Highlighting Catholic shrines’ potential to strengthen the faith of Catholics and draw people to Christianity, Pope Francis transferred responsibility for coordinating the activity of shrines to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.
‘Despite the crisis of faith impacting the modern world, these places still are perceived as sacred spaces where pilgrims go to find moments of rest, silence and contemplation in the midst of a life that is often frenetic,’ Pope Francis said in a document published on 1st April.
Issued ‘motu proprio’, or on his own authority, the document moves responsibility for Catholic shrines from the Congregation for Clergy to the council for new evangelisation.
While in most cases, religious orders or dioceses run Catholic shrines, the Vatican still has responsibility for providing some regulation and, especially, encouragement of their pastoral activities.
The papal document specifies the pontifical council now will be responsible for: approving the designation of international shrines; studying and promoting the evangelising activity of shrines; organising and supporting national and international meetings to promote common pastoral initiatives; promoting specialised training of shrine workers; and ensuring that pilgrims are offered the spiritual support they need to grow from their pilgrimage.
Picture: Caregivers push pilgrims in wheelchairs in 2014 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).