“Good news” was an appropriate title for an international gathering that took place on 18 October 2012 at the Municipality of Rome, Italy. Together with its Mayor Gianni Alemanno, Rome offered her citizens a day of discussion and dialogue on the New Evangelisation. Guests included bishops from the Synod that has been indicted by Benedict XVI on the New Evangelisation and some lay auditors at the Synod: Maria Voce, president of the Focolare Movement; Francesco Milano, president of Catholic Action in Italy and Chiara Amirante, founder and president of the community Nuova Orizzonti (New Horizons).
Those who thought Christianity to be a boring topic, heard people speaking of joy; those who thought that evangelization meant imposing religious prohibitions, saw the transforming power of a living Gospel; those who believed relgion should be a private matter, saw that being an active lay person means changing one’s personal way of life but also having an influence on society. And if anyone thought that the Synod was a meeting for staff members who meet behind Vatican walls, and everything finished there, today there was the opportunity to exprience the Synod for oneself right in the midst of the city.
The topic of the city emerged strongly. The city of Rome with its many monuments and ancient basilicas recounts the ancient roots of Christianity, it bears witness to its beauty even for those who come from places where the Gospel is not known. But it must no longer be a mere “museum” as Father Lombardi suggested, who is Director of Vatican Radio and the Vatican Press Office. All must understand that “the evangelization that gives hope is not a foreign idea to a city as great as Rome.”
This theme was taken up again in the intervention of Maria Voce who, besides recounting how the Focolare Movement began from the Gospel and continues to draw from the Gospel the meaning of all that it does in the various fields of human activity, she recalled Chiara Lubich herself when she became an honorary citizen of Rome in 2000. On that occasion Chiara had pushed for an effort aimed at evangelising the city, what came to be known as Operazione Roma Amor (a play on the Italian words “Roma”(Rome) and “Amor” (Love). Amor is Roma spelt backwards).
How faith can be the motor of change in personal, family, social and political life was testified by Francesco Milano. The turnaround it brings into the life of those who have touched bottom, hell, was recounted by Chiara Amirante with her own personal testimony of real and true “resurrections”, rebirths in people who had been touched by God’s love and discovered that it was possible to experience the fullness of joy.
Joy was the word that kept being repeated in each presentation, and it was not merely an idea to be explained, but a living experience. And so it is understandable that when there is good news to be shared, it is difficult to keep it a secret, even though the means may vary from Europe to Africa, from Latin America to Asia – as some of the Synod Fathers pointed out – and in the language of the digital world in which we live.
Source: Città Nuova -18 October 2012