Switzerland: the foundress of Focolari pleads for inter-religious dialogue.

Source: FSSPX News


55 bishops and members of Focolari held their annual meeting between July 31 and August 11, on the Vaudois coast (on the north of Lake Geneva). For one week they shared their experiences in the domain of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, in the face of contemporary culture. A message of communion was sent to them by Pope John Paul II.

The foundress and president of the Focolari Movement, 83 year old Chiara Lubich, was present at the meeting. On the eve of the conference on July 31, she gave a conference at Caux, where she asked for all religions to work together for a united and brotherly world. This dialogue, according to her, should take place between Christian confessions, but also with other religions, without forgetting non-believers. In this connection, she spoke of her own positive experiences.

Thus in 1991, she accepted an invitation from Nikkyo Niwano, founder of the Buddhist lay movement, “Rissho Kosei Kai”, in Tokyo. This was an occasion for her to talk of her faith in Jesus, to more than ten thousand Buddhists, with whom she has remained in touch ever since. “But I maintain similar contact with thousands of faithful of other religions, such as Islam, Hinduism, the polytheistic religions of Asia and Africa, for which I have great admiration.” Throughout the world, at least 6,500 Muslims had regular meetings with members of the Focolari movement, she said.

Confronted with the conflicts which are currently tearing the world apart, we should “promote the lifestyle and idea of a universal brotherhood.” “From this, if not from the main religious traditions, could not a strategy of brotherhood be born, a strategy likely to mark a turnaround in international relations?”

According to Chiara Lubich, what God wants is that we love, as He does, without any form of discrimination. “It isn’t a question of choosing between pleasant and unpleasant, the beautiful and the ugly, the white, the black, or the yellow, the European or the American, the Christian or the Jew, the Muslim or the Hindu.” The task facing believers on all sides is immense, according to her: “ to move the mountains of hate and violence.” But to “those who have made mutual love, understanding and unity, the essential dynamic of their life,” the impossible becomes possible.

Chiara Lubich has said that, in spite of her attachment to the Catholic faith, her movement remains open to followers of the other major religions and ideologies. “In opening up to other religions, we have to accept dialogue and humble ourselves,” she insisted. She concluded thus: “Inter-religious dialogue is different from proselytism, which some religious leaders want to resort to.”

As a matter of interest, let us recall that such “professions of faith” earned Chiara Lubich the Templeton prize in 1977, for religious progress. The jury for this prize, made up of representatives of different religions, awarded her the prize for her contribution to the spiritual progress of many individuals of the most diverse religious beliefs.