Catholic Action take care of the educational mission, dedicated to accompanying others with teaching and listening, understanding and the support of encouragement and example. In the history of the young women's sector a motto was used: "the ideal is worth more than the life". May you who are in charge of formation especially work to show the younger ones the beauty of a life ready even now to be spent for the ideal that Christ proposes in the Gospel.
2. Allow me to take advantage of this happy occasion to entrust to you some thoughts that are close to my heart.
First of all, I would like to tell you that the Church needs Catholic Action. The Church needs a group of laity who, faithful to their vocation and in union with their legitimate Pastors, are ready to share, together with them, the daily labour of evangelization in every milieu.
As your Bishops recently wrote to you, "the direct and fundamental tie of Catholic Action with the diocese and its Bishop, the undertaking of the Church's mission, being "dedicated' to the Church herself and the global nature of her mission, all of this makes Catholic Action not one ecclesial group among others, but a gift of God and a resource for the increase of ecclesial communion" (Letter of the Permanent Council of the Italian Episcopal Conference to the National Presidency of Italian Catholic Action, 12 March 2002).
The Church needs Catholic Action because she needs laity ready to dedicate themselves to the apostolate and to establish, especially with the diocesan Community, a bond that gives a profound imprint to their life and their spiritual journey. She needs laity whose experience shows, in a concrete and daily way, the great joy of the Christian life; laity who recognize in Baptism the root of their dignity, in the Christian Community the family with which they share their faith, and in the Pastor the father who guides and supports the journey of the brethren; laity who do not reduce faith to a private act, and do not hesitate to bring the leaven of the Gospel to the fabric of human relations, to the institutions, the region, and the new realm of globalization in order to build a civilization of love.
3. It is because the Church needs a living, strong, and beautiful Catholic Action, I am pleased to repeat to each one of you: Duc in altum!
Duc in altum, Catholic Action! Have the courage of the future. May your history, marked by the shining example of Saints and Blesseds, shine today as well for fidelity to the Church with that freedom of those who allow themselves to be guided by the breath of the Spirit and forcefully tend toward the great ideals.
Duc in altum! Be a prophetic presence in the world, promoting those aspects of life that are often forgotten and therefore ever more urgent, such as interiority, silence, responsibility, education, gratuitous help, service, sobriety, fraternity, hope in tomorrow and love for life. Work effectively in order that today's society may recover the true sense of man and his dignity, the value of life and the family, of peace and solidarity, of justice and mercy.
Duc in altum! Have the humble boldness to fix your gaze upon Jesus to make your authentic renewal come from him. It will thus be easier for you to distinguish what is necessary from what is the fruit of time, and you will experience the longed-for renewal as a gift of the Spirit, enabling you to travel even through the arduous paths of the desert and purification to reach the beauty of a new life, which God unceasingly gives to those who entrust themselves to Him.
Catholic Action, do not be afraid! You belong to the Church and are in the heart of the Lord, who guides your steps unceasingly towards the unlimited and unsurpassed newness of the Gospel. Know that the Pope supports and is with you in prayer since you make up this wonderful Association and as he invites you to persevere in your commitments, he is happy to bless you.
MESSAGE OF JOHN PAUL II TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF ITALIAN CATHOLIC ACTION (ACI)
Dear Participants in the Extraordinary Assembly of Italian Catholic Action,
1. I am pleased to greet you all with joy and affection, dear brothers and sisters who have gathered in Rome for your Extraordinary Assembly on the theme: "History becomes prophecy". I address a cordial greeting in particular to your General Chaplain, Bishop Francesco Lambiasi, and to your National President, Dr Paola Bignardi.
The specific goal of the work that awaits you in the coming days is the most important task of revising the Statutes of the highly-esteemed Catholic Action, to bring them in line with the changing needs of the times and the apostolic perspectives of the new millennium. In recent years, your association has observed the norms and guidelines contained in the 1969 Statutes, which captured the spirit and decisions of the Second Vatican Council. They have helped you to discover better and better, in living it as "as lay persons", the greatness of the Christian vocation and apostolic commitment in an ecclesial and cultural context that is very different from that of previous years.
Updating the Statutes means telling yourselves, the Christian community and civil society today what the features of an Association like yours should be to meet the needs of the mission of the Church and of the evangelization of the world. The new Statutes will express your spirit, the lofty goals you set for yourselves and the approaches that define your mature ecclesial experience and give them an unmistakeable quality as well as a unique place in the panorama of lay associations.
2. Your long history originated from a charism: a special gift of the Spirit of the Risen One who never lets his Church lack the talents and resources of grace that the faithful need in order to serve the cause of the Gospel. Reflect upon the charism of Catholic Action, dear friends, with humble pride and deep joy!
It has inspired many young people, such as Mario Fani and Giovanni Acquaderni who founded it more than 130 years ago. This charism also guided and accompanied the journey of holiness of Pier Giorgio Frassati, Gianna Beretta-Molla, Luigi and Maria Beltrame-Quattrocchi, and a multitude of other lay people who lived in heroic fidelity to their baptismal promises with an extraordinary normality. The Pontiffs and Pastors who recognized your charism over the decades, blessed and supported your Association until they accepted it - like the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI) - as an association especially chosen and promoted by the ecclesiastical authority to link it more closely to its apostolic office (cf. Nota Pastorale della CEI, 22 May 1981, n. 25).
3. This charism has been more fully described in the conciliar Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, Apostolicam Actuositatem (n. 20): you are lay Christians expert in the splendid adventure of making the Gospel and life converge, showing how well the "Good News" responds to the searching questions in each person's heart and is the highest and truest light that can guide society in building the "civilization of love".
As lay persons you have chosen to live for the Church and for the globality of her mission, "dedicated", as your Bishops wrote, "with a direct, organic connection, to the diocesan community", so as to enable everyone to rediscover the value of a faith lived in communion and to make every Christian community a family that cares for all its children (cf. Lettera del Consiglio Episcopale Permanente della CEI, 12 March 2002, n. 4).
As lay persons you have chosen to follow in the form of an Association the Gospel ideal of holiness in the particular Church, so as to cooperate as a unit, "an organic body", in the evangelizing mission of each ecclesial community.
As lay persons you have chosen to form an Association whose special connection with the Pastors respects and promotes the constitutive secular character of its members. The spirit of that "syntax of communion", which is a characteristic of the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, and the rules of democratic participation in group life, help you express to the full the unity of the entire ecclesial Body of Christ and the variety of charisms and vocations, with full respect for the dignity and responsibility of every member of the People of God.
The organic synthesis of these goals - missionary, diocesan, unitary and secular - is the most mature and ecclesially-integrated form of the lay apostolate. By renewing your Statutes, you intend to reassert the value of these features today and to specify how they should be interpreted, so as to continue to touch the hearts of the many communities and lay persons who will be able to model their life on this ideal.
4. "The Church cannot do without Catholic Action": this is what I told you last year, during your 11th Assembly. I repeat it to you at the end of a particularly busy year, devoted to the renewal of ACI.
The Church needs you, she needs lay people who have found in Catholic Action a school of holiness in which they have learned to live the radicalness of the Gospel in ordinary daily life. The Blesseds who have emerged from your ranks, and the Venerables such as Alberto Marvelli, Pina Suriano and Fr Antonio Seghezzi, impel you to continue to make your Association a place where its members grow as disciples of the Lord, at the school of the Word and at the table of the Eucharist; a training ground where they can practise love and forgiveness, learn how to conquer evil with good and, with patient tenacity, weave a network of brotherhood that embraces everyone, especially the poorest.
Dear young people and adults of Catholic Action, your Association will be renewed if each one of its members rediscovers the promises of Baptism, choosing Christian holiness with full consciousness and availability as "the high standard of ordinary Christian living" in daily life (Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 31). For this, we must let ourselves be moulded by the liturgy of the Church, cultivate the art of meditation and the interior life, and make an annual spiritual retreat. Dear friends, ensure that every one of your groups is a true school of prayer, and that each member has access to help in discernment and in fidelity to his vocation.
5. The Church needs you, because you have chosen service to the particular Church and her mission as the scope of your apostolic commitment; because you have made the parish the place where, day after day, you express faithful and enthusiastic dedication. In this way you continue to fan the missionary spirit of those men and women of Catholic Action who humbly and unobtrusively help make the Christian communities come alive in various parts of the country.
I urge you to devote all your energies to the service of communion in close unity with the Bishop, collaborating with him and with the presbyterate in the "ministry of synthesis", so as to weave a strong, tighter fabric of cordial communion, which is intensely human precisely because it is genuinely Christian. Help your parish rediscover its zeal for Gospel proclamation, and foster the pastoral solicitude that goes in search of everyone to help each to experience the joy of the encounter with the Lord. And through your presence, may every community shine in the neighbourhoods of your cities and villages as a living sign of the presence of Jesus, the Son of God who came to dwell among us!
6. The Church needs you, because Catholic Action is an open and welcoming environment in which anyone can express his availability for service, finding useful opportunities for formative dialogue in a congenial atmosphere that encourages generous decisions. There are witnesses and teachers in your Associations who are prepared to accompany their brothers and sisters on their way to a convinced and mature faith, capable of witnessing in the world.
I recommend that you emphasize a solid formation, adapted to the demands of the new evangelization. Always care for every person and help everyone to defend the treasure of faith, sowing it in every walk of life. May Catholic Action be once again for a growing number of people and communities the great school of lay spirituality and of the apostolate of movements and associations!
7. The Church needs you, because you never stop looking at the world with God's eyes; hence, you succeed in interpreting this time of ours and in making out in it the signs of the Spirit's presence. You have in your tradition the magnificent witnesses of lay people whose contributions were crucial to the growth of the human city.
Continue to make available to towns and villages, in workplaces and schools, in health-care and recreation centres, in culture, economics and politics, your skills and credibility, which can contribute to making our contemporary world the great work site of the civilization of love. May Catholic Action help the ecclesial community not to fall into the trap of disregarding the problems of life and families, of peace and justice, and may it witness to trust in the renewing and transforming power of Christianity. Thus, it will have an incisive effect on civil society, for the construction of the common home under the flag of the dignity and vocation of men and women, according to the Italian Church's "Cultural Project".
8. Dear members of Catholic Action, as I encourage you to explore ever more deeply the riches of your charism, I urge the diocesan and parish communities to carefully reappraise the Association as a place for the growth of lay vocations as well as an apprenticeship in which people learn to express them with ever greater confidence.
"History becomes prophecy": you have chosen this theme for your Assembly. I hope that you will reinterpret with wise discernment your own impressive background, distinguishing what is the fruit of time from what is a gift of the Spirit, which bears the seeds of a new future that has already started. I am sure that this Extraordinary Assembly will reveal the mature and serene face of the lay people involved, and I am deeply confident that you will adopt firm, clear options to make Catholic Action an Association that is equal to the mission entrusted to it.
May Mary, Mother of the Church, sustain you in your mission. To her, venerated in the Holy House of Loreto where you plan to go on pilgrimage next year, I entrust each one of you, your families and all your projects.
With these sentiments I cordially impart to you all my Apostolic Blessing.
From Castel Gandolfo, 8 September 2003
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE MEMBERS OF CATHOLIC ACTION Monday, 19 December 2005
Dear Boys and Girls of Italian Catholic Action,
For many years now the children and young people of Catholic Action Rome (ACR) have come to offer the Pope their good wishes. It is a meeting that Pope Paul VI desired in his time and that my Predecessor, John Paul II, whom you all knew, lived each year with great joy. I welcome you with the same joy. I greet each one of you with affection, together with Bishop Francesco Lambiasi, your General Chaplain, and Prof. Luigi Alici, the President, and I sincerely thank you for your good wishes for this Holy Christmas.
On Jesus' Birthday we celebrate God's infinite love for all humankind: "God so loved the world that he gave his Only Son" (Jn 3: 16), and was thus so closely united with our humanity that he wanted to share it to the point of becoming a man among men, one of us. In the Child of Bethlehem, the smallness of God-made-man shows us the greatness of man and the beauty of our dignity as children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus.
In contemplating this Child, we see what great trust God places in each one of us and what an ample possibility for doing beautiful and great things we are offered in our days, living with Jesus and as Jesus. "Be with us'
This year your formation is accompanied by the slogan "Be with us". Dear children, the Lord Jesus is always with us and always walks with his Church, accompanies her and keeps her safe. Never doubt his presence! The One who comes to meet us, the Emmanuel, "God-with-us", assures us that he is always among his followers: "And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world" (Mt 28: 20).
Always seek the Lord Jesus, grow in friendship with him, learn to listen and to know his words and to recognize him in the poor who live in your communities. Live your lives with joy and enthusiasm, certain of his presence and his free, generous and faithful friendship until his death on the Cross.
"Be with us": the Lord Jesus is truly with us. Be witnesses to everyone, starting with your peers, of the joy of his strong and gentle presence. Tell them that it is beautiful to be friends of Jesus and that following him is worthwhile. Show with your enthusiasm that among the very many ways of living which the world today seems to offer us, all apparently on the same level, it is only by following Jesus that one finds the true meaning of life, hence, true and lasting joy.
Thus, the commitment to peace you have taken on with your brothers and sisters in Sarajevo is also truly a sign of your friendship with Jesus, who is called "Prince of Peace" in the Scriptures. May your ACR groups be the seed of joy in your parishes, your families and the schools you attend. Thank you again, dear friends, for your visit. I bless you with affection, together with your loved ones, your teachers, your chaplains and all the friends of the ACR. Merry Christmas!
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE CHILDREN OF ITALIAN CATHOLIC ACTION Consistory Hall Thursday, 21 December 2006
Dear Boys and Girls of Italian Catholic Action,
This year you again wanted to visit the Pope, just before holy Christmas. I welcome you with affection and I warmly thank you for your presence full of joy and enthusiasm as always.
Through you I greet all the children of A.C.R. in the Italian Dioceses, and those whom you represent here. I cordially greet your General Assistant, Mons. Francesco Lambiasi, and your President, Prof. Luigi Alici, together with all your teachers.
You have told me that this year your formation process is taking the way of beauty [bello] in the search for truth [vero]. You have therefore chosen a simple and effective slogan: "Bello, vero!".Christmas is the great mystery of the Truth and Beauty of God, who comes among us for the salvation of all.
The birth of Jesus is not a fairy tale: it is a story that really happened, occurring in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. Faith enables us to recognize in that tiny Child, born of the Virgin Mary, the true Son of God who for love of us was made man.
"The King of Heaven comes to a cold and frigid grotto", says the Christmas carol, "Tu scendi dalle stelle", known throughout the world.
In the face of the tiny Jesus we contemplate the face of God, who does not reveal himself in strength or power but in the defencelessness and frail condition of an infant. This "Divine Child", wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger with the maternal care of his Mother, Mary, reveals all the goodness and infinite beauty of God. He shows the fidelity and tenderness of the boundless love with which God surrounds each one of us.
This is why we celebrate Christmas, reliving the same experience as the shepherds of Bethlehem. Together with so many fathers and mothers who toil constantly every day, facing continuous sacrifices, let us celebrate with the little ones, the sick and the poor, because with the birth of Jesus, the Heavenly Father responded to the desire in our hearts for truth, forgiveness and peace.
And he responded with such great love that we find it surprising: no one could ever have imagined it if Jesus had not revealed it to us!
The amazement that we feel in the face of the enchantment of Christmas is to a certain extent reflected in the wonder of every birth and invites us to recognize the Child Jesus in all children, who are the joy of the Church and the hope of the world.
The newborn Child who comes into the world in Bethlehem is the same Jesus who walked on the roads of Galilee and gave his life for us on the Cross; it is the same Jesus who was raised up and, after his Ascension into Heaven, continues to guide his Church with the power of his Spirit.
This is the beautiful and great truth of our Christian faith!
Dear children of A.C.R., the Pope loves you, he has confidence in you and today he entrusts to you the task of being friends and witnesses of Jesus, who came to Bethlehem among us.
Is it not a beautiful thing to make him all the more known among your friends, in the city, in the parishes and in your families?
The Church needs you to be close to all the children and boys and girls who live in Italy. Witness that Jesus takes nothing from your joy, but makes you more human, true and beautiful.
Thank you again for your visit. I bless you with affection, together with your loved ones, your teachers, the assistants and all the friends of A.C.R.
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE CHILDREN OF ITALIAN CATHOLIC ACTION Consistory Hall Thursday, 20 December 2007
Dear Boys and Girls of the [Italian] Children's Catholic Action (ACR),
I welcome you with great joy. Your visit today to the Pope's house means that we are now close to the great Feast of Holy Christmas, a Feast eagerly awaited, especially by you children. I offer each one of you my affectionate greeting, together with my warm thanks for the sentiments and prayers you expressed to me on behalf of your friends of ACR and of the entire large family of Italian Catholic Action. I address a special greeting to Prof. Luigi Alici, the National President, and to Bishop Domenico Sigalini, whom I recently appointed General Chaplain of Catholic Action. I also greet the Director and the Chaplain of ACR and their collaborators, extending my greeting to all those who are in charge of your human, spiritual and apostolic formation.
I am pleased that you just mentioned Antonia Meo, a little girl known as "Nennolina". Exactly three days ago, I decreed the recognition of her heroic virtues and I hope that her cause of beatification will soon be successfully concluded. What a shining example this little peer of yours left us! In her very short life - only six and a half years - Nennolina, a Roman child, showed special faith, hope and charity, and likewise the other Christian virtues. Although she was a frail little girl, she managed to give a strong and vigorous Gospel witness and left a deep mark on the diocesan Community of Rome. Nennolina belonged to Catholic Action: today, she would certainly have been enrolled in ACR! Therefore, you can consider her a friend of yours, a model to inspire you. Her life, so simple and at the same time so important, shows that holiness is for all ages: for children and for young people, for adults and for the elderly. Every season of our life can be a good time for deciding to love Jesus seriously and to follow him faithfully. In just a few years, Nennolina reached the peak of Christian perfection that we are all called to scale; she sped down the "highway" that leads to Jesus. Indeed, as you yourselves said, Jesus is the true "road" that leads us to the Father and to his and our definitive home, which is Paradise. You know that Antonia now lives in God and is close to you from Heaven: you feel her present among you, in your groups. Learn to know her and follow her example. I think she would be pleased with this: with still being "involved" in Catholic Action!
It is Christmas and I want to offer you fervent good wishes of joy and serenity, but with these good wishes allow me to express another for the whole year that we will shortly be beginning. I do so inspired by your slogan for 2008: may you always walk joyfully on the road of life with Jesus. One day he said: "I am the way" (Jn 14: 6). Jesus is the way that leads to true life, life that never ends. It is often a narrow, uphill road, but if we let ourselves be attracted by him it is always marvellous, like a steep mountain path: the more steeply it rises, the better one can admire from on high new views even more beautiful and extensive. There is the effort of walking but we are not alone: we help each other, we wait for one another, we lend a hand to those who have been left behind.... The important thing is not to get lost, not to stray from the path, otherwise we risk ending in a ravine, of getting lost in the woods! Dear children, God became man to show us the way; indeed, by making himself a child he also became the "way" for you children: he was like you, he was your age. Follow him lovingly every day, keeping your hand in his.
What I am saying to you applies equally to us adults. I therefore hope that the whole of Italian Catholic Action will walk briskly and united on the road of Christ, to witness in the Church and in society that this road is beautiful; it is true that it demands commitment but it leads to true joy. Let us entrust this wish, which is also a prayer, to the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of Hope, Star of Hope. May she who anxiously expected and prepared for the birth of her Son Jesus also help us to prepare for this Christmas in an atmosphere of profound devotion and deep spiritual joy. I accompany my dearest wishes with a special Apostolic Blessing for you who are present here, for your loved ones and for the entire family of Catholic Action. Happy Christmas!
ENCOUNTER WITH MEMBERS OF ITALIAN ACTION ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI St. Peter's Square Sunday, 4 May 2008
Dear Children, Young People and Adults of Catholic Action,
It is a great joy to me to welcome you here today in St Peter's Square where in the past your praiseworthy Association has frequently met the Successor of Peter. Thank you for your visit. I greet with affection all of you who have come from every part of Italy, as well as the members of the International Forum who come from 40 Countries of the world. In particular, I greet Prof. Luigi Alici, your National President, whom I thank for his cordial words addressed to me, Mons. Domenico Sigalini, your Assistant General, and the national and diocesan leaders. I also thank you for the special gift you have desired to offer to me through your representatives which testifies to your solidarity with the neediest. I express deep gratitude to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops' Conference who has celebrated Holy Mass for you.
You have come to Rome in the spiritual company of your numerous Saints, Blesseds, Venerables and Servants of God: men and women, young people and children, educators and priest chaplains, rich in Christian virtues, who have grown up in the ranks of Catholic Action which is celebrating its 140th anniversary in these days. The magnificent crown of faces that symbolically embraces St Peter's Square is a tangible witness of a holiness rich in light and love. These witnesses, who followed Jesus with all their strength, who spared no efforts for the Church and for the Kingdom of God, represent your most authentic identity card. Is it not still possible today for you boys and girls, young people and adults, to make your life a witness of communion with the Lord that is transformed into a genuine masterpiece of holiness? Is this not your Association's purpose? This will certainly be possible if Catholic Action continues to be faithful to its own deep roots of faith, nourished by full adherence to the Word of God, by unconditional love for the Church, a vigilant participation in civil life and a constant commitment to formation. Dear friends, respond generously to this call to holiness in accordance with the ways that best suit your secular condition! Continue to let yourselves be inspired by the three great "consignments" that my Venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, entrusted to you at Loreto in 2004: contemplation, communion and mission.
Catholic Action is born as a particular association of lay faithful marked by a special and direct bond with the Pope, which quickly becomes a precious form of "collaboration of the laity in the hierarchical apostolate", "most earnestly" recommended by the Second Vatican Council, and which identifies its indispensable "characteristics" (cf. Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity in the Church,Apostolicam Actuositatem, n. 20). This vocation of yours is still valid today. I encourage you, therefore, to persevere with generosity in your service to the Church. By adopting its general apostolic goal in a spirit of intimate union with the Successor of Peter and hard-working co-responsibility with Pastors, you incarnate a ministerial role in a fruitful balance between the universal Church and the local Church, which requires you to make a ceaseless and irreplaceable contribution to communion.
This broad ecclesial dimension which identifies your association's charism is not the sign of an uncertain or outdated identity; rather, it attributes great responsibility to your lay vocation: illumined and sustained by the action of the Holy Spirit and constantly rooted in the journey of the Church, you are challenged to courageously seek ever new syntheses between the proclamation of Christ's salvation to the people of our time and the promotion of the integral good of the person and of the entire human family.
In my intervention at the Fourth National Ecclesial Convention held in Verona in October 2006, I recognized that the Church in Italy "is a lively reality - and we see it! -, which conserves a capillary presence in the midst of people of every age and level. "Christian traditions often continue to be rooted and to produce fruit, while a great effort of evangelization and catechesis is taking place, addressed particularly to the new generations, but now even more so to families" (Address to Fourth National Ecclesial Convention, Verona, 19 October 2006). How can we fail to see in this capillary presence also a discreet and tangible sign of Catholic Action? In fact, the beloved Italian Nation has always been able to count on men and women formed in your Association who are prepared to serve the cause of the common good disinterestedly, to build up a just ordering of society and the State. May you, therefore, be able to live up to your Baptism which immersed you in the death and Resurrection of Jesus for the salvation of every person whom you meet, and of a world that is thirsting for peace and truth. Be "worthy citizens of the Gospel" and "ministers of Christian wisdom for a more human world": this is the theme of your Assembly and this is the commitment you assume today before the Italian Church, represented here by you, by your priest chaplains, by the Bishops and by their President.
In a missionary Church, placed before an educational emergency such as that which is found in Italy today, may you who love and serve her be tireless heralds and trained and generous educators; in a Church called to give even very demanding proof of fidelity and tempted by adaptation, be courageous witnesses and prophets of Gospel radicalism; in a Church which is confronted daily by the relativist, hedonist and consumerist mentality, may you be able to extend the spaces of rationality in the sign of a faith that befriends intelligence, both in the context of a popular and widespread culture and in a more elaborated and thought-out research; in a Church that calls for the heroism of holiness, respond without fear, always trusting in God's mercy.
Dear friends of Italian Catholic Action you are not alone on the path that lies ahead of you: your saints accompany you. Other figures too have played significant roles in your Association: I am thinking for example, among the others of Giuseppe Toniolo and Armida Barelli. Inspired by these examples of Christianity lived out, you have embarked on an extraordinary year, a year that we could qualify by holiness, in which you strive to translate the Gospel teachings into practical life. I encourage you in this resolution. Intensify your prayer, reform your conduct on the eternal values of the Gospel, letting yourselves be guided by the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. The Pope accompanies you with constant remembrance before the Lord, while he warmly imparts the Apostolic Blessing to you who are present here and to the entire Association.
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE CHILDREN OF ITALIAN CATHOLIC ACTION Consistory Hall Saturday, 20 December 2008
Dear Children of ACR,
I am very happy that this year too. With the nearing of holy Christmas you have come with your presence to cheer these solemn buildings, in which nonetheless there is always the joy of serving the Lord. I greet together with you, your teachers, the President of the Italian Catholic Action, the General Chaplain and your new National Chaplain, Fr. Dino.
Many people say that children are capricious, that they are never happy with anything, that they consume toys, one after another, without being satisfied by them. You, on the other hand, say to Jesus: You are enough for me! Which means: you are our dearest friend who keeps us company when we play and when we go to school, when we are at home with our parents, our grandparents, our little brothers and sisters, and when we go out with our friends. You open our eyes so that we notice our sad companions and the many children in the world who are suffering hunger, illness and war. You are enough for us, Lord Jesus, you give us true joy, the joy that does not end like our games but is poured out into our souls and makes us good. You are enough, especially, when we pray to you because you always hear the prayers we say for the world to become more beautiful and a better place for everyone. You are enough for us, because you forgive us when we get into some mischief; you are enough for us because if we are lost you come to find us and carry us in your arms as you did with the lost sheep. You are enough for us, because you have a most beautiful Mother whom, before dying on the Cross, you wanted to make our Mother too.
Dear little friends, do you also want to help your companions to be like this with Jesus? A boy or girl of ACR is one who when going to Jesus likes to bring some friends because they want him to know them too; they do not only think of themselves but have large hearts, attentive to others. You have so many teachers who help you to live together, to pray and to grow in your knowledge of the Gospel. Catholic Action's true aim is to help you to become holy; for this reason it helps you to encounter Jesus and to love his Church and be concerned with the world's problems. Is it not perhaps true that you are involving yourselves with children and boys and girls who are less fortunate then you? Is it not perhaps true that with the "month of peace" you can also make many adults appreciate peace because you yourselves know how to live peacefully with one another?
Yes, dear boys and girls, you can pray the Lord to change the hearts of the weapons manufacturers, to bring the terrorists back to reason, to convert hearts that are always bent on war and help humanity to build a better future for all the world's children. I am sure that you will also pray for me, thus helping me in the difficult task the Lord has entrusted to me. As for me, I assure you of my affection and my prayers, while I now gladly bless you together with all your loved ones. A Happy Christmas to you, to your families and to all the boys and girls of Catholic Action!
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE CHILDREN OF ITALIAN CATHOLIC ACTION Consistory Hall Saturday, 19 December 2009
Dear young people of ACR,
I greet you with deep affection. It is always a pleasure for me to meet with you on this annual pre-Christmas occasion, so anticipated and desired by you all and also by me. I cordially greet the National President of the Italian Catholic Action, Dr Franco Miano, and General Chaplain, Mons. Domenico Sigalini. Through them, I thank those who work generously for your religious and human formation, dedicating time and personal resources to your praiseworthy Association.
I am aware that this year you are dedicated in particular to the theme "We Are On the Air", in order to put yourselves in touch with Jesus and with others, using as a reference point the Biblical image of Zacchaeus, who encounters the Lord and welcomes him with joy. You too are small like Zacchaeus, who climbed into a tree because he wanted to see Jesus. But the Lord, lifting his gaze, noticed him immediately among the crowd. Even if you are little, even if at times adults do not take you into consideration as you would like, Jesus sees you and hears you. Not only does Jesus see you, but he "tunes in" to your "wavelength"; he wants to come to visit you, to stay with you, to build a strong friendship with each one of you. This is what he did when he was born in Bethlehem, making himself close to the youth and adults of every age, and also to each one of us.
Dear friends, in front of Jesus may you always imitate the example of Zacchaeus, who promptly came down from the tree, welcomed him joyfully into his house and from then on could not stop celebrating him! Welcome him into your lives every day: in your games and activities and in your prayers; when he asks for your friendship and your generosity; when you are happy and when you are afraid. On Christmas, once again, your friend Jesus comes to meet you and calls you! He is the Son of God, the Lord whom you see every day in the images present in churches, along the roads, in your houses. He always speaks to you of the "greatest" love, which can give itself without limits, to bring peace and forgiveness.
Only the presence of Jesus in your lives can give you complete happiness, because he is capable of making all things ever new and beautiful. He never forgets you. If you tell him every day that you are "on the air", you may rest assured that he will contact you to send you a caring message of friendship and affection. He does this when you participate in Holy Mass; when you dedicate yourselves to study and to your daily tasks; and when you carry out acts of sharing and of solidarity, generosity and love for others. In this way you will be able to tell your friends, your parents, your animators and your teachers that you have succeeded in "connecting" with Jesus in your prayers; while accomplishing your duties; and when you will be able to stand beside the many boys and girls who suffer, especially those who come from distant countries and often are abandoned, without parents or friends.
Dear young people, with these thoughts I wish you a happy and Holy Christmas. As I extend my good wishes to your families and all of Catholic Action, entrusting you to the protection of the Mother of God, I bless you all wholeheartedly.
MEETING WITH THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF ITALIAN CATHOLIC ACTION ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI Saint Peter's Square Saturday, 30 October 2010
A young boy's question: Your Holiness, what does it mean to grow up? What must I do to mature following Jesus? Who can help me?
Dear Friends of Italian Catholic Action!
I am simply delighted to meet you; you are here in great numbers in this beautiful square and I thank you from my heart for your affection! Welcome to you all! In particular I greet the President, Professor Franco Miano, and the General Chaplain, Mons. Domenico Sigalini. I greet Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops' Conference, the other Bishops, priests, the educators and parents who wanted to come with you.
I heard the question of the young member of Children's Catholic Action. The best answer to the question about what it means to grow up is on your jerseys, your caps, your signs: “There is more”. This motto of yours, which I did not know before, makes me think. What does a child do to see if he is growing up? He compares his height with his friends' and imagines becoming taller in order to feel more grown up. When I was a boy of your age, I was one of the smallest in my class, and so all the more I wanted to be very tall one day; and not only tall in terms of a measuring stick, but I wanted to do something big, something more in my life, even if I did not know this saying “There is more”. Growing taller implies that “There is more”. You are told this by your heart which wants to have a lot of friends, which is happy when you behave well, when you know how to bring joy to mom and dad, but above all when it meets a friend who is incomparable to others, so good and unique, Jesus.
You know how Jesus loved children and young people! One day, many children like you approached Jesus, because they were very drawn to him and in his eyes they saw God's love reflected. But there were adults too who were bothered by these children. This also happens to you sometimes, when you play, have fun with your friends — the grownups tell you not to bother them.... Well, Jesus rebukes those adults and tells them: leave all these children alone, because they have in their heart the secret of the Kingdom of God. So, Jesus taught the adults that you too are “great” and that adults have to protect this greatness, which is having a heart that loves Jesus. Dear children, dear young people: being “big” means loving Jesus very much, listening to him and talking to him in prayer, meeting him in the sacraments, in Holy Mass, in confession; it means getting to know him more and more and also letting others know about him, it means standing with our friends, the poorest ones too, the sick ones, to grow together.
And Children's Catholic Action is part of that “more”, because you are not alone in loving Jesus. There are many of you, we see that this morning too! But help each other, because you don't want to let any friend be alone, but you want to tell everyone that it is great having Jesus as a friend and it is great being friends with Jesus; and it is great being with him, helped by your parents, priests and leaders! In this way you will truly grow up, not only because your height increases, but because your heart opens to the joy and love that Jesus gives you. And thus you open up to true greatness, living in God's great love, which is always also loving our friends. Let us hope and pray that we grow in this way, to find the “more” and to be truly persons with a big heart, with a great Friend who gives his greatness to us too. Thank you.
A girl's question: Your Holiness, our teachers in Catholic Action tell us that to grow up it is necessary to learn to love; but often we fail and we suffer in our relationships, in our friendships, in our first loves. What does it mean to love completely? How can we learn to really love?
A great question. It is very important, fundamental, I would say, to learn to love, to really love, to learn the art of true love! In adolescence we pause in front of the mirror and we notice ourselves changing. But if you only look at yourself, you never grow up! You grow up when you no longer let the mirror be the only truth of yourselves but when you let your friends tell you the truth. You will grow up if you are able to make your life a gift to others, not to seek yourselves, but to give yourselves to others: this is the school of love. This love, however, must bring you into that “more”, which today you shout to everyone, “There is more!” As I have already said, I too, in my youth wanted something more than what the society and the mentality of the time offered me. I wanted to breathe pure air, above all I wanted a beautiful and good world, like our God, the Father of Jesus, wanted for everyone. And I understood more and more that the world becomes beautiful and good if one knows this Will of God and if the world corresponds to this Will of God, which is the true light, beauty, the love that gives the world meaning.
It is quite true: you cannot and must not adapt yourselves to a love reduced to a commodity, to be consumed without respect for oneself or for others, incapable of chastity and purity. This is not freedom. Much of the “love” that is proposed by the media, on the Internet, is not love but egoism, closure, it gives you a momentary illusion, but it does not make you happy, it does not make you grow up, it binds you like a chain which restrains the more beautiful thoughts and sentiments, the true aspirations of the heart, that irrepressible power that is love and has its maximum expression in Jesus and its strength and fire in the Holy Spirit, who enflames your lives, your thoughts and your affections. Of course it demands sacrifice to live love in the true way — without renunciation one does not find this road — but I am certain that you are not afraid of the toil of a challenging and authentic love. It is the only kind that ultimately gives true joy! There is a test that tells you whether your love is growing in a healthy way: if you do not exclude others from your life, above all your friends who are suffering and alone, people in difficulty, and if you open your heart to the great Friend, Jesus.
Catholic Action also teaches you the roads to take to learn authentic love: participation in the life of the Church, of your Christian community, loving your friends in the Children's Catholic Action group, in Catholic Action, availability to those of your age at school, in the parish or in other environments, the company of the Mother of Jesus, Mary, who knows how to guide your heart and lead you along the way of good. Moreover, in Catholic Action, you have many examples of genuine, beautiful, true love: Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, Bl. Alberto Marvelli; love that also leads to the sacrifice of one's life, like Bl. Pierina Morosini and Bl. Antonia Mesina.
Young people of Catholic Action, aspire to great things, because God gives you the strength. "More" is being young people and children who decide to love like Jesus does, to be the protagonists of your own lives, protagonists in the Church, witnesses of the faith to those who are your age. “More” is the human and Christian formation that you experience in Catholic Action, which unites spiritual life, brotherhood, public witness to the faith, ecclesial communion, love for the Church, collaboration with the Bishops and priests, spiritual friendship. “Growing up together” speaks of the importance of being part of a group and a community that helps you to grow, to discover your vocation and to learn true love. Thank you.
A teacher's question: Your Holiness, what does it mean to be an educator today? How should we face the difficulties that we tackle in our service? And how can we do it in such a way that everyone concerns themselves with the present and the future of the new generations? Thank you.
A big question. We see the problem of education in this situation. I would say that being educators means having a joy in your heart and communicating it to all to make life beautiful and good; it means offering reasons and objectives for the journey of life, offering the beauty of the person of Jesus and making others fall in love with him, his way of life, his freedom, his great love full of confidence in God the Father. It means above all always keeping the goal of every existence high oriented to that “more” which comes from God. This demands a personal knowledge of Jesus, a personal, daily, loving contact with him in prayer, in meditation on God's Word, in fidelity to the sacraments, to the Eucharist, to confession; it demands communicating the joy of being in the Church, of having friends to share not only problems but also the beautiful things and surprises of the life of faith.
You know well that you are not the children's owners but servants of their joy in the name of Jesus, guides to him. You have received the mandate from the Church for this task. When you join Catholic Action you say to yourselves and to everyone that you love the Church, that you are ready to share responsibility with the Pastors for her life and her mission in an association that expends itself for the good of people, for their and your journey of holiness, for the life of the Christian community in their daily mission. You are good teachers if you know how to involve everyone for the benefit of the youngest. You cannot be self-sufficient but you must make the urgency of the education of the young generations felt at all levels. Without the presence of the family, for example, you risk building on sand; without the cooperation of the school you cannot form a deep understanding of the faith; without the involvement of the various members of the staff in the young people's free time and communication your patient work risks not being effective, of not impacting daily life. I am certain that Catholic Action is deeply rooted in the region and has the courage to be salt and light. Your presence here this morning tells not only me but everyone that it is possible to educate, that it is difficult but beautiful to give enthusiasm, to young people and to the littlest ones. Have the courage, I would like to say, the audacity, not to allow any context to be without Jesus, his tenderness that you make everyone experience, even the neediest and abandoned, with your mission as educators.
Dear Friends, lastly I thank you for having participated in this meeting. I would like to stay with you a little longer because when I am in the midst of such joy and enthusiasm, I too am full of joy, I feel rejuvenated! Yet unfortunately time passes quickly, others await me. But in my heart I am with you and remain with you! And I invite you, dear friends, to continue on your journey, faithful to the identity and purpose of Catholic Action. The strength of God's love can accomplish great things in you. I assure you of my remembrance in my prayer and I entrust you to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, so that like her you can bear witness that “there is more”, the joy of a life full of the Lord's presence. I thank all of you from my heart!
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO MEMBERS OF THE CHILDREN'S ITALIAN CATHOLIC ACTION Monday, 19 December 2011
Dear Children and Educators of ACR,
I too am really glad to welcome you and to see the joy and the life that you bring to the Pope’s house. Thank you so much for your greetings on behalf of the whole Italian Catholic Action. I would then sincerely like to say “Well done!” to you, for the initiative you promoted in the month of January; in this way too you show that you are a group of good and attentive children, because your concern is not limited solely to your classmates or to the friends you play with but reaches out to those of your peers who cannot flourish or be happy as you are because they lack what they need to live a dignified life.
Always be sensitive to those who need help; do as Jesus did, who left no one alone with his or her problems but welcomed all, shared their difficulties, helped them and gave them God’s strength and peace.
I know that this year you are reflecting on Bartimaeus’ invitation: “Rise, he is calling you” [Mk 10:49]. You too must listen to this invitation every day. When your mother or your father wakes you up in the morning to go to school, Rise! At times, true, it is not so easy to listen and the answer is not always immediate. I am not only inviting you to be quick but also to see that within this everyday word there is a call from someone who loves you, there is God’s call to life, to be Christian children, to begin a new day that is his great gift in order to meet many friends, as you are, so as to learn, to do good and also to say to Jesus, “thank you” for everything you give me.
When you wake up in the morning remember your Friend, who is Jesus, with a prayer. I hope you do it every day. This invitation: “rise, he is calling” has been repeated many times in your life and is repeated today. You received the first call with the gift of life; always be careful with this great gift, treasure it, be grateful to the Lord for it, ask him to give the gift of a joyful life to every child in the world: may all of them always be respected and may none of them lack what they need to live.
Another important day was the day on which you received baptism, even if you do not remember it; at that moment you became a brother or a sister of Jesus, who cares for you more than anyone and wants to help you grow. Lastly, another call was when you received Holy Communion: on that day your friendship with Jesus became very close, and he accompanies you always on your life’s journey. Dear ACR children, respond generously to the Lord who is asking for your friendship: he will never disappoint you! He might call you to be the gift of love to someone in order to form a family, or he might ask you to make your life a gift to him and to others as priests, religious or missionaries. Be courageous in answering him; as you said, “aim high”; you will be happy about it for the rest of your life!
However at this moment, I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all your educators, especially those of Catholic Action, and your parents, they are precious because they have helped and will help you to respond to the Lord, to make this journey; indeed, they will travel it with you!
I am particularly glad that our Bishop Sigalini has returned: he had fallen — as you know — and was very ill. But the Lord needs him. Thus we are grateful for his return. Dear friends, I would like to ask to you to do one thing: take to your companions too this lovely invitation — rise, he is calling you — and tell them: Look I have answered Jesus’ call and I am happy because in him I have found a great Friend, one whom I meet in my prayers, whom I see in my friends, and whom listen to in the Gospel. The Christmas that I wish for you is this: while you are setting up the crib, imagine that you are saying to Jesus: come into my life and I will always listen to you.
Happy Christmas to you, to your Chaplain, who is recovering — as I said — from a serious accident, to your president and to the whole of Italian Catholic Action.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI ON THE OCCASION OF THE SIXTH ORDINARY ASSEMBLY OF THE INTERNATIONAL FORUM OF CATHOLIC ACTION
To my Venerable Brother
Bishop DOMENICO SIGALINI
General Chaplain of the International Forum of Catholic Action
On the occasion of the Sixth Ordinary Assembly of this International Forum of Catholic Action I wish to address a cordial greeting to you and to all who are taking part in this important meeting. I greet in particular Emilio Inzaurraga, the Coordinator of the Secretariat, the National Presidents and the Chaplains. I address a special thought to Bishop Petru Gherghel of Iaşi, and to his diocese, hosting this ecclesial event at which you are called to reflect on “ecclesial and social co-responsibility”. This is a topic of great importance to the laity that fits in well with the upcoming Year of Faith and the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.
Co-responsibility demands a change in mindset especially concerning the role of lay people in the Church. They should not be regarded as “collaborators” of the clergy, but, rather, as people who are really “co-responsible” for the Church’s being and acting. It is therefore important that a mature and committed laity be consolidated, which can make its own specific contribution to the ecclesial mission with respect for the ministries and tasks that each one has in the life of the Church and always in cordial communion with the bishops.
In this regard the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium describes the style of relations between lay people and pastors with the adjective “familiar”: “Many benefits for the Church are to be expected from this familiar relationship between the laity and the pastors. The sense of their own responsibility is strengthened in the laity, their zeal is encouraged, they are more ready to unite their energies to the work of their pastors. The latter, helped by the experience of the laity, are in a position to judge more clearly and more appropriately in spiritual as well as in temporal matters. Strengthened by all her members, the Church can thus more effectively fulfil her mission for the life of the world” (n. 37).
Dear friends it is important to study in depth and to live in the Church this spirit of profound communion, characteristic of the beginnings of the Christian community, as attested by the Acts of the Apostles: “The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul” (4:32).
May you feel as your own the commitment to working for the Church’s mission: with prayers, study and active participation in ecclesial life, with an attentive and positive gaze at the world, in the constant search for the signs of the times. Through a serious and daily commitment to formation never tire of increasingly refining the aspects of your specific vocation as lay faithful called to be courageous and credible witnesses in all social milieus so that the Gospel may be a light that brings hope to the problematic, difficult and dark situations which people today often encounter in their journey through life.
Guiding people to the encounter with Christ, proclaiming his Message of salvation in languages and ways understandable to our time, marked by social and cultural processes in rapid transformation, is the great challenge of the new evangelization. I encourage you to persevere generously in your service to the Church. Live to the full your charism which consists in taking on the apostolic aim of the Church in its entirety, in a fruitful balance between the universal Church and the local Church and in a spirit of close union with the Successor of Peter and active co-responsibility with your own Pastors (cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People Apostolicam Actuositatem, n. 20).
In this phase of history, in the light of the Church’s social Magisterium also strive to be, increasingly, a laboratory of the “globalization of solidarity and charity”, so as to grow, with the whole Church, in the co-responsibility of offering humanity a future of hope and with the courage to formulate demanding proposals. Your Associations of Catholic Action boast a long and fruitful history, written by courageous witnesses of Christ and of the Gospel. The Church has recognized some of them as Blesseds and Saints. Following in their footsteps, you are called today to renew your commitment to walking on the way of holiness, keeping up your intense life of prayer, encouraging and respecting personal ways of faith and making the most of the riches of each one, with the guidance of your priest-chaplains and those in charge who can teach ecclesial and social co-responsibility. May your life be “transparent”, orientated by the Gospel and illumined by the encounter with Christ, loved and followed without fear. Make your own and share the pastoral decisions of the dioceses and parishes, fostering opportunities for meeting and for sincere collaboration with the other members of the ecclesial community, creating relations of esteem and communion with priests for a lively ministerial and missionary community. Cultivate authentic personal relations with everyone, starting with the family, and offer your readiness to participate at all the levels of social, cultural and political life, constantly aiming for the common good.
With these brief thoughts, as I assure you of my affectionate remembrance in prayer, for you yourselves, for your families and for your associations, I warmly impart to all the participants in the Assembly my Apostolic Blessing, which I gladly extend to those you meet in your daily apostolate.
From Castel Gandolfo, 10 August 2012.
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO BOYS AND GIRLS OF CATHOLIC ACTION FOR CHILDREN Consistory Hall Thursday, 20 December 2012
Dear Boys and Girls of Catholic Action for Children,
I am pleased to meet you and accept your greetings for the Birth of the Lord. I greet you with affection together with your teachers, Prof. Franco Miano, your President and Bishop Domenico Sigalini, your General Chaplain.
You have told me that you are “in search of an author”. This is the key phrase that guides you on your way this year in ACR. My immediate question would be: Who is this author? Have you already discovered him? I am certain that with your formators and the other friends of Catholic Action, you will find an ever clearer answer to your search and that you will be able to help many others find one too. Moreover I would also like to tell you something. First, I know that you are looking for an author of life, someone who helps you live well and be happy with yourselves and with others. We know who this author is: it is God, who has shown us his face. God made us, he made us in his likeness, and above all he gave us his Son Jesus, who became a child, whom we shall soon contemplate in Holy Christmas. He grew up from childhood like you, he walked the streets of our world to convey to us God’s love which makes life beautiful and happy, full of goodness and generosity.
Of course you are also looking for the author of your joy. If I asked you what brings you joy perhaps the answer would be: playing, sports, your friends, and your parents who live for you and love you. There are many things that make you happy but there is one great Friend, who is the author of the joy of all and who fills our hearts with a joy that surpasses all other joys and lasts a lifetime: he is Jesus. Remember, dear friends, that the more you learn to know him and to speak with him, the more you will feel happiness in your hearts and you will be able to overcome the small sorrows that sometimes trouble our minds.
Besides, you are also in search of the author of love. Can we live on our own, closed in on ourselves? If you think for a moment, you will see that the answer is clearly no. We all need to love and to feel that others accept us and love us. Feeling loved is necessary for life but it is also important to be able to love others in order to make their life and everyone’s life beautiful, also the life of your peers who find themselves in difficult situations. With his life, Jesus showed us that God loves everyone without distinction and wants everyone to be happy. So I like your initiative for the month of January to support a project in Egypt by giving practical help to street children.
Finally, you are certainly looking for the author of peace, of which the world has such great need. We often think that we are able to build peace alone but it is important to realize that it is God who can give us true and solid peace. If we know how to listen to him, if we make space for him in our lives, God dissolves the selfishness that so often pollutes relationships between people and between nations and he fosters a longing for reconciliation, forgiveness and peace — even in those with hardened hearts.
Dear boys and girls of ACR, I hope you make this search together, among yourselves and with your schoolmates and playmates. If you help one another to find the great Author of life, of joy, of love and of peace you will find that this Author is never far away, rather he is very near: he is the God made Child in Jesus!
It was Jesus Christ Himself who laid the first foundations of Catholic Action, by choosing and educating the apostles and disciples as fellow workers in His Divine Apostolate. And His example was at once followed by the first Holy Apostles as the sacred text itself proves. Pious XI, 29 June, 1931, Non abbiamo bisogno “Remember, dear brethren... with humble pride and with deep joy Catholic Action’s charism!... I encourage you to explore the richness of your charism always more deeply...” (8th September 2003).
“ Open up your hearts with docility to the gifts of the Holy Spirit! With gratitude and submissiveness accept the charisms which the Holy Spirit never ceases to lavish on you! Do not forget that every charism is given for the common good, that is, for the good of the whole Church” (30th May 1998).
“The Church cannot do without Catholic Action. The Church needs a group of lay people who, faithful to their vocation as lay people, work in close collaboration with their legitimate pastors and are always ready to play their part in the spreading of the Gospel in all spheres of life... It needs lay people who are ready to dedicate themselves to the apostolate and to establish a liaison especially with the diocesan community which leaves a deep impression on their lives and on their spiritual way of living... It needs lay people who are a testimony of the grandeur and the joy of Christian living in a concrete way in their daily lives; lay people who look upon Baptism as the root of their dignity, the Christian Community as their own family with whom they share their faith, and their Pastor as the father who guides and sustains his brethren” (26th April 2002).
The Pope encourages this revival very strongly, in fact, during the ad limina visit by Polish Bishops, he told them: “Catholic Action must be revived. Without it the infrastructure of Catholic associationism in Poland would be incomplete” (12th January 1993).
“The Church needs a Catholic Action which is full of life, strong and beautiful” (26th April 2002).
“I have full trust in you because Catholic Action, by its very nature, has close relations with the Pope and consequently with Bishops and Priests and this is its most important characteristic. Every ‘ecclesial’ group offers ways and means as to how one can live his Baptism and Confirmation more intensely; but Catholic Action is bound to do this in a very special way, because it gives that direct help to the Hierarchy, by sharing in all its apostolic anxieties” (30th December 1978).
Fidelidad a la jerarquía: “This is the characteristic which should differentiate you from others, but which is also the source and the secret of the effectiveness of your work for the edification of the ecclesial community” (27th September 1980).
The Pope explains very clearly that this type of ecclesiality should express itself “in an association which commits itself to become a school of apostles and disciples who dedicate their lives to the local Church where they live and all their efforts to its pastoral projects” (9th December 1983).
“The Church needs you, because you have chosen to be of service to the particular Churches and all your apostolic commitment is directed towards the Church’s mission. Also because you have identified the parish as the place where day after day you express your faithful and zealous dedication” (12th September 2003).
“Catholic Action is a school of ongoing formation, because it caters for all ages and conditions of life; it is a gymnasium which aims at giving an integral human, cultural and pastoral education which is the global apostolic aim of the Church. You should give priority to spiritual life in all your formative projects, which we all, as baptized, are called upon to do, in view of our fundamental call to sanctity” (24th April 1992).
Thus, we must remember that the “formative dimension would be evidently interpreted in a very restricted and mistaken way if it is isolated from ‘action’, as the very name of your association implies, or worse still if it is nonsensically opposed to action. As formation is the source of its missionary nature, so this formation must be intrinsically missionary, that is, oriented towards apostolic action. It is this formation which gives it its very existence. Besides spiritual and theological themes, the authentic formation of CA lay people should include the Social Teachings of the Church and all that which helps to foster the redeeming force of the Gospel within all temporal realities” (25th April 1986).
“Catholic Action, do not be afraid! You are part of the Church and are dear to the Lord, who never stops to guide your steps towards the novelty of the Gospel, which is never outdated or overcome” (26th April 2002).
Today I am eager to repeat once again: the Church needs Catholic Action! Our memories of it must not be reduced to a nostalgic withdrawal into the past but must grow into awareness that the Holy Spirit has made a precious gift to the Church, a heritage that is called, at the dawn of this third millennium, to bring forth new fruits of holiness and of the apostolate, extending the “implantation” of the Association to many other local Churches in different countries (10th August 2004)
the “close relation with the Pope and with the Bishops” and its “diocesan character” are undoubtedly of the utmost importance
And indeed it was the latter who went so far as to say in an address to the Episcopal delegates if Italian Catholic Action, that Catholic Action is part of the Church’s constitutional Design
May Our Lady help Catholic Action to persevere enthusiastically in its commitment to apostolic witness, always working in close connection with the hierarchy, taking a responsible part in the pastoral work of the parish and the diocese. The Church is counting on the active presence of Catholic Action and its faithful devotion to the great cause of Christ’s Kingdom. I too look to Catholic Action with great confidence, and I encourage all its members to be generous witnesses of the Good News of the Gospel in order to restore hope to contemporary society which is in search of peace. (12th September 2004)
During these last 100 years more than 60 CA members have been declared saints and blessed after a canonical process. Together with these, so many men and women, young and adult faithful witnesses of the Gospel, sustained by the fact that they were CA members, have succeeded in living their faith in their ordinary everyday life, in their particular familiar, political and social situations, in their places of work and study. They achieved this through their persistent commitment to find out the will of God and to read the signs of the time in which they happened to be living, looking upon these as being providential and as being the passing of the Lord through history.
The first spread of Christianity in Rome itself happened through and because of Catholic Action. Could it have been done otherwise? What would the Twelve have done, lost in the immensity of the world, had they not gathered people about them.…Saint Paul closes his Epistles with a list of names: a few priests, many seculars, some women: “Help those women who have labored with me in the Gospel (Phil. 4:3). It is as if he had said: They belong to Catholic Action” Pious XI, 19th March 1927
Catholic Action is not a novelty of the present times. The Apostles laid its foundations when, in their pilgrimages to spread the Gospel, they asked help from the laity—men and women, magistrates and soldiers, young, old, and adolescents, who had faithfully kept the word of life announced among them in God's name. 18th May 1929
In this regard we are not unmindful that some educators of youth, frightened at the present depravation of customs, thought that it would be indispensable to invent new systems of instruction and education. But we would like to make these men understand that it would not be possible to reap any advantages for society with this if they leave aside the methods and discipline flowing from the fountains of Christian wisdom, consecrated by the long experience of centuries and the efficacy of which Aloysius Gonzaga experienced in himself that is, the lively Faith, the flight from seductions, moderation, and the fight against the appetites, an active piety toward God and the Blessed Virgin, finally, a life frequently entertained and strengthened by heavenly nourishment. Pius XI, Apostolic letter Singulare Illud, June 13, 1926
The youth inclined by nature to exterior works and always in a hurry to throw themselves in the battlefield of life, should be led to feel that before thinking of others and the Catholic cause, it will be necessary for them to fight for their own interior perfection by means of study and the practice of virtues. Pius XI, Apostolic Letter Singulare Illud.
And if…internal associations of Catholic Action are established within religious associations which have goals and organized forms of apostolate, the former should enter with discretion and reserve not disturbing anything of the structure and life of the association, but only giving new impulse to the spirit and forms of apostolate incorporating them to the larger central organization.