Focolare Movement Hailed by Pope at Its 60th Anniversary

Praises Contribution to Dialogue

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, DEC. 7, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II praised the Focolare Movement on the occasion of its 60th anniversary, calling its members "apostles of dialogue."



In a message he wrote to Focolare founder Chiara Lubich, the Pope said: "The Focolarini have made themselves apostles of dialogue, as the favorite way to promote unity: dialogue within the Church, ecumenical dialogue, interreligious dialogue, dialogue with nonbelievers."

The text of the papal message was read Saturday by Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, in the Mariapolis Center of Castel Gandolfo, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Rome.

"In these 60 years," the message said, "how many social changes and sudden upheavals have marked the life of the world! Humanity has become increasingly interdependent and, pursuing passing interests, on occasions has lost its own reference values."

"Now it runs the risk of remaining without a soul, namely, without the fundamental unifying principle of every project and activity," the Holy Father affirmed.

"There is an urgent duty for a renewed commitment on the part of believers to respond to the challenges of the new evangelization," he said.

"From this point of view, an important role is entrusted to ecclesial movements, outstanding among which are the Focolarini," he added.

The Focolare Movement was started in 1943 in Italy and now embraces 4.5 million people in 182 countries.

In a testimony published in the Italian periodical Vita Trentina, Chiara Lubich says: "What do I feel? What is in the depths of my heart on this particular occasion? A wave of emotion, even just at the thought of what I see before me -- a new people born from the Gospel, spread all over the world; an immense work which no human force could have made. It is, in fact, a work of God, for which I was chosen as the first instrument, useless and unfaithful though I may be."