Forno di Coazze (AsiaNews) - Mgr Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, archbishop of Bangkok, has become the moderator of the communion among bishops who adhere to the spirituality of the Focolari movement. The new moderator has accepted the task from Maria Voce, current president of the movement, following the death of its founder, Chiara Lubich (1920-2008). He replaces Card Miloslav Vlk, archbishop emeritus of Prague, who held the post for 18 years.
Some 60 bishops and cardinals adhere to Focolari spirituality. Their search is on of greater spiritual development at a personal level and greater communion with the Church. For this reason, they meet regularly at conferences.
This year, their meeting was held in Forno di Coazze (Turin, Italy) with 'Jesus' presence in one's brother' as the main topic. Other meetings have been held in Castel Gandolfo, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Beirut, Augsburg, Wittenberg, London and Geneva with the participation of members of other Christian confessions.
For Maria Voce, Mgr Kovithavanij was chosen "as a sign of the movement's openness and attention for emerging continents and dialogues."
Card Vlk was grateful for the nomination of a bishop from the East, "where the spirituality of the Focolari movement is spreading quickly, even among bishops."
In his best wishes to his successor Mgr Kovithavanij, "who is well-prepared and suitable for the task, he said: "May you have the strength and creativity needed to lead the communion among the bishops friends of the Focolari movement."
The new moderator's mandate starts in October, during the international assembly of the movement's leaders.
Last Monday, the bishops went on a pilgrimage to Sassello (Savona province), birthplace of Chiara Luce Badano (1971-1990), a young woman member of the movement who died at the age of 18 from bone cancer and was beatified soon after. She is a beloved figure among youth.