The Focolare’s Movement’s ‘universal vocation’ to build universal fraternity without distinction of race, religion, social or economic status.
Part two of our interview with self-declared ‘non-believer’, Luciana Scalacci, member of the International and Italian Commissions of the Focolare’s Center of Dialogue with people of non-religious convictions.
As a non-believer, how did you come across the Focolare? What impact did it have on you?
One day our daughter wrote that she’d found a place where she could put into practice the values we had passed on to her. She had met the Focolare community in Arezzo. We’d never heard of the Movement and were naturally rather concerned. So we went along to see what it was all about. Immediately we had the impression of being in a place where other people’s ideas were treated with respect. We found a rare kind of openness among the people there. Meeting the Focolare Movement was like a light which allowed me to hope again in the possibility of building a better world.
You met Chiara Lubich several times. How important has this personal relationship been for you?
In an open meeting in 2000, Chiara answered one of my questions saying, “for us too, humanity has the solution for humanity. But precisely who in humanity? For us, it’s Jesus, the man Jesus. So take him for yourselves too, because he’s one of you, he’s a man”. That’s when I understood the Focolare Movement was a place where I could be active. I also understood why, even as a non-believer, I’ve always been fascinated by the figure of Jesus of Nazareth.
As this dialogue has progressed over the years, how have you moved from a “them” and “us” to feeling united together in “us”?
Our initial scepticism is the first thing to overcome. On our side, as non-believers, there’s the fear that it’s all aimed at proselytizing us. On the side of the believers, I think there may be a concern that we’ll try to shake their certainties and their faith. The only one who never had any kind of worry about it was Chiara herself! We’ve increasingly experienced that the one great resource for advancing towards the goal of universal fraternity is dialogue. Gradually we’ve established trust between both “sides”, until we no longer feel “them and us” but “united in us”.
How do you find young people responding to this option of dialogue?
Not all young people are well informed about such openness towards those who don’t adhere to any religious faith. But those who’ve had the opportunity of getting to know about it show a real interest in this reality. After meeting us recently, one girl wrote, “I see this dialogue like a face in a precious diamond, entrusted to us by Chiara … let’s be sure to keep it shining!”
Claudia Di Lorenzi