Pope Francis says "Do not forget that closeness, closeness was the most authentic language of God." FULL TEXT to Focolare




Paul VI Hall
Saturday, 6 February 2021


Dear brothers and sisters!

I am pleased to welcome you at the conclusion of your General Assembly, in which you discussed important issues and chose the new leaders. I thank the outgoing President, Maria Voce - Thanks Maria, she was so good and so human. Thank you!  

- and the newly elected, Margaret Karram, for their kind words and for having had the memory of that evening of prayer for unity and peace in the Holy Land with the President of Israel and with the President of the State of Palestine . Those were times of promise, but the promise is always there. We must go forward and carry the Holy Land in our hearts, always, always. I offer you, as I said to Mary, a big “thank you” - a heartfelt wish, which also goes to the Co-President and the Councilors. I am glad that Cardinal Kevin Farrell and Mrs. Linda Ghisoni are here, the Under Secretary. I greet you present here and those who are connected instreaming ; and I extend my greetings to all the members of the Work of Mary, whom you represent. To encourage you on your journey, I would like to offer you some reflections, which I divide into three points: the post-Foundress; the importance of crises; living spirituality with coherence and realism.

The post-FoundressTwelve years after Chiara Lubich left for Heaven, you are called to overcome the natural bewilderment and also the decrease in numbers, to continue to be a living expression of the founding charism. It requires - we know - a dynamic fidelity, capable of interpreting the signs and needs of the times and of responding to the new demands that humanity poses. Every charisma is creative, it is not a museum statue, no, it is creative. It is a question of remaining faithful to the original source by striving to rethink it and express it in dialogue with new social and cultural situations. It has firm roots, but the tree grows in dialogue with reality. This work of updating is all the more fruitful the more it is carried out by harmonizing creativity, wisdom, sensitivity towards all and fidelity to the Church. Your spirituality, characterized by dialogue and openness to different cultural, social and religious contexts, it can certainly favor this process. Openness to others, whoever they are, is always to be cultivated: the Gospel is intended for everyone, but not as proselytism, no, it is intended for everyone, it is a leaven of new humanity in every place and in every time.

This attitude of openness and dialogue will help you to avoid any self-referentiality, which is always a sin, it is a temptation to look in the mirror. No, this is bad. Just to comb your hair in the morning and nothing more! This avoidance of any self-referentiality, which never comes from a good spirit, is what we hope for the whole Church: to beware of withdrawing into oneself, which always leads to defending the institution to the detriment of people, and which can also lead to justifying or cover forms of abuse. We have experienced it with so much pain, we have discovered it in recent years. Self-referentiality prevents us from seeing errors and shortcomings, slows the path, hinders an open verification of institutional procedures and styles of government. Instead, it is better to be courageous and to face problems with parrhesia and truth, always following the indications of the Church, which is Mother, is true Mother, and responding to the needs of justice and charity. Self-celebration does not do the charism a good service. No. Rather, it is a question of welcoming each day with amazement - do not forget the amazement that always indicates the presence of God - the free gift you have received by meeting your ideal of life and, with God's help, to try to correspond to it. with faith, humility and courage, like the Virgin Mary after the Annunciation.

The second issue I would like to propose to you is that of the importance of crisesOne cannot live without a crisis. Crises are a blessing, even on a natural level - the crises of the child in growing up to mature age are important - even in the life of institutions. I spoke about it extensively in my recent speech to the Roman Curia. There is always the temptation to turn the crisis into conflict. Conflict is bad, it can get ugly, it can divide, but the crisis is an opportunity to grow. Each crisis is a call to new maturity; it is a time of the Spirit, which arouses the need to update, without being discouraged in the face of human complexity and its contradictions. Today the importance of resilience in the face of difficulties is greatly emphasized, that is, the ability to face them positively by drawing opportunities from them. Every crisis is an opportunity to grow. It is the duty of those who hold government positions, at all levels, to work to deal with the community and organizational crises in the best and most constructive way; on the other hand, the spiritual crises of people, which involve the intimacy of the individual and the sphere of conscience, require to be approached prudently by those who do not hold government positions, at every level, within the Movement. And this has always been a good rule of the Church - by the monks, always -, which is valid not only for people's moments of crisis, it is also valid in general for their accompaniment on the spiritual journey. It is that wise distinction between the external and internal forums that the experience and tradition of the Church teaches us to be indispensable. Indeed,

Finally, the third point: living spirituality with coherence and realism . Coherence and realism. “This person is authoritative… Why is he authoritative? Because it is consistent ”. So many times we say this. The ultimate goal of your charism coincides with the intention that Jesus presented to the Father in his last, great prayer: that "all may be one" ( Jn 17:21), united, knowing full well that it is the work of the grace of God One and Triune: "As you, Father are in me and I in you, may they also be in us" ( ibid. ). This intent requires a commitment from a double perspective: outside the Movement and within it.

As for acting outside, I encourage you to be - and in this the Servant of God Chiara Lubich gave so many examples! - witnesses of closeness with fraternal love that overcomes every barrier and reaches every human condition. Overcome the barriers, don't be afraid! It is the path of fraternal proximity, which transmits the presence of the Risen One to the men and women of our time, starting with the poor, the least, the rejected; working together with people of good will for the promotion of justice and peace. Do not forget that closeness, closeness was the most authentic language of God. Let's think of that passage from Deuteronomy, when the Lord said: "Think: which people had their gods as close as you have me?". That style of God, of closeness, went on, on, on, to reach the great closeness, the essential one: the Word made flesh, God who became one with us. Do not forget: closeness is God's style, it is the most authentic language, in my opinion.

Regarding your commitment within the Movement, I urge you 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. Whoever has the responsibility of government is called to favor and implement transparent consultation not only within the governing bodies, but at all levels, by virtue of that logic of communion according to which everyone can place their gifts at the service of others. , their opinions in truth and with freedom.

Dear brothers and sisters, in imitation of Chiara Lubich, always listen to Christ's cry of abandonment on the cross, which manifests the highest measure of love. The resulting grace is capable of arousing in us, weak and sinful, generous and sometimes heroic responses; he is able to transform suffering and even tragedies into a source of light and hope for humanity. In this passing from death to life lies the heart of Christianity and also of your charism. I thank you so much for your joyful witness to the Gospel that you continue to offer to the Church and to the world. Joyful testimony. It is said that the focolari always smile, they are always seen with a smile. And I remember once I heard about ignorance of God. They told me: “But do you know that God is ignorant? There are four things that God cannot know "-" But what are they? " - “What the Jesuits think, how much money do the Salesians have, how many congregations of nuns there are and what the focolarini smile at”. I entrust your intentions and projects of good to the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy Mother of the Church and I cordially bless you. And please don't forget to pray for me, because I need it. Thank you!

FULL TEXT Source: Vatican.va - Screenshot