.- At midday Saturday in St. Peter's Square, the Pope met with more than 80,000 people from 50 countries who are taking part in a pilgrimage organized by the Communion and Liberation association (CL). The event is being held to mark the 35th anniversary of pontifical recognition for the association.
The Holy Father began his address to them by recalling how two years ago in the cathedral of Milan he had presided, in the name of John Paul II, at the funeral of Msgr. Luigi Guissani, the founder of CL. "Through him the Holy Spirit inspired in the Church a movement that testifies to the beauty of being Christian, in an age marked by the ever more widespread opinion that Christianity is something oppressive and difficult to practice." Don Giussani used to repeat that only the Lord "is the way towards realizing the desires of the human heart."
Pope Benedict recalled that in one of John Paul II's meetings with members of CL, the late pontiff had highlighted how "the original educational contribution of Communion and Liberation lies in the way it re-proposes - in a fascinating way that harmonizes with contemporary culture - the Christian message, considered as a source of new values, ... capable of orienting an entire existence."
"Communion and Liberation is a community experience of faith born within the Church, not through an organizational initiative of the hierarchy but originating from a renewed encounter with Christ and thus, we may say, from an impulse that derives in the final instance from the Holy Spirit. Even today it offers the possibility of living Christian faith in a profound and modern way, on the one hand in complete fidelity and communion with Peter's Successor and the pastors who ensure the governance of the Church, and on the other with a spontaneity and freedom that give rise to new and prophetic apostolic and missionary achievements."
After reiterating that ecclesial movements "are a sign of the fecundity of the Spirit of the Lord," the Holy Father recalled the words he had used during a recent meeting with pastors of the city of Rome, referring to St. Paul's call "not to extinguish charisms. If the Lord gives us new gifts, we must be grateful even if they are difficult."
The Holy Father also recalled John Paul II's parting message to CL members on the occasion of an earlier meeting: "'Go throughout the world to bring the truth, beauty and peace of Christ the Redeemer.' Don Giussani made those words the program of the entire movement, and for Communion and Liberation this was the beginning of a missionary journey that has taken you to 80 countries. Today," he concluded, "I invite you to continue along this path, with profound faith ... solidly rooted in the living Body of Christ, the Church, which guarantees Christ's daily presence among us."