Letter of Pope John Paul II to Fr. GiussaniOn the occasion of the 50th birthday of Communion and Liberation
February 22, 2004
To the Reverend Monsignor
Founder of the Movement “Communion and Liberation”
1. Next October it will be fifty years since, having left teaching in the theological faculty of Venegono Seminary, you began teaching religion in the “Berchet” classical Lyceum in Milan, thus beginning an associative and ecclesial journey that was to become the Movement and, successively, the Fraternity of “Communion and Liberation.” I willingly join in the thanksgiving that on this occasion goes up to God Giver of all good, from your priestly heart and from the heart of many who have joined the Movement. Divine Providence has brought about, in this half-century, a work that has spread rapidly in Italy and in the world, and brought forth abundant good fruits for the Church and for society.
Today it is present in seventy Countries, and proposes an experience of faith able to take root in the most diverse cultures; an experience that profoundly changes people’s lives, because it drives them to a personal encounter with Christ. “Communion and Liberation” is a Movement that can be rightly considered, along with a great variety of other Associations and new Communities, one of the buds of the promising “springtime” aroused by the Holy Spirit in the last fifty years. This half-century has been marked by a painful conflict with the dominant ideologies, by a crisis of utopian projects and, more recently, by a widespread tendency to relativism, scepticism and nihilism, which threaten to extinguish the desires and the hopes of the new generations.
2. I am pleased to express to you, and to all those belonging to the Movement, the wish that this important jubilee might make each one refer back to the generative experience from which the Movement arose, renewing the enthusiasm of the origins. For it is important to remain faithful to the charism of the beginnings so as to respond effectively to the expectations and challenges of the times. I repeat today what I told you some years ago: “Continually renew the discovery of the charism that has fascinated you and it will more powerfully lead you to make yourself servants of that one power which is Christ the Lord!” (Insegnamenti, VIII/2 , p. 660)
In the humble and faithful sequela of Jesus, to whom all the baptized are called, be inspired, all of you, by the example of the Virgin Mary. May she be the model of your being Christians today! I also said, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the recognition of the Fraternity of “Communion and Liberation” by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, “Your Movement has chosen and chooses to indicate not a road, but the road towards a solution to this existential drama. As you have affirmed so many times, the road is Christ” (no. 2, in L’Osservatore Romano, 13 February 2002, p. 8).
The original pedagogical intuition of your Movement lies precisely here: proposing in a fascinating way, and in harmony with contemporary culture, the Christian event, perceived as a source of new values, capable of directing the whole of existence. It is necessary and urgent to help people to encounter Christ, so that He become the ultimate reason for living and operating also for present-day man. This experience of faith generates a new way of looking at reality, a responsibility and a creativity that concern every ambit of existence: from work to family relationships, from social commitment to the animation of the cultural and political environment.
I raise my prayer to God that the celebration of the fifty years of your Movement may offer all those belonging to it the opportunity for a salutary pause, so as to start off again, strengthened to take up the new apostolic tasks of the third millennium with renewed enthusiasm. May this jubilee year be a providential occasion for deepening knowledge of Jesus, and love for His person and His message of salvation.
3. Put out into the deep! “Duc in altum!” (Lk 5:4). I address now to you this word of the Gospel, which I have repeated on many occasions. It is an invitation to make grateful memory of the past, to live the present with passion and to open yourselves with trust to the future, because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever!” (Heb 13:8) (cf. Novo millennio ineunte, 1). Animated by this awareness, let your Movement go on announcing to everyone the beauty and the joy of the encounter with the Redeemer of man; proclaim vigorously the mercy of God and remind mankind, at times discouraged, that there is no need to be afraid, because Christ is our future.
In deep devotion to Peter’s Successor and the legitimate pastors of the Church, and in close unity with other Movements and Associations, offer within the diocesan and parochial communities the original contribution of your charism, spreading and testifying to the Gospel message.
May the Blessed Virgin, teacher and model of Christian life and “living fountain” of hope, always accompany and protect your journey. May she be the support you look to constantly.
With these sentiments and wishes, while assuring you of my spiritual participation in the jubilee celebrations, I willingly impart to you, to your collaborators and to all those belonging to the Movement a special Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, February 22, 2004.
Joannes Paulus II