Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Through the Grace of Ecclesial Movements

I heard a remarkable statistic last night. I can’t back it up; I heard it secondhand; but my source is Cardinal Seàn O’Malley of Boston (left), who celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in honor of the fifth anniversary of the death of Fr. Luigi Giussani. “Don Giuss” was the founder of Communion and Liberation (CL), a movement of which I am a member. Here’s the statistic:

In his homily, Cardinal O’Malley said that, today in Spain, traditionally a Catholic country, only 15 percent of those born to Catholic families actively practice their faith. That’s not the statistic.

This is the statistic: Of these practicing Spanish Catholics, 80 percent belong to ecclesial movements like CL, Opus Dei, Focolare, Cursillo, and the Neocatechuminal Way. Another name on that list is the Catholic Worker Movement, founded by Dorothy Day, for whom I have a certain unreasonable affection.

I would like to write more about CL in the days and weeks ahead, but for this short post I will leave you with a quote from Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, the CL “Responsible” (big cheese) for the USA. Asked to define Communion and Liberation, he called it “Opus Dei for bad people.” I know nothing about OD, but I like the definition anyway.

Oh heck, another CL story, again from Msgr. Albacete. Father Barnes relayed it to me this morning after Mass.

Often when a new bishop is appointed in the USA, Albacete (left) will pay him a visit in his capacity as Responsible. He says that new bishops dread such visits, because the visitor almost invariably wants something. Albacete defies expectation by telling the new bishop that CL stands ready to help him in any way. The bishop loves that, of course. “But then,” Albacete says, “comes the inevitable question, which I dread. The bishop asks, ‘So how many CL members are there in my diocese?’

“The answer,” Albacete says, half jokingly but only half, is “Two. And all they do is sing. And they don’t sing that well.”

I would be interested to know if any of our readers belong to an ecclesial movement and, if so, which and why.