Lay people, beyond the sacristies

140 Catholic movements and associations convened in Warsaw

“Today the world needs Christians more than it did in the past”. It is the opinion of Fr Adam Schulz, president of the national Council of Catholic Movements in Poland. On June 14 the fourth Congress of Catholic Movements and Associations active at national level was held in Warsaw, attended by 600 delegates from 140 organizations representing almost 3 million members. Analyzing the present situation of Catholic laity in Poland, Fr Schulz said that “over the past years there has been an evident growth in the activities of Catholic associations and groups”. In his opinion such development is greatly due to “the importance currently ascribed by the Church to the new evangelization”, but it is also favoured by the pontificate of Pope Francis, since “the members of Catholic movements identify fully in his spirituality, which represents a source of inspiration for everyone”. Opening up to the world. “Many Polish Catholics are committed in the framework of associations or in their own parish, forgetting that the apostolate of lay people should be addressed to the external world”, Schulz remarked. For the future, the president of Polish associations hopes there will be “a passage from the passive observation of the world that is ever more secular, focused on rejecting Christianity and Christians from social life and public conscience, limiting it to the sacristy, to the rediscovery of a positive vision of our activities to renew the world in the light of the Gospel, to transform it with Christ”. The title of the conference: “Sent to renew the world” – means, for the prelate, the duty of recognizing that “today it is possible to cooperate with the Lord, continuing family and job commitments, while offering at the same time one’s skills to others, proposing evangelical values”. “Mutual encouragement”. The future programme of the apostolate of Catholic movements and associations in Poland presented during the Congress envisages a set of activities in various sectors: the family, the protection of life, economy, politics, assistance to the poor and the sick. “There should be mutual encouragement in the apostolate”, said Fr Schulz, persuaded that even by carrying out very simple actions “courage can be given also to others, who will think: ‘if he can do it, I can do it too.'” Attention to the poor. The President of the Bishops’ Conference for Social Questions, Monsignor Jozef Kupny, archbishop of Breslavia, spoke of the commitment for the poor and the needy, underlining “the imagination of the charity” of Pope Francis. In Poland, the prelate said recalling the figures of the national Statistical Office GUS, “children are those who are most exposed to misery”. Of some 8.9 million children who live with their family, 1.4 million are poor or don’t have the means for a normal, regular development. Moreover, the bishop added, “poor people frequently have a specific vision of reality, and they often ascribe the responsibility to their unfortunate situation”. They frequently say that they did not have the opportunity of gearing their lives in the right direction, but at the same time they fail to take the initiative to change their existence in a decisive way”, said Mons. Kupny, adding that “people who adapt to poverty, identifying the causes beyond themselves, are unable to value their capabilities and to overcome difficulties with their own strength”. Those people need our external help”, the prelate concluded, recalling that “the care of those in need is the sign of true love for Jesus Christ”. Sin and holiness. The Primate of Poland, Monsignor Wojciech Polak, reminded delegates of the “existential tension” inside the Church, “which is saint but at the same time needy of ongoing purification”. Polak closed his conference dedicated “to love for the Church despite embedded evil which is sometimes well visible”, since “love for the Church demands concrete action wherever converting, liberating and purifying from sin is needed”. These words addressed to the audience a few days before the special liturgy of reparation for the sin of abuse on minors by men of the Church, already planned for June 20, triggered a special commotion among participants.

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