Benedict XVI congratulates Focolare and Sant’Egidio community on their vitality

Source: FSSPX News

80 bishops from all over the world participated in a Congress organized by the Focolare movement in Rome from February 3 to 9. Meanwhile, 110 bishop friends of the Sant’Egidio Community came to the Italian capital to celebrate the 39th anniversary of its foundation.

Receiving all these prelates at the Vatican, the pope congratulated the Focolare and the Sant’Egidio Community for their commitment in favor of the poor, ecumenism, and interreligious dialogue. The pope told the bishops that “their closeness to the two Movements while emphasizing the vitality of these new aggregations of faithful, also manifested that communion among charisms constitutes a typical ‘sign of the times’.”

Observing that “in the Western world a relativistic culture is present”, the pope signaled the presence of “widespread desire for spirituality”. In this world, he stated, Ecclesial Movements “bear witness to the joy of the faith and the beauty of being Christian in great ecumenical openness.”

Evoking the commitment of the Focolare and the Sant’Egidio Community in favor of the most destitute, Benedict XVI referred in particular to Africa, “the Continent that I carry in my heart and that I hope will finally see a time of stable peace and true development.” In this respect, the next Synod of African Bishops, which is due to take place in 2009, will be “an opportune moment to show the great love that God has for the beloved African population,” added the pope.

Benedict XVI also spoke of the “emotion” he felt during the meeting of the new Movements and Ecclesial Associations organized in St Peter’s Square on Pentecost Vigil, June 3, 2006.

The Focolare, founded by Chiara Lubich, and the Sant’Egidio Community presided by Andrea Riccardi, militate in favor of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. Thus, every year since the first Assisi meeting (1986), the Sant’Egidio Community has been organizing interreligious meetings in various European cities to maintain “the spirit of Assisi”. Concerning the meeting which took place in Lyons from December 11 to 13, 2005, see the letter of Fr. Sylvain Lamerand (SSPX) to Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyons, in DICI n° 127 (December 31, 2005).