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Monday, September 26, 2011
Marco Impagliazzo (Sant’Egidio Community), Eli Folonari (Focolare Movement) Gerhard Pross (YMCA) together for a round table discussion with European delegates of the Focolare Movement. The main topic: On the way towards “Together for Europe,” 12 May 2012 in the European Parliament, Brussels.

“The ‘Together for Europe’ vocation has not gone out of fashion, but is increasingly necessary because the world is heading into a deep crisis which is not only economic and structural, but a crisis of relationships,” affirmed Marco Impagliazzo during a conversation with some representatives of the group that is promoting Together for Europe, and the delegates of the Focolare for the nations of Europe who are meeting at their international centre in Rocca di Papa, Italy. He goes on: “The value of our journey is even stronger today than when we started, because Europe is even more in crisis today.” ‘Living together’ is the key-phrase that must be learnt and proposed, dreamt and realized. It is a vision which involves everyone, it involves the youth: “Precisely because of the crisis, we need to work even more.”

Marco Impagliazzo

Among the guests at the round table there was also Gerhard Pross from the YMCA of Esslingen, one of the first testimonies to the adventure of the Christian Movements in Europe; and Eli Folonari, for all these years at the side of Chiara Lubich. She opened the discussion, offering an historical overview that revealed the roots of the path of communion that has been taken up by the different movements, within the Catholic Church, and with charismatic movements from other Christian Churches. (. . .) In conclusion, Folonari cited the “Principles Governing the Communion Between Christian Communities and Movements”, an important document that was signed in 2009 by all the “friends” of Together for Europe, during their meeting at the Sant’Egidio Community in Rome, Italy. Each year the meeting-place changes and also the Movement that hosts the event: Schoenstatt in 2010; the Focolare in 2011. The next meeting for “Friends” will take place on 10-12 November, and will include concrete action concerning the 12 May 2012 programme.

All of Gerhard Pross’ and Marco Impagliazzo’s interventions revolved around 12 May. Impagliazzo is the current president of the Community of Sant’Egidio and recently returned from an international prayer gathering for peace (11-13 September). Their discussion was concomitant with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Germany, where he highlighted the value of the ecumenical dialogue and of an ecumenical life and Europe’s “need.”

Gerhard Pross

“The experience of togetherness with movements has profoundly changed my life, it has changed me within.” These confiding words were spoken by Gerhard Pross to a listening crowd gathered in the hall. He went on to underscore the “passion” for unity that Evangelicals also felt being reborn, thanks precisely to the work that was accomplished together with Christians of other Churches. “The push towards unity has bloomed in us again,” he said as he recalled the decisive moment in 2001 with the testimonies of Chiara Lubich and Lutheran Bishop Wielkens, which were so similar in expression but different in provenance: “The strongest truth that stood out was our common belonging to Christ. The Holy Spirit widened the horizons of my heart. Together we understood the importance of an attitude of openness to others. And this is how the pre-understandings and prejudices began to fall.”

With emotion they remembered Chiara Lubich and Helmut Nicklas, two great charismatic figures, who had believed and enthused the crowds in this dream for Europe, and who left this earth only a few months apart. But their legacy continues to inspire the work of many.


Interesting highlights that illuminated the debate and interventions: Representatives from Belgium, who will be the hosts of the 12 May event, were the first to take the floor. These were followed by Germany, France, Portugal, and Holland with a succession of lively contributions that showed the vitality of this new course and its strong grip on the region. An additional two hundred parallel events in other European cities are planned for a Europe not of 27, but of everyone. This shows that there is at the basis of the population a representation in civil society that has the future of the continent at heart, and is not closed back on itself, but at the service of the world. This is what Benedict XVI called for: that Europe would not withdraw from history.