To the Reverend Monsignor Luigi Giussani
Founder of the “Communion and Liberation” Movement
1. I share intensely in the joy of the Fraternity of “Communion and Liberation,” on the twentieth anniversary of its recognition by the Pontifical Council for the Laity as an Association of Faithful of Pontifical Right. As early as 1954, dearest Monsignor Giussani, you initiated in Milan the “Communion and Liberation” Movement, which then spread to other parts of Italy and later also to other countries of the world. The Fraternity is the mature fruit of this Movement.
On this happy occasion of the twentieth anniversary, I am particularly pleased to review the significant steps in the ecclesial itinerary of the Movement, in order to thank God for what He has wrought through your initiative, Reverend Monsignor, and that of those who have joined hands with you over the years. It is a comfort to recall the events through which God’s action has manifested itself and to acknowledge together the greatness of His mercy.
2. As I go back in memory over the life and works of the Fraternity and the Movement, the first aspect that strikes me is the commitment you have put into listening to the needs of today’s man. Man never stops seeking: both when he is marked by the drama of violence, loneliness, and insignificance, and when he lives in serenity and joy, he continues to seek. The only answer which can satisfy him and appease this search of his comes from the encounter with the One who is at the source of his being and his action.
The Movement, therefore, has chosen and chooses to indicate not a road, but the road towards a solution to this existential drama. The road, as you have affirmed so many times, is Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, who reaches the person in his day-to-day existence. The discovery of this road normally comes about through the mediation of other human beings. Marked through the gift of faith by the encounter with the Redeemer, believers are called to become an echo of the event of Christ, to become themselves an “event”. Christianity, even before being a sum of doctrines or a rule for salvation, is thus the “event” of an encounter. This is the insight and experience that you have transmitted in these years to so many persons who have adhered to the Movement. Communion and Liberation, more than offering new things, aims at helping people rediscover the Tradition and history of the Church, in order to express this in ways capable of speaking to and engaging the men of our time. In my Message to the Participants in the World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities on May 27, 1998, I wrote that the originality of the charism of each movement “does not claim, nor could it, to add anything to the richness of the depositum fidei, safeguarded by the Church with impassioned fidelity” (no. 4). Yet this originality “constitutes a powerful support, a suggestive and persuasive reminder to live the Christian experience to the full, with intelligence and creativity. Herein lies the premise for finding adequate answers to the challenges and urges of the times and ever-changing historical circumstances” (ibid).
3. It is necessary to go back to Christ, the Word of God made flesh for the salvation of mankind. Jesus of Nazareth, who lived the human experience as no one else could have, posits Himself as the goal of every human aspiration. In Him alone can man achieve full self-knowledge.
Thus faith is shown to be an authentic adventure of cognition, for it is not an abstract discourse, nor a vague religious sentiment, but a personal encounter with Christ, which bestows new meaning on life. The work of education that in your activities and in your communities so many parents and teachers have striven to carry out has consisted precisely in accompanying brothers, children, and friends to discover in their affections, in work, in the diverse vocations, the voice that leads each one to the definitive encounter with the Word made flesh. Only in the only-begotten Son of the Father can man find a full, exhaustive answer to his intimate and fundamental expectations.
This permanent dialogue with Christ, nourished by personal and liturgical prayer, is a stimulus for an active presence in society, as the history of the Movement and the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation testifies. Yours is, really, also a history of works: works of culture, of charity, of formation, and – in respecting the distinction between the aims of the civil society and of the Church – it is also a history of engagement in the political field, a sphere by its very nature full of conflict, where it is at times hard to serve faithfully the cause of the common good.
4. In these twenty years, the Church has seen the birth and growth of many other movements, communities, and associations within herself. The strength of Christ’s Spirit never ceases to overcome, to break apart, as it were, the sedimentary schemes and forms of our former life, to push towards new unprecedented ways of expression. This push is the sign of the lively mission of the Church, in which Christ’s face is made visible through the features of the faces of men in every time and place of history. How can we not be astonished at these wonders of the Holy Spirit? He works marvels, and at the dawn of a new millennium He encourages the faithful to go out into the deep towards more and more distant frontiers in the building of the Kingdom.
Years ago, on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of Communion and Liberation, I happened to say to you: “Go into all the world and bring the truth, the beauty and the peace which are found in Christ the Redeemer” (Rome, September 29, 1984, no. 4). At the beginning of the third millennium of the Christian era, I forcefully and gratefully entrust to you once again the same mandate. I exhort you to cooperate with constant awareness in the mission of dioceses and parishes, courageously expanding their missionary action to the farthest edges of the world.
May the Lord accompany you and make your striving fruitful. May Mary, the faithful Virgin and the Star of the New Evangelization, be your support and guide you on the path of an ever more daring faithfulness to the Gospel.
With these sentiments I am happy to impart to you, Monsignor Giussani, your collaborators, and all the members of the Fraternity, as well as those who adhere to the Movement, a special Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, February 11, 2002, on the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes
John Paul II
To the Reverend Monsignor Luigi Giussani