We’ve come to the end of the document Mutuae Relationes. Remember to check the full document here at the Vatican site.
The situation in 1978 was that we were in the early stages of what was projected as a future working relationship between bishops and women and men religious. The goal was not cooperation for the sake of meetings with pleasantries and a lack of friction. Or even a careful exposition of Church authority, lay under clerics, women below men. Good communication and cooperation furthers the mission of Christ and his Gospel. The Holy Spirit offers gifts, and perpetuation of the institution is not the end. Only the means.
In 1978, the Church acknowledged a good start, with commitment for more to follow:
Dialogue and collaboration are already a reality on various levels. There is no doubt, however, that they have to be developed further, so that they produce more abundant fruit. The need therefore is evident to remember that in the work of collaboration, a real efficacious thrust will be had only when the leaders are convinced that such a thrust originates first of all in their own persuasion and formation. Indeed, everything will progress better if they are deeply convinced of the necessity and of the nature and importance of such cooperation, of mutual trust, of respect for the role of each individual, of mutual consultation in determining and organizing undertakings on every level. Then indeed the mutual relations between bishops and religious, carried on sincerely and readily, will be of great value in achieving in the most suitable and adequate way the dynamic vitality of the Church-Sacrament in its admirable mission of salvation.
A surprising appeal for discernment and personalism. The last word is Paul’s; the apostle not the pope:
The Apostle Paul, “prisoner in the Lord,” writing to the Ephesians from Rome, thus counseled them: “I… exhort you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all humility and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, careful to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:1-3).
The foregoing was submitted for the examination of the Holy Father, who, on April 23, 1978, benevolently approved it and mandated its publication.
Rome, Sacred Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes, May 14, 1978, Solemnity of Pentecost.
SEBASTIAN Card. BAGGIO
Prefect of the Sacred
Congregation for Bishops
EDUARDO Card. PIRONIO
Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for
Religious and for Secular Institutes
Last thoughts or comments?