Statement of Karl Cardinal Lehmann, Archbishop of Mainz

Mainz's Cardinal Lehmann

"It is the task of the Church, also in our present times, with all its secular as well as religious endeavours, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as an alternative of faith and as an invitation to all. This takes place in manifold ways: through preaching the Word, celebrating the Sacraments, in Catechesis and religious instruction, in pastoral conversations, in all the many fields of ecclesiastical Pastoral and Diakonia. In a special way the office of proclaiming the word of God is mandated to Bishops, Priests and Deacons. In their own way, however, also the many co-workers in the different tasks in the church take part in this fundamental mission.

"The proclamation of the Word, however, remains empty, when the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not become a visible and experiential reality. Therefore the Church needs also the witness of the Communities of Consecrated life. The Sisters and Brothers in Religious Orders and Secular Institutes have for themselves deliberately chosen a form of life of unconditional imitation of Jesus Christ, committed to a Community, a life in which the passion for Christ and, after his example, for people, is central. The Communities of Consecrated Life stand for a Christian spirituality, which does not dissolve itself in fanaticism, in non-commitment and in escape from the world, but which, rooted in the Gospel and in the imitation of Jesus, produces the effect of shaping the world. A life in which public worship and meditation, prayer and adoration play an important part, a life, which in service to the community and to men will be concrete, attracts also today men and women who are seeking the Holy. A sign of that is, for example, the growing requests for time apart in a Cloister or Monastery.

"The Second Vatican Council places religious life in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church after the "universal call to Holiness in the Church" (Chapter V) but in its context. The life following the evangelical counsels --according to Lumen Gentium-- is 'indeed not a part of the hierarchical structure of the Church'; but it belongs 'unshakably to her life and holiness' (LG 44). In a time in which the interest in the religious and holy re-awakens, the Church needs the Orders as 'Movements in search of the Holy'. They can make visible, in a particular way, that there is more at stake than the safeguarding of Structures, of the Orders themselves and of each of us. Holiness encompasses a transcending of self toward Him who is the source of all holiness and the Absolute Holy One. These "Movements in search of the Holy" are necessary, so that also others can find the Holy One, following in their tracks."

Excerpt from the Forward to Arbeitshilfen Nr 201 of the German Bishops Conference.