"Holiness today" at the center of a congress held at the Vatican

During the first week of October, a congress was held at the Vatican to reflect on holiness.

José Carlos Martín de la Hoz-October 11, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes
holiness today vatican

Photo Pope Francis arriving for an audience with the participants of the symposium on "Holiness Today," October 6, 2022. ©CNS/Vatican Media

The Congress "Holiness Today" (October 3-6, 2022), organized by the Dicastery for the Causes of SaintsThe meeting began with words of welcome from the Cardinal Prefect, Marcello Semeraro, and with the express desire to organize it every year and, finally, to publish the proceedings as soon as possible. 

The attendance was large enough to fill the auditorium of the Augustinianum in Rome, since the response of the consultors, members of the Dicastery, Roman postulators, episcopal delegates from many dioceses and diocesan postulators from Italy, Spain and other countries of Europe and America, was massive, not only at the inauguration but also at all the sessions of the Congress.

In particular, Lourdes Grosso, Director of the Office for the Causes of Saints of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, as director of the Master's course that has just been held in Madrid organized with the Dicastery and the Faculty of Canon Law of the University of San Damaso in Madrid, encouraged a good group of postulators of the course and professors of the Master's course to attend the Congress, where a preferential place was occupied by Msgr. Demetrio Fernandez, Bishop of Cordoba, consultor to the Dicastery, who signed the diplomas of the Master's course in Madrid together with the Prefect of the Roman Dicastery.

Speakers and topics

The Congress "La santità oggi" was organized by the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints and the Lateran University. It was interesting to see the cardinals, archbishops and consultor bishops, as true members of the Dicastery, present at all the sessions of the Congress and to see the Prefect, Promoter of the Faith and Secretary of the Dicastery seated in the chair at all the events.

The distribution of the speakers has been very measured so that there was a representation of all the major orders and religious congregations: Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, Augustinians, Carmelites, priests, theologians, canonists, professors of the Gregorian, Angelicum and Lateran. Also, priests, theologians, canonists, professors of the Gregorian, Angelicum and Lateran. The important weight of the great religious orders in the daily life of the Dicastery was evident. There was a large representation of consecrated persons and members of movements and new ecclesial forms in the room, but they were not mentioned. 

The content of the lectures and sessions expressed the current situation of spiritual theology. Chapter V of Lumen Gentium on the universal call to holiness and "Gaudete et exultate" of Pope Francis were widely quoted and mentioned, but then the theological developments were centered on the classical texts of Scripture, Tradition and the great theologians and saints, St. Augustine, St. Thomas, St. Francis and St. Ignatius. 

Holiness today

Bruno Forte, Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, with an important speech on "Holiness, fruit of the Holy Spirit" and the best intervention of the Congress was given by Rosalba Manes, Professor of the Gregorian University, who developed the theme "The Beatitudes, the path to holiness". The conference on the "universal call to holiness" was given by Father Maruzio Faggioni of the Alphonsian Academy who compared the path to holiness of St. Teresa and that of St. Therese.

Undoubtedly, there is still much theological, canonical and historical updating and deepening work to be done in the coming years since, for example, the current "Positio" is still being written on the heroic exercise of the Christian virtues, but the virtues have not been treated in depth in this Congress. There is still much room for an urgent theological development of lay and secular spirituality.

Pope's reception

The Holy Father was gracious enough to receive the Congress and personally greeted the 400 people at the Congress. Cardinal Prefect Semararo thanked the Holy Father for the Exhortation "Gaudete et exultate" and spoke of the wide variety of charisms and human profiles of the saints being studied. 

The Holy Father stressed two ideas in his speech: one for the Congress, that is, the need to promote a stable private devotion and reputation for holiness and to avoid falling into an ephemeral "digital" fame. At the same time, addressing the universal Church, he spoke of joyful holiness and quoted the "well-known text": "A sad saint is a sad saint" and spoke of the importance of good humor and Christian optimism, giving as examples Blessed John Paul I, Carlo Accutis, St. Thomas More and St. Francis as joyful saints.

The days were sunny and it was a joy to see Rome full of tourists and life all over the city, as, in fact, there was no reference to COVID, nor to the masks anywhere.

The authorJosé Carlos Martín de la Hoz

Member of the Academy of Ecclesiastical History of Madrid.

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