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Catholic World News News Feature

NEW CANONICAL STATUS FOR ITALIAN GROUP October 03, 1996

VATICAN (CWN) -- An Italian organization, the Association of Missionaries of Political Charity, will be recognized under Canon Law as an "international private association of the faithful, of pontifical right, with a juridical personality." That recognition will be granted for five years "ad experimentum"-- as an experiment.

Although the organization that has been granted this special designation is not widely known, especially outside Italy, the move does carry some special significance. As a measure of that importance, the decree granting this new canonical status-- signed by Cardinal Eduardio Pironio in his capacity as president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity-- was the subject of a full-page article in today's issue of L'Osservatore Romano.

Twenty years ago, a man named Alfred Luciani founded the Association of Missionaries of Political Charity, an organization devoted to the promotion of Catholic social teaching in the world of politics. Cardinal Pironio recognized the group for its efforts to "promote and cultivate authentic Christian vocations toward political engagement." Thus the canonical recognition of the group is, in effect, an acknowledgment by the Church that the members of the Association have a calling to work within the secular world for the promotion of the Gospel. Cardinal Pironio explained that under the new Code of Canon Law-- informed by the call of Vatican II for lay people to work within the secular world to transform their society-- recognizes the validity and importance of such lay vocations.

For Alfredo Luciani, the founder and president of the Association, the new canonical recognition is "an extraordinary event." Working as a Christian in the political world, he said, is a form of "service for the common good." Such a calling, he insisted, should be presented to the laity as a form of sanctification and evangelization. Toward that end, his Association insists that lay people must receive the political training and spiritual formation they need to make their work a form of apostolate, guided not only by good intentions but by the highest professional standards as well.

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