Bishop-Friends of the Focolare Movement are holding their 30th meeting, centered on spirituality, at Castelgandolfo from February 11-17, with 100 participants from all over the world.
As a group the Bishops met for the first time with Pope Benedict XVI during the General Audience on Wednesday, February 15.
The meeting, which is promoted by Card. Miloslav Vlk, Archbishop of Prague, focuses on the encyclical, “Deus caritas est,” a subject which has been deepened particularly through a commentary offered by Card. Ennio Antonelli, Archbishop of Florence.
Following Pope Benedict XVI’s line of thought, the themes are centered on Jesus crucified as the wellspring and model of love, with particular attention to the abandonment, that aspect of Jesus’ suffering which is so difficult to understand and yet is so close to the people of our times, as Chiara Lubich brings to light in the spirituality of unity.
Other topics of interest are the evangelization of the youth; collaboration among the ecclesial movements in view of the forthcoming gathering, to be held in St. Peter’s Square at the invitation of the Pope, on the Feast of Pentecost this year; the opportunities ahead for spiritual ecumenism. These topics are developed also through life experiences to be shared by priests, lay people and the bishops themselves.
The liturgical celebrations are entrusted to a different group of bishops each day, according to their respective continents. These moments, together with those dedicated to fraternal sharing of insights and experiences, are animated by the participants’ desire to re-live the atmosphere of the Cenacle, where the Apostles were gathered as one soul around Mary, the Mother of our Lord.
For the Bishops who have participated in this meeting, this 30-year experience has been a stimulus to discover ever-new spaces for communion. It has also been a source of encouragement to travel with optimism, together with their respective diocesan communities, along the roads of dialogue, in their efforts to be a leaven of reconciliation and peace in the midst of so many conflicts.
The aim of the Bishops’ meeting is to make an ever deeper experience of spiritual sharing and brotherhood among Bishops. It was started in 1977 by the late Bishop Klaus Hemmerle of Aachen (Germany). It was then blessed immediately by the encouragement given by Pope Paul VI and later by Pope John Paul II. These meetings are inspired by the spirituality of unity, by which they aim to put into practice and promote the “spirituality of communion” that Pope Wojtyla had repeatedly proposed to the People of God, and to Bishops in particular.