The Focolare Movement’s dialogue was not the result of planning, but of an inspiration of the Spirit through the charism that He bestowed on a young woman from Trent, Italy. Right from the start there were many large and small incidents that instilled in Chiara Lubich and her companions an attitude of total acceptance towards others, and acceptance is the first step in dialogue.
The rapid spreading of the Movement around the world cannot be attributed solely to words that were shared between small groups of people, or even over a microphone or radio. Rather, it was due to the love that Chiara had always proposed as the only “method” of evangelization: “making yourself one” like Saint Paul: “I have become all things to all people” (1 Cor 9:22). For the Focolare Movement this has always been the only way.
The spirituality of unity has been embraced by people of every social category because of its uncompromising openness to people and their needs and this openness becomes dialogue.
Therefore, in the Focolare dialogue is to be understood in its evangelical sense. It never requires us to give up our identity or compromise our faith, but precisely because of our faith to reach out in a spirit of openness to others who are “different from us”.
On January 24, 2002 when she and Andrea Riccardi (founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio) were invited to Assisi to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church in front of Saint John Paul II and the other religious leaders of the world, Chiara strongly emphasized the fact that “dialogue” is the Catholic Church’s only attitude towards the world. She listed the Church’s four dialogues: ecumenical dialogue within the Church; dialogue with the faithful of other religions; and dialogue with religiously unaffiliated people. These dialogues were identified by the Church during the Second Vatican Council in Ecclesiam Suam as the means for being in relationship with the contemporary world.
In 1991 Chiara states: “Jesus considers anyone who fights against evil and works for the coming of God’s Reign His allies and friends. Jesus wants a love from us that is capable of dialogue, a love that far from enclosing us proudly in our own little worlds, opens us up to the whole world, to everyone so that we can work together with all people of good will for the building of peace and unity in our world. So, let’s open our eyes and see the neighbours in front of us to honour the good that they do no matter what their beliefs may be, to support them and to encourage each other along the path of justice and love.”