An international online conference, with translations in 20 languages, promoted by the Focolare highlighted the contribution of Chiara Lubich’s spirituality to increase unity among Christians.
“God’s will is mutual love, so to heal this rupture it is necessary to love one another”. With these words, on 26 May 1961, Chiara Lubich launched the Centre ‘Uno’ for Christian Unity, as a contribution in the ecumenical sphere to ‘heal’ the ‘rupture’ of the division between Christians of various Churches.
Those who, from all over the globe, more than 13,000 people, participated in the international meeting for Christian unity promoted by the Focolare Movement and held online on 28-29 May entitled “Love one another as I have loved you”. (Jn 15:12), was able to see that the line indicated at that time by the founder continues to be the Movement’s line in the ecumenical sphere. In particular, two guidelines have emerged on the path towards Christian unity: “the dialogue of life” and “the sharing of spiritual gifts”. For the members of the Focolare Movement, these are based on two points of the spirituality of unity: the presence of Jesus in the midst of Christians united in His love (cf Mt 18:20) and love taken to its extreme in the cry of Jesus on the cross (cf Mk 15:34).
The cry of humanity today,” said Margaret Karram, President of the Focolare Movement, in her speech, “seems to be an echo of his cry: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mk 15:34). But Jesus, in a supreme act, gave himself completely back to the Father, thus bridging every gap, every possible disunity”. “In Him,” he continued, “we find the measure of love. When we recognise Him in all that hurts us, in our own limitations and in those of others, when it is difficult to ‘meet’ each other without hurting ourselves, it is still He who calls us to love the Church of the other as our own”.
Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for the Church of Jesus, also referred to the “two poles of the charism of unity”, unity and Jesus forsaken. Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, referred to the “two poles of the charism of unity”, unity and Jesus forsaken, indicating them as the contribution of Chiara Lubich’s ecumenical spirituality to increase unity among Christians. He also said that he had “received much inspiration for my present task” from her. He conveyed the greetings of Pope Francis who “hopes that the reflection on dialogue and the exchange of spiritual gifts, as well as the sharing of the experience of communion lived in these years, will be an encouragement to realise daily the prayer of Jesus to the Father ‘That all may be one'”.
Rev Ioan Sauca, acting secretary of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, said that love is “at the heart of the spirituality of unity of which Clare has always spoken; we are all embraced by the love of God in Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit”.
Catholic theologian Piero Coda, referring to the presence of Jesus in the midst of his followers, said: “And then it will be He, in the light and power of the Spirit, who will guide us on the path of unity”. “Jesus in the midst” is an expression coined by Lubich which, as Prof. Mervat Kelly of the Syrian Orthodox Church recalled, “has never been heard before” even though various Church Fathers have spoken of it. While the Lutheran evangelical theologian Stefan Tobler observed that “the Movement, wanting to support the journey of the Churches, can lead back to an experience that is the foundation, the nourishment of every ecumenical journey”.
The conference was followed in many countries of the world: with 20 languages in simultaneous translation, the live webcast had over 13,000 individual views on the first day and 8500 on the second day. Live experiences from Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Congo, USA, Lebanon, Romania, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy and the “Together for Europe” project confirmed that the “dialogue of life” is a viable way on the path to unity.
Another dimension that emerged at the conference was ‘receptive ecumenism’, that is, the exchange of spiritual gifts, the discovery of the gifts that each Church can offer and share.
Mgr Juan Usma Gómez of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, an expert in dialogue with the charismatic-pentecostal reality, outlined the tensions that exist within Christianity. “I would like us to try together,” he said, “to dream of a possible path between the members of the Focolare Movement and those who belong to the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement, identifying some essential elements to put it into action”.
The session was enriched by Pastor Giovanni Traettino, founder of the Evangelical Church of Reconciliation in Italy and Pastor Joe Tosini, founder of the John 17 Movement in the United States, while the testimonies from Italy of Pentecostals and Catholics who are members of the Focolare Movement working together in solidarity projects for their cities, validated the fruitfulness of the “dialogue of life”.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Jesús Morán, Co-President of the Focolare Movement, said: “Mutual love among us Christians is the strongest and most credible witness to the world around us” and “at the present time in which humanity is living, Christian unity is an ethical imperative”. Affirming that “we do not want to evade that “effort of unity” to which Cardinal K. Koch referred in his report, he said that “we must not lose sight of the need for unity”. K. Koch referred to in his report, he concluded: “We only want to give priority to what has priority, and this is the experience of God that underpins all logic, all preaching about God. It seems to me that in these days we have had this experience, once again, as an immense gift from God.
Joan Patricia Back
Here are the links to review the live broadcasts of 28 and 29 May in different languages: