We Have a Long Way to Go

This is the letter that Julián Carrón, President of CL, submitted to la Repubblica. The letter was written to address the relationship between faith and power, after months of a relentless press campaign depicting CL as a power hungry political system.
Julián Carrón

Dear Editor:

Reading the newspapers these days, I am filled with an unspeakable pain in seeing what we have done with the grace we have received. If the Movement of Communion and Liberation is continually identified with the attraction of power, money, and lifestyles that have nothing to do with what we have encountered, we must have given some reason.

And all this, even though CL is extraneous to any malversation and has never given life to a “system” of power. Not to mention the legitimate considerations about the disconcerting ways these stories have been spread, through a violation–by now accepted by everyone–of the procedures and guarantees stipulated in the Constitution.

The encounter with Fr. Giussani has made it possible for us to discover Christianity as a reality that is as attractive as it is desirable. For this reason, it is a great humiliation to observe that at times the fascination of the beginning has not been enough to free us from the temptation of desiring purely human success. Our presumption in thinking that the initial fascination alone could suffice, instead of committing ourselves to actively following, has lead to the consequences that fill us with consternation.

The fact that Fr. Giussani testified up to the day of his death what life can be when it is grasped by Christ, shows that nothing is lacking in his Christian proposal. Many of those who met him confirm what we, his children, have been able to enjoy in living more or less close to him: that his person overflowed with the presence of Christ. This conviction lead us to ask for the opening of the cause of canonization, certain of the good that Fr. Giussani was and is for the Church, in responding to the challenges Christianity faces today. We ask forgiveness if we have damaged the memory of Fr. Giussani with our superficiality and lack of true following. It is up to the judges to determine whether some errors committed by some people even constitute crimes. On the other hand, each person can judge whether, in the midst of many mistakes, we have been able to make some contribution to the common good.

When a member suffers, the whole body suffers with him, as Saint Paul taught us. We, the members of this body that is Communion and Liberation, suffer with those who are under the spotlight of the media, conscious of our weakness in not having been witnesses for them as well as we should have. This makes us more aware of the need that we, too, have for the mercy of Christ.

However, with the same frankness with which we acknowledge our mistakes, we must also admit that we cannot rip away from the fiber of our being the encounter that we have had and that has shaped us forever. All of our own evil and that of our friends cannot erase the passion for Christ that the encounter with the charism of Fr. Giussani awakened in us. The fever of life he communicated to us is so great that no shortcoming can eliminate it; it enables us to look at all our evil without legitimizing or justifying it.

The event of the encounter with Christ has marked us so powerfully that it enables us to always begin again, after any error, more humble and more aware of our weakness. Like the people of Israel, we can be stripped of everything, even go into exile, but Christ, who has fascinated us, remains forever. He is not defeated by our defeats. Like the Israelites, we will have to learn to be conscious of our incapacity to save ourselves; we will have to learn again what we thought we already knew, but nobody can rip away the certainty that the mercy of God is eternal. How often we have been moved, hearing Fr. Giussani talk of the “yes” of Peter after his denial!

For this reason, we have no other reading of these facts but that they are a powerful call to purification and conversion to He who has fascinated us. It is Him, His presence, His untiring knocking on the door of our forgetfulness, of our distraction, that reawakens in us more than before the desire to be His. We hope the Lord gives us the grace to respond to this call with simplicity of heart. It will be the best way to testify that the grace given to Fr. Giussani is much greater than what we, his children, are able to show.

Only this way will we be able to be a different presence in the world, as many among us already testify in their workplaces, in the universities, in the life of society and in politics, or with friends, through the desire that faith not be reduced to the private sphere. Those who meet us know this well: they are so struck that they desire to participate in what has been given to us. For this reason we must continually acknowledge that “presence” is not a synonym of power or hegemony, but of testimony, that is, of a human difference born of Christ’s “power” to respond to the inexhaustible needs of the human heart. And we must admit that the force that changes history is the same as that which changes the heart of man, as each of us knows from personal experience. We will only be able to live and witness to this newness if we actively follow Fr. Giussani, verifying faith in experience, so convinced was he that only if faith is a present experience and finds in experience confirmation of its usefulness for life, will it be able to resist in a world in which everything, everything, says the opposite.

We still have a long road ahead of us, and we are happy to be able to walk it.