Pope tells Focolare to bear joyful witness to the Gospel
In an audience with the Focolare Movement (Work of Mary), Pope Francis stressed three points: the post-Foundress era, the importance of crises, and living spirituality with coherence and realism. He greeted the movement’s new president, Margaret Karram, and cited the meeting in the Vatican Gardens with Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, “a time of promise”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis today met in the Paul VI Hall with members of the Focolare movement (Work of Mary). The audience followed the group’s General Assembly, in which new leaders were chosen, in particular, the new president Margaret Karram, present at the meeting together with her predecessor Maria Voce.
In his address, the pontiff stressed the “joyful witness to the Gospel” that the Focolare Movement continues to offer to the world, which he expressed in three points: the post-Foundress era, the importance of crises, and living spirituality with coherence and realism.
In her greetings Maria Voce thanked Pope Francis for his friendship. This was followed by the greeting of the new president, who mentioned, among other things, the 2014 prayer meeting for peace in the Holy Land with the pontiff himself, Bartholomew I, Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas.
Francis spoke of that event as a “time of promise”, noting that “the promise is always there, even if times are hard”.
Karram described how the Focolare assembly was held online, worldwide, with “participants in Asia and Oceania who went to sleep after midnight and some in the Americas who got up early in the morning to take parti in its activities.”
“Each and every one was connected from their home,” she said. “Thus, the Assembly was even more an expression of the multifaceted reality of the peoples and cultures that make up our movement. We are different in age and vocation, Christians from various Churches, a Jewish rabbi, two Muslims, a Buddhist and people of non-religious beliefs.”
She then outlined the path of the Movement for the next six years: “the cry of humanity today, especially with respect to the excluded; the environment, the family and the pandemic; living memory and the realisation of the charism of unity as delivered to us by Chiara; our commitment in all areas of the Church and society; our journey together with the new generations.”
For his part, the pontiff first outlined the post-foundress situation, urging the Focolare to maintain “a dynamic fidelity, capable of interpreting the signs and needs of the times and responding to the new demands that humanity poses”.
“Every charisma,” he added, “is creative, not a museum statue”, warning against “self-referentiality”, which “always leads to defending the institution to the detriment of people, and which can also lead to justifying or covering up forms of abuse.”
On the second point, the importance of crises, he reiterated that “every crisis is a call to a new maturity; it is a time of the Spirit, which arouses the need to update, without being discouraged by human complexity and its contradictions.”
The pope noted a difference that needs to be acknowledged between the “external forum”, of those who hold government positions, and the “internal forum”, of those who help face crises in the “intimacy of the individual and the sphere of conscience.”
“Mixing the sphere of government and the sphere of conscience gives rise to abuses of power,” he explained, “and to the abuse of other things which we have witnessed when the lid was lifted.”
On the third point, “living the spirituality with coherence and realism”, Francis invited the Work of Mary to “act outside” and “with the fraternal love that overcomes every barrier and reaches every human condition” in “fraternal proximity” without forgetting that” closeness is God's style.”
Looking within, he urged to “promote synodality more and more, so that all members, as custodians of the same charism, are co-responsible and participate in the life of the Work of Mary and its specific purposes.”
At the end of the audience, after the apostolic blessing, the pope greeted all the representatives present, about a hundred in all.