Pope to Communion and Liberation: Be prophets of peace and unity

Pope Francis gathers with members of Communion and Liberation in Saint Peter's Square for the celebration of the centenary of the birth of Msgr. Luigi Giussani, founder of the movement.

By Vatican News staff reporter

Meeting with over sixty thousand members of the Communion and Liberation movement gathered in Saint Peter's Square on Saturday, Pope Francis offered his best wishes and praise for the movement's ministry and especially its founder, Msgr. Luigi Giussani.

Centenary of the birth of Fr. Giussani

The celebration marked the centenary of Fr. Giussani's birth, and brought together members of the movement from across Italy and around the world.

The celebrations started in the morning with a variety of prayers, hymns, and video excerpts of Fr. Giussani's own writings and homilies given during his years of ministry. Members from various parts of the world offered their own testimonies. 

A Milanese priest, Fr. Giussani devoted himself to the formation of students offering them direction in their lives and role models for inspiration.

At the beginning of the 1960s, he undertook evangelizing activities that communicated the faith with a contemporary and dynamic style with open and ongoing dialogues, as well as consistent reference to the Church's Magisterium. His innovative missionary outreach and exemplary witness of life led to the creation of the "Communion and Liberation" Movement during those years.

Inspirational legacy

In his address, Pope Francis expressed his own gratitude for the inspirational role Fr. Giussani has had in his own priestly life, recalling the great influence he had in educating and animating the younger generations through his own passion for sharing the faith and helping it flourish in them with deep roots in their daily lives. 

The Pope also recalled the turbulent era of the 1960s when Fr. Giussani taught and started his missionary outreach, and encouraged everyone to persevere today despite similar challenges and crises we face today.

“Times of crisis are opportunities for missionary renewal in light of the current ecclesial context, as well as the needs, sufferings, and hopes of contemporary humanity. Crisis can be turned into growth.”

The Pope spoke at length about Fr. Giussani's legacy, charism, vocation as an educator, and his love for the Church.

Charisma that reached hearts

Recalling his great personal charisma able to reach the hearts and minds thousands of young people, the Pope said this sprung from the faith he discovered as a youth when he experienced a sense of amazement and fascination in the mystery of Christ and God's boundless love for all.

“Christ is the unifying center of all reality, the answer to all human questions, and the fulfillment of every desire for happiness, goodness, love, and eternity present in the human heart.”

In speaking about how to express the Movement's charism in the changed world of our present time, the Pope said it is important to remember that the charism remains the same, but the way it is lived needs to be welcomed anew to bear fruit in today's world. And this requires an attitude of humility.

“The humble person gives life, invites others and pushes toward the unknown. The prideful person, however, copies others… and feels secure in the known, while fearing newness because it is uncontrollable.”

Education for life

The Pope then looked at Fr. Giussani's role as an educator when during his first years as a priest he felt the urgency to communicate and encourage a personal encounter with Jesus that he himself experienced, to awaken a desire for meaning and truth in the face of religious ignorance or misunderstanding.

At the same time, he showed great respect for the freedom and personal responsibility of every person to whom he ministered, encouraging them to flourish with their own talents and vocation.

Love for the Church

The Pope then recalled how Fr. Giussani was a "son of the Church," who loved the Church with great reverence and fidelity, teaching others to have the same respect and filial love, since the Church reflects the continuation of Christ in history through the participation of its members.

“Ecclesial movements help to display the attractiveness of Christianity. Church authorities have the responsibility to wisely and prudently point out the path these movements should take, to stay faithful to the mission God has entrusted to them.”

Peace and unity

In conclusion, Pope Francis invited everyone to accompany him by working together prophetically for peace, while always remaining united.

“Our increasingly violent and warlike world concerns me. Yet, in our prophetic witness to God’s presence in the poor, abandoned, vulnerable, and condemned, we help meet the aspirations for love, truth, justice, and happiness that fill the human heart.”

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15 October 2022, 11:55