USG Assembly: called to walk together


25 November: Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Mgr Mark Coleridge,
 Mgr. Lazarus You Heung-sik

(Darío Menor, Vida Nueva) The Venezuelan Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, was re-elected Thursday as president of the Union of Superiors General (USG), the organisation that brings together the leaders of men's religious congregations, during the 96th general assembly held in Rome. Giuseppe Mauro Lepori, abbot general of the Cistercian Order and Swiss nationality, was elected as the new vice-president. Under the slogan "For a Synodal Church: the contribution of Consecrated Life", 110 Superiors General are taking part in this meeting, which is being held in person, something which has not happened since November 2019, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic shook Europe.

Synodality was the main theme of the assembly's lectures, including one given by South Korean Archbishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, who has been prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy since only three months. "I am a peasant whom the Pope has called to Rome," said the new "minister" of the Roman Curia department in charge of priests, introducing himself. Citing the example of the Church in his country, which was founded by lay people, the former bishop of the Daejeon diocese, visited by Pope Francis during his trip to South Korea in 2014, invited to involve the laity in the synodal journey.

"Love your priests more"

"They are the main part of the Church and offer great richness in aspects such as popular piety or their competence in various environments of cultural and social life. We are all called to walk together, without marginalising anyone," he commented in his speech, in which he thanked the "gift" that Consecrated Life represents for the Catholic Church.

You Heung-sik also reported on his main task as prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy: "to encourage" priests at a time when many are weakened by the sexual abuse crisis in ecclesiastical circles and other difficulties. "When bishops come, I listen to them first and then I always tell them to love their priests more, to visit them and phone them. That is not wasting time. There are many hero priests in the world," commented the South Korean archbishop, who in his speech showed signs of great vital joy which he confessed the Pontiff appreciates. "The Pope tells me that he is happy that I am happy".

The German Synodal Way, faithful to Rome

German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane and President of the Australian Bishops' Conference, also spoke at the USG assembly. Both spoke about the synodal processes in their respective countries and the one opened by the Pope in the universal Church. "We are in a 'momentum' in which we must see where the Gospel is leading us," commented Marx, who acknowledged that Pope Francis had shown his concern for the German synodal path. "We are not going to decide anything without Rome. That would be unthinkable," he guaranteed.

Coleridge, for his part, intoned a 'mea culpa' by acknowledging the "peculiar DNA" of many bishops, which leads them to "continue the age-old tradition" of sometimes behaving like kings. French Sister Nathalie Becquart, under-secretary of the Synod's General Secretariat, and Rafael Luciani, professor at the Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas and member of the Synod's Theological Commission, also offered their reflections on the question of synodality.

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