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Wednesday, July 13, 2011
An article by the president of the Focolare in preparation for the upcoming interreligious event in the city of Saint Francis, was published in the Osservatore Romano (Roman Observer).

A meeting with surprises of the Spirit

Interreligious Symposium in Thailand - 2010

In this time of great upheaval, “the walls in which the various civilizations live with their individual culture are crumbling,” and, “a city-world without walls can be seen on the horizon, full of hope.” This was the vision offered by Chiara Lubich in London in 2004, before an audience of representatives of numerous religions, on the topic of the future for a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society of our time, faced with the risk of a clash of civilizations. In the 1970s, speaking at an international congress of young people, Chiara had asked them to, “not close their eyes at the sight of this torment of humanity but to conscientiously enter into the gestation of the new world.” “You are here,” she added, “to be formed in a “world mentality,” to become “world-man.”

Chiara Lubich with a group of Buddhist monks

In these twenty-five years, the road opened by Blessed John Paul II has made great progress thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit. It is He who guides history in this great design of unity, despite the many shadows which fall across our planet. We are witnesses to it. For our Movement, almost as a surprise, the unexplored page of interreligious dialogue was opened. Chiara Lubich recognized a sign of the Holy Spirit in the interest shown in her spiritual experience by representatives of different religions present at Guildhall in London in 1979.

Since then, numerous developments have occurred in more than thirty years. In 1972, when Chiara invited young people to become protagonists in the gestation of a new world, she gave them what she called a “very powerful weapon of love,” “the model capable of re-creating the unity of the world:” Jesus crucified who calls out to his Father in his abandonment. It is He, the Crucified and Resurrected Lord, who is the key which opens dialogue even in the most difficult situations.

Maria Voce with Buddhist grand master Ajahn Thong - Thailand 2010

Today, dialogue between religions cannot be limited only to leaders, scholars and specialists. It must become a dialogue of the people, a dialogue of life. We meet Christians and Muslims everywhere who are testament to the fact that one can progress from fear of the other to the discovery of the other and contribute to a peaceful living together in their cities.

We begin now to pray for the great meeting in Assisi next October; in the hope and expectation of new surprises from the Holy Spirit.

Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement

July 13, 2011