In his first meeting as Pope with the Focolare movement, Pope Francis on Friday encouraged them in their effort for unity, as the movement has started a process of internal renewal which has brought to a change of more than 70 percent of their previous board. Pope Francis received the 473 members of the Focolare movement general assembly Sept. 26, a few days after the assembly had re-elected Maria Voce as president of the movement and at the same time had elected a new co-president, Fr. Jes√πs Moràn Cepedano, and changed three-fourths of the council that is called to assist and support the work of the president. “The average age of the new council is 16 years younger than that of the previous council; the 30 members comes from 20 different countries” said Michele Zanzucchi, director of the Focolare movement's Italian magazine Città Nuova, in a press conference held Sept. 26. The president, co-president, and counselors have been entrusted with a six-year mandate. Meeting the delegates, Pope Francis acknowledged that “the Work of Mary, that everyone knows as the Focolare movement, was a little seed in the Catholic Church’s womb, that in the course of the years has brought to life a tree which now extends its branches in all the expressions of the Christian family and also among members of different religions and among many who cultivate justice and solidarity together with the search for truth.” Pope Francis entrusted the members of Focolare movement and all those who share the spirit and the ideal of the movement with three key words: contemplation; going out to engage in dialogue; and formation of youth. Pope Francis stressed first of all that “we need to contemplate God and the beauty of his love,” keeping in mind that “to contemplate means to live together with brothers and sisters, breaking with them the bread of communion and fraternity,” since “contemplation that leaves people outside is a lie, it is narcissism.” Pope Francis then said that “going out is the movement of evangelization.” “Going out as Jesus went out of the Father to announce the word of love to everyone, to the point of giving all of himself on the cross.” The Roman Pontiff underscored that “we have to learn from Jesus the dynamics of exodus and gift, of going out from ourselves, walking and always seeding again, in order to generously communicate to everybody the love of God.” The third key word is “being a school,” because “we need to educate, as the Gospel asks, new men and women, and this is the reason why a school of humanity based on Jesus’ humanity is needed.” Education is a key focus of the Focolare movement, especially in view of the synod for the family. “A synod is not needed to solve disciplinary matters,” commented Jes√πs Moràn, the movement's new co-president. “It must go in-depth to the potential the family has at present, and at the same time be able to welcome the sufferings of the family.” Maria Voce added that “re-discovering the family’s identity means being aware of the huge potential of the testimony of the conjugal life.” After the meeting with Pope Francis, Voce commented that “Pope is right, dialogue is not an easy task,” but “we can afford it, if we start from our very hearts.” The general assembly lasted almost one month, but it was preceded by a series of around 3,000 proposals collected all over the world that had been food for the assembly’s discussion. “That they all may be one” is the passage which the assembly chose as the Focolare movement’s guideline for the next six years.
Catholic News Agency was founded in 2004, in response to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization." It is an apostolate of EWTN News.