Historical Timeline

1954

Fr. Giussani requests and is granted permission by his superiors to work as an educator; having seen that the youth no longer know what Christianity is.
He begins teaching religion at Berchet Classical High School in Milan. From the very start, a group of students forms around him, that in time grows and spreads to other schools. The Movement is born as Gioventù Studentesca (GS), which was initially a part of Catholic Action of the Archdiocese of Milan and later reaches other cities in Italy, with the encouragement of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, the Archbishop of Milan.

1957

Cardinal Montini writes a Lenten pastoral letter to the Archdiocese of Milan titled “On the Religious Sense” in which he “spells out” the situation of the Catholic faith in Italy in the 1950s. Giussani welcomes this provocation: in December of the same year, he publishes a text titled The Religious Sense, which will be the foundation of his lifelong pedagogical proposal.

1959

The first text proposing the standardization of the guiding principles and the method for the life of GS is published under the title Gioventù Studentesca: riflessioni sopra un’esperienza [Student Youth: Reflections on an Experience].

1960

Marks the release of a second text on the method and principles, entitled Tracce d’esperienza cristiana [Outlines of Christian Experience].

1962

A missionary project begins in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, run solely by students - the first members of GS.
Gruppo Adulto or the “Adult Group” (later called Memores Domini) is formed and brings together people in the Movement to live a vocation of complete dedication to God while living in the world.

1964

Appunti di metodo cristiano [Notes on a Christian Method] is released.

1965

After Giussani starts teaching Introduction to Theology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, he goes to the US and spends some months there. Upon his return, he steps down from the leadership of GS.

1968

The Crisis of GS that began in the mid-1960s reaches its high point. Thousands of young people leave the Movement to join the Student Movement with Marxist leanings.

1969

After the Crisis of ’68, the Movement is reborn in a more mature form under the name of Communion and Liberation (CL), adding a growing number of university students and adults to the existing group of high school students.

1973

The first public conference organized by CL takes place: “In the Italian Universities for Freedom.”

1974

The first publication of CL, the official monthly magazine of the life of the Movement. In 1977, its name will change to Litterae Communionis, and later in 1993 it becomes Tracce-Litterae Communionis. In the years to come, in addition to the Italian edition, there will be editions in various languages, ranging from English to Polish.

1975

Paul VI, during the Palm Sunday Youth Pilgrimage to Rome, grants CL permission to use the Nervi Auditorium for an Assembly. Then, in a private conversation, he encourages Fr. Giussani with these words: “This is the right road. Go forward like this.”

1976

In Riccione, at an Assembly of the University Leaders of the Movement, Fr. Giussani clearly states: “The destiny of our community depends on the preference for presence over utopia. Presence means bringing communion into being.”
Around this time, former university students with a desire to deepen their belonging to the Church as adults establish the first groups that will lead to the creation of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.

1977

The political and social climate in Italy is very challenging. CL is attacked by extreme leftist and right-wing groups: there are 120 recorded cases of aggression and violent acts aimed at the individuals or the headquarters of the Movement. The same year, the first edition of Il rischio educativo [The Risk of Education], a synthesis of Giussani’s reflections on the theme of education, is published.

1978

Several groups form and call themselves “confraternities;” these will be the precursors to the “Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.”

1979

January 18: Pope John Paul II (elected on October 16, 1978) receives Fr. Giussani in a private audience. Shortly afterwards, Fr. Giussani writes a letter to all the groups of Communion and Liberation titled “Serviamo Cristo in questo grande uomo” [Let Us Serve Christ in this Great Man]. He writes, “As soon as I left the audience, I felt a huge responsibility in the heart of my joy: a willingness to serve that man with all my strength and with all my life. I would like this responsibility to impact all of us. My friends, let us serve this man; let us serve Christ in this great man with all of our existence.”
On March 31, the Pontiff receives the university students of the Movement (CLU) in an audience.

1982

On February 11, the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation is recognized as a “juridical entity for the universal Church” and declared an “association of pontifical right” by the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

1984

The Pope receives 10,000 members of CL on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Movement and entrusts them with a new mandate: “Go into the whole world and bring the truth, the beauty, and the peace that are found in Christ the Redeemer. This is the assignment that I leave you.” This invitation sets off the diffusion of CL around the world.

1985

The Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo is established. In Spain, the Nueva Tierra Association merges with the Movement of Communion and Liberation.

1986

The Jaca Book publishing house issues a second edition of Fr. Giussani’s The Religious Sense. This text is incorporated into a publishing project called “PerCorso” (comprised of three volumes, with the last one divided into two parts). It describes the path followed by Fr. Giussani, that began when he taught at Berchet, later reconfigured and enriched by the same author, and also used to teach Introduction to Theology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.

1988

December 8: The Memores Domini are recognized as a juridical entity by the Holy See, and receive the title “Universal Private Ecclesial Association.”

1992

October 17: On the day of the 10th anniversary of the pontifical recognition, Fr. Giussani leads the entire Fraternity of Communion and Liberation on a pilgrimage to Lourdes as a gesture of gratitude and of supplication.

1993

The Books of the Christian Spirit series, published by Rizzoli, begins under the direction of Fr. Giussani.

1997

Marks the creation of the Spirto Gentil series, a collection of music selected and presented by Fr. Giussani. Upon the initiative of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, The Religious Sense is presented in the UN Headquarters in New York. There is a second presentation there two years later, this time of At the Origin of the Christian Claim, and a presentation on La conscience religieuse de l'homme moderne [The Religious Awareness of Modern Man] takes place at the UNESCO in Paris.

1998

A delegation of members of Communion and Liberation attend the International Congress of Ecclesial Movements, in St. Peter’s Square, with Pope John Paul II (May 30). Fr. Giussani is one of the founders of ecclesial movements called upon to speak. He gives one of his most acclaimed speeches, which he concludes with these words: “The true protagonist of history is the beggar: Christ begging for the heart of man, and the heart of man begging for Christ.”

1999

The Communion and Liberation International Centre opens in Rome as a resource to help connect CL communities around the word and as a service to the Church, especially in preparation for the Great Jubilee in the year 2000.

2000

Throughout the Jubilee Year, members of Communion and Liberation participate in various events with the Pope: the Jubilee of Workers, World Youth Day, the Jubilee of Universities, and the Jubilee of Families. During this last event mentioned, Fr. Giussani sends a contribution for the International Theological and Pastoral Congress on the topic “Children: Springtime for the Family and for Society,” organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family (October 10-12).

2002

February: the 20th anniversary of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation. In honor of this occasion, Pope John Paul II sends a long, hand-written letter to Fr. Giussani.

2003

April 4-5: Georgetown University hosts a conference on Giussani’s The Risk of Education. Fifty professors attend, and among them are noted philosophers and theologians.

2004

Communion and Liberation celebrates its 50th anniversary. Fr. Giussani takes this opportunity to write to the Pope (January 26): “Not only did I have no intention of ‘founding’ anything, but I believe that the genius of the Movement that I saw coming to birth lies in having felt the urgency to proclaim the need to return to the elementary aspects of Christianity, that is to say, the passion of the Christian fact as such in its original elements, and nothing more.” John Paul II responds with a long letter dated February 22. Adding to this, the Pope writes: “The original pedagogical insight 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.” In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Movement, on October 16, about 45,000 people set out on a pilgrimage towards the Sanctuary of the Holy House of Loreto.

2005

On February 22, Fr. Giussani passes away at his home in Milan. The homily at the funeral Mass is given by Cardinal Ratzinger. The following month, the Fraternity of CL elects its new President: Fr. Julián Carrón, who had shared the responsibility of leading the Movement, as intended by Fr. Giussani. Carrón will be nominated a second time in 2008, and again in 2014, each time for a six-year term.

2007

Benedict XVI receives 100,000 members of CL in St. Peter’s Square to honor the anniversary of the recognition of the Fraternity.

2008

In the Cathedral of São Paolo, Brazil, standing before 50,000 people and Cardinal Odilo Scherer, Cleuza and Marcos Zerbini, hand over the responsibility of the Association of Landless Workers, which has over 100,000 members, “into the hands of Fr. Carrón, because in meeting Communion and Liberation, we have met everything we needed to meet.”

2010

May 16: 35,000 members of CL go to Rome to recite the Regina Coeli with the Holy Father, who is subject to criticism due to the pedophilia scandal.

2012

At the conclusion of the Mass in the Duomo of Milan for the 30th anniversary of the Pontifical recognition of the Fraternity of CL and the seventh anniversary of the death of Fr. Giussani, Fr. Carrón announces that he has presented the request for opening the cause of the beatification and canonization of Fr. Giussani. The request was approved by the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola.

2013

Alberto Savorana publishes Vita di don Giussani through the editor Rizzoli. In 2015 it will be published in Spanish, and later on also in English.
October 11: Fr. Carrón is received in a private audience by Pope Francis. Following this, he writes a letter to the Fraternity and to the entire Movement of Communion and Liberation: “The Pope encourages us to live the nature of our charism personally, in the communion among ourselves, because a movement like ours is called to respond to the needs of this moment in the life of the Church and of the world. From the closeness and familiarity of Pope Francis comes, for me and for all of us, friends, a new responsibility before God and the Church.”

2014

March 29: Upon the expiration of his term, Fr. Carrón is re-elected by the Diaconia as President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation for six more years.

2015

On March 7, Pope Francis receives the Movement in St. Peter’s Square.
In the fall, Rizzoli publishes Disarming Beauty, the first book in Italian by Fr. Carrón (then translated into Spanish, Portuguese and English).

2016

For the Jubilee Year of Mercy, between October 1 and 15, over 200 pilgrimages by people in Communion and Liberation take place in Italy and around the world. Fr. Carrón speaks at the Sanctuary of Caravaggio before 21,000 people: “What boundless gratitude for His mercy throughout this whole year! Each of us can take advantage of this moment to become even more aware of how often in these months we have been invaded by the mercy of Christ, by His boundless tenderness to us.”