By Vatican News staff writer
Meeting with over sixty thousand members of the Communion and Liberation movement gathered in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Francis offered his best wishes and praise for the movement’s ministry and especially its founder, Msgr. Luigi Giussani.
Centenary of the birth of Fr. Giussani
The celebration marked the centenary of Fr. Giussani’s birth and brought together members of the movement from across Italy and around the world. The celebrations started in the morning with a variety of prayers, hymns, and video excerpts of Fr. Giussan’s own writings and homilies given during his years of ministry. Members from various parts of the world offered their own testimonies.
A Milanese priest, Fr. Giussani devoted himself to the formation of students offering them direction in their lives and role models for inspiration. At the beginning of the 1960s he undertook evangelizing activities that communicated the faith with a contemporary and dynamic style with open and ongoing dialogues, as well as consistent reference to the Church’s Magisterium. His innovative missionary outreach and exemplary witness of life led to the creation of the “Communion and Liberation” Movement during those years.
In his address, Pope Francis expressed his own gratitude for the inspirational role Fr. Giussani has had in his own priestly life, remembering the great influence he had in educating and animating the younger generations through his own passion for sharing the faith and helping it flower in them with deep roots in their daily lives.
The Pope remembered the turbulent era of the 1960s when Fr. Giussani taught and started his missionary outreach, and encouraged everyone to persevere today despite similar challenges and crises we face today.
The Pope spoke at length about Fr. Giussani’s legacy, charism, vocation as an educator, and his love for the Church.
Charisma that reached hearts
Recalling his great personal charisma able to reach the hearts and minds thousands of young people, the Pope said this sprung from the faith he discovered as a youth when he experienced a sense of amazement and fascination in the mystery of Christ and God’s boundless love for all.
In speaking about how to express the Movement’s charism in the changed world of our present time, the Pope said it is important to remember that the charism remains the same, but the way it is lived needs to be welcomed anew to bear fruit in today’s world. And this requires an attitude of humilty.
Education for life
The Pope then looked at Fr. Giussani’s role as an educator when during his first years as a priest he felt the urgency to communicate and encourage a personal encounter with Jesus that he himself experienced, to awaken a desire for meaning and truth in the face of religious ignorance or misundertanding. At the same time, he showed great respect for the freedom and personal responsbility of every person to whom he ministered, encouraging them to flourish with their own talents and vocation.
Love for the Church
The Pope then recalled how Fr. Giusani was a “son of the Church,” who loved the Church with great reverence and fidelity, teaching others to have the same respect and filial love as it reflects the continuation of Christ in history through the participation of its members.
Peace and unity
In conclusion, the Pope invited everyone to accompany him working together prophetically for peace and to remain united always.