NEW OUTPOURINGS OF THE SPIRIT
by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI
(Ignatius Press, 2007, HB, 134pp, $24.95, ISBN: 978-1-58617-181-0. Available from Freedom Publishing)
This is a compact, attractively presented hardback volume which consists of two fundamental texts by Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) which discuss the role of the ecclesial movements and new communities within the Church.
These new movements developed across the Church after World War II and especially following the Second Vatican Council.
At a time of turmoil in the Catholic Church these movements provided intense points of light during "a winter of discontent" when many priests and religious left their ministries and there was widespread dissent from the Church's Magisterium by some theologians.
Communion and Liberation, the Neocatechumenate, the Focolare and Opus Dei are examples of the new movements.
The book is particularly meaningful with regard to the intense spiritual journey which the ecclesial movements and the new communities experienced in view of their important meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on Pentecost Sunday, 2006.
They have proved to be valuable exemplars for the entire Church, leaders and laity alike, who continue to be invited to welcome the new "outpourings of the Spirit".
The first part of the book presents in an articulate and detailed way the theological vision of the former pope on these ecclesial movements and the new communities.
In fact, this is the then Cardinal Ratzinger's talk entitled "Church Movements and their Place in Theology" which he gave at the beginning of the World Congress of the Ecclesial Movements in Rome in May, 1998. It combines an impressive theological depth with a warm pastoral tone.
The second part of the book complements the first. It contains the dialogue of Cardinal Ratzinger with a large group of bishops from all continents, convened for a seminar on the topic, "The Ecclesial Movements in the Pastoral Concern of the Bishops", held in Rome in 1999.
This dialogue format was very favorably received by the bishops, touching on topics such as the relation between the old and the new charisms, the institutional dimension and the charismatic dimension of the Church, and the Church's mission in a non-Christian society and the human challenges which the new movements generate as they merge into parishes and dioceses.
The book is designed for those serious readers interested in the future direction of the Church as it faces the challenges of the 21st century. It also deserves a place in academic and tertiary Catholic libraries and those of religious communities and is highly recommended.