The commitment to take the charism of unity into politics has always been part of the history of the Focolare Movement, above all because of the presence, next to Chiara Lubich, of an Italian member of parliament – Igino Giordani.
The ‘Movement for Unity in Politics’ was founded on 2 May 1996, and today politicians, members of parliament, mayors and local councillors from around the world are part of it. Whilst remaining part of different political parties they are united in a common aim: to make universal fraternity a fundamental political category, and to translate it into facts, into rights and duties, support it through political action, and to review institutional and international structures in this light.
In Lebanon as well, the members of the Focolare lived the different stages of preparation for the elections as ‘an occasion to build sincere and honest relationships with people of every political persuasion’, they wrote to tell us. ‘The desire to commit ourselves for the good of our towns and villages and above all to introduce a new way of relating to each other in our local councils’ was what had decided them to get involved in the local elections. A Mayor, Deputy Mayor and several members of local councils were elected, all committed to ‘putting the common good in the first place, and to help each other to be faithful to this aim; this gives us an added possibility today of putting into practice the Apostolic Exhortation of John Paul II’.
In fact, in 1997, John Paul II made an unforgettable visit to that country, and speaking to the young people in the Basilica of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa, gave them a challenge: ‘Your task,’ he said, ‘is to build bridges amongst people, amongst families and between the different communities. In your day-to-day life, be signs of reconciliation – you must transform diffidence into trust! Your task is to make sure that every Lebanese, especially young people, can participate in every aspect of society, of your common home. In this way a new fraternity will be born and solid relationships will be formed, because the principal for building Lebanon is love.’