When was the Fraternity founded?
The Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships was inaugurated on November 30th, 1990. Two significant events marked this inauguration. The first was a morning Mass in the Holy father’s private chapel followed by an audience with the 38 men, women and children from charismatic covenant communities in Australia, Canada, France, Malaysia, New Zealand and the United States. The second event to mark this inauguration was a meeting with the President of the Council for the Laity and the Executive of the Fraternity where Cardinal Pironio presented the decree recognizing the Catholic Fraternity as a private association of the Christian faithful, of pontifical right and endowed with juridic personality, in accordance with the norms of canons 298-300, 304-329. It would be important to note that the inauguration of the Fraternity came after many years of informal dialogue with the Council for the Laity.
By whom was it founded?
The Fraternity was brought into being by an association of communities called the International Brotherhood of Communities (IBOC). The IBOC, an ecumenical grouping of communities with a largely Catholic membership, sought to establish an organization which might support Catholic identity and give a formal link to the Catholic Church.
The original communities who took part in the inauguration are:
- The Christian Community of God’s Delight, Dallas, U.S.A.
- Bread of Life Covenant Community, Saskatoon, Canada
- Bread of Life Fellowship, Sydney, Australia
- City of the Lord Covenant Community, Arizona & California, U.S.A.
- Emmanuel Covenant Community, Brisbane, Australia
- Emmanuel Community, Paris, France
- Glory to God Covenant community, Topeka, U.S.A.
- Hephzibah Covenant Community, Canberra, Melbourne, Australia
- Light of Jesus Christ Covenant Community, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
- Servants of Jesus Fellowship, Christchurch, New Zealand
- Servants of Yahweh Covenant Community, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Why was it founded?
As stated above, the Catholic members of the IBOC were very conscious of the need for an international association which was at least 90% Catholic to have a more formal link with the Holy Father. Such a link would provide a clearer ecclesial identity and a strong direction for our future mission. In granting the decree, Cardinal Pironio also spoke of the “why” of the Fraternity in the following words, “The Communities of the Catholic Fraternity … motivated by the desire both to assure greater dialogue and collaboration among themselves and to deepen their communion with the Successor of Peter as an element of their Catholic identity, have requested the Pontifical Council for the Laity that they be recognized as a private association of the Christian faithful.” It is to be noted that the Pontifical Council also had a hope for the Fraternity. “This same Pontifical Council encourages all members of the communities belonging to the Catholic Fraternity … to commit themselves to giving renewed vigor to the Catholic expression of the renewal in the Spirit. Moreover, the Council expresses its great hope that the recognition of the Catholic Fraternity will intensify the apostolic activities and the response of its member communities to the appeal of the Holy Father for a new evangelization of the world…”.
What it its relationship to Rome?
The Catholic Fraternity is a private association of Christian faithful of pontifical right. It is formally recognized by the Holy Father and has ongoing relationship with Rome through the Pontifical Council for the Laity. While it has this link to Rome, it has its own integrity as an international body and exists with its own President (Mr. Brian Smith, Brisbane, Australia), a Council and Executive. It also has its own Spiritual Adviser (Bishop Albert de Monleon, Meaux, France).
What are its aims?
Statutes 1.5 and 1.6
The Fraternity desires that its members be formed in such a way that they grow in holiness, in their communion with the Church and in their apostolic witness in the world. The covenant communities and fellowships of the Fraternity endeavour to develop structures and relationships which provide environments where those who are drawn to Christ may have their faith nurtured and consolidated within the Church;
The fundamental aims of the Fraternity are to:
- Share, encourage and consolidate the fruit of the Christian life that the Lord has brought about through his Spirit within member communities and fellowships;
- Promote all the riches of the spiritual heritage of the Church in the life of the Fraternity:-faithful listening to the Word of God, participation in the liturgy (especially the sacramental life of the Church and in particular the Eucharist and Reconciliation), and practices of popular devotion;
- Reaffirm and deepen an awareness of membership in and love for the Catholic Church as well as the primary and essential bond of communion with it;
- Improve knowledge of Catholic doctrine and guarantee its faithful observance, particularly in regard to constitutive ecclesiology, the centrality of the sacraments and devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints;
- Pay particular attention to important events in the Catholic world and reflect on suitable ways of participating and collaborating in such events;
- Encourage the sharing of the Fraternity’s specific experiences of community life with other communities, associations and movements in the Catholic Church;
- Undertake specific initiatives related to the work of evangelization and Church renewal in accordance with the Code of Canon Law relating to the authority of the local Church;
- Encourage the use of charisms, as given by the Spirit, for the upbuilding and renewal of the Church;
- Both foster an authentic ecumenism in the hope of perfect unity and form member communities of the Fraternity in ecumenism in accordance with the teachings, orientations and norms of the Catholic Church; and
- Encourage its member communities to participate in spiritual ecumenism and other ecumenical activities, when circumstances permit, under the guidance of the local Church. Ecumenical activities of an international nature will proceed only after consultation with the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
How many Communities belong to it?
At this point in time there are approximately 34 full member communities, six underway communities and 3 associate members.
How does one become a member?
- One becomes a member of the Fraternity according to articles 1.4 and 3 of the Statutes through:
- being acknowledged by the local Ordinary as a community in good standing in the diocese, and
- living a committed Christian lifestyle
- having explicitly manifested the wish to belong to the Fraternity through a full acceptance of these Statutes and are accepted by the Executive of the Fraternity’s Council with a two thirds majority vote.
The process of discernment involved in becoming a member also includes visitation by members of the Executive and a reflection on the way of life of the Community in relationship to the identity of the Fraternity – Catholic, charismatic, covenant community.
Does it have any special resources?
The special resources of the Fraternity are in fact the resources of its individual members. Member communities exhibit a great diversity of gifts and charisms as they seek to respond to the call of God in their particular contexts. In coming together as a Fraternity, we are able to learn from one another and share the wisdom that God has given us.