Articles 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22
Art. 18 – Local, regional, national and international meetings of Prayer Groups are to be held with the prior consent of the Director General. There are no fixed times for these meetings. The Diocesan Ordinary, in whose territory the meeting is to be convened, must be informed beforehand. The Director General is to give adequate instructions, if there is question of meetings being held in important cities. This also applies if there is question of regional, national or international meetings.
This article is a very important one. It offers us a definite course to follow when setting up meetings of some impact beyond the routine celebration of the monthly meeting with its set agenda and practices. You will notice that there is a distinct chain of command laid out. Both the General Director and the local Ordinary are essential elements in the convocation and celebration of these special meetings.
The consent of the General Director for local meetings is understood when new a Prayer Group is established and approved by the acceptance of the Registration Form signed by the Spiritual Director of the Prayer Group and that of the local Ordinary, and the issuance of the Certificate of Establishment. The frequent activity reports sent to General Headquarters, either directly or through the National Office, insure the continued consent by the General Director.
(Notification of any change or deviation from the normal course stipulated by the Statutes must first be approved before they are implemented).
Regional and National Meetings, especially in those countries and areas where the Prayer Groups involved are an active and strongly visible presence of the Catholic laity and their involvement in the local and national Church, require the consent both of the General Director and the local Ordinary when major celebrations are planned. The General Director insures that all is in harmony with the spirit of the Padre Pio Prayer Group Association and Statutes; he also insures that as Delegate of the Holy See, everything is in harmony with Church law and the directives of the local Ordinaries in whose jurisdiction the celebration will take place. The local Ordinary, as responsible bishop for the local Church, must be informed of all that is being planned in his ecclesiastical territory, and his permission should be requested for such a special gathering to take place. This too is again in obedience to Padre Pio’s demand that we obey the Church and those who have authority in the local churches in which the Prayer Groups exist.
In both cases – General Director and local Ordinary – we obey and follow whatever they expect us to do at such meetings. The particulars are the responsibility of the Group Leaders and organizers, but whatever the General Director and local Ordinary suggest should be implemented, or at least dealt with in a respectful and obedient manner.
In most cases, this procedure is rarely necessary, since most of the contacting with the hierarchy or General Direction is done through the National Co-ordinator and/or local, regional, or national councils who are responsible to the General Director directly, and usually through the informed assistance of the National Co-ordinator
Our Association, formed by Padre Pio and approved by the Holy See, is intended to go beyond the merely devotional practices of individual groups. We are called to be a vibrant means, through unity, prayer and charity, of an active and effective Catholic presence in the local Church. Given the distorted values of the society in which we live, the Prayer Groups are called to pray, witness in the personal lives of its members, and be available and, when possible, pro-active in affecting with Gospel values the specific areas of the world in which we live.
All of this cannot be a haphazard patchwork doing of non-consequential and detached activities that appeal to one person or another. We must be aware, reflect, discuss, decide and do, with the Church, through the Church, in the Church and for the Church. Thus it is that the Church’s local representative and authority, the local ordinary, is necessary. Without his explicit permission or at least his tacit approval, nothing must be done!
Art. 19 – The magazine “La Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” with a supplement for the Prayer Groups is the only official publication of the Prayer Groups.
Organizations often have some means of communicating with the general body. Circular letters, newsletters, etc… or magazines. La Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza is the official communications publication of the Association. In it our General Director offers spiritual direction and practical insights into the activities of the Prayer Groups around the world. The official and most complete edition is published in the Italian language. There is an edition that is published in several languages. This edition contains selected articles; it does not contain everything that is in the Italian language edition.
The Italian edition is packed with information and spiritual formation material that each Group should have. While it is not always practical or possible for every member to receive the magazine, nor is it imaginable that everyone read and understand Italian, still it might be a good idea that each Group have at least one or two subscriptions for the local files and for members to peruse.
At the present time, there is no remedy to the lack of an English edition of the Italian magazine with its supplements. A complete translation in English of the Italian edition, each month, would require a linguistic staff in place and all the material available beforehand. Presently, to be able to accomplish this feat is not feasible.
We can, however, work toward greater unity and cooperation among the Groups, especially through communicating with the National Office. If Groups have their own publications, please send them to the National Office both for the files, as well as in order to offer material that could be used in communicating what is happening around the USA. This way, we might at least keep our members in the USA informed on the various activities, accomplishments, difficulties, hopes, dreams, etc. of our sisters and brothers, Spiritual Children of Padre Pio, in the USA.
RULES SPECIAL TO EACH GROUP
Art. 20 – Each Group can draw up a specific rule which is deemed useful for the good of the members of the Group, and which is in conformity with the present Statutes.
The Statutes are rather elastic when we go beyond the basic requisites. There is always room for additions that are unique to a specific area or Group. The main objective and practices must never be altered, but spiritual and social efforts, as well as activities that fall in the area of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy as well as those aimed at fostering a deeper love for Jesus, Mary, the Church, one another, etc., are commendable and encouraged.
The words useful for the good are important. They indicate and openness, in conformity with the present Statutes, to practices and service beyond the basic requirements, with the possibility of a creativity that can invite and make our Association appealing and effective for others. We should not fear creativity and openness.
The spirit of the Association of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups is a blessing of the Holy Spirit Who urged our Founder, Padre Pio, to discover this way to help others grow in the Spirit. The vibrancy of the Spirit urges us to be awake and aware to the working of the Spirit. We should be searching for ways to make this simple way to grow in God’s grace through the Eucharist, Mary, Catholic values, Christian charity, etc. accessible and desirable to others. Here is a place where we can reflect upon the youth, young adults, and middle-agers. (Something to think about!?)
Such a Rule must be approved by a plenary meeting of the members of the Group. A copy of this Rule, when approved by the Group, must be sent to the Director General. Rules already in use are to be adapted to the present Statutes within six months of their coming into force.
The Association involves people who are equal in dignity, whose rights and responsibilities are all bound by the Statutes they accept to follow. Nothing extra should be implemented, unless explicitly stipulated in the Statutes, without the express approval of a plenary assembly of the Group. Manipulative “votes”, or presenting an issue when some unforeseen or foreseen situation has impeded the majority number of the membership to be present, are wrong, offensive, and the vote is invalid. This Article requires the Group to be informed and well prepared to understand and vote on issues that will involve all the members of the Group. Once these are approved by the Group, they are sent to the General Director for his knowledge and ultimate approval before being implemented.
For those who consider this process a little too much (too beauracratic), please remember that our Association is directly under the guidance of the Holy See (by will of Padre Pio himself in turning all things over to the Holy See). Our General Director is Delegate of the Holy See. Thus, anything we do must be approved by the General Direction to insure that our presence as a Padre Pio Prayer Group in a given area, does not contradict Church teaching or policy in any way.
While the General Director (or the General Vice Director) is always available for direct contact, it is requested by the National Office and commendable that Groups keep the National Office informed – the ultimate and sole defining voice is that of the General Director. Oftentimes, basic matters can be clarified here in the USA before matters are definitively sent to San Giovanni Rotondo for approval.
Art. 21 – All other Statutes or Rules now existing, lapse with the coming into force of the present Statutes with due regard for the present prescriptions of Art. 14.
Art. 22 – Any modifications of the present Statutes can be proposed by the Director General, having consulted with the General Council. It becomes binding only after approval by the Holy See.
These last two Articles have been already dealt with in previous Articles. Statutes or Rules that existed before the promulgation of the present Statutes are null and void. The Director General consults with the General Council for input regarding any modifications of the Statutes or reworking of the same. However, everything is bound by approval by the Holy See, who is the ultimate and final word.
The words and spirit of Padre Pio make it very clear that everything is done with, for, in the Church. Nothing is to be attempted without permission from the Holy See. The centuries-old statement is still valid where Padre Pio and his Spiritual Children are concerned: Rome has spoken. The case is over! (Roma locuta est. Causa finita est!)
Some who read this, even among our membership, might find this reflection on these last two Articles a little too heavy or too demanding. But that is the way it is, if we want to be Spiritual Children of Padre Pio.
Only conscience can allow us to dispute certain matters that are promoted or promulgated by Church authorities. However, let us remember that our conscience must be formed in the truth, and not just directed towards convenience or comfort. We must be convicted and committed to what we believe. Obedience, in humility and charity may at times be a burden, but it is always fruitful and effective.
Vatican City, 3 May 1986
Statutes approved by the Holy See, through letter from the Secretary of State, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, dated 3rd May 1986, No 160.977/A.
It came into force on 4th May 1986
Once a legislative matter is officially approved by the Holy See, a document is signed and sealed to the effect. From the day of the date on the document of approval, unless otherwise stipulated, all other Rules, Regulations and Statutes to the contrary are abrogated and the new ones are in effect.