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Communion and Liberation Founder's Letter to Pope

4/21/2004 - 7:00 AM PST

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Monsignor Luigi Giussani's Message on the Movement's 50th Anniversary

MILAN, Italy, APRIL 21, 2004 - Here is the letter addressed to John Paul II by Monsignor Luigi Giussani, founder of Communion and Liberation, on the 50th anniversary of this ecclesial movement.

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Your Holiness,

The beginning of this new year has been marked by Your words in the message for the World Day for Peace, in particular when You spoke of Christianity as the "victory" of Christís love and of everyoneís commitment to hastening this victory, which is the deepest hope of every human heart.

On our part, we cannot fail to feel this pressing invitation for life at the dawn of this year, which marks the fiftieth anniversary of that unexpected beginning, which arose and developed as a "movement" of thousands of people, young and not so young, throughout the world, starting from those first encounters in October 1954 in the Milan high school where I asked to go to teach religion.

A prayer of the Ambrosian Liturgy sheds light on our feeling in these moments:

"Domine Deus, in simplicitate cordis mei laetus obtuli universa.
Et populum Tuum vidi, cum ingenti gaudio Tibi offerre donaria.
Domine Deus, custodi hanc voluntatem cordis eorum."
("Lord God, in simplicity of heart I have joyfully yielded you everything
And with great joy I saw Your people acknowledge existence as an offering to You.
Lord God, safeguard this, their heartsí desire.")

We offer the Lord our entreaty for this fidelity in which our company -- acknowledged as a precious and particular gift of the Spirit -- becomes a sacramental part in its belonging to the Church.

I feel I must entrust once more to Your Holiness, as vibrant as ever in my heart, the deep emotion aroused by the most authoritative and clear judgment on this fifty-year-old experience of ours. It was when Your Holiness wrote, in the letter sent to me on February 11, 2002 for the twentieth anniversary of the pontifical recognition of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, "The Movement has chosen and chooses to indicate not a road but the road for the solution of manís existential drama. The road is Christ."

Not only did I have no intention of "founding" anything, but I believe that the genius of the Movement that I saw coming to birth lies in having felt the urgency to proclaim the need to return to the elementary aspects of Christianity, that is to say, the passion of the Christian fact as such in its original elements, and nothing more. Perhaps it was precisely this that awoke the unforeseeable possibility of encounter with personalities of the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Protestant and Orthodox worlds, from the United States to Russia, in an impetus of embrace and appreciation of all that remains of truth, of beauty, of good and of right in whoever lives a sense of belonging.

The capital problem for Christianity today, as Your Holiness suggestively announced, right from the programmatic encyclical of your Pontificate, "Redemptor Hominis," is that Christianity is identified with a Fact -- the Christ Event -- and not with an ideology. God has spoken to man, to mankind, not as a discourse that in the end is discovered by philosophers and intellectuals, but as a fact that happened, and that is experienced. Your Holiness expressed this in "Novo Millennio Ineunte": "We shall not be saved by a formula, but by a Person, and the assurance which He gives us: I am with you!" If our educative and communicative passion has a characteristic, it is the continuous reference to this ineffable focus of the Christian experience, over which many glide, as if taking it for granted as an obvious premise.

In the great riverbed of the Church and in fidelity to the Magisterium and to Tradition, we have always wanted to bring people to discover -- or to see more easily -- how Christ is a presence. So the way to be certain that Christ is God, to have no doubt that what Jesus Christ said of Himself is true, finds its true answer in the attitude of the Apostles, because they were always asking, "Who is He?" struck in their experience by the exceptional nature of that Presence that had invested their human existence.

In the letter to the Fraternity, Your Holiness wrote again, "Before being a sum of doctrines or a rule for salvation, Christianity is the event of an encounter." For fifty years, we have wagered everything on this evidence. It is exactly the experience of this encounter that lies at the root of the shaping among us of many Christian vocations -- to marriage, to the priesthood, to virginity -- and the blossoming of lay personalities committed in life, with a creativity that invests day-to-day life according to the three educative dimensions always recalled from the very start: culture, charity and mission. ...

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