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Benedict XVI's Address to Communion and Liberation

"Movements Are Really Gifts of the Holy Spirit"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 26, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to the lay movement Communion and Liberation on Saturday in St. Peter's Square. The ecclesial entity was celebrating the 25th anniversary of its pontifical recognition.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

It is a really a great pleasure for me to welcome you here today, in this St Peter's Square on the occasion of the 25 anniversary of the pontifical recognition of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation. Perhaps we expected the sun, but even water is a sign of grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit. I address my cordial greetings to each one of you, particularly to the prelates, the priests and the directors here present.

In particular I greet Father Julián Carrón, president of your fraternity, and I thank him for the fine and profound words addressed to me in the name of you all.

My first thought goes -- it's obvious -- to your founder Monsignor Luigi Giussani, to whom many memories tie me, since he had become a true friend to me. Our last meeting, as Father Carrón mentioned, took place in Milan Cathedral two years ago, when our beloved Pope John Paul II sent me to preside at his solemn funeral.

Through him the Holy Spirit aroused in the Church a movement -- yours -- that would witness the beauty of being Christians in an epoch in which the opinion was spreading that Christianity was something tiresome and oppressive to live. Father Giussani, then, set himself to reawaken in the youth the love for Christ, the way, the truth and the life, repeating that only he is the road toward the realization of the deepest desires of man's heart; and that Christ saves us not despite our humanity, but through it.

As I recalled in the homily at his funeral, this courageous priest, who grew up in a home poor in bread but rich in music, as he himself liked to say, right from the start was touched, or rather wounded by the desire for beauty, and not any kind of beauty, but he was searching for beauty itself, the infinite beauty that he found in Christ. How can we not recall Father Giussani's many encounters with my venerated predecessor John Paul II?

On an anniversary dear to you, the Pope pointed out that the original educative innovation lies in reproposing in a fascinating way, in tune with contemporary culture, the Christian event, perceived as the source of new values and capable of giving direction to the whole of existence. The event that changed the life of the founder wounded, so to speak, the lives of very many of his spiritual children, and gave rise to the many religious and ecclesial experiences that form the history of your vast and articulated spiritual family.

Communion and Liberation is a communitarian experience of faith, born in the Church not from a will to organize of the hierarchy, but originated from a renewed encounter with Christ and thus, we can say, from an impulse that derives ultimately from the Holy Spirit. Still today, this offers itself as an opportunity to live the Christian faith in a deep and up-to-date way, on one hand with a total fidelity and communion with the Successor of Peter and with the pastors who ensure the government of the Church, and on the other hand with a spontaneity and a freedom that permit new and prophetic apostolic and missionary realizations.

Dear friends, your movement thus inserts itself in that vast flourishing of associations and movements and new ecclesial realities providentially aroused in the Church by the Holy Spirit after the Second Vatican Council. Every gift of the Spirit finds itself in its origin and necessarily at the service of the building up of the Body of Christ, offering a witness of the immense charity of God for the life of all men. The reality of the ecclesial movements is therefore a sign of the fecundity of the Spirit of the Lord, so that the victory of the risen Christ be manifested in the world, and the missionary task entrusted to the whole Church be realized.

In the message to the World Congress of Ecclesial Movements, May 27, 1998, John Paul II repeated, that in the Church there is no contrast or contraposition between the institutional dimension and the charismatic dimension, of which the movements are a meaningful expression, because both are co-essential to the divine constitution of the People of God, and in the Church even the essential institutions are charismatic, and, in any case, the charisms, in one way or another, have to institutionalise themselves in order to have cohesion and continuity.

Both originated by the same Holy Spirit for the same Body of Christ concur together so as to make present the Mystery and the salvific work of Christ in the world. This explains the attention with which the Pope and the pastors look at the wealth of the charismatic gifts in the present day.

In this regard, during a recent meeting with the clergy and parish priests of Rome, recalling St. Paul's invitation in the first letter to the Thessalonians not to quench the charisms, I said that if the Lord gives us new gifts we ought to be grateful, even though they can be uncomfortable together. At the same time, since the Church is one, if the movements are really gifts of the Holy Spirit, they must insert themselves more into the community of the Church, thus in patient dialogue with the pastors they can constitute constructive elements for the today's Church and tomorrow's.

Dear brothers and sisters, on another occasion very meaningful for you, John Paul II entrusted you with this mandate, and I quote, "Go out into the whole world to bring the truth, the beauty and the peace that are met in the encounter with Christ the redeemer."

Father Giussani made those words the program of the whole movement, and for Communion and Liberation it was the start of a missionary period that took you to 80 countries. Today I invite you to go ahead on this road with a deep, personalized faith, solidly rooted in the living Body of Christ, the Church which guarantees Jesus' contemporaneity with us.

Let us conclude this meeting directing our thought to Our Lady, in the recitation of the Angelus. As we know Father Giussani had great devotion for her, nourished by the invocation "Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni per Mariam," and by the recitation of Dante Alighieri's Hymn to the Virgin, that you repeated earlier this morning.

May the Holy Virgin accompany you and help you to pronounce generously your yes to the will of God in every circumstance. You can count, dear friends, on my constant recollection in prayer, while with affection I bless all of you here present and the whole of your spiritual family.

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