On June 13, 2024, the annual meeting with the Moderators of the International Associations of the Faithful, Ecclesial Movements and New Communities took place in the New Synod Hall in Vatican City. The event was organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. Many different movements were present, including the Magnificat Community which is the last Association in chronological order to have received pontifical recognition.

The Militia of the Immaculata (M.I.) also participated in the meeting, represented by the International President, Miquel BORDAS PRÓSZYNSKI; the International Vice President, Margherita PERCHINELLI and the International Assistant, Friar Gilson Miguel NUNES.
The meeting agenda began with Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over by His Eminence, Cardinal Kevin FARRELL, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.
This was followed by an audience with Pope Francis who emphasized the centrality of synodality, which requires an internal spiritual transformation until it becomes an “ecclesial style.” He explained that the long journey toward synodality began with St. Pope Paul VI, who was the first to open this path. The most important element of this Synod on Synodality was not so much the treatment of this or that problem but the parochial, diocesan and universal journey we make together in synodality. In light of this spiritual conversion, he outlined some attitudes, some “synodal virtues” that can be derived from the three announcements of the Passion in the Gospel of Mark (Mk 8:31; 9:31; and 10:32-34):

  • Thinking As God Thinks: After the initial announcement of the Passion, Mark recounts how Peter, who should have been an example by helping the other disciples to be fully at the service of the Master’s work, opposes God’s plans by rejecting his passion and death. Therefore, our first interior transformation is to move beyond “merely human thought” to embrace the “thought of God,” being mindful that before making any decision, before starting any program, any apostolate or any mission within the Church, we should ask what the Lord wants from me, or from us as a group. Let us remember that the Holy Spirit is the star of the synodal path, not us. God is always greater than our ideas, so we must always rise above ourselves to embrace His perspective.
  • Overcoming Exclusiveness: [Following the second announcement of the Passion], in the Gospel of Mark (Mk:42-50), John objects to a man who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name who was not among the circle of the disciples. Therefore, they forbade the man to continue. Jesus disapproves of their attitude and tells them to be mindful of not becoming a stumbling block to others. Pope Francis therefore invites us not to close ourselves off to others, not to be convinced that what we do is right for everyone and not to limit ourselves to what our “circle” thinks. We need to get rid of such “enclosures.” Synodality asks us to look beyond the barriers with magnanimity, to allow ourselves to be moved, even “hurt,” by the suffering of others.
  • Cultivating Humility: [Following the third announcement of the Passion, James and John ask for positions of honor next to Jesus, who instead invites everyone to be the servant of all.] Spiritual conversion must start with humility; it is a fundamental stage [for building a synodal Church]: The humble person brings out, not their own “I”, but the “we” of the community. He or she overcomes rifts. Ecclesial movements are meant to serve the Church. Movements that are closed in on themselves, however, should be eliminated. We must ask ourselves: am I a member of an ecclesial movement or of the Church?

Immediately after his speech, to everyone’s surprise, Pope Francis greeted each participant in this meeting: It was a great gift to us.
This was followed by a speech by Cardinal Kevin FARRELL introducing the day. After greeting and thanking everyone for such a large turnout (including the founders of some movements and associations), he highlighted the importance of looking at the reasons that inspired the pope to call for the Synod on Synodality —which is central to the Church—and make those reasons our own. The meeting was not meant to tackle particular ideas or change doctrinal concepts. Rather, it was intended to arouse in everyone—pastors and faithful—the desire for synodality. This requires men and women who are accustomed to dialoguing, who can listen to each other and seek solutions together.

The next point the cardinal highlighted was the link between the Synod on Synodality and the Second Vatican Council. He stated that the Synod was not something new but a continuation of what was started during the Council. At its heart was the doctrine of the Church as the People of God that valued the common dignity and mission of all the baptized (cf. Lumen Gentium 10, 13). This is why the Synod on Synodality sought to awaken the People of God, calling them back to their vocation, involving them in the process of discerning the current situation of the Church and taking on new responsibilities at every level in the Church. It is important because many of these movements are fruits of the Second Vatican Council; thus, we all have an important task: to revive dialogue, community discernment, and shared apostolate. We are called to be agents of synodality in our parishes, dioceses, and national organizations.
The theme of the meeting was: “The Challenge of Synodality for Mission.” The theme is linked to Lumen Gentium 9. Living in synodality, as required by the mission of the Church, is not an end in itself but a challenge, because there is usually a tendency towards individualism. Furthermore, synodality does not consist in putting men and women in positions of power within the Church, or in creating new bodies within the Church, because this would end up clericalizing the laity. Rather, synodality must serve as a means for us to walk together and discover new paths for evangelization.
Next came the two main presentations of the meeting. The first was by Professor Rafael LUCIANI from the Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas, Venezuela, entitled: “The Mission as a Source of Synodality.” The second was by Dr. Elisa LISIERO, an official of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, entitled: “Synodality and the Experience of Movements.”
Afterwards, the participants got to share their own insights and experiences; it was an enriching time for all.
Cardinal Kevin FARRELL gave a closing address in which he reiterated the importance of associations within the Church and thanked everyone for what they do for the Church and in the Church, even though their work often requires permission from their bishop who must collaborate with associations without altering their distinctive charism. In order to walk together, there must be dialogue and encounter with the leadership of the movement. As Catholic movements, the Prefect has encouraged us to work together and transmit the faith, from one generation to another, through personal contact, just as the early Christians did. We need to work differently, not just by sending text messages. Personal contact and sharing one’s own experiences is what changes people’s lives.