Pope Urges a Spirituality of Communion to Focolare Friends

Receives Bishop Supporters of the Movement

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 14, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Addressing some 100 bishop friends of the Focolare Movement, John Paul II stressed the need for a spirituality of communion to be ever more present in the life of Christians.



The bishops, led by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk of Prague, are currently in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, attending a congress on the "Spirituality of Communion: Ecclesial Unity and Universal Fraternity."

The meeting is in response to the Pope's apostolic letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte," which calls for the promotion of "a spirituality of communion," and of making "the Church a house and school of communion."

"The spirituality of communion is articulated in different elements that are rooted in the Gospel and are enriched by the contribution made to the entire Christian community by the Focolare Movement, committed to witnessing the spirituality of unity," the Pope explained to the bishops on Thursday.

Among these elements, the Holy Father mentioned "unity as a testament left by Jesus to his disciples, the mystery of Christ crucified and abandoned as a way to reach it," the Eucharist as a bond of communion, the unifying action of the Holy Spirit in the Church, and the presence of the Virgin Mary, Mother of unity.

The dynamic character of the spirituality of communion "stems from the existing bond between the love of God and the love of neighbor," the Holy Father emphasized.

"In this perspective, it is indispensable to learn the art of being sanctified together, in a personal and communal way," he said.

The Pope also insisted on the importance of an ever more organic communion between the institutional and charismatic dimensions of the Church.

The Pontiff reminded the bishops that the spirituality of communion gives a new impetus to ecumenism and opens great possibilities for interreligious dialogue, a dialogue that, however, "cannot be based on religious indifferentism."

John Paul II warned that the effort to build a spirituality of communion requires the overcoming of any difficulty, lack of understanding, and even failure.

However, "it is necessary to continue without pausing on the path undertaken, trusting in the help of divine grace, to give life to authentic ecclesial unity and to a solid universal fraternity," he concluded.

The Focolare Movement, founded in 1943 by Chiara Lubich, has 140,000 members and more than 2 million collaborators and sympathizers.