The visit (2-7 May) began with the participation on Monday, 2nd May, in the seminar promoted by “Communion and Law,” entitled, “Law as a means for integration in a multicultural society,” held in a meeting hall at the Presidential Palace, together with around 70 experts in the fields of immigration, education and employment. Among them were representatives of the Maltese Commission for refugees, representatives of the IOM and EASO Malta, Arnold Cassola, President of the Alternative Democratic Party (Alternattiva Demokratika), as well as law teachers and students.
In her speech Maria Voce affirmed that the law can became an instrument for integration in society “if we overcome an exclusively formal vision, and focus on the concept of Law as an indispensable means for contributing to the creation of a reality of communion in society.” Citing the Together for Europe experience, born from an inspiration of Chiara Lubich, she talked about the actions that “appear like a prophetic sign of what Europe can become if its citizens will share more, the common experience that goes beyond the different cultures and ecclesiastical faiths,” and thus be a voice of “a Europe which, based on its own roots, opens out without fear to those who ask to be accepted and knows that the blend of peoples that have composed it for centuries can in turn blend with other peoples that will contribute to its development.” Each speech was backed by concrete initiatives, like the TANDEM project – presented by Apollos Pedro from Biafra, but a resident in Italy – which promotes peace and dialogue, giving people of different nationalities and religions the chance to live together.
On 4th May, Maria Voce met with the President of the Republic of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, to whom she recounted the various branches of the Focolare Movement in Malta, and in particular the activities of New Humanity and the initiatives of the teenagers and young people. The President showed great interest and in the end, greeted the youth with a warm embrace. “The Focolare is like a vitamin boost. The art of loving is a precursor to positive peace in a world that is increasingly narcissistic and egocentric.” The children then presented her with the “Dice of love”.
The Focolare President had been invited by the Malta Diocese, through its Ecumenical Commission, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its foundation. In this context, on 5th May, Maria Voce was received by the Archbishop C.J. Scicluna. Immediately afterwards, in the presence of 300 participants, she gave a conference on the topic “Dialogue or Dialogues – A Way of Life”.
Also present were the Archbishop, the President of the Ecumenical Commission, the Vicar General, the Secretary of the Nunciature of Malta, the Nuncio of the Ivory Coast (of Maltese origin), a representative of the Romanian Orthodox Church, two members of the “Robert Schuman Centre for European Studies” and several members of ecclesial organisations.
In tracing the rich history of the Movement’s ecumenical commitment, Maria Voce explained that the method of dialogue which Chiara Lubich promoted is love, “a dialogue between people, not between ideologies of systems of thought. She said that this must necessarily be supported and substantiated by mercy, compassion, and charity, summarised in the Golden Rule present in every culture and religion: Do to others whatever you wish others to do to you (Mt 7:12).” “The only way to ease the way to unity in truth is that of bowing before the others in the attitude of washing their feet (cf Jn 13) instead of telling them off. We need a lot of patience and humbleness.” Lastly, she presented the Ottmaring Declaration, published in Germany last 21 February, in which the Focolare Movement undertakes a greater ecumenical commitment.
In the end, the Archbishop thanked Maria Voce for the work of the Focolare Movement in “arousing in people the thirst for unity.” He also recalled a phrase of Paul VI: “the world listens more to witnesses than to teachers.”