Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Benedict XVI renewed today in St Peter’s Square the mandate John Paul II gave Communion and Liberation (CL) on the 30th anniversary of its founding, namely that of going into the world and “take the truth, beauty and peace that are found in Christ the Redeemer.” In the same way, CL current president, Fr Julián Carrón, also referred to that mandate as well.
Such words were heard by about a hundred thousand enthusiastic people who filled St Peter’s Square to its limits, invading adjacent Pius XII Square and the Via della Conciliazione, many carrying umbrellas and colourful scarves, all who had come to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Fraternity’s recognition by the Vatican. For several minutes, Benedict XVI moved in their midst, driven on the back of a small truck, protected by a big white umbrella.
From the early hours of the morning, prayers, songs and “experiences of people for whom the encounter with Christ was so strong that their life was changed” rang out in the square as thousands arrived from different countries of the world. Despite a cold wind and the odd rain shower, many families came with their children in strollers. The Pope even joked about the weather, saying: “We expected sun, but water too is a sign of grace and a gift from the Holy Spirit.”
Several times in his speech Benedict XVI referred to the Holy Spirit to those present with whom he also recited the Angelus. “As a reality, ecclesial movements are a sign of the fruitfulness of the Spirit of the Lord,” he said, “so that the victory of Christ Redeemer may manifest itself and the missionary mandate of the Church be accomplished.”
In remembering John Paul II’s invitation “to go to the world,” Benedict XVI said that “Fr Giussani transformed those words into his movement’s programme,” starting a missionary push that now sees Communion and Liberation active in 80 countries.
“A community experience of the faith,” as the Pope called it, “that was born within the Church, yet not from any organisational decision taken by the top leadership, but rather from an original encounter with Christ, an impulse that came from the Holy Spirit one might say.”
Communion and Liberation’s founder, Mgr Luigi Giussani, was remembered several times. The Pope’s “first thoughts” were for to him. “I am bound to him by many memories,” the Holy Father said. “He had become a true friend.”
“This courageous priest grew up in a family where bread was in short supply, but one filled with music. As he liked to put it, he was touched early on by a thirst for beauty, but not any beauty. He wanted beauty itself, the infinite beauty that he found in Christ.”
Thanks to Fr Giussani, the Pope said, “the beauty of being Christian” was rediscovered “at a time when more and more people viewed Christianity as something tiresome and boring to bear”.
“At one time [John Paul II] said that originality lies in again proposing in a fascinating way and in tune with modern culture Christianity’s coming for it can direct one’s whole life. It is a way to experience the Christian faith in total faithfulness and communion with the Pope and his pastors” as well as “with the freedom that allows for new apostolic and missionary initiatives.”
Benedict XVI also mentioned that on May 27, 1998, John Paul II stressed “that there is no conflict or opposition in the Church between the institutional dimension and the charismatic dimension . . . . Both are co-essential to the divine constitution” of God’s people.
The Pope’s speech (in Italian) can be read in its entirety on line .