Pope emphasizes unity in message to bishops connected to Focolare Movement

Chiara Lubich Founder of the Focolare Movement Credit   CSC Audiovisivi Archivio CNA 1 28 15 Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement. | CSC-Audiovisivi-Archivio.

Pope Francis emphasized unity in a message sent Monday to bishops connected to the Focolare Movement, which is celebrating 100 years since the birth of its founder.

"The charism of unity is one of these graces for our time, which is experiencing a momentous change, and calls for a simple and radical spiritual and pastoral reform which brings the Church back to the ever new and current source of the Gospel of Jesus," the pope said in the Feb. 10 message.

The pope referenced John 17:21, in which Christ prays, "so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me."

"Through the charism of unity, fully attuned to the magisterium of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Holy Spirit concretely teaches how to live the grace of unity" according to Christ's prayer, he said.

The message from Pope Francis was read aloud at the opening of a conference of seven cardinals and 137 Catholic bishops from 50 countries Feb. 10.

The bishops and cardinals are connected to the Focolare Movement and referred to as "friends" of the group. The meeting, titled "a charism at the service of the Church and humanity," is taking place Feb. 10-12 in Loppiano, Italy.

The Focolare Movement is a Catholic organization focused on the principles of unity and fraternity; it began in northern Italy in 1943.

In 2020, the movement is celebrating the centenary of the birth of its founder, laywoman Chiara Lubich, whose cause for beatification was opened by the Vatican in 2015.   

Lubich was born on Jan. 22, 1920 in Trento and died March 14, 2008 in Rocca di Papa, surrounded by members of the movement. In the days leading up to her death, she was visited by many people, including important political and religious leaders.

Her funeral was celebrated at St. Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome and was attended by nearly 40,000 people.

In his message, the pope also spoke about the Holy Spirit's invitation to choose Christ Crucified as the "compass of our ministry" and to become "one with everyone, starting from the least, from the excluded, from the discarded, to bring them light, joy, peace."

"The Spirit opens the dialogue of charity and truth with every man and woman, of all cultures, religious traditions, ideal convictions, to build the new civilization of love in encounter," he continued. "The Spirit puts us at the school of Mary, where we learn that what is worthy and remains is love."

The president of the Focolare Movement, Maria Voce, sent a video message to the bishops' meeting Feb. 10.

Voce said they want to promote "a lifestyle of fellowship and communion with Jesus among Catholic bishops from all over the world... Such a lifestyle contributes to making collegiality ever more effective and affective."

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