«It was the endowment of a very strong grace that touched also the ample strata of the Church, besides of course, affecting all the consecrated members. Pope Francis imbued this year with particularly inspiring thoughts and events also through the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Apostolic Life Societies (CIVCSVA). Of course it is still too early to take stock of everything, since I am convinced that it was an in-depth event and the fruits will be fully seen as time passes.»
What role did the Religious members of the Focolare play?
«The particular sensitivity to unity, typical of Chiara Lubich’s spirituality, offers to the members of the Movement, a sort of know-how that inspires them to give priority to relationships and transform them into communion. The religious men and women belonging to the Focolare committed themselves to the initiatives of their communities and dioceses, or to national activities and those of the universal Church, giving their imprint of communion, a spirit the Church hoped would develop more and more as the “home and school of communion.” In one of the European countries, it was precisely the religious and consecrated people of the Movement who proposed the project of an encounter for consecrated youth, to the Conference of Major Superiors. The heads highly appreciated the contents and methods, so as to make it their own initiative. Around 250 young religious participated, with really important impressions and results.»
And with regard to the initiatives set up by the Holy Father and the Congregation of Consecrated Life?
Great importance was given to Pope Francis’s invitation to show the joy of consecrated life and to prophetically act in the “existential outskirts,” as expressed in his Apostolic Letter to all the consecrated men and women: “I expect you to «wake the world up», because the typical feature of consecrated life is prophecy.” He thus underlined a specific attribute of Religious Life characterised by that of being harbingers of charismas, that is, of gifts for the good of the entire Church. TCIVCSVA then developed the thoughts of Pope Francis with three letters: one dedicated to Joy which must distinguish the consecrated religious (Rejoice); another dealing with their capacity to be prophets for the world (Keep Watch); and the third, a contemplative dimension of their life (Contemplate). These three documents are a reference point for the future of Consecrated Life in the Church. As to the events, we certainly must note the meeting in Rome of the young religious last September. It was a convention of great impact, with 5,000 participants from all over the world, and lasted 4 days. It is not something we see often. It also impressed me because of the significance of the ecumenical Dialogue of religious men and women held from 22 to 25 January 2015. This was an absolute “first” in the Vatican, which Pope Francis wanted so much, and a sign of the progress of the journey among Christians of various denominations. Fr. José M. Hernández, a Claretian, said that each one is called to “be a bridge and not a trench” among Christians. I think this is a good augur which well expresses the rest of the journey we still have to undertake.»