From the spirituality of unity to the generative pastoral care of the Church; from the encounter between young people and Jesus to the leading role of the Holy Spirit in the Synod on Synodality. These are some of the themes that Jesús Morán, Co-President of the Focolare Movement, addressed during an interview with the Slovak television station TVLUX on 6 October 2023. The images were kindly released to us by TVLUX.

In recent days Jesús Morán, a Spanish priest who is the co-president of the Focolare Movement, visited Slovakia. In Nitra he met with several bishops who are formators and more than 80 seminarians. And now we want to welcome him here to our program. When we say Focolare Movement what is it? What does it mean?

The Focolare Movement is a movement of the Catholic Church centred on the charism of unity. The great theologian, Von Balthasar said that every charism in the Church is like looking at the whole Gospel from one point of view. The charism of unity is the whole Gospel from the perspective of Jesus’ testament, “May they all be one.” So, the focus, everything the Movement does in the ecclesial field and also in the civil and social fields, has to do with unity. We seek unity – unity according to the Gospel – Unity, which is a communitarian way of living. In fact, the spirituality of unity can be said to be a spirituality of communion, which is why we emphasize very much mutual love and our encounter with each brother and sister. It means to overcome divisions at a broader social level. It means promoting things like universal brotherhood, but the focus is this prayer of Jesus. That’s why we always say that we want to live on earth, as much as possible, as in the Trinity, in the communion of love which is the Trinity.

The founder of your movement was Chiara Lubich, who is very well known here in Slovakia. It was decided in the past that the person who is at the head, let’s say, of the movement should always be a woman, the president should always be a woman, that’s why you are the co-president. Why is this the case?

It is because of the official name of the Movement in the Church, because we are the Focolare Movement or the Work of Mary. In the Statutes approved by the Church, it speaks about the Work of Mary, so we very much emphasize this Marian profile of the Church, which is a maternal profile, it’s a generative profile, which reveals a welcoming Church, and, of course, the Marian profile is best expressed by women. This is the idea. We need to think that we are speaking of a Marian Church  it is Mary who is the form of the Church. Vatican II said this very clearly: Mary is the mother of the Church. So, in that sense, we want to be a reflection of her. The presidency of a woman, in addition to valuing women, which is a sign of the times, especially wants to emphasize this Marian profile. This Marian profile that is so necessary today. It is certainly necessary because of what Pope Francis is emphasizing: a Church that is closer to the people, an outgoing Church, a Church that is less clerical, less masculine. And all of this has to do with the female presidency of the Focolare Movement. Above all, it is linked to Mary.

You came to Slovakia not only to meet with Focolare members, but also with our bishops, priests, and seminarians. This meeting was in Nitra, what was your experience in meeting our priests?

Actually I was with the bishop of Nitra and with a bishop from another diocese. They had both participated in the meeting with seminarians from 5 dioceses. I want to say that they were very welcoming. Then in the hall I saw people whose life was to follow Jesus, I really saw so much purity, so much purity in the seminarians, and there was also great seriousness.  Some people, after the meeting and after the dinner, wanted to know more about what I had said. They stopped to talk to me and I saw in their questions a need, an urgency  They want to be priests for the times we are living now. Being a priest today who before everything else lives the Gospel in an authentic way. I was very, very edified.

You spoke especially about generative pastoral care, what is it?

Generative pastoral care is a concept that is coming to light, quite prominently, in recent times. Especially in the West because we are witnessing, you could say, a numerical decline of the Church. Before, the churches were full, people were receiving the sacraments. There were many baptisms and first communions. Now this has decreased dramatically.

So the question is, what is happening? It seems that the methods we have been using successfully for so many years or centuries are no longer working. Do we then need to rethink pastoral care? Generative pastoral care is not a new pastoral care, it means going to the origin of pastoral care, and the origin of pastoral care is Jesus. How did Jesus evangelize? To say thing simply… because He is the living Gospel, He did this through very deep personal encounters. In other words, if we look at the Gospels, every time Jesus encounters someone something significant happens for that person. “We see it with Nicodemus, with Zacchaeus, with Matthew, with the centurion, with the Samaritan woman, with the woman suffering from a haemorrhage, with the Canaanite woman. Something always happens, Jesus generates something in the other person.

We have to change from what is known as a rule-regulated pastoral care, as we had in the past, which was of a quantitative kind: how many baptisms, how many people were baptized, how many people got married this year in this parish? We have to change to a ministry of pastoral care that focuses on quality, quality, not so much quantity. So what’s happening? Is there Christian life in our parishes? We are looking for fruitfulness rather than results, this is generative pastoral care. So there is a lot of emphasis on meeting with the other, to meet the other you don’t have to wait for them to come and ask you for a sacrament, you have to go and meet the other. So generative pastoral care changes the idea of the pastor, but it changes the idea of Christians, because at the end of the day, it’s not a matter of, … What we need are generative apostles, no doubt, but above all what’s needed is a welcoming community, so that what happened with Jesus has to happen with us too, people visit a community and something happens. They are impressed by something. In short this is what we talked about with the seminarians.

Could it be that young people today are looking for life and what they need is for us to bring them this life, which is life with Jesus?

Absolutely. I think that… I have always thought that Jesus never approached people with doctrine. He always sought a personal encounter first, and then he taught. However, even though we see Jesus teaching, He spent a lot of time in personal encounters. I think young people today are looking for life. Doctrine must be based on life and on this encounter with Him. In this way they can accept it. Otherwise, they are left with a Christianity that is more like a moral teaching, but that is not what Christianity is. Christianity is an encounter with Christ.

These young people you met in Nitra are the future priests of our Church. How can they be the priests we need in these times, priests who do not fall into the clericalism that Pope Francis talks so much about?

I think a priest in some way has to be more than just a shepherd (which is a word Pope Francis also uses when he speaks in Italian, as he uses it in Spanish too) the priest, the pastor, the shepherd, has to love. First love, then shepherd, because if you put yourself in the position of pastor, you put yourself in the position of superiority, as if you had to teach. Instead, the pastor today must love the parishioners first, must love all the faithful. Doing this makes him a pastor.  In this way he is truly a pastor, and he can have authority over others. This is fundamental. Then as I said before, he shouldn’t look so much for results but for fruitfulness. And another thing: Today the priest or pastor has to be well aware that he does not proclaim himself, but he proclaims Christ, so he has to be deeply rooted in Christ, deeply in Christ. A pastor who is alone, who does not live within a Christian community, who does not live mutual love with others, will find it difficult to communicate a love such as Jesus proclaimed in life.

You said something earlier and it occurred to me that this happens not only to priests, but also to Christians who are living their faith deeply, but sometimes forget that it is not they who save people, but it is Jesus.

That’s right. This is important. That’s why I give a lot of importance to community. St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, warns against personalism and says when some of you say I am of Apollos, some say I am of Paul, some say I am of Peter… No, we are all of Christ, but Christ lives in the community, in the parish community. In the community he is present in the Eucharist, which is a mystery of communion. So this is fundamental. Often we have made the mistake of proclaiming ourselves, our own ideas, instead of letting Christ speak.

Slovakia is considered a conservative country, now that there is the Synod taking place in Rome, in the Vatican. There are different groups that want to move forward and others that want to stay in the past. How do we keep all that is good, but also move forward with what is new and good?

I was very struck by what Pope Francis said the day before yesterday in the first session of the Synod. He was very insistent that the protagonist of the Synod is the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit goes beyond these ideas that are human. A Christian as a Christian is neither conservative nor progressive, he or she is a new person, he or she is a new creature. We read this in these days in St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.  It is the Holy Spirit who makes us new creatures with our mentality, with our mentality, with what we are, so I think we have to overcome these dualities that are not good for the Church. The Holy Spirit is always the generator of newness. Because it is he, he who is the origin of all charisms, of all newness in the history of the Church. At the same time, everything that the Holy Spirit promotes in the Church comes from the Father. Therefore, he is also anchored in the source. That tells us that we need a greater presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church, that’s the only way to overcome these dualities that are not good for us.

Thank you very much. And many thanks to Fr. Jesús for participating in our program.

Thank you for welcoming me.

Thank you very much to you as well and see you soon, goodbye.

 

Watch the video (activate English subtitles)

3 Comments

  • BUON GIORNO! Sono Elizabeth, focolarina del Focolare Perla di Florianópolis, Sud del Brasile. Dal focolare, ho ricevuto il permesso per badare a mia mamma che oggi ha 95 anni, francescana secolare. La pastorale generatrice la faccio come catechista di adulti a casa, per la Parrocchia. Bellissima esperienza perchè la famiglia Bas. è stata portata alla catechesi per la Sra Bas. di 77 anni che ha voluto ricevere la Prima Comunione, non fatta da piccola perchè non avevano soldi per comprare il vestito per la bambina. Ora è venuta con 5 figli sposati, con sua nipote Isabela di 13 anni che ha ricevuto il Battesimo. Tutti hanno già ricevuto la Prima Comunione. Uno dei figli si trova in Irlanda, sposato con due figli. Attraverso lo skype, hanno iniziato la catechesi per la prima Comunione, Cresima e ad aprile 2024, se Iddio così lo permetterà, riceveranno la Cresima e il sacramento del matrimonio. Sono felicissima di sapere che, in questi anni – 15 ormai come catechista, diffondo l’Ideale dell’unità nella Chiesa in uscita, a casa!

  • Condivido molto fra l’altro la parte finale. I dualismi non fanno bene alla Chiesa, e nello Spiroto Santo c’e un inizio di risposta al superamento dei conflitti e dei dualismi.

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