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Movements and Parishes Can Work Together

6/3/2006 - 6:00 AM PST

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Interview With Legionary Father Miguel Segura

ROME, JUNE 3, 2006 (Zenit) - How is, or should be, the relationship between new ecclesial movements and communities and parishes?

In this interview with us, Father Miguel Segura, rector of the Center of Higher Studies of the Legion of Christ in Rome, comments on how the two can work together.

Q: Many of your seminarians collaborate in parishes of Rome and other dioceses. What contribution to the binomial "parish-movements" can we expect from the Pentecost meeting promoted by Pope Benedict XVI?

Father Segura: The whole Church has already been reflecting on this question for several years. We have several addresses of Pope John Paul II on the relationship between the movements and parishes.

Benedict XVI had also offered many reflections on this point before his election to the pontificate. More recently, the Pontifical Council for the Laity has continued to reflect further on this topic. Answers are being given both in the theological-canonical realms as well as in daily life.

I believe that the contribution we can now expect is growth in mutual understanding and acceptance, in continuing to learn how we build the Church all together. It is a reality lived in the first person by many parish priests and Christians belonging to different movements.

This collaboration is growing and multiplying, offering us, on one hand, a very wide range of positive experiences and, on the other, a series of normal difficulties for the whole reality in growth. At times the difficulties, fears and risks, become the only point of view from which the relationship is addressed between parishes and movements, clouding the evidence of all the positive things that so many parish priests and bishops are experiencing.

As I say, I think that one of the fundamental contributions of the movements' meeting with the Holy Father and the 2nd World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, will be to give us the correct perspective to address the relationship between these two realities.

Q: Have you found parish priests who are interested in joining a movement?

Father Segura: Of course. As commented in meetings of the Association of Rectors of Roman Ecclesiastical Colleges, a high percentage of diocesan vocations currently present in Roman colleges come from new movements. Given this fact, many parish priests are inviting the movements to participate from within, in parish life.

On the other hand, I personally know many diocesan priests, among them parish priests, who adhere to the spirituality of some movement to strengthen their personal friendship with Jesus Christ and to develop their apostolic action with the wide range of initiatives that the movements contribute in carrying out the pastoral plans of every diocese.

Q: But on adhering to a particular movement, is there not a risk that a person might "takes sides"?

Father Segura: There could be in some parish priests some partisanship, but I think we must not generalize. So many cases demonstrate the opposite.

We all form only one body in Christ, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Parish priests seek the most appropriate means for their own spiritual life and to carry out their ministry. And, if they feel called by God to live their own vocation and mission according to a charism approved by the Church, it can only be for the priest's personal good and for that of the faithful that God has entrusted to him.

The movements are not and must not be closed groups or parallel churches; they are no more than ways or vehicles to bring people to Christ and the parish is the bridge.

It is true that on this bridge there can be traffic problems and a possible solution would be to ban circulation, but another solution would be to enlarge the bridge and organize the traffic. That is why there is often talk of the parish as the "community of communities."

If the goal of the parish is to bring all men to Christ and make them sharers in his friendship, the solution seems evident. On the other hand, the luminous testimony of so many parish priests teaches us that they are not mere administrators or guardians of that bridge, but pastors who infuse in parish life a constructive climate of charity and ecclesial communion.

And all the faithful, whether or not they belong to movements or lay associations, must collaborate with their parish priest with a genuine attitude of service, fostering unity in carrying out the common mission of going throughout the world to preach the Gospel.

Q: What positive fruits do you see in the collaboration between movements and parishes?

Father Segura: Let's return to experience. In fact, parishes are very numerous that welcome the new movements in their interior and it has been my lot personally ...

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