Traces N.6, June 2017

A Social Presence

The first chapter of Disarming Beauty, Julián Carrón’s new book (which has just been released in English, following after the Italian, the Spanish, and Portuguese versions), concludes with words that were said three years ago in reference to the situation in Europe: “Our desire is that Europe become a space of freedom for the encounter among truth seekers. This is worth working for.” At the time, the appeal may have seemed somewhat generic, almost a moral exhortation. The truth is that we’re seeing the need for and the concreteness of such an aspiration more and more. And not only on the “Old Continent.” The need for open spaces, where “your freedom, which is also mine, can be defended,” as the Catalan journalist Pilar Rahola said in one of the most beautiful presentation of the book, is made even more painfully apparent by the crisis and crumbling of long-standing certainties that we’re living through. Spaces are needed where each person can offer a contribution, propose a way of thinking, or witness to a way of living that helps us to face all the current problems. Life today has become a great struggle at every level of every context: from the broader sphere of politics to life in society to the daily life of each person. Still, if there’s anything good in this situation, it’s that this need for open spaces makes all of us less presumptuous and more open to seeking, ready to truly open up our personal experience to others, and to dig for every kernel of truth in our experience, along the lines of that very concrete definition of dialogue that Fr. Giussani once gave us: not “dialectic, [...] a more or less lucid clash of ideas and mentalities,” but rather a “mutual communication of ourselves. The emphasis is not on ideas, but on the person as such, on freedom. Our dialogue is life, and ideas are one expression of this life.”

We are in great need of this dialogue and of this freedom. And you can see it even in places where those words once seemed impossible. In Cuba, for example. For decades, the name of this country was synonymous with “walls upon walls,” but now, as you can read in the “Close Up” (centered around the presentation in Havana of the Spanish translation of Fr. Giussani’s biography), we see glimpses of a softening, of the first steps toward that “social friendship” that Pope Francis called for during his visit two years ago. Or look to Egypt, where another papal visit has just marked a historic moment in the relationship with Islam.

Deep down, this is the same need called to mind by the flyer CL put out on the upcoming local elections in Italy, which you can find on the Movement’s website ( “What’s needed most urgently today are actors who can–in small things and great–come together, dialogue with each other, and offer credible proposals.” Spaces for freedom and for encounter for those who want to seek the truth. And to build upon it.