JANUARY 2010/JANUARY 1, 2013
“The Work of Mary”
The compilation of information here is not intended to be a criticism of Chiara Lubich, the foundress, or of the Catholic movement, ‘The Work of Mary’, popularly known as Focolare, which has the approval of Rome. However, its avowed mission — not envisioned in Focolare’s early days — to promote ecumenism and interreligious dialogue in its passion for the “unity of the human family”, and its eager embrace of the concept of inculturation which is not without its pitfalls has got Catholic conservatives and Traditionalists very concerned.
Chiara Lubich’s 1977 Templeton Prize was for “progress in religion”.
Though the majority is Catholic, Focolare counts Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims as also “people with no religious affiliation” [“agnostics, atheists, and people indifferent to religion”] as its members, and Catholics wonder whether such a union is possible without compromise of traditional Catholic and Christian beliefs.
For the above and other reasons, many Christian web sites – and ex-members* — have listed Focolare as a “cult” or “sect” [*see ‘testimonies’, pages 8 ff].
While Focolare insists that this communion is “without syncretism and encourages all to maintain full faith in their own identity”, there are those who maintain that Focolare’s ecumenical and inter-faith efforts with non-Christian religions limit its capability to witness without reserve to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of all. The goal of a loose “unity“** [what is the binding factor? someone asks] of believers — and non-believers – of every persuasion appears to have replaced the “fire of gospel love” that ignited its founders and that fuels the Christian mission of making Jesus Christ known to those who are not blessed to know Him.
Has Focolare-initiated dialogue — which they admit is “at the level of spirituality” — led to proclamation?
One can be a “practical witness to the love found in the Gospel” and still avoid explicit mention of Jesus and observing the Great Commission [Matthew 28: 19, 20] ***.
Did Jesus not say that He would be a cause of division, Luke 12: 49-53, between those who would listen to His Word, believe Him and accept Him, and those who would reject him? *****
If the unitive work of Focolare can be done equally effectively by a non-Christian organization or an NGO [non-governmental organization], what then is so special about Focolare today? If Focolare has been secularised [if not syncretised], what is its future role as an ecclesial movement?
“Work of Mary” that does not lead people to her son Jesus? Focolare speaks nothing about evangelization. ****
**See “Interesting perspective“ on page 18, the point on “unity”
***See “Interesting perspective“ on page 18, the point on “conversion”
****See “Interesting perspective“ on page 18, the point on “evangelization”
“The aim and the fruit of this unity is that the world may believe”
I had written the comments and asked the questions above completely independently of and BEFORE reading the ex-member Tracy’s comments [on page 16] or the opinion [page 35] of the Greek Catholic Basilian Fathers.
The charges leveled against Focolare by the three priests are so lucid that any comments are superfluous.
They describe Focolare as a sect and a heretical movement in the Church.
On August 16, 2009, the Bishops of the orthodox Catholic Synod of the UGCC [Ukraine] pronounced
“the latae sententiae penalty of excommunication by reason of heresy”
on seven senior most leaders of Focolare.
Some, including priests, even see Focolare as New Age.
This ministry received questions about Focolare from friends and from visitors to this web site, some of whom included information that disturbed them, and which is presented to the reader in this report. 1.
FROM THE FOCOLARE WEBSITE (2-8)
FROM THE WEB SITE OF EX-MEMBERS OF FOCOLARE
FROM TRADITIONALIST WEB SITES (21-22)
FROM A GREEK-CATHOLIC WEB SITE (22-44)
OTHER INFORMATION ON FOCOLARE
INFORMATION ON FOCOLARE, INDIA (49-50)
GENERAL INFORMATION RELATED TO FOCOLARE (50-56)
«That all may be one» (John 17, 21)
We were born for these words, for unity, to give a contribution to its realization in the world. Chiara Lubich
While in the air-raid shelter, we came upon that page of the Gospel which speaks of the Testament of Jesus:
“May they all be one, Father, as you and I are one”.
These words seem to light up one by one. That “everyone” expanded our horizon.
That project for unity was to be the goal of our life. Chiara Lubich
From that first nucleus in Trent…
The first inspiring spark, the “mind blowing discovery” of the One whom “no bomb could destroy” – God – took place against the backdrop of hatred and violence of the Second World War. It was the experience of God as Love and he radically changed the life of Chiara Lubich, then barely twenty years old. She immediately shared her experience with her friends who were to become her first companions.
They took with them into the air-raid shelters only the Gospel.
There they discovered the secret of how to respond to Love. At that time, Chiara herself wrote: “Each day there were new discoveries: the Gospel had become our only guide, the only light of our life.
By living the commandment of mutual love, they discovered the way for rebuilding fraternity in a disintegrated society “Let’s share everything: our things, our houses, our money. This was to be a totally new life.”
That first group of young women experienced, to their amazement, light, strength, courage, love, all fruits of the presence of Jesus which He promised when two or three are gathered in his name, meaning in his love. It was a light which illuminated the final prayer of Jesus to the Father: May they all be one. This divine plan for the human family was to become the program of their life: “Let’s make unity the trampoline to take us to where unity is lacking and to help bring it about.”
The effects: “Every day the number of people, of all ages and backgrounds, grew. Hatred and conflicts diminished. Many families were reunited”. There was a growing certainty that the Gospel holds the key to every social problem and to the problems of each individual.
… a Movement
Soon afterwards that small group of people became a movement which brought about a spiritual and social renewal. In less than 60 years of life, the movement has spread worldwide to 182 countries counting more than two million adherents with an outreach, difficult to quantify, of a few million people.
A small people – Because of the variety of its composition, the Focolare Movement has taken on the dimensions of a small people, so described by Pope John Paul II. It embraces not only Catholics, but also Christians of different Churches and ecclesial communities, as well as the Jewish people. Little by little, many followers of the great world religions, as well as people with no religious affiliation have become part of the Movement. This adhesion to the Movement is without syncretism and encourages all to maintain full faith in their own identity. What all these people have in common is the commitment to live, in one way or another, love and unity, which are written in the DNA of every human person.
The term Focolare Movement (“focolare” means fireplace) was applied to the Movement, since its beginnings, by the people of Trent because of the “fire” of Gospel love which animated Chiara Lubich and her first companions.
Chiara Lubich. She herself emphases that the Movement “was not thought up by a human mind, but that it is the fruit of a charism which comes from Above. We try to follow, through circumstances, the will of God day by day”.
– The Bishop of Trent, Msgr. Carlo de Ferrari, gave the first approval at the level of the local Church in 1947: He said, “Here there is the hand of God”. A number of pontifical approvals followed, the first being in 1962; the most recent, which encompassed the latest developments, was given in 1990.
– The Focolare is part of the present phenomenon of the flourishing of ecclesial movements which have originated over the years from “a precise charism given to the person of the Founder” (John Paul II), meaning that it is a “gift of the Spirit” which unceasingly gives rise to the “novelty of Christianity” (Cardinal Ratzinger). John Paul II denoted the charism of Chiara Lubich as “a radicalism of love” and saw in the Movement the lineaments of the Church of the Council, open to the various dialogues (19.8.1984). 2.
Spirituality of Unity
“Initially we believed that we were simply living the Gospel,” Chiara Lubich wrote, “but meanwhile the Holy Spirit was at work emphasising some words of the Gospel which were to become a new spiritual current:
the spirituality of unity.
The Movement grew and developed through this spirituality which over time has become the lifestyle of people of all ages, backgrounds, vocations and cultures. At its heart are the Focolare Centres, small communities of men or women, single and married.
In this age of dramatic change, in sharing with humanity the painful birth of a new civilization that is globalised, interdependent, multicultural and multifaith, the Focolare Movement is committed, together with many other forces which are moving in this direction, to build the unity of the human family enriched by diversity.
Instruments of unity
Initially the Focolare centres, grouped in “zones”, converged into one international centre. Little by little, from the one trunk, numerous branches grew. Amongst these were large scale movements which spread the seeds of renewal in the various ambits of society and in the Church, opening up oases of fraternity and unity [click on the links below]:
Movement for Men and Women Religious belonging to different congregations
Pathways to unity: the dialogues
Dialogue, at the level of individuals, leaders and movements, communities and groups, emerges as the pre-eminent way for promoting unity:
within one’s own Church, to deepen communion among ecclesial movements, new communities and lay associations, as well as among religious congregations with new and old charisms;
amongst Churches, by weaving relationships based on fraternal communion and shared witness in which age-old prejudices fall and the various Churches open up to a dialogue of life and of people thus accelerating the way towards the visible unity of Christians;
with the Jewish people, in order to heal past wounds and to rediscover the patrimony of our common roots
amongst the world faiths, in order to build universal brotherhood based on the values of the spirit;
with people of no religious affiliation in order to collaborate on the basis of shared values, respect for human rights in the fields of solidarity and peace.
The living out of mutual love to the point of building unity has eventuated a code for transforming society through communion and solidarity in the various ambits of society namely: politics, economy, relationships among people, public morals and social ethics, health, education and culture, social communications. In this regard, the following are of particular importance:
Movement for unity in politics which is open to people with varying degrees of political commitment, belonging to different political parties. This movement proposes fraternity as a political agenda to be lived with the common good in mind. www.mppu.org
Economy of Communion. In the economic field, the Economy of Communion project has developed. 750 businesses have been inspired by this project and these businesses have an impact at the cultural level. www.edc-online.org
International Cooperation. There are over 1000 social projects of various dimensions in all 5 continents. Particularly developed are those in the field of social health and education in the most depressed areas of the world. The value of this reciprocal help encourages self-help and the means to better the social standing of the needy; this action is supported by an NGO of the Movement called AUW (Action for a United World). www.azionemondounito.org
Models of a new society: the little towns
There are 35 little towns in the world in various stages of development with the characteristic of the culture in which they have arisen. They are miniature towns with houses, schools, businesses and places of worship. Because of the style of life they promote they can offer a model to big cities on the way to live together.
Formation to unity. There are
63 Mariapolis centres in the world dedicated to the spiritual and cultural formation of members. These Mariapolis centres are in 46 nations – 9 of them are located in Italy, not counting the international centre which has its seat in Castelgandolfo in Rome. Permanent schools of formation for the branches of the Movement are present in the various little towns. These Mariapolis centres are permanent schools of formation for different branches of the Movement.
A culture of unity
A centre for interdisciplinary studies, the Abba School, has an academic staff which works to develop the initial principles of a new culture enlightened by the charism of unity. A more recent development, at a cultural level, is indicated in the constitution of an international network of scholars, professionals and students who go into depth in each individual discipline, promoting conventions, courses of formation and publications. 3.
To spread this culture:
Città Nuova publishing houses in 31 countries;
New Humanity, bi-monthly cultural journal produced in various languages;
Unity and Charisms and Gen’s, bi-monthly magazines of culture and ecclesial commentary published in various languages;
Centro Santa Chiara and
Charisma, audio-visual production centres.
leaders of different churches: Orthodox, Anglican and Evangelical-Lutherans;
representatives of different faiths: Jewish and Hindu;
National and international civic organisms among which UNESCO, the European Council of Europe, Universities and other cultural entities, as well as local government.
Work of Mary
The Movement was officially approved within the Catholic Church under the name “Work of Mary”. It carries this name because “of its characteristic spirituality, modeled upon Mary, gives Christ spiritually to the world in the diversity of its composition, its worldwide spreading, its relationship with Christians of other Churches and ecclesial Communities, with people of various religious faiths and with persons with no particular religious affiliation, and for the fact that its President is a lay woman”.
(General Statutes, art.2)
Faced with the challenges of modern-day society, ever more multi-cultural and multi-religious, important fruits of peace in ongoing dialogue with persons of different faith traditions have grown and flourished since the 70s.
Chiara and the Movement have initiated contacts not only with individual leaders or followers of different religions but also with entire Movements.
Buddhists – the first Christian woman to do so, Chiara Lubich shared her spiritual experience, in 1981, in a temple in Tokyo before 10.000 Buddhists, and in 1997 in Thailand to Buddhist monks, both men and women.
Muslims – a few months later, in the historic Malcolm Shabbazz mosque in Harlem, New York, before 3000 African-American Muslims;
Jews – that same year in Buenos Aires Chiara was welcomed as the guest speaker of a widespread Jewish organization.
Hindus – In 2001 she visited India: a new page opened in the ongoing work of dialogue between members of the Focolare and the Hindu world.
In 1994 she was nominated honorary president of the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP).
Focolare Information Service is available for further information and questions:
tel: +39-06-947989 mobile: +39-348-8563347 fax: +39-06-9497460
Focolare Movement International seat
via Frascati, 306 00040 Rocca di Papa (Roma) – IT
Ways to Dialogue within one’s own Church
Ways to Dialogue among Christian churches
Ecumenism. A difficult journey, yet guided by the Holy Spirit who after centuries of division, urges the Churches to be reconciled and to give the world, wounded by conflicts, the witness of Christian unity.
In the climate of fraternity that is growing among Christians, the need for spirituality is growing, a fitting way to speed up the progress to full visible communion.
It is the Holy Spirit himself who in these times Has brought to life in the different Churches New charisms, new spiritual currents Through movements, communities, associations, groups, to renew Christian Life.
One of the specific contributions that the Focolare Movement makes to the cause of ecumenism is at the level of Spirituality, with a “dialogue of life” and “dialogue of the people”. 4.
An ecumenical spirituality
Among Christians there is a new awareness that we are called to live the commandment that Jesus calls “his” and “new”: “love one another as I have loved you”, and so contribute to the fulfilment of the Testament of Jesus: “That all may be one” (cf. Jn 17:2).
A dialogue of life, a “dialogue of the people”
The spirituality of unity, lived in daily life, breaks down centuries of prejudice, and brings about a “dialogue of life”.
As Chiara Lubich said at the World Council of Churches, “Through that dialogue we already feel like a family: from different churches, we feel ourselves to be one Christian people, involving laity, ministers, and bishops, even though full and visible unity between our churches has yet to be achieved. This is not a dialogue that contrasts with or stands alongside the dialogue between the leaders of the Churches, but one in which all Christians can take part.
This Christian people is a leaven in the ecumenical movement. It is our hope that the other forms of dialogue, like that of charity, of common service, of prayer, and of theology, may be strengthened by the “dialogue of life”. And further, we hope that a constant problem, the reception by the people of the official theological dialogues, can be solved by a people that is ecumenically prepared”.
A Centre for ecumenical dialogue
To coordinate the ecumenical activity of the Focolare Movement, “Centro Uno” was established in Rome in 1961. The director, until his death in 1980, was Iginio Giordani, a pioneer of Italian ecumenism. From 1961 until 1990 it was based in Rome at Piazza Navona. Since 1990 it has been at Grottaferrata (Roma).
“Centro Uno” coordinates ecumenical activities and initiatives of the Focolare Movement in the 182 countries where the movement is present, keeping contact with those responsible for this work throughout the world.
Stories from life
Here are some experiences that describe typical moments of the “dialogue of life”
Traveling together on the road to reconciliation
A Catholic-Evangelical Lutheran couple share their experience
Ecumenism of life: a network of brotherhood is created among bishops and priests of different Churches
The experience of a Rumanian priest
Ways to Dialogue with Judaism
Ways to Dialogue among religions
Dialogue among religions for fraternity among peoples
The world is changing dramatically, and becoming a multicultural and multifaith society. While this brings with it xenophobia, religious intolerance, and the fear of a clash of civilizations, the Focolare Movement is engaged in the promotion of dialogue among religions. The religious pluralism of the world’s peoples ought not to be the cause of divisions and war, rather it ought to contribute to the re-establishment in fraternity of the unity of the human family.
Spirituality is the place where this dialogue has proved especially productive. We have become increasingly convinced during the recent decades of dialogue that what the faithful of other religions expect from Christians is a practical witness to the love found in the Gospel. It is not by chance that the golden rule “Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you” is common to all major religions. In the atmosphere of mutual love which accompanies the practice of the golden rule, dialogue may be established. This demands us to “make ourselves one” with the other, to “live the other”. This is not just kindness, openness and esteem, it is a practice that requires the complete “emptiness” of ourselves to become one with the others, to “enter beneath the skin of the other” and understand more deeply what it means for the other to be a Muslim a Hindu a Buddhist,…
The effect is twofold: it helps us to be inculturated, and to know the religion and language of the other, and predisposes the other to listen.
We can then move on to “proclamation with respect” when, true to God and ourselves, and in sincerity towards our neighbour, we can say what our faith teaches on the subject we are speaking about, without imposing anything on the other, with no hint of proselytism, out of love. And so we grow in mutual knowledge. 5.
The effect of dialogue
The effect of dialogue in this spirit of unity is not syncretism, but the rediscovery of our own religious roots, and of what unites us, the lived experience of fraternity. What is strengthened is the common commitment to be builders of peace and unity, especially where violence and racial and religious intolerance threaten to drive a wedge between different parts of society. Common humanitarian projects flourish.
This was the desire of Pope Benedict XVI and other religious leaders:
“If together we can succeed in eliminating from hearts any trace of rancour, in resisting every form of intolerance and in opposing every manifestation of violence, we will turn back the wave of cruel fanaticism that endangers the lives of so many people and hinders progress towards world peace.
The task is difficult but not impossible. The believer – and all of us, as Christians and Muslims, are believers – knows that, despite his weakness, he can count on the spiritual power of prayer.”
(Benedict XVI, Meeting with Representative of Some Muslim Communities. Cologne, 20 August2005)
A founding event
In 1977, Chiara Lubich was in London to receive the Templeton Prize* for “progress in religion”. At the Guildhall, she spoke about her experience to leaders of many different religions, and many of those present in the hall responded warmly.
Since that time interfaith dialogue has become an integral part of the Movement’s aims: “Straight away”, Chiara says, “I realized that this moment was a “turning point” for our movement. I understood that we had to address ourselves to people of other religions, letting the Holy Spirit show us what to do and how to do it”.
Since 1994 Chiara Lubich has been an honorary president of the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP). The movement has been represented since 1979 at the world assemblies of the WCRP and at regional meetings and activities.
*[Zenit, July 18, 2008] Philanthropist Sir John Templeton, 96, founder of the Templeton Foundation, a Presbyterian, died of pneumonia in July 2008 at a hospital in the Bahamas. The Foundation supports progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities. The Templeton Prize honors a living person considered to have made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works. Its monetary value always exceeds that of the Nobel Prizes — Templeton’s way of underscoring his belief that advances in the spiritual domain are no less important than those in other areas of human endeavor.
The first person to be awarded the Templeton Prize was Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1973. A year later the foundation awarded the prize to Brother Roger, founder of the Ecumenical Community of Taizé, France. Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens, archbishop of Malines-Brussels, received the prize in 1976 for being a “pioneer” Charismatic Renewal Movement.
Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare movement, received the prize in 1977 for fostering lay commitment and dialogue among Christians of various confessions. In 2008, the Templeton Prize was awarded to Monsignor Michael Heller, a professor of theoretical physics, cosmology and philosophy of science at the Pontifical Academy of Theology.
Formation for dialogue
A permanent school for interfaith dialogue is based in the little town of Tagaytay (near Manila in the Philippines), a meeting place which helps to spread the Focolare spirituality in Asia. Another school for dialogue is based in the little town of Luminosa in the USA. As a means for getting to know one another better, the “Luminosa Prize” is awarded every year to people from different religions who are involved in dialogue for peace.
Due to the universal expansion of the Movement, there is a dialogue with all the main religions of the world. This is not only with individual members or leaders of those faiths, but with the leaders and followers of large movements, such as the Buddhist lay movement, Rissho Kosei-kai, with 6 million adherents; the Muslim American Society (USA) with more than 2 million, and the Swadhyaya Family (India) that has 8 million adherents, mostly Hindu.
There are about 30,000 members of other religions who live in their own measure the spirit of the Movement and are committed to the same aims.
Ways to dialogue with people of no formal faith
“Can a movement, born out of a choice of God as an ideal for life, be of interest to men and women with no formal faith? The fact that the son of God took human flesh is something great; it establishes a deep bond with you, committed as you are to respect for, and development of, humanity, of each person, and the growth and safeguarding of human values. That is what we too must do, and what we want to do with you.” Chiara Lubich
The aim of dialogue between believers and people with no formal faith is that of working together for the unity of the human family.
During the forties, there were people of many social and cultural backgrounds linked to the community of the Movement in Trento, including those with no formal beliefs. They were attracted by the communion of goods practiced in the movement in favour of the poor. 6.
Towards the end of the seventies, these contacts, with agnostics, atheists, and people indifferent to religion, developed into a dialogue with its own characteristics. An international centre for dialogue with people of no formal faith began in 1978. In 1992 the first of a series of international conventions took place at the Centro Mariapoli at Castelgandolfo (Roma).
From the experience of recent years, some characteristics of this dialogue have emerged:
there is an effort to emphasise the positive in everyone, and to discover commonly held values;
each person stays true to their own identity;
there is a commitment together to common values like solidarity, equality, peace, and fraternity;
everyone tries to give the best of themselves to the others, in faithfulness to their own convictions, to welcome others, knowing that each person has treasures of their own culture to give ;
this commitment leaves no room for proselytism; thoughts are shared to create a relationship with the other, not to win them over to one’s own ideas;
dialogue is based on deep respect for the other and on acting according to one’s own conscience, which everyone tries to follow in a coherent way;
the focus is on practical things, trying to act together, in actions of solidarity
the group is not closed in on itself, rather, it commits its members, from whatever culture, to work in their own environment.
the common objective is to build together a more united world, building among believers and non-believers alike, a fraternity that can be a witness for others.
As a result of the various conventions held at Castelgandolfo, groups of dialogue have formed in Italy, Europe, and South America.
Some groups explore themes of common interest, for instance “lay people and faith” or current affairs. Others, to broaden the dialogue, animate social and cultural projects, and others get involved in actions for solidarity.
Actions of solidarity
Various social initiatives have been supported in Eastern Europe (Croatia, Serbia, Albania), Russia, the Middle East (Jerusalem), Ecuador, Cameroon Republic, and Brazil.
“Dialogue among friends“. This is a newsletter translated into 5 languages, linking sixty existing groups and encouraging the exchange of experiences and reflections.
Secretariat for dialogue with people of no formal faith
Via Frascati, 306 00040 Rocca di Papa (Roma) IT tel. +39-06-9497488 fax +39-06-94790205
New Humanity Movement – International Secretariat
Via Valle della Noce, 16/6 00046 Grottaferrata (Roma) IT tel. +39-06-94315635 fax +39-06-9410972
e-mail: email@example.com – firstname.lastname@example.org
Città Nuova, opinion magazine – has celebrated 50 years of activity in 2006 (www.cittanuova.it). Since the end of the 1950s it has always been close to its readers, in order to inform them on world events, ecumenism, culture, art, and theater from the “perspective of unity” and to make known the movement’s spirituality and experience. It has progressively multiplied in the five continents and today 37 editions in 22 languages are published all over the world.
Città Nuova in English:
New City – England: http://www.focolare.org.uk/Newcity.htm
Living City – U.S.A.:
New Humanity, a bimonthly magazine for a theological-cultural formation.
Unity and Charisms, for the world of religious congregations
Gen’s, for the priesthood
New Humanity Movement – International secretariat
Via Valle della Noce, 16/6 00046 Grottaferrata (Roma) IT tel. +39-06-94315635 fax +39-06-9410972
Maria Voce in Asia: in dialogue with Buddhists in Japan and Thailand 01/01/2010
The Focolare President is beginning the New Year with her first trip to Asia, to visit Focolare communities. A special focus will be interfaith encounters, continuing the work of Chiara Lubich. The trip has the Pope’s blessing
Maria Voce, Focolare president, leaves on her first trip to Asia with the Pope’s blessing, “in the hope of numerous graces”. His blessing is “extended to all the communities in the countries to be visited, which are especially close to the Pope’s heart.” So said the letter signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State.
The programme includes: Korea (6-10/1), Japan (11-16/1), Philippines (17-31/1 including Tagaytay, Manila and Cebu), Thailand (1-20/2 including Bangkok and Chiang Mai)
Of particular importance are the interfaith meetings. In Tokyo, Japan, on 15 January Maria Voce has been invited to address 5000 adherents of the lay Buddhist movement Rissho Kosei Kai (RKK),
while on 3 February in Bangkok, Thailand, she will speak at the IVth Christian-Buddhist symposium on the subject, “Dharma and Buddhist compassion – Christian Agape in the world today.” The symposium has been jointly organised by the Mahachulalongkorn University in Chang Mai, the Focolare Movement and the RKK, and there will be participants from Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, USA, Great Britain and Italy. While in Thailand, Maria Voce will meet Grand Master Ajahn Tong and will speak to young Buddhist monks at the Mahachulalongkorn University.
“This dialogue is in continuity with that begun 30 years ago by Chiara Lubich. After her departure, it must not stop, it must receive a new boost,” said Maria Voce. In 1981, at the invitation of Nikkyo Niwano, Chiara Lubich had shared her Christian experience in Tokyo with over 10000 adherents of the RKK, sowing the seeds of a dialogue of life that has developed over the years. “The Focolare movement in Thailand has many Buddhist friends
that share this Ideal and who are working together for a more united world, and for lasting peace for all,” declared the Buddhist monk Pra Thongrattana at Chiara Lubich’s funeral. Bearing a message from Grand Master Ajahn Tong, he had said, “Chiara is the one who brought light to a world in darkness.”
In each city she visits, Maria Voce will go to meet the local Catholic Bishop, and will also meet the Focolare community.
In Korea, her programme includes a meeting with a small group of parliamentarians who belong to the Focolare’s Political Movement for Unity.
In the Philippines, on 28 January in Manila, she will take part in a round table during the meeting for all the Bishops and clergy of that country, an event which happens every ten years.
FROM THE WEB SITE OF EX-MEMBERS OF FOCOLARE
Welcome on the website for and by ex-members of the Focolare movement. The website is made in order to give people who have left the Focolare a chance to meet in freedom. The site also provides information for people not yet familiar with the Focolare and for people who consider leaving the movement.
FOR MEMBERS OF THE FOCOLARE AND GEN MOVEMENTS
Last update: February 23rd 2008
Dear Gen, Pope and Popi, volunteers and members of other branches in the Focolare movement.
Welcome to the alternative Focolare website. This is the place on our website for people who are part of the Focolare or Gen movement.
If you come across this website while you are a member of the Focolare, I can understand if you feel hurt, surprised, shocked or even angry. “Who is this person, writing about Focolare and why?”, you might ask.
Who made this website?
I have been a Gen for many years, later a Volunteer and member of a national Coordinating Council of the movement. After 20 years I have started to ask questions about the way things are done in the movement. Even after insisting for a long time, my questions were not answered. I was supposed to trust in the Love of God and the voice of Jesus in our midst. I have given may years of my life to the movement, many thousands of dollars, I even married the person that was meant for me according to my Gen-assistant. I called the pope and popi my brothers and sisters, and yet sadly we have grown apart.
Now I could have started a new life and forget about this period in the movement. It would have been the easy way. many former members do like this. Why not me? I don’t have a grudge against the movement. I do not hate, nor feel bitter. I am aware of and grateful for the good things that have happened. I am aware that I was part of something big. I can still remember the meetings in Rocca di Papa, Frascati, Loppiano, Castel Gandolfo. I feel my heart beating while listening to Gen Rosso and Gen Verde. Nothing is forgotten, and still I have decided to take my life a step further.
So why this website?
Several years ago I had the opportunity to meet Mother Theresa of Calcutta. With some pride in my voice I told her that I was a gen. She looked at me with much love in her eyes and said: “There is much more to life than Focolare…”
At that time I was astonished because I believed that there was not anything bigger than the Ideal. Only now I have come to understand the meaning of her words. It is the joy of loving Jesus, without structures, organization or dogmas that I like to keep in my heart, and forget about the rules and limitations that I found in the focolare. This website wants to show that there is more than Focolare, and that there is freedom of loving after you leave the movement. The only freedom I know is that of a free mind. Unfortunately, there is no freedom of mind, nor of speech in the movement. As somebody told me, “I had to leave the movement in order to live my life in a free Christian spirit.”
I am not reaching out anymore for the leaders of the movement, not to Chiara, Oreste, Sylvana, Gys, Pepuccio, Opus, Vale or any of the other leaders that I have met so often in Rome. It is clear to me now that they are beyond my scope. But I like to address the hard working focolarini, volunteers and gen who are in the countries where focolare is working. I like to start a conversation with anybody who still has a little bit of their own conscience and free will left, in spite of years of exposure to collegamenti that have encouraged you to give up your own thoughts, desires, feelings for the love of God.
I know that it can be hard for you to read this website. It seems to go against everything you believe in. It seems to attack your most precious Ideal. But please believe me, this is not the case. I must admit that I had years in my life that I felt bitter towards the focolarino who has manipulated my life, but those feelings are gone. There has been a time when I worked on this website out of negative feelings, but also those days have passed.
During the years of this website I have encountered many friendly people in the same situation. They made me see that this website has another purpose. I do not mean to attack the Ideal, nor encourage people to leave the movement.
What is the goal?
My first goal, and that of the people who work with me on this website, is to make it more clear that Focolare can be a good and positive force, but it runs the risk of taking over people’s lives and conscience. Not at the beginning but after some years, you begin to believe that the Ideal it worth dying for and that this goal is so great that any means are justified to reach it. You start to permit suffering in your own life, and next you also accept some suffering in other people’s lives if it is for this sanctification of the person or the good of the cause. I was told that the voice of Jesus in the midst is more important than my own conscience because the latter might be flawed by sin and human desire. After some time I lost the ability to make my own decisions; I only did what Jesus in our midst said was right. I stopped to grow as a person and became a child, a popa… For this I was rewarded by the other members of the focolare. I was encouraged to go on like this, la popa piu graziata della scuola Gen, I was the Gen who had received God’s grace in a special way.
Now, in this website I like to say. I am happy for the good things the focolare has done, but I warn the movement not to take over other people’s conscience. Let the members free in what they do or believe. Accept some disagreement. The world will not be less ONE if there is more freedom. God is a God who lets His children be free.
My second goal is to give a forum, a platform for people who, just like me find themselves in a vacuum after leaving the movement. All our friends outside the focolare are gone, we have abandoned our families for the love of God and the Focolare and we stand alone. Our Focolare friends stopped seeing us because they are just too busy spreading the Ideal and they are disappointed with very member who leaves the movement. They believe we have rejected God’s grace for us. So we are on our own, and I like to give the opportunity to meet and talk to other people in the same situation. The main instrument for this is the guest book. It is a great success and it has had over 20.000 visitors.
Finally, I also like to show that people have been able to live very good and meaningful lives after they have left Focolare. And I like to help you in making this step, if you feel that it is your time too.
Please be not offended by this initiative. I am always open to talk or write with any member of the movement. Thank you for your understanding.
Anastasia (This is an alias to protect myself, my friends and family)
Link to a remarkable article about ex-focolarina Monique from Holland
‘I sold my soul’
From the age of ten Monique Goudsmit (54) took part in the focolare community in the city of Eindhoven [Holland] where she lived. Almost daily she went there after school and sometimes she stayed the night. Her mother thought it was wonderful to have a daughter so devoted to ‘unity in Jesus’. Goudsmit herself was also very enthusiastic: “the idea of being one with others, absorbed in the great whole, attracted me enormously. In the evening I lay in bed reading the meditations written by Chiara Lubich, the Italian founder of the movement. I helped in organizing youth meetings and I eventually became the model of an ideal focolare youth. My photo hung in the world centre in Rome. I was a fanatic. I believed in the constant mission to convince people of the message of Focolare by every possible means.”
On her nineteenth birthday she went to live full-time in the community. She received a ‘new name’ from Chiara Lubich: it was the foundress’ own name – Chiara. “When I heard that I was in shock. I was over the moon. Was I predestined for something that great? I started to believe I had a calling.”
Looking back, she believes that many things which happened to her were wrong. “After high school I wanted to study at the Ballet Academy. But Lella, the leader of the Dutch Focolare Movement and head of the community in Eindhoven said, ‘It’s better if you don’t’. And because all I wanted to do was ‘be in unity’, I obeyed and applied for the social academy that had her approval.”
Lella got transferred to Amsterdam and Goudsmit moved with her. “What our Capo (the Italian term for local leader) said was right, we all believed that 100%. Nobody dared to question her. To be one with the Capo was the essential thing, devoted and dedicated. Because that was the way to be connected with Chiara in Italy. For the same reason, Italian was mainly spoken in the house,” says Goudsmit. “I know that I asked Lella once what it meant to ‘give all to Jesus in our midst’. She responded: ‘You don’t have to understand anything. As long as Chiara understands’.”
At least once a year the focolarini went to Rome to listen to speeches by Chiara. “At those times, I felt lifted into a collective atmosphere of holy euphoria,” Goudsmit recalls. “But I used to feel embarrassed when, after the meeting, I would join the other adult members running after Chiara’s car. I used to say to myself – you are a Dutch person, much too down to earth for this sort of behaviour.”
The great ideal was “unity, according to the words of Jesus: ‘where two or more are united in my name, I will be in their midst’. There was in the Focolare an atmosphere of loving connection,” Goudsmit continues. “Everybody was always joyful, there were only smiling, pleasant people around me always. Everybody was always happy. I did not realize that I actually did not know who the real people were behind the everlasting smiles. And nobody really knew what was happening inside of me. Who you were was of no importance. How often Lella told me: ‘Monique is not supposed to exist, she must die for unity’. Afterwards I realized that the community members didn’t know me and that I didn’t know them in spite of us having lived together for years. It was also quite strange to talk about yourself as WE, which was the usual way. I had no friends among the community members, because everybody was ipso facto a friend. You weren’t supposed to distinguish between one person and the next. And you were not supposed to build friendships outside the movement. When community members asked, ‘How are you?’, it was the custom to answer not only with ‘fine’ but also reinforce this with some positive details. To reply with anything negative was taboo: you had to transform it into something positive. It used to make me nervous: have I already worked out something positive to say?
We use to practise the so-called ‘hour of truth’ on a regular basis. We had to take turns saying positive and negative things about each other, without being able to defend ourselves. The only accepted reaction was to say ‘thank you’, because we were being helped to free ourselves from obstacles to unity. When I was home alone, I was continuously phoned up by members of the community asking what I was doing. I later discovered that these checks were reported back to the authorities of the movement. Not everyone was controlled in this fashion”, says Goudsmit, “only the ones who were considered to be weak”. And she also checked on others in the same way. Now she considers this behaviour violates the integrity of others. “I would now never even consider calling someone to check what he or she is doing.”
Even though Goudsmit had a good job, she had no money to buy clothes. The whole of her monthly salary was transferred directly into the account of the community. Clothes would be distributed occasionally. “Lella chose something for you and you had to be content with what she chose. ‘Thank Providence,’ you would say. Nobody ever said: ‘this doesn’t suit me.’ Secretly I often felt the clothes I received were ridiculous. One day I was given lovely apple green and light blue clothes. They really suited me, I liked them and I even received compliments at work. I was able to enjoy them for exactly one day. Lella then made me give them to someone else. ‘You are too vain,’ she explained. Another time I said I wanted a woollen sweater, but Lella gave me a cotton blouse. She told me it was because I was too concerned with appearances. I didn’t dare explain that I was cold all the time.
“Focolare was a kind of womb, warm and safe, as long as you stayed in a fetal position. The moment that was no longer possible, you have a problem,” says Goudsmit, who lived in the community for fifteen years after entering at age nineteen. When she was thirty-four she left the Focolare movement. “Focolare is actually a sect,” she says, even though she admits that she was never forced to anything and voluntarily adjusted to the ways of the movement. “There was never blood on the carpet in the Focolare.” But she also makes clear that when she eventually cut her ties with Focolare, she was actually still a child, not used to making her own choices, stating boundaries, handling money, running a home, building love relationships or friendships.
Looking back she gives a harsh diagnosis. “I thought that living in the Focolare community was a personal choice, that I was honest and pure in doing so, but I had sold my soul in the secret hope of finding some love.” 10.
The inability to establish boundaries cost Goudsmit dearly. Later in life, she was sexually abused over a long period of time as she describes in her recently published book of her life story. That is also the reason she writes and is interviewed under pseudonym.
BEVRIJD – Over identiteitsverlies en de lange weg naar heelwording (= LIBERATED – About loss of identity and the long road to healing)
Author: Monique Goudsmit (ps) First edition: 2009 ISBN: 978-94-90075-10-1 Euro 19,75
Cardinal Simonis does not want to hear criticism of the Focolare
At the beginning of 2008 Cardinal Simonis, the retired head of the Roman Catholic church in the Netherlands, went to live in his new home at the Mariënkroon, the national center of the Focolare near den Bosch.
“To me it is a piece of paradise on earth”, he says. “There is a saying: his happiness is complete. Well, I can say that now. I have found here a genuine brother- and sisterhood, as the church is supposed to be.
Simonis sees here, ‘the church in the optimal sense of the word’. “I am very grateful to be able to live in this community. When I drove back from the northern part of the Netherlands the other day, I told my driver, ‘Lovely, I’m going home’. Here I am in a dynamic community with people of all ages. Maybe I can also contribute to it.”
Simonis says he always felt at home in the Focolare movement. He knows it now for more than twenty five years. “Immediately it was clear to me: there is a lot in there. Love in unity, unity in love. A wonderful ideal, also for youth. But also an ideal to be lived. The whole church ought to live this spirituality of community.”
Nevertheless he does not identify exclusively with the movement: “There are more movements in the church and a bishop has to be open to them all. They complement each other. Your preference depends on your character and everyone has his own preference for a certain form of spirituality. For me it is the Focolare.”
Trouw send Goudsmit’s book to Simonis and he read it. He comments: “It is a very sad book. What she says is absolutely untrue. It is just about this one person. It all depends on your point of view.”
But how is one supposed to see the rule in the Focolare that you have to thankfully accept your clothes and that you can’t choose them yourself?
Simonis: “Some rules here speak for themselves. They go with a shared feeling. When your heart is no longer in it, you will see things differently. When you are a member of a football club, you have to follow the rules of behaviour and the game. When the attraction is gone, you will look at the happenings there in a completely different way.”
“In Goudsmit’s story I miss the understanding of the World’s needs; it is all about her own needs. She should see her own limitations. She should not express her criticism in this way, that does no justice to the Focolare. You join or you don’t join. You are free in that choice. It is the same with religious orders. You could tell the same story about them. The concept of sect is wrongly used in this context. Just as the word fundamentalism is wrongly used nowadays. Someone told me the other day that I am a fundamentalist, when I said that I proclaim the faith according to the Roman Catholic church.”
According to an article that appeared in a special edition of the Italian Catholic daily Avvenire (19 March 2008) to mark the death of Chiara Lubich, ‘They [the focolarini] decided, “No tears in Rome [at Chiara’s funeral] because she is not dead. She lives for ever in all of us.”‘ Rather than giving a witness to the millions who followed the live broadcast on Italian television or the internet feed – which was presumably what the Focolare old guard intended – this stoical approach lent an eerie atmosphere of uncertainty to the proceedings. A friend of mine who has had no contact with focolare but is familiar with its ethos, had the impression that the members were so used to being told what to feel and how to react that in these unprecedented circumstances they simply didn’t know what the appropriate response should be. In reality, they had been instructed exactly how to behave and it was this very fact that gave to the event its strange, unengaged quality.
As an ex-member who still feels affection for members of the movement and certainly for Chiara, despite my many criticisms of the organisation, I was moved to tears by the funeral and found it odd that those who profess themselves to be her most devoted followers remained dry-eyed. Only Oreste Basso, one of the first focolarini and the ‘Co president’ of Focolare, broke down when he approached the altar to thank the distinguished guests on behalf of the movement, but then old men are notoriously prone to tears and he struggled successfully to regain his composure. Chiara’s first companions Eli Folonari and Graziella de Luca, on the other hand, had a jolly chat outside the basilica at the end of the funeral as though they had just concluded a successful Day Meeting.
Chiara Lubich’s funeral shone a very public spotlight on one of the Focolare Movement’s most serious shortcomings: the detachment from feelings encouraged in members. In this case, it was so strong that the spontaneous reaction most human beings would experience in such circumstances was absent. Sister Madeleine, founder of the Little Sisters of Jesus, once said that in order to be Christian, it is necessary to be human first; but that is rather difficult in the Focolare Movement in which ‘human’ is a negative term.
Psychologists would say that the detachment from ones emotions that the movement promotes is pathological and dangerous. Indeed, it could well be the principal reason for the prevalence of depression and mental illness to be found in Focolare from the top down. Now that the founder is dead, current and former members of the movement would benefit greatly from a probing and truthful investigation into this aspect. 11.
The genuine gospel message is certainly not a recipe for mental illness. If it is truly God’s Word, it should be just the opposite. I remember attending the funeral of a child at Loppiano, the daughter of married focolarini, who had died after suffering terribly from a painful congenital illness. The atmosphere was one of manic rejoicing and not even the parents or siblings let slip any indications of sadness or mourning.
I wondered then, and I have wondered down the years, why no one pointed out that this is the Focolare approach and certainly not that of the gospel. Jesus was very much in touch with his emotions and did not shrink from showing them in public. In particular, he wept over Lazarus’ death, even though he must have known he had the power to raise him up.
This is surely the good, human reaction to the loss of a loved one. And here is the nub of the problem. What exactly is the nature of the love that Focolare preaches if it is so disembodied, so disincarnate, that it feels no reaction to the loss of someone one claims to have loved to the point of being ready to lay down ones life for them? In life, as in death, the reaction to the loss of close friends is remarkably cold – as in the case of members who leave the movement for example. Can real love be compatible with such a lack of feeling?
I have long been troubled that the gospel virtue of compassion was never mentioned in Focolare teachings. Yet we read that Jesus had compassion on the multitude and that he wept over the fate of Jerusalem. He even compared himself to a mother hen gathering her chicks: a more tender and emotion-filled image would be hard to find. Yet how can the focolarini be expected to ‘feel’ or ‘suffer’ with others if they mistrust feelings so much. I remember how, shortly after leaving Focolare, I was moved by a television programme or a film which made me weep for the first time in nearly ten years. My emotions had been released from their prison. How can we obey Jesus’ command to ‘Weep with those who weep’ if we are unable to weep ourselves? Rather than follow the stoical line of the movement, I prefer to follow the path that Jesus indicated: ‘Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.’
Gordon Urquhart [more on page 15]
A new startling story from one of our visitors:
This site is such a surprise. I was introduced to the movement in 1976, and I thought I had found “the answer” to all the pains of my childhood as well as to the unhappy circumstances of a bad marriage. The love of “Jesus Forsaken” as a means to accept imperfect life and still be able to love and contribute to God’s work, was a revelation I needed. The following 19 years with the movement was filled with ups and downs of joy and confusion and guilt. I believed with all my heart I was “living the Ideal” and yet, with my husband and with the members of the movement, I was never quite “good enough”. When I could not commit to an offering of money (the RED), because my controlling husband never gave me my own money, I was invited to talk to a Cappa Focolarina and it was “suggested” that I really did not have what it took to live the “difficult and demanding” life of a true married Focolarina. I was crushed. I attempted to live out the “Ideal” as a Volunteer, but never had a grappola, as I lived far from any Focolare community. I was pushed to get “members” to form one. Another Focolarina told me my “downfall” to living a vocation was to be my attachment to my husband and my analytical mind. I had always thought these would be good things to have. I began to doubt myself and my marriage. [ctd. below]
The erosion of my life was not caused by the Focolare, but this treatment certainly played a part in the confusion I was trapped in. When I found that my “attachment” to my husband was broken by the realization that my ability to function was compromised by the horrors in the marriage, I chose to leave my marriage to be able to live for my children, I explained this as well as I could to the people I have been “estranged” from the movement since my divorce in 1995. In spite of efforts to keep in touch, I also found that, I was no longer of interest when I couldn’t take the initiative to attend meetings, make calls, etc. I finally realized that it was fair to be “exiled”, although no one ever said it officially, since I was after all “living in sin.” A good friend of mine, who I actually introduced to the movement in 1983, has kept in touch, sporadically, at best. Even with her, I believed I had become “unclean” and ‘untouchable.” But, then I haven’t made an effort either. The years during and following my divorce and separation from the Catholic church were so painful and lonely, that I suffered clinical depression. Those who helped me with my children, my finances, and putting my life together, were NOT the Focolare family, and NOT the Catholic church, but those whom I least expected. “Belonging” to the movement when I was no longer capable of active participation, proved to be meaningless. I consoled myself with the thought that surely they would pray for me, and accepted my fate as my own fault for not continuing to “embrace Jesus Forsaken” through a painful, broken, damaging marriage.
So, my story is long, I have followed the movement at a distance, and once in awhile, when invited, participated in the few local activities. I have had 13 years to reflect upon it and to learn about myself, others, and God. I believe that Chiara is authentic and the writings of the early movement are solid. Someone here wrote that there is nothing “new” in Focolare, so why the New this and the New that. Well, it is about becoming “new” in Christ actually, and yeah…that is just basic Christianity. My trips to Rome, the many gatherings, including Mariapolises and visits to see Pope John Paul, building of Luminosa, taking my children to international gatherings, spending what money I had to fight my husband for to participate in things. And so much more has brought me much insight into faith and was definitely an instrument in my faith and spiritual development. So, I could only blame me.
What has haunted me, what I don’t understand to this day, is how it is Christian and/or Holy to abandon a “family member” when they are most in need. I realize that in my personal life, I became the face of Jesus Forsaken. Yet, I was not embraced, “always, immediately, and with joy.” In fact, I believe I was easily forgotten. I am not angry…..I am just hurting and don’t know how to heal from this. 12.
All people to whom young people turn in their quest, should feel their deep responsibility to offer their best life experience, but never make the young ones dependent on themselves or on any ideology – instead youngsters should be encouraged to think by themselves and look for their own conclusions and deductions, even somehow “pushed” to walk by themselves.
It has been a few weeks ago that I came across this unique website. Really, you are doing a great job. You show another side of the focolare that has not been revealed by other sources, only by Gordon Urquhart’s excellent book.
When I mailed my thoughts to the webmaster I got very good response and now I have contact with other people who have been involved in the movement. This is a great help. I’d like to thank everybody who has made this possible. If anybody is out there not knowing what to think of this website, I can only say, don’t hesitate but contact the webmaster. Share your ideas and you will see how life after focolare can also be good.
We all have the love of God in our hearts, nothing can change that. But we are not made to be alone. For me, it has been good to find new friends here who respect me, trust me, without trying to influence or manipulate me. Special thanks to a unique person in the web team who went through a great deal of trouble to make me understand things better.
A few of my best friends are living in a focolare, some of them even because at one time I have introduced them to the movement. Now I feel very sorry for them because they have lost all their privacy in order to live their Ideal of God-Love. I know it is their own free choice to do so, but I cannot understand why everybody has to pay such a high price for wanting to live the Word of God.
Chiara took the Gospel very literally, which was a great strength, but not everyone is as strong as she was. Many people break down under the pressure of living in a glass cage. I appeal to all the leaders of the Focolare to ease down a little, be more open minded and allow some privacy to the members of the Focolare.
In the end this openness will help to keep the Ideal alive. Think about it and you will see it is the decent thing to do.
The alternative site about Focolare has a great value. It has a duty to tell people that contact with this movement implies that you will have to accept a lot of rules that many sects use to obtain trust.
You can’t close your eyes in front of the techniques used by Focolare in order to keep you in and convince you not to express the reasonable doubts that could arise.
You should recognize them and then you could tell me if the Truth of Movement justifies those techniques. I don’t think so, but I could understand such a point of view. What’s your opinion?
Moreover, the value of this site is also the fact that it provides to many ex-members a VERY important place in which they can share their (often painful, like mine) experiences lived in Focolare.
Is there a happy life after focolare?
It certainly is possible but you have to find some solutions. If you know somebody from your region who has left try to spend time together and try to talk talk talk; you will be so amazed at what the other says, that they struggled with exactly the same things as you did.
I did the same I went for a walk with somebody I had know for a very long time; now for the first time I met her as she was; she had struggled with the same things but never ever we would have talked about that in our focolare period because then you would be out of the supernatural.
My dear friends we consist of a natural and supernatural part and should take care of both. As you will have lost all of your former focolare friends why not go on holiday together. Try to remember what you liked as a hobby before you entered focolare and take it up again. If you hurt too much go and seek help with a psychiatrist you don’t have money ask focolare if you have given your superfluous and insist on it that you need it. Be patient with yourself, in time you will find new friends, hobbies and a new aim in life. Take courage!
Recently we received many e-mails, both from people who encourage us and also from people that are very angry with this website. Now it is possible to write your opinion in the guestbook, but we also like to put some more questions on this site. We like to hear a reaction from the official Focolare movement, but also from people who are members or ex-members of this organization. The official Focolare leadership is especially invited to clarify their point of view.
1. Why do so many people in the focolare see the brainwashing and manipulation, and still continue to stay in the movement?
2. Why do so many people accept that the Focolare organization keeps all its financial dealings a secret?
3. Why do some Focolare people have expensive cars and beautiful houses, while others suffer?
4. Why is Loppiano more and more empty and why do so may people with eternal vows leave the movement?
In a recent verdict the Dutch High Court has prevented a focolarino to receive a tax-reduction. The Court ruled that a member of the Focolare is bound to give all his belongings and money to the Movement. This makes it impossible for him to use the same money claiming it is a free gift and receive a tax-deduction.
In our opinion this case proves once again that money is a most important issue for the Focolare people. Fortunately there are some officials yet who can see clearly what is right and what is just too much. For those of you who want to know every detail we put in the link: Focolare-verdict http://www.focolare.net/Uitspraak.mht
In our last count it turned out the international Focolare website has 800 web-pages now. They are overwhelming the net as well as the real world, with more drive than any international commercial company. It seems that those who run the organization these days have gone a long way from the humble beginning without a clear goal, like Chiara had at the start of the movement, some 60 years ago.
“There is a life after Focolare”
Welcome to our guestbook. On this page you will find some important contributions of our visitors.
If you like to add a new entry, please use the link Click to add a new entry
JM wrote: I never got so deep into this movement and as a scientist/student doctor was always sceptical…. Especially when a charismatic but dody focolarino told our gen meeting a ‘wonderful’ tale of a gen who chose to go to the gen meeting instead of his parents special wedding anniversary as that was the will of God… Please !!!! The alarm bells never stopped ringing after that…
….my deepest experience (albeit hideously superficial) was spending a student summer at Loppiano. Pretty much finished off my interest as so weird. Yet I did feel some peace and a sense of God then.
Went to a conference in Florence this autumn, and out of curiosity walked up from Incisa. Just to wander. I was horrified by the US $$ evangelist ‘church’ and centre, and obsessive attempts to show me round, give me a lift, show me artworks. Politely insisting I wanted to just reminisce alone and walk back wasn’t enough, they stuck like glue and I had to set off PDQ when no-one looking… and still got followed down the hill by a suicide love-bomber. I think God was with me as my rusty 15 year old unused Italian became quite fluent.
Focolare is a failed experiment, a cult, a dangerous remnant of 20th century Christianity and really should be wound down when we get a Pope who is in tune with the reality of the world.
Yvonne wrote: I left last week, after 37 years of intensive commitment. Now I undergo all kind of tentatives for “recuperation”, letters, emails, phone calls. It makes me feel guilty. I guess isolation will become the hardest thing if I keep my door close to these people whom I believed being friends for the longest part of my life. Tears and fears
Maria wrote: Dear Yvonne,
Yes, the isolation will be the hardest thing, because the calls etc will stop if they realize you’ve made up your mind. It will be hard. And you will have to go through a period of mourning for all those long years which I hope also have some good memories. But remember, there is a life after focolare, there is the church at large peopled with normal people, not saints, but those are real. Think of Resurrection time…it will come for you too, with a finding of your own real identity, strong in the knowledge from a quoting in the Old Testament “even if a mother forgets her child, I will never forget you”
Marcel wrote: Dear Yvonne
Can you tell us more why you left? A person who has been committed for 37 years and has got to know the movement quite well must have a serious reason to quit. It is easy to imagine what you must feel now. I left 12 years ago after 12 years of commitment and I still sometimes feel kind of guilty.
However I can assure you there is life after focolare Social life, familiar life and spiritual life as well! You finally get to know better what catholic faith is about, you can know its beautiful tradition without the “communitarian spirituality” bias.
Michelle wrote: As a non-catholic Christian I am offended to be invited. To quote the brochure- The movement, which originates in the Catholic Church, includes Christians, members of other religions, and people of no religious conviction, all of whom are committed to bringing about a world in which there is more solidarity, more unity. In fact at the retreats having a Catholic Eucharist daily doesn’t encourage Christian unity at all. It’s clique-ish and non biblical.
I would also not be interested in any “movement” which does not disclose all financial information. If this is true I wouldn’t send a dime.
Lucy wrote: I think this movement has the potential to lead to moral relativism, and confusion. I hope the pope puts more oversite into this organization. The people I know in it can only parrot: Jesus prayed for us to be one. My Answer: Not at the price of apostasy from the TRUTH!! The people I know in this don’t really think for themselves, it is all focolare this and that. They have about all the charm of an AMWAY salesman.
I am not involved in the Focolare movement anymore, although nearly my whole family is.
Yesterday my mother told me that a young man, who was in Focolare in our town, died. Several years ago he told God he can take his life in exchange for solving problems that occurred in that time in the male part of the Focolare movement in our country. Three years ago he really got sick and he died the day before yesterday. People from the Movement would say – oh, what a wonderful young man, he offered his life for others. But I ask – for whom is it good that this young man died? Does God need the suffering to introduce changes into problem situations? I do not believe it. The scientists discover more and more how powerful can the soul/mind influence our body.
I would even say that from certain perspective it is easier to suffer and die than to live and “fight”.
molly wrote: Hello Marushka
What an excellent point you make. I was impressed when I first “met the movement” at the people who claimed they were “willing to die for me.” Quite a shock to hear someone say that, but at a shallow level, that is sometimes the manipulative purpose. It’s hard to keep in mind what the original purpose was and how that came about. I find balance in always going back to the beginning of ANY thing and remembering the basic ABC’s. 14.
But back to your statement. For me, what I found disappointing, and continue to find disappointing, is that I can not find (well, not 100% true, but close)…I can not find anyone willing to LIVE for me. Do you know what I mean? I mean a quick phone call or short message. I wonder sometimes if I continue to get the silent treatment, or if the world has just changed to where we are all so busy just trying to keep up, living in a world of information overload, toxic overload, and just too much of everything and too little energy.
Wouldn’t that be a kick for them to update what has become a cliché to now say, “I am willing to live for you.” Of course, who would be willing to do that? Perhaps we could begin with, “I am willing to live for you for 5 minutes”? How might the outcome have been different for your sensitive friend.
But regarding suffering, I do also add that to offer our sufferings for a good cause has its merits if one has a (wince) healthy attitude towards it. For example, perhaps lame, if I am depressed or in physical pain, and I offer it for someone or a cause, consciously, it puts my focus off of myself and towards my neighbor. And at times we can both benefit.
Well, that’s my two cents, not well thought out, because my husband is cooking bacon and I can smell it. Thank you for your post! I am sure you will hear something perhaps with more depth from the others.
I am moving deeper and deeper into this movement. At present I feel myself to be objective, I recognize the questionable and difficult aspects of the movement and I am concerned for myself. At the same time, I have never been accepted so unconditionally and unequivocally in my life. Your site is helping me to be sure to remain grounded, but for how long, I do not know. I’m afraid to leave my email address because I know I may be recognized.
your letter left me sad and concerned for you. I have seen quite a few times in my life how people, even extremely smart ones, “give their reason up” for some organization, including Focolare. In this struggle and influenced decision, there is nothing to do with person’s level of intellect, and everything to do with the emotions.
At this moment, you are still at your senses, but as you realize and fear, it may not take long until you will “break” under the pressure, and accept the things you are wondering now. And this would be a great loss, because by the words of Antoine de St. Exupery, “I know only one freedom, and that is the freedom of the mind”. You are at the brink to give your freedom up, perhaps for long years – and it would take long to get it back, while you can also lose a lot in the meantime. People’s real stories with Focolare could be a good warning for you, as it also seems to be, thanks to this website.
What is happening to you now, when you feel that “I have never been accepted so unconditionally and unequivocally in my life”, is a deliberate technique called “love bombing”, that is used by many if not all mind-controlling organizations (incl. new religious movements of that kind). The newcomer finds her/himself in the centre of a constant attention, smiles, seeming acceptance, love affirmations, sharing of interests, apparent “soul-mates” and “kindred minds”… It is very hard to resist, especially if one is in a life situation where there are big changes, insecurity, losses, vulnerability of some kind, spiritual/mental identity-quest etc (is this also your case?). The Apologetics Index http://www.apologeticsindex.org defines it as “The practice of some cultic movements to shower new recruits or prospects with extra love and attention. Seen by many as an unethical persuasion tactic designed to hinder critical thinking regarding the pros and cons of joining or remaining with the group”. You can read about this for instance on:
In neuropsychological aspect, a Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Hans Breiter says: “Some people seem to be born with vulnerable dopamine systems that get hijacked by social rewards.” This is what is happening to you now, and it seems wonderful, but in reality “the “love” is feigned and the practice is manipulative”.
Btw, I’m not stating, that those in Focolare who “love-bomb” you right now, are aware of what they are doing. An average focolare-member is just carrying on the practice that was once applied on her/himself… perhaps even in the best intention – but not rendering account to oneself, what s/he is doing and whether it is honest or a manipulation. Those on this web space, who have went through Focolare and being involved in its recruiting systems, can tell you all about how they themselves did it, and how sincere they were while doing this.
For your own sake, I hope cordially that you will be able to see these things through, give a name to your uncomfortable feelings and intuitions, and step back while you still can. Keeping one’s freedom of mind and capability to conduct one’s own life, is worth all the losses, or “losses”. And there is nothing to do with rejecting God, because you can certainly love and serve God better and more sincerely, if you are a free mind and free soul but not just an anonymous particle of some group where always “someone knows better, what is the will of God and what is good for you”.
As for now, I cordially suggest you to read some books, that will give to you an insight of what are your perspectives, if you let yourself to be overwhelmed and persuaded to hand over your life to a mind-controlling group, whether Focolare or some else. Make your decisions only after you are well informed what you are doing. I know, that it can be hard, because the lure of the “loving group” is very strong. But there is all your life at stake, that is too precious thing, and you can never regain the years that you will lose being “inside”, that in fact could be spent productively and creatively for yourself and for the others/society. In a restrictive and controlling group, your unique life can become wasted.
I hope you have the possibility to use Amazon or some other bookstore. I include here the Amazon links for just some books, that will help you to make some sense of what is happening to you. If you are in Europe, the same books can sometimes be found in other languages. I try to place them in the order of importance. But even just the first one is already probably enough to bring you to your senses. 15.
Start from here:
Margaret Thaler Singer – Cults in Our Midst
Janja Lalich – Take Back Your Life
Steven Hassan – Releasing The Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves
Steven Hassan – Combating Cult Mind Control
Michael Langone – Recovery from Cults
Robert Cialdini – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Last but apparently no least – I hope you have already read Gordon Urquhart’s book about Focolare (along with the other New Religious Movements in the Catholic Church):
After reading the book of Margaret Thaler Singer, the book of Urquhart should be your solid source of proof, that most part of the phenomenon she mentions, are well present and fervently used also by Focolare (yes, also and still nowadays, even if you have been told that “these things don’t happen any more). And this is why this movement can not really be recommended to anybody.
I can only pray for you, and keep you in my heart, hoping that at least this one personality would not be destroyed and one life would not go wasted, as it has happened to many before you, and will still happen to many. If you want to contact me or somebody, write to the webteam of this site – you can create an anonymous mail account for this. We will do our best to help you, if this is what you want. I wish you all my best.
P.S. For those, who read Italian, the book of Thaler Singer is translated and available in full on the Web. Very recommended reading for everyone, inside or outside (still or already) of Focolare.
Thank you for your comments, both Fred and Deanna, it means a lot to know that there is a place in which one can reach out… I am from a troubled family background- I guess that makes me vulnerable to a lot of things. I have never had to explain myself to the people of the Focolare- but sometimes I’d like it if, just once, they’d ask me to. Thanks again. Claire
A recommended book about Focolare
The Pope’s Armada: Unlocking the Secrets of Mysterious and Powerful New Sects in the Church (Hardcover)
~ Gordon Urquhart
Gordon Urquhart (Author)
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(Author) Hardcover: 450 pages Publisher: Prometheus Books; 2nd edition (June 1999)
Language: English ISBN-10: 157392699X ISBN-13: 978-1573926997
Of the several right-wing Catholic organizations that have gained influence in the Roman Church during the reign of Pope John Paul II, Opus Dei is by far the most famous. There are several others, however and Gordon Urquhart’s The Pope’s Armada is a detailed, firsthand look at the inner workings of three such organizations: Focolare, Neocatechumenate, and Communion and Liberation.
For nine years, Urquhart belonged to Focolare, whose 80,000 core members live in 1,500 dioceses around the world. He left in 1976 and has since devoted himself to exposing what he now calls the “sinister characteristics” of the focolare. Urquhart summarizes their features this way: “the personality cult of the leader; a hidden but rigid hierarchy; a highly efficient internal communications system; secret teachings revealed in stages; a vast recruitment operation using sect-like techniques; indoctrination of members; and boundless ambitions for influence in church and society.” Of greatest concern to Urquhart is another goal of the focolare: “ego-destruction, causing depression and mental breakdown on an alarming scale.”
God’s Armada contains many damning stories about its subjects, but none more so than the stories of young people who give up their greatest loves, ambitions, and possessions in slavish devotion to their sect leaders. “Catholic critics of the new movements maintain that the Pope cannot know what is going on within the movements, otherwise he would not allow them such a free hand,” Urquhart writes. He allows that this may be true, but he also raises some disturbing questions: “Have [Vatican leaders] concluded that their own supreme ends … justify [these groups’] strong-arm techniques…? Could the Pope have had this in mind when he conferred special status on lay Catholics who joined the movements, ‘which are a privileged channel for the formation and promotion of an active laity that is aware of its role in the Church and in the world’?” –Michael Joseph Gross
A must read book for every catholic!, July 28, 2000 by “A customer”
As Urquhart I was member of the Focolare Movement, for 11 years. The horror experiences and extreme manipulation of the focolarini and the thirst for power in Chiara is a really dangerous “carisma” inside the church, they are millions, there have money, they are all over the world (in the poor village of brasil and africa and inside the congress of the United Nations, Italy, Brasil, Europe Union…, they want the world to be one… but under their control… The Focolare movement is probably the most dangerous structure inside our contemporary world… as Chiara said “one day, the church (the Catholic church) will wake up and everything around and inside will be focolarini”
This book is a great “open eyes” tool to understand how the devil can seduce the souls using nice words, videos, meetings, meditation, prayers.
Important reading for Catholics and others, April 11, 2001 by William Kirk
Now I ought to say that, if you’re an anticatholic you will find ‘ammunition’ in this book. That is to be regretted. Because the author raises the distinct possibility that Roman Catholicism as we know it may soon cease to exist, and THAT ought to be a concern for everyone. Everyone, that is, opposed to a ‘fundamentalist’ sect of Christianity. A fundamentalist Catholicism is in fact what is being promulgated by the Focolinari, the Neocatechumenate, and other appendages of the ‘Pope’s Armada’. The author suggests, but unfortunately, cannot prove, that John Paul II WANTS to promote these sects as a counterweight to the rising power of fundamentalist protestantism. One readily sees the danger, because the resources of the Catholic Church dwarf those of any Protestant fundamentalist sect. In contradistinction to the first reviewer, I think the Focolinari, as oftentimes said, are a kind of ‘Moonies’, and so, for the most part, ignorable, if not exactly harmless, as long as you can muster reserves of self-determination so as not to be subverted into their cult. The neocatechumenate, however, come off a great deal more sinister, almost violent, certainly they seek to compel obedience in any diocese which they ‘infect’. And secretive. I think these guys are worth keeping an eye on.
Not easy to get through, but most interesting reading, January 11, 2003 by mianfei
The Pope’s Armada” was written by Gordon Urquhart about several right-wing sects in the Roman Catholic Church, including one, Focolare, that he had been in for some time during his youth. There is also a study of Communione e Liberazione (CL) and Neocatechumenate (NC). It aims to discuss the support that John Paul II has given these groups because of their theological conservatism and the opposition others in the Church have to them because of their interference with ecclesiastical affairs.
The book is very effective in explaining how “During the reign of John Paul II, Catholic Rome has been invaded by wave upon wave of groups and movements of all sizes and shades…” in order to illustrate the impacts of these groups on the Catholic Church. Their fanaticism and willingness to follow Catholic doctrine in key political and theological arenas made John Paul II see them as more than useful. This led him to confer special status on these movements and to see them as a definitive model for laity in the Church. Thus, the Pope selected of many members of these groups – vastly out of proportion to their numbers – for the 1987 Synod on the Laity.
Urquhart is exceedingly effective in showing the characteristics of these movements that make them cults, especially in terms of the way in which their founders are adored and the way in which they are seen as being the whole of Catholicism by members.
Urquhart also manages to go into dense detail about how these groups have been opposed by parish priests and bishops because of their desire to appeal straight to the Pope. This is because they want to use any form of authority only to justify their own causes – indeed bishops can be recruits for these groups. In the case of NC, they want total domination of parishes. This part is hard to read, but has some effect in explaining the depth of this divide.
Urquhart is much clearer about explaining how these groups are able to use the media to develop their views through journals like CL’s “30 Giorni” (30 Days). He later does aim to show how they move news easily amongst members, and how they have been able to expand a great deal (except for CL, which has focused heavily on Italy).
Urquhart also explains fairly easily their hierarchical structures and how the lives of members “are controlled down to the last detail” (as he experienced). He also looks at the rather unclear way in which the movements justify the neo-ultramontanism which has been revived under John Paul II, and believes that these organisations will provide the popes of the future.
The later part of the book is focused on the sects’ political involvement, which is what endeared them to John Paul. The sects, naturally, tend to allow members to vote only for politicians who support their own doctrine, despite the fact that they do claim to allow political freedom to their members. Like Opus Dei, these sects are very wealthy and in the case of Neocatechumenate, actively encourage accumulation. Focolare, by contrast, does not allow private property, but this has lead it to become extremely wealthy due to vast donations of members, the bulk of which goes towards expansion.
Urquhart is extremely clear that these Catholic sects are extremely dangerous and that even now there is no way they can be stopped due to the fact that changes in policy are very unlikely – indeed I would go so far as to say that intensification of John Paul II’s policies is certain to continue through the next series of Popes. There is little doubt that these movements have a rosy future and it is not likely that many will be easily informed of the danger in them, especially given the Pope’s power and his support – though Urquhart does admit he would like to see it. 17.
On the whole, an essential read to see where the Catholic Church is heading.
It would be better if the book were broken down into a much larger number of chapters or if each sect (CL, Focolare, NC) was treated separately from the others so that one could study and compare them. As it is, I find the book absorbing but unstructured. Written in a stop-start fashion and without any structure, this will take a great deal of time to absorb.
sad to say, but this book is a joke, October 6, 2003 by Father Stanislao
When I ordered the book I was very excited. I wanted to know what he had to say about these movements. I was born and lived in Italy and, in a way or another, I came in contact with all three movements. I now live in USA where I minister as a Roman Catholic Priest. At first, I was surprised that he said nothing about Opus Dei; I realize that it doesn’t fit under the category of movement (although the word Armada would apply in this situation).
The author is very verbose in his description. It is interesting to notice how many “negative” adjectives he has used. There is a lot of anger in these pages. I would say that he had a thesis (the Movements are sects) and a hidden Agenda (“Focolare hurt me and I want to hurt Focolare”).
The major flaw of this book, I believe, is found in the editing. It’s badly put together. True, the author is not a scholar but a journalist; still, I would expect some logic in defending a thesis.
There is no description of what a sect is; nothing is given to the reader upon which, and against which, he or she (the reader) may evaluate the author’s thesis. Sources (mostly organizations that studied religious cults) are mentioned sporadically and only when his point needs to be supported. This is call “prooftexting.” It is usually avoided by scholars because it invalidates the strength of their argument. Mostly, the rule is “if you proof text, your argument doesn’t stand on its on.”
Because blinded by his Hidden Agenda, the author seems to ignore that Movements like Focolare belong to a tradition that he bigger, larger and deeper than he seems to see. The problem the author has is his lack of evaluating the spiritual points within the boundaries of the Catholic Tradition. Had he done so, he would have been surprised at the parallels between these movements and others that the Church has seen in years/century pasts. Nothing is said about the spirituality of the Movement but only about the “bad things” they do. All these “bad” things are given to the reader freely and without order, almost as a stream of consciousness. (It is very natural for people who have been hurt to cope with themselves in this way).
Everything that he says – in the way he says it – could be applied to anything else in the Catholic Church. The author could write another book about the Franciscans, Jesuits and Dominicans by using the same text (well, most of it anyway) and just substitute the words. This casual way of treat the subject of the work impoverishes the whole thesis.
Posting a review here doesn’t allow me to go into details but it really makes me sad when people transform their arguments into “talk shows.” This is another book that has been written to make money (like “a few good men,” which is, in my opinion, even worst). I do not doubt the experience the author had, and I do not wish to minimize them; I also know very well the problems that NC has caused in many parishes (I would not allow them in my parish!) just as I have seen that some focolarini can indeed put themselves in danger to become too lost in the Chiara-cult. All this, however does not discredit the spiritualities of the Movements.
The book will not help anyone who really wants to know the shadows of these realities (as I wanted to). On the other hand, it is great for “talk-show” mentalities – very popular here in the US.
Interesting perspective, August 31, 2004 by Tracy B. Hummel
I find it rather amusing that the author portrays these movements as “right-wing”. In fact, in some important ways they are quite radical.
Focolare’s focus is unity, but what does that mean? Unity in the one true Church of Jesus Christ? Unity in Christ Himself? No! Unity in a nebulous humanistic sense. The Catholic Church has always been focussed on the salvation of souls through conversion to Jesus Christ and the Church He founded.
The Focolare seems almost to positively discourage conversion to the Catholic Church. There’s a lot of pious talk, but where’s the missionary spirit of a St. Francis Xavier or of a St. Paul for that matter? Don’t get me wrong, I think these people are sincere and the Catholics among them seem to believe in the major dogmas of the Church, except perhaps for the one that says “outside the Church, no salvation”.
As far as the cult thesis goes, I think there is probably some truth in it, but I also think the author exaggerates. They do seem to run their members ragged with activities and I definitely think there is a “cult-of-the-leader” tendency, although as the priest in another review pointed out, one would probably say that about the early Franciscans or Jesuits or Dominicans.
The thing that disturbs me about them is not their fundamentalism but their radical break with the traditional teachings of the Church in the areas of evangelization and ecclesiology. [Underlined words, see p. 1]
This book is laughable, March 4, 2009 by “critic”
I was really shocked at the amount of false information contained in this book. It seems as though the author was trying to make a statement at all costs, rather than presenting everything with a balanced perspective. If you do decide to base your opinion of these groups based upon this book, that would be tragic – it is necessary to take all of Urquhart’s expositions with a very large grain of salt. 18.
Quotes from people who wrote to us
My name is René and I came into contact with the Focolare in 1979 in Australia. I was then 17 years of age and living with my family. My father was searching at that time for some form of meaningful Christian community to belong to. I met a handful of focolarini and attended a few mini-Mariapoli days. Some of the gen 2 boys were renting a house (the “Gen House”) and I used to travel up on some weekends to visit and stay overnight.
After completing secondary school in 1980 I visited my relatives in Ireland, and also stayed for some weeks in Loppiano. When I returned to Australia, I lived for 2 years in Brisbane and did not have any contact with Focolare. I became involved with and lived in a “Catholic Worker” community (inspired by the lives of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in New York).
In 1983 I lived in a “Gen House” until August 1986. During those years I also attended some Mariapoli in Manila. I then stayed for a few months in Rome at the international Gen House near Grottaferrata within the domain of the focolarino “Opus”. I proceeded to live in the Gen School at Loppiano for a further 6 months and on my way home, I stopped off to experience life with the Gen and focolarini of Manila and Tagaytay for 3 months in mid 1987.
Within a year of returning from these intense experiences, I expressed a desire to become a focolarino. I lived together in a rented house together with a few other “esterni” for a few years. In late 1990 I moved into a focolarini household for a few months before returning to Loppiano again in January 1991.
Together with other prospective focolarini who were not able to speak Italian, I spent 12 months learning the language before entering the first year of “The School” of focolarini in 1991/2. I completed the second year in Montet in 1992/3 but was experiencing depressive symptoms and was asked to stay another year. Over the course 1993/4 I was offered the opportunity of talking with psychiatrist Dr Paul Schmidt, a focolarino in Zurich. I found the life at Montet so stifling that in September 1994 I asked for a ticket to return to Australia.
I stayed in focolare for a month until I found myself an apartment and employment. I lived alone. I was estranged from both my family and the focolare community. After about a year I suffered a major depressive episode and stopped working for a year.
Ten years ago, in August 1996, at the age of 35, I began to go out with a woman, who I married in December 2000. I now have 4 step-children. Last year, the two boys (25 and 21 years old) and the eldest girl (23) moved out of home. Our youngest girl is 16 years old.
I am finding life “on the outside” to be challenging and rewarding as I struggle with mental illness. After a few years of marriage and some limited capacity in a role as step-parent, stress at work contributed to further episodes of major depressive disorder and over another year out of work.
I have just started to return to work a few months ago in the field of “Personal Support” (a program of assistance to people experiencing long-term unemployment). For 10 years, up until a few months ago, I had avoided any kind of work directly associated with caring for others.
Having read Gordon’s book, I am also eager to find and talk with others who have undergone such intense experiences and to put together some of the pieces of the puzzle which remains in my mind, heart, spirit and body.
May these lines bring a blessing to your reading of them in some way. René
Focolare Movement: Lights and Shadows
http://focolarenet.tripod.com/questions.html Last update: February 4th, 2008
Questions and answers
Who are the people making this site and why are you doing this? (from: Miguel, 18 years, Madrid)
Answer, by webmaster:
We are a few people only, a handful of ex members of the focolare. We have been surprised by the fact that underneath the message of love that is transmitted by the focolare, there is also a kind of deception present. It seems that some focolare members believe that their goal can justify many different means. It is our task to share this view with as many people as possible. Until now, most people who left the focolare have been on their own, alone with their past, but now we see a growing number of people united around a common belief that focolare is very much like other cults and sects in the world (Moon sect, Jehovah’s Witnesses, New Age etc). We cannot keep quiet about this.
What goal do you aim for? (from Renata, 23 years, Rome)
Answer, by webmaster:
Everybody should be free to join any group, sect or organization they like, but it is essential that a person knows what he or she agrees to when joining an organization. We have seen that many young people in a vulnerable period of their life join the focolare without really knowing what they stand for. The way that focolare uses to increase the number of their members is sometimes deceptive and we want to make people aware of this, before they make a decision whether or not to join this organization.
Open Question, asked by many visitors of this site:
What is the deception you are talking about?
Answer, by webmaster:
There is deception in very many ways. To clarify this, we can point at the book A Woman’s Work written by Jimmy Gallager in 1997. Let us give you a few examples.
Even the title of Jimmy s book is deceptive, stating it is about a woman’s work while suggesting this is Chiara Lubich. 19.
All through the book it is being stated that it is not Chiara s doing but the work of Mary and the finger of God. This contradiction makes the book confusing from the very start. The terminology of the Focolare organization is also very deceptive. Everything is called new, New City, New Generation, New Families, while in fact the thoughts are as old and conservative as any other catholic organization. Chiara receives many letters from the Pope and visits him on a regular basis. She has also close ties to the Vatican and Italian establishment. She receives numerous doctorates of honour but all from conservative universities like Poland, Philippines and even Taiwan. There is as much new in this as there was democracy in the former Deutsche Demokratische Republik.
The other great deception is the fact that Chiara keeps telling us that she had no plan in mind for a movement, she only wanted to follow God. This makes life hard for those people who want to object to the movement or the methods that are being used because God himself has started the movement while Chiara only wanted to follow Jesus. This statement is greatly contradicted by other statements like Jimmy Gallagers remark that Anna Fratta spent 30 years of her life in countries of the Communist Bloc in order to implant the movement secretly there. Chiara also send her best friend Natalia to live in Berlin in 1960, just before the Wall was erected. In 1961 Enzo Fondi and Guisseppe Santache were also sent to Leipzig, all in order to start the movement in the Communist Bloc.
Note: This is not the official Focolare website. The information on our website reflects the personal views and opinions of the webmasters and the visitors of this website. We thank everybody for the many encouraging reactions. Please feel free to write to us; we have taken every possible precaution to guarantee your privacy and confidentiality.
The main goal of this website is not to criticise the Focolare but to help people.
We try to do this in 3 ways:
1. Information and counselling for people who are part of the Focolare or the Gen movement
2.Understanding and friendship for people who have left the Focolare
3. Information for new members or people who are thinking about joining the Focolare
This website does not repeat the information given on the official Focolare website. We give our own thoughts and impressions and are independent of the Focolare organization.
We are working hard to translate our website to other languages like Italian, Spanish, German and Dutch. We would also like to improve the visual appearance of our website. Because we are still a small group, we could use some help. Please if anybody has some time, contact us at email@example.com.
Every offer will be seriously considered.
Focolare Movement: Lights and Shadows
Recently we received many e-mails, both from people who encourage us and also from people that are very angry with this website. Now it is possible to write your opinion in the guestbook, but we also like to put some more questions on this site. We like to hear a reaction from the official Focolare movement, but also from people who are members or ex-members of this organisation. The official Focolare leadership is especially invited to clarify their point of view. All reactions will be published. Please mail us your reactions to the questions below (and also any other questions or opinions).
Why is there no democratic leadership in the Focolare movement?
Why does the Focolare organisation keep all their financial dealings as secretly as possible?
Why do many Focolare people have expensive cars and beautiful houses?
Is it true that Focolare recruits from people in vulnerable situations like young children and people who are having a difficult period in life?
Question of the month, by Lionello, from Florence, Italy:
“Could you tell me the difference between the focolare and Opus Dei?”
Answer, by webmaster:
Opus Dei only wants to take charge of the Catholic Church while the people of the Focolare would also like to take charge of the rest of the world. As Chiara always reminded her followers of the Scripture: Blessed are the meek, for they shell inherit the earth. Focolare is working to put people in responsible positions within the Catholic Church like Cardinal Vik but also in the Italian political arena, in the economic field, at the United Nations through the cover of New Humanity.
[Rest as in the above reproduction]
Maria Voce, new president of the Focolare Movement
On July 7th  a new president of the Focolare Movement has been elected, Maria Voce, 70 years old and a lawyer by profession. As such she has been involved in the design of the statutes of the movement. We hope that she will find the wisdom and the courage to develop and implement the changes in the structures that are necessary in order to comfort de suffering of many people inside and outside the movement. We also hope that her involvement in the making of the statutes will not prevent or impede her ability and her desire to changes what is not working to the benefit of the people involved in the movement. This website will continue to monitor the development of the movement and we are open for a transparent dialogue. 20.
In light of the recent new developments in different zones of the movement, the web team has decided to close the forum for the time being. Also it was necessary modify our guestbook. We will soon give you more information and we hope to re-open the forum again soon. You can always mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We apologize for the inconvenience.
NEW FORM AND CONTENTS
Just as a person grows and changes, a website like this also changes. The website is now more than seven years in the air and most of the growing pains are gone. The makers of this site now have a more clear vision on the goal of the site and the needs of the reader. After Chiara Lubich passed away many people came in contact with us and that has given us even more insight in the methods of the Focolare movement and the best way to cope. Presently all together a big group of men and women who were active in the movement for many years have left the Focolare, with pain in their hearts. People who have for years lived in the Focolare have written us and visited us. But who are we? We are people who spent years in the Focolare and now are on our own. We have ourselves experienced how important it is to be able to share and talk to someone who really understands. We bring people together in a safe way, without any loss of freedom of action and with respect for integrity and privacy. We never tell anyone who you are, where you live or your name. If you want to tell anything you do it in your own time in your own way.
What we can tell is that at this point a lot of people from Scandinavia, England, Argentina, America, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands and other countries are in contact with us. We hear personal stories but they have also things in common. People who have finally, after years, regained their freedom and they are happy. They tell about lack of freedom and manipulation in the Focolare movement and how this is structural and not due to single persons who have not understood “the Ideal”. We hear that faith in God is possible, even more now that nobody calls from Rome every day to disturb the communication with God. Many say that it was necessary to leave the movement to be able to really live as a Christian and to follow Jesus.
The time after Focolare is difficult but it helps if you can talk to people who have gone through or go through the same process. That is why we invite you to take contact with us, anonymously if you like, through email email@example.com or our guestbook. Your story will not be published on the site, even if you presently can read a lot of personal stories on the website. What you mail us stays confidential and will never be published without your consent. Together we can discover how to pick up our own lives when we, after years within the Focolare movement, are again free and in charge of our daily life and future.
In different zones of the movement there have been recent new developments. We see many people leave the movement because they can no longer participate in the destruction of people by means of taking their individuality away. We understand that this brings much pain and suffering and we hope that those who leave the movement can find consolation and understanding in having contact with the makers of this website.
The main goal of this website [http://www.focolare.net] is to help people understand the Focolare for what it really is. We try to do this in several ways:
1. Information and counseling for people who are feeling unfree or manipulated because they are part of the Focolare or the Gen movement
2. Understanding and friendship for people who have left the Focolare
3. A warning for people who are thinking about joining the Focolare
This website does not repeat the information given on the official Focolare website. We give our own thoughts and impressions and are independent of the Focolare organization.
We are working hard to translate our website to other languages like Italian, Spanish, German and Dutch. We would also like to improve the visual appearance of our website. Because we are still a small group, we could use some help. Please if anybody has some time, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every offer will be seriously considered.
NOTE: This is not an official Focolare website. The information on our website reflects the personal views and opinions of the webmasters and the visitors of this website. We thank everybody for the many encouraging reactions. Please feel free to write to us; we have taken every possible precaution to guarantee your privacy and confidentiality.
FROM TRADITIONALIST WEB SITES
1. FOCOLARE 18.11.2006
*Traditionalists reject, among other things, the ‘charismatic renewal’.
The Focolare Movement seeks a One World Religion based on the “spirituality of unity” of its members.
What kind of spirituality is that when the membership includes thousands of non-Catholics, non-Christians such as Muslims and Buddhists?
Focolare is headed by its founder Chiara Lubich. The founder Chiara Lubich is highly revered because of her private ‘revelations.’ These revelations have binding authority for the movement and seen as “Jesus in the midst.” The private revelations of Lubich is the mechanism that controls and holds the members together.
Bands, dances, personal testimonies, loud cheering, feverish emotion are characteristics of focolare.
The monastic community in Bose is mixed; with members from both sexes. Non-Catholics, a Swiss Reformed pastor, two Protestants, and a former archbishop now Orthodox monk have full membership there.
Focolare is a sect.
There is a support site for Focolare and ex-Focolare members: here
People from 98 countries came together for Chiara Lubich launching the “Volunteers for God” (a branch of the Focolare Movement) in a spectacular celebration in Budapest, September 2006.
“…in a message from Chiara in which she also explained that, if those living in a Focolare centre are like a ‘soul’, nurturing the ideal of unity, the Volunteers are the ‘body’, fully engaged with the world, in every aspect of life, yet committed to bringing the divine wherever they are.” @
And I suppose the “soul” is Lubich herself…
The Focolare movement is BIG in Europe! How big? So big there is cause for concern. And the Czechs are not amused. Well… not all of them.
Here is a letter written by three priests, Fr. Eliáš A. Dohnal ThD. OSBM, Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk ThLic. OSBM, and Fr. Metoděj R. Špiřík ThD. OSBM*.
*Order of St. Basil the Great, of the Greek-Catholic Church
It was sent to His Holiness Benedict XVI and to Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare movement, dated in Pidhirtsi, on the 7th of April 2006. Translated from original:
2. The Inculturated Mass: Forerunner of the Abomination Unto Desolation?
Cornelia R. Ferreira
Talk given at the CFN*
Conference, Los Angeles. Feast of Christ the King, October 25, 2009 *Catholic Family News
EXTRACT: We already have basic Christian communities and ecclesial movements like Focolare that are their own church enjoying papal support.
3. World Youth Day – From Catholicism to CounterChurch
http://www.canisiusbooks.com/wyd.htm Cornelia R Ferreira and John Vennari
A thorough expose of Focolare, the “reincarnation” of Sillonism and the inspiration for World Youth Day. Shows how this influential “Catholic” group funnels [Free]Masonic principles into the Church, leading Catholics into the New World Order as members of the Counterchurch.
FROM THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX GREEK-CATHOLIC WEB SITE
1. Declaration: Letter to Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church Part I 7.4.2006
Public opinion on the Focolare movement is even in the highest Church circles very positive.
The Focolare is seen by many as a renewal and a model of the tomorrow Church. Unfortunately, the reality is different. Two papal authorizations from the past were gained by a cheat as it was kept in silence that there was a different gospel, a different spirit and different Christ (cf. 2Cor 11:4) there.
A) Diagnosis of the roots of Focolare
B) Focolare rule in the Czech Republic
C) Reform in the Czech Republic
THE TRUE FACE OF THE FOCOLARE
Diagnosis of the roots of Focolare
In the entrance hall of the Mariapoli Centre there was an unusual notice hanging: Bhakti, way of love. Unity with God and universal brotherhood of Hinduism and Christianity (New City 10/2002).
Another article mentions that Chiara received several doctorates of honour from Hinduists and Buddhists whereat she is also speaking about so-called unity and so-called love. What is one to say as for true love and unity with God?
In Hinduism there is not one Highest God, they have a plenty of gods with small g (demons). What kind of god or deity is it with which Christianity, according to Chiara, is to make unity?
Chiara L. has established a so-called prem-yoga (foco-yoga), which is a fruit of the spiritual syncretism of the Focolare movement. She pronounced that during her meditation with Hinduists she had experienced spiritual vibrations. In Hinduism god is not a person but only some kind of vibration.
In case this “vibratile spirit”, which Chiara Lubich received, has penetrated into the whole Focolare movement which she founded and leads, then it is necessary to publicly repent of it! (see Four Words from Ukraine, http://www.community.org.ua)
Many of those who left the Focolare movement give shocking testimonies. The ex-members of Focolare studied the analysis by G.A. Galanti Ph.D. who investigated into the Moon’s sect, a so-called Unification Church (Church of unity), and in their study they came to a conclusion that over 10 different techniques of so-called ‘brainwashing’ are used not only by the Moon’s sect but also by the Focolare movement. 22.
These techniques have been described by R. J. Lifton in his book “Study of Brainwashing”.
The founder of the Focolare movement Chiara Lubich receives the Rotary award of the Tridentine Alto Adige Südtirol 2001. The Rotary Club is closely related with Freemasons. A Rotary representative Mr. Mattarolo says: “We have similar aims… we also want unity” (New City 9/2001).
Which are those similar aims and what kind of unity is it that the Focolare movement and this organization have in common?
In Focolare one comes across a confusion of terms, confusion of truth, confusion of spirit. Because of a false love and unity, sin is not called as sin and truth as truth, therefore Jesus cannot be here as the only and exclusive Saviour and the only way to salvation! Here we have to do with a hidden spirit of the New Age inside the Catholic Church.
The tactics of Focolare is to flee from a direct confrontation with the truth, to mask heresies and by means of phrases and psychological manipulation remove those who point at them. In this covert fight every bishop of the Catholic Church has a responsibility to warn in his diocese against this latent and guileful spirit of Jezebel.
Thereby we are publicly calling the founder of the Focolare movement Chiara Lubich, all bishops, priests, religious as well as believers who are members of this movement, for public repentance!
Focolare rule in the Czech Republic [Focolare Cardinal M. Vlk]
In 2002 the Focolarine Cardinal M. Vlk by help of state authorities de facto liquidated the Catholic Theological Faculty in Prague. The faithful Catholic professors were dismissed: Fr. V. Wolf Prof. ThD., Fr. J. Polc Prof. ThD. and others. Now there are already heresies officially preached here and immorality propagated. In 2005 a certain student was twice failed by the examiners in his final exams in dogmatic and moral theology because on the base of the Holy Scripture and Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357-59 he said that homosexuality is a sin.
In 2003 Cardinal M. Vlk and Cardinal A. Sodano, despite a big resistance of the believers, enforced a liberal Focolarine L. Hučko as bishop to the forefront of our Byzantine Church in Czech Republic (CR). The Communist regime granted him a scientific degree “professor” which was granted only to members of the Communist party, or to collaborators of secret police. In CR our Church was a kind of variant against the Focolarine liberal dictatorship. Here 95% of believers are Ukrainians and these were claiming, according to the Eastern canon law, an establishment of a Ukrainian Church sui iuris with a true and faithful Catholic Ukrainian bishop. Liquidation of the orthodox spirituality and usurpation of the rule in our Church was performed by the Focolare movement with an assistance of state authorities. By help of state authorities likewise, Bishop L. Hučko illegally liquidated the OSBM Order in Czech Republic and then took possession of (stole) all its property for the sake of his exarchate. Neither the protest of the General Superior nor of the Apostolic Nuncio Mons. J. Ender succeeded. One part of the property stolen from the OSBM Order consisted of two real estates donated by a widow, Dr. K.Š. When she came to know that, she applied to Bishop L. Hučko for a return of the property. To his cynical attitude she reacted by an indignant letter addressed to the Czech Episcopal Conference (CEC). How was this affair settled by the Focolare leadership in CR? Bishop L. Hučko sent his vicar general and his secretary to the widow, with them also coming the advocate of Cardinal M. Vlk. They were threatening the old widow and shouting at her that by her letter she offended a representative of God on earth and they forced her to dissociate herself from that letter. She thus for fear signed a “declaration on word of honour” prepared in advance by Bishop L. Hučko. When, after they had left, she read in quiet a copy of the paper she had signed, she was horrified. Among other things it included “her” declaration that the property donated to the OSBM Order in 2001 and 2003 she wanted to donate to the exarchate and that the OSBM Order deceived her. Therefore in presence of a notary she immediately wrote a declaration of invalidity of an enforced subscription and of a criminal act (cheat and intimidation) committed by Bishop L. Hučko and his accomplices. According to the state as well as ecclesiastical law this criminal offence is covered by sanctions.
Influence of the Focolare in CEC
The seat of chairman has continually been occupied by the Focolarines only. CEC is thereby paralysed, so that it is unable to react adequately and in truth to demoralization and liberalization of the Church. For all that time there has not been a single pastoral letter written that would bring a clear word on actual problems (historic-critical theology, false respect for other religions, spread of occultism in a mass measure, homosexuality, abortions, euthanasia, demoralization). There was an art exhibition in Prague which exposed a cross with a naked woman on it and also pictures of similar character. Believers asked CEC to protest against offending of the Christian faith. The CEC spokesman, who interpreted the attitude of Cardinal M. Vlk, pronounced that “this is a matter of worthful art and those who take offence at it do not have Catholic faith”.
Bishop in the first place has responsibility for true Catholic teaching and sound Catholic morals. Yet the Focolare leadership is doing quite the opposite. An evidence of this is that at the beginning of this year 2006 CR approved an act of registered homosexual partnership. The CEC leadership has not seen to an adequate reaction of the Church concerning this moral issue, yet on the contrary, as early as 2004 Fr. J. Balík, leader of the Pastoral Youth Centre in Kunratice – Prague 4, was withdrawn by Cardinal M. Vlk from that function as well as from the parish for the reason that he publicly expressed himself against homosexuality. The consequence of this CEC (Focolare) policy is that within a period of ten years the number of believers in CR has decreased from 5 to 4 millions.
What is most mean and wily about the Focolare movement is that the leading caste does not follow the principles and the spirit of the Gospel, but it has the same spirit and methods as the Freemasons movement. The Focolare movement abuses and deceives its common members who stand as its base and in sincere faith blindly fulfil the instructions and orders of their superiors. These genuine faithfuls have not the least idea of the aims and secret intrigues of the ruling caste. However, as soon as one begins critically discerning (syncretism, moral laxism covered behind the catchphrase about love, en effort to usurp all power structures in the Church as well as in the state etc.), one is immediately reproved by words: “Brother, you are not in unity!” Yet if one still continues his independent thinking, it is followed by sanctions.
The spirit of Focolare is the spirit of the world abusing the Christian terminology. This antichristian spirit which cannot bear genuine repentance and truth is but displayed in its real looks not until some critical situation, and this is then in most cases already by a sin against the Holy Spirit. The question here is a conscious denial of the saving truth! (cf. Rom 8:9)
Responsibility for a liquidation of the true faith, for a promotion of liberalism at theological faculties and for a moral devastation of the Church and the nation falls above all on Focolarines Cardinal M. Vlk and Archbishop J. Graubner.
Reform in the Czech Republic
We propose the following solution towards the healing of CEC and of spiritual life in Czech Republic:
1. A rightful step in relation to Czech faithfuls would be a withdrawal of Cardinal M. Vlk for retirement. Archbishop instead of him may be e.g. his vicar general M. Slavík ThD.
2. Relocating Archbishop J. Graubner e.g. to Plzeň as diocesan or auxiliary bishop, or as Apostolic Nuncio to some country. In his place in Olomouc appointing non-liberal Fr. V. Wolf Prof. ThD. and likewise appointing him cardinal. Here through the theological faculty he can begin a renewal of true Catholic faith in the Church. One can presuppose opposition and intrigues from the side of liberal professors (who should be released afterwards).
The aim of preparation for clerical service is not to form scientific workers, who moreover have heretic attitudes, but to form faithful and moral spiritual shepherds who will struggle for eternal salvation of the sheep entrusted!!
3. Transferring Bishop L. Hučko as auxiliary bishop of the Byzantine Church in Hungary (one of his parents is of Hungarian nationality). In his place appointing a true Catholic Ukrainian.
4. Assigning Fr. P. Dokládal and Capuchin Fr. P. Uhřík to the Apostolic Nunciature as bishops who along with the Apostolic Nuncio will be responsible for orthodoxy of faith and morals in CR.
As CR was to become a false model of the Church by means of the Focolare, so may it now become a model of a true reform!
Fr. Eliáš A. Dohnal ThD. OSBM
Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk ThLic. OSBM
Fr. Metoděj R. Špiřík ThD. OSBM
Pidhirtsi, 7th April 2006
Copies to: His Holiness Benedict XVI, Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare movement, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, Prague
The true face of the Focolare
Public opinion on the Focolare movement is even in the highest Church circles very positive. The Focolare is seen by many as a renewal and a model of the tomorrow Church. Unfortunately, the reality is different.
The tactics of Focolare is to flee from a direct confrontation with the truth, to mask heresies and by means of phrases and psychological manipulation remove those who point at them. In this covert fight every bishop of the Catholic Church has a responsibility to warn in his diocese against this latent and guileful spirit of Jezebel.
2. Declaration: Letter to Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church Part II 9.5.2006
Spirit of antichrist in the Church
1) Spiritual diagnosis of the Focolare movement
2) State Secretariate of Vatican
3) Antichristian system and Dalai Lama
4) False spirit after the Second Vatican Council
5) Through repentance to resurrection
1) SPIRITUAL DIAGNOSIS OF THE FOCOLARE MOVEMENT
In the paper “The True Face of the Focolare” (from 7th April 2006) one points at the founder C. Lubich. Following her syncretism (prem-yoga), her opening to the spirit of the New Age and avoiding the spirit of repentance and truth, Jesus is no longer the only and exclusive Saviour. And this is the heretical foundation of the Focolare movement.
A “model” of Church administration of the Focolare is represented by the Czech Republic (CR).
A) Cardinal M. Vlk:
a) Liquidated true Catholic professors at the Theological Faculty in Prague and appointed liberal ones.
b) For the liquidation of our Greek-Catholic Church he used every endeavour at installing a focolarine L. Hučko as bishop.
c) To the key posts in the Church he assigned people who purposefully liquidate the Church and he gives consent to it by his silence.
d) On the contrary, he immediately reacts so as to liquidate anything truly Catholic and vital (he withdraws a priest who said a clear word against homosexuality, by his statement he liquidates a truly Catholic journal “Report”, he attacks a beginning journal “Te Deum” etc.).
e) Whenever there emerges an atmosphere favourable to repentance (floods 2002), he does away with it by phrases.
f) The main blame for the enforcement of the Act of homosexual marriage falls upon Cardinal M. Vlk!
B) Archbishop of Olomouc J. Graubner (a focolarine) has responsibility for:
a) The theological faculty where he shelters liberal professors who among other things are promoting the ordination of women and false feminization.
b) Religious sisters who are separately studying theology here, besides being transmitted the liberal spirit of the faculty underwent even a recollection led by a buddhist, so that they could thus open to demons that are behind the pagan buddhist religion! This is a way to apostasy!
C) Bishop L. Hučko (a focolarine):
a) By help of state authorities he stole the property of the OSBM Order.
b) Together with Cardinal M. Vlk he prevented from establishing an exarchate for the Ukrainian emigration.
c) Both of them likewise, by way of their subordinates, impulsed a moral pressure and deceit on an old widow in the matter of her property. The legal proceedings with Bishop L. Hučko before the Tribunal of the Roman Rota have already been started.
Certainly there are also good bishops among focolarines; however, since they are in a system which liquidates everything truly Catholic and alive, the responsibility falls in a full measure even upon them. During a long-time rule of theirs in CR these bishops have not given a clear word to any topical issue. In fact, this spirit does not permit any spiritual awakening or spiritual life but sooner or later liquidates it. However, on the other hand it supports and shields liberalism, syncretism and makes unity with the spirit of the world and New Age, calling all this a love.
The Focolare movement built up a huge centre in Castel Gandolfo, thereby leaving an impression of true Catholicity and unity with the Holy Father. Focolare, New Age and Freemasons are not interfered by religiousness and pious phrases but they are interfered by living Jesus who is the Truth and the Life (Jn 14:6). Two papal authorizations were gained by a cheat, because Focolare has a different spirit, a different Gospel and a different Christ (2 Cor 11:4).
C. Lubich self-confidently pronounced: “One day, the Church will wake up and everything around and inside will be focolarini!”
1) What kind of spirit is behind the Focolare? Unfortunately, we have to state that governing here is the spirit of antichrist.
2) What is the aim of the Focolare? C. Lubich, Cardinal M. Vlk, Archbishop J. Graubner, Bishop L. Hučko could give the answer: To control the whole Church, here the true Divine life is not built but liquidated!
3) What kind of method is used here? When they are to voice their opinion, to call truth as truth, sin as sin, they keep silent, thus giving the sin their consent. Whenever there is someone who defends the truth and the true Catholicity, they put him to silence with a catchphrase that he has no love. As a method they use lie, half-truth and psychological manipulation. Similarly to Freemasons they are covering the real substance and through personal contacts, by means of half-truths, they are liquidating in the backstage all their opponents.
2) STATE SECRETARIATE OF VATICAN
Let us put a question: Who has the responsibility for the catastrophical state in the Church? Some will say: the Pope John Paul II.
We answer: Not him but the machinery which already existed here before him and which practically could not be abolished by him because it would have removed him as it evidently removed John Paul I., and till the present time it is questionable who in fact impulsed the assassinator in 1981. Maybe even as early as then John Paul II recognized that he was not able to fight against the covert spirit which gained control over the State Secretariate and which appears as the supreme spiritual power in the Church. The cryptic antipopes, Cardinal Cassarolli and Cardinal Sodano, were often doing quite the opposite of what the Pope ordered. So the Holy Father was practically a prisoner of this Vatican–antichristian machinery. Upon the question whether in the conditions of that time he could stand up against this machinery one can answer: Practically not!
So who has the guilt for the catastrophical state in the Church?
During the process with the war criminals in Norimberg the whole system which had on its conscience the death of millions was condemned. Not only once in God’s judgement but even now the antichristian system must be condemned; that system which is roofed by an antipapal state secretariate and has on its conscience millions of souls which are rushing into perdition. Therefore Cardinal A. Sodano must be withdrawn and punished adequately. The antichristian system in Vatican must be deprived of the spiritual rule and the spiritual power must be secured against an abuse.
The war criminals in Norimberg felt innocent because they had only obeyed orders of their superiors. The document of Freemasons Alta Vendita states: “The heaviest blow upon the Church will be struck through the so-called holy obedience. Bishops, priests, majority of religious while thinking that they are marching under the banner of St. Peter’s keys, will actually be marching under our banner… Reforms will have to be performed in the name of obedience.”
Preventive protection against the spirit of antichrist in the Church is to contain the following: it must be clearly formulated when believers must not obey the Church authority which is abusing its office, circumventing God’s law and liquidating life in the Church! We proposed abolishing of all dicasteries (and replacing them by another, safer system) and leaving only one of them – namely the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Providing that there is some other, more effective project, let it be realized!
3) ANTICHRISTIAN SYSTEM AND DALAI LAMA
Dalai Lama is not only head of the nation which was persecuted by Communism but at the same time also head of the Tibetan lamaism. He considers himself, and the lamaists likewise consider him, a reincarnated god. They give him a divine respect and this is idolatry. He is put on an equal level with Jesus Christ. The title “His Holiness” with the Dalai Lama is understood ontologically whereas with the Pope symbolically!
When the Dalai Lama visited the Holy Father, this visit was abused. In Catholic journals and calendars this documentary photograph was given a misleading commentary, which forced such a conviction upon the reader that this was a gesture of and an attempt at a unity with all religions. What was the aim of such commentaries? To dull the Catholic identity and enforce the thoughts of the New Age and the spirit of relativism that in essence all religions are the same. This but is a cheat! It is a liquidation of every kind of apology and mission!
The visit of the Dalai Lama in post-Communist Christian countries of Europe.
Two months before the visit of the Pope in CR, the theological counsellors with the spirit of antichrist advised the president that before the visit of the Holy Father, who represents Christ Himself, first he should invite the Dalai Lama, who visibly represents antichrist.
These theologians gave instructions how the 90-year-old Cardinal F. Tomášek was to behave as well as how the visit was to be commented in the by that time already free Catholic press. The Catholic journals presented articles which troubled waters, with headlines like: “His Holiness Dalai Lama…” In all these journals there was not a single commentary which would within the framework of truthfulness and love in relation to their Catholic faithfuls truly explain who actually the Dalai Lama was and what was the true and biblical attitude that we should take towards the spirit which was behind him. Nothing objective was written. Only an uncritical and dangerous euphoria! Dalai Lama gave Cardinal F. Tomášek a big wreath around his neck which had not only a symbolic but also a magic intention. Soon after the Dalai Lama also visited neighbouring Poland and on the pattern of CR he decorated in the same way even the Polish primate Cardinal Glemb. This disoriented President L. Walensa; he did not meditate with the Dalai Lama like the Czech President V. Havel. At first he was refusing the visit, yet later he received it. Dalai Lama pronounced in the massmedia that in the sky he had seen a magic-augural sign very positive for him. Within a short time the political atmosphere in Poland changed, President L. Walensa began to lose his authority and presidential elections were won by an anti-Catholic opposition.
Both Czechs and Poles should think this over and repent in truth with regard to the sphere of the First Commandment! Otherwise the religious syncretism will continue its destructive work upon their Church and nation. Regrettably to say, the Catholic University in Lublin along with some other theological faculties in no way lag behind the liberalism and the antichristian spirit of the West. Here it is necessary to repent radically!
4) A FALSE SPIRIT AFTER THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL
For about 40 years one has been speaking in the Church with respect about yoga and zen, but this is a great deceit. No Catholic yoga or Christian zen or oriental meditations solve the crisis of faith; on the contrary, they lead to a total apostasy! The priests are so confused that many of them are not only approving of these practices, but they are literally agitating for them. It is necessary to know that yoga, zen, oriental martial art are related with a spiritual world behind which is the spirit of death, and with a philosophy contradictory to the Gospel and the Christian tradition… Yet this is purposefully kept in silence and that is why the deceived Christians themselves are assisting in building up anti-Christian centres throughout Europe. The point here is not an innocent meditation or a neutral sport. This is a way, a spiritual system! (see Four Words from Ukraine, http://www.community.org.ua)
It is necessary to say the shocking truth that the so-called post-council spirit, which brought a false interpretation of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, especially of Nostra aetate, is the spirit of antichrist. Today we can see it by the fruit – a total decay of the Church. This spirit did not want to reform but to deform! After the council we likewise opened ourselves to the historic–critical theology (HCT). This theology lays its base on so-called historical Christ and Christ of faith. Hinduism also speaks of Christ as avatar. However, these are false christs that have nothing in common with true Jesus Christ who is the only and exclusive Saviour (Acts 4:12) and the only way to salvation (Jn 14:6). HCT and false respect for religions lead into one antichristian religion having the spirit of the New Age.
This new spirit is already accepted as the new form of thinking in theology and as the new fundament in place of the true fundament represented by living Jesus Christ! He has already been thrown out of the new theology, and this is the biggest crime of the theology of the 20th century! This crime must first of all be repented of in earnest by every bishop, every teacher of faith and every priest.
5) THROUGH REPENTANCE TOWARDS RESURRECTION
Now is the time of sieving of the spirits, it is a historic moment. Today we can see the fruit of the spirit of death in the Church, which has been ruling here for several decades and has led the Church into collapse. Now is the time of polarization, pulling off masks, so that it can be shown and known who is who!
Now it is necessary to radically stand up for the Holy Father Benedict XVI who visibly represents Jesus Christ Himself and who likewise represents both the sound teaching of the Gospel and the Spirit of Christ. The fight against him is a fight against Christ Himself and against the Church. He is counterworked especially by a cryptic antipapacy hitherto represented by Cardinal A. Sodano and by a whole system built up within those years. This system has its people in the local Churches all over the world, predominantly at theological faculties. Therefore it is also necessary to think over a new clerical formation and an institution of discipleship! (Jesus did not study at a theological faculty: still, he had disciples.)
Now it is necessary to repent and not trouble waters with empty and misleading phrases which lead away from the substance and from life. Every hierarch and every religious, priest, even a layman has to put a question to him-/herself: Who am I actually serving? Christ or antichrist?
Supposing that you were, though unconsciously, pulling antichrist’s cart and thereby even the Church and living Christ to execution, now stop and make a turn and take up Christ’s cross. Here on this cross the root of the sin must be crucified, the sin which is in us that is the old self which makes unity with the spirit of antichrist and which must be crucified with Christ and immersed even in His death (2Cor 4:10f), so that it can bring the resurrection with Christ and be experienced as by an individual so by the Church!
Now is the high time for a reform to come. The Church is bleeding with streams, turning into a sheer cemetery of murdered souls. What is but worst is that there is almost nobody who would take notice of it any longer. This sad, or better said a catastrophical picture is revealed by the Lord Himself through Ezekiel the Prophet (Ez 37) and this picture can be fully applied to our Church. The present-day Church, present-day Israel is a spiritual cemetery, a valley of dead bones.
The solution is the prophetic authority which is to mediate the living word of God according to 1Cor 14:1-3, in order to: a) exhort, b) upbuild, c) encourage. As soon as this prophetic team starts prophesying, that means preaching in power the Word of God instead of poisoned theologies, there comes a violent reaction, a big rumble, the bones begin to clash upon one another and are made up into skeletons (a fundament).
In the second phase the prophet is to call with pleading that the Spirit of God may descend upon these slain so that they may live. He was to call that the Spirit may come from the four cardinal points, from the four spiritual centers. The cross has four sides, it is a symbol of salvation, it was here that the devil was vanquished and it was here that the old self was and is crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6). The key of the prophet’s power is his absolute obedience to God, that means renouncement of his good, his truth, his will: “I prophesied as I was commanded” (Ez 37:7.10). Similarly – the mystery when the power of God begins to work is found with Elijah the Prophet on mount Carmel. “Let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel (in the Church), and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word.” (1Kings 18:36) Through the obedience of Elijah fire came down from heaven. Through the obedience of Ezekiel a spiritual resurrection comes.
So when Ezekiel was prophesying (calling on the strength of God’s word) unto the Spirit, it gave rise to a spiritual resurrection and the cemetery turned into a great army of warriors (Ez 37:10), “martyres” (Acts 1:8).
Who was it that had antichristian spirit and who crucified Christ? It was the chief priests, the elders, the Pharisees, the scribes and the Sadducees. Who is it that nowadays represents and follows this religious caste? John the Apostle writes: “Now many antichrists have come. They went out from us, but they were not of us.” (1Jn 2:18-19)
Today there is only one way for us and that, to receive the spirit of repentance and renounce the spirit of antichrist. This is the first step. And the second one is to call upon the Holy Spirit that He may give a resurrection of the spiritual cemetery – the Church!
Fr. Metoděj R. Špiřík ThD. OSBM., Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk ThLic. OSBM., Fr. Eliáš A. Dohnal ThD. OSBM
Pidhirtsi, 9th May 2006
Copy to: His Holiness Benedict XVI
3. Letter to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
State Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Città del Vaticano
concerning the affair of Bishop S.W. in Poland at the turn of the years 2006/2007 we want to draw Your attention to the fact that collaboration of the clergy with the State Security Committee (KGB – StB in the Czech Republic) is not only a problem of Poland, but of all postcommunist states. There was practically no priest that would not come into contact with KGB at that time and would not be included in the documentary records which were rendered by KGB employees. However, this does not mean that all who were recorded there really collaborated with KGB.
An example of one of us: Father Eliáš Antonín Dohnal served as a priest in the Roman-Catholic Church from 1972 to 1991, later he joined an Eastern religious order and changed the rite thereby. He explained to us the whole problem as well as his personal experience in more detail. After a car accident in 1976 he was visited by an officer of StB. After the talk related to the accident the officer asked him to sign a paper which stated that he would be silent on that visit. 27.
He signed, but immediately afterwards he visited several neighbouring priests and informed them about the visit he had. When the StB officer came for the second time, he threw him out fully aware of the consequences, that he will probably no longer be allowed to serve publicly as a priest. Nothing happened at first, but later on when a spiritual awakening started in the parish, he was transferred to a remote place where a monstrous process was constructed against him. Called up by StB in Opava he was told – either a trial and at least five years of prison, or a voluntary visit to a psychiatrist at the “needs” of StB. Finally neither of these was realized, it was settled by a mere deprival of the function of parish priest (administrator) and for the next two years he served under supervision as a chaplain. Thereout one year he was in a village where about 400 sisters from 14 religious institutes were concentrated. Afterwards, he was assigned to supposingly the worst parish as its administrator. At this new place he wrote and mimeographed (which was a punishable activity) essays on the defence of faith against spreading liberalism and occultism. There was a group of students who cooperated with him. This period of time also includes the report about Fr. F. Lobkowicz (in the present time the bishop of the Ostrava diocese) which was published at the end of the year 2006 in the Czech Republic (CR) with the aim to compromise this bishop. However, he did Fr. E. no wrong. It seems that the compromising attack on Bishop F. Lobkowicz comes from liberal circles which are displeased at the fact that this bishop is not in so-called full unity with them or with the Focolare leadership. In his place of Bishop of Ostrava they were pushing a Focolare priest I.F.
Regarding Poland, we were shocked by the response of Bishop S.W. He refused lustration with words: “Only after my admission in Warsaw.” Bishop S.W. knew that when he will already be archbishop, cardinal and primate of Poland (the post in Warsaw is automatically connected with these Church positions), then for the sake of higher good both the Polish Church and Vatican will be forced to shield his offences and egoistic interests.
An even more serious case is the Greek-Catholic Exarch L. Hučko in the Czech Republic. Before his consecration (May 2003) the Ukrainians (Greek-Catholic majority in CR) silently demonstrated for about two weeks in front of the Apostolic Nunciature in Prague holding a placard: “We demand lustration of L. Hučko”. Pressures towards the publication of the whole affair in the massmedia were strong, but unlike Poland the Focolare movement by help of its net and its contacts reduced the massmedia to silence. Cardinal M. Vlk pronounced: “We saw to it that nothing of it be published.” Still, an edition of “Metro” published a short article. L. Hučko along with an advocate of Cardinal M. Vlk immediately turned to police. The police inquired into the matter and decently announced that “the article contained no defamatory information, only such that was generally known”. So the police itself had to bring both Focolare leaders into line. Why instead of visiting the police and intimidating and silencing those who were demanding lustration did L. Hučko himself not ask with manfulness for this lustration? If he had been innocent, he would have nothing to fear. By this gesture he would have disarmed all enemies. However, he refused the lustration. Cardinal M. Vlk and Cardinal A. Sodano covered all this by pointing at the fact that “he had been appointed by the Holy See and the Holy See cannot be wrong, naturally”.
And so L. H. became a bishop. When two years later the archives of the State Security Committee were uncovered, although they included records of both Greek-Catholic bishops of Slovakia – Exarch M. Chautur CSsR and Bishop J. Babjak S.J. – the records of Bishop L. Hučko “disappeared”. How could they disappear? It is generally known that there are at least two Focolarines employed in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It is a public secret that the Focolare movement had a permission from its leadership to cooperate with the Communist regime. So right after the fall of Communism they managed to secure key positions in the Church and a great influence in the state departments. That was also why Cardinal M. Vlk could forbid all newspapers in CR from publishing the report about the compromising past of L. Hučko. For 20 years L. Hučko was the leader of Focolare in the former CSSR (Czechoslovak Socialist Republic). This movement should have been specially watched by StB because: 1) the centre of the movement was in a foreign country, 2) it belonged to the Catholic Church, 3) it worked especially with the youth. Or could StB miss the fact that this movement was organizing so-called secret gatherings (Mariapoli) which were participated by a multitude of youth – or maybe StB had beforehand been informed of that and therefore let them be? Moreover, L. Hučko as the leader of a secret Church organization worked at that time even in a production sphere which was strategic (Slovnaft concern) and achieved the scientific degree of “candidate of sciences”. Everyone who lived in those times knows that such degree could be achieved only by a member of the Communist party, or by an agent or spy of StB. It is ridiculous to claim that StB did not know who L. Hučko was. Supposing that all records of L. Hučko disappeared, or that there had never been any, then a question arises: Was his cooperation not on a higher and more covert level than the cooperation of those who were found in the StB records?
In 2003, when L. Hučko was consecrated a bishop, there was a law in effect in CR that everyone who held a higher office had to go through so-called lustration. It is a big shame to the Church that she not only avoided lustration but even denounces those who demand it to the police. The blame falls on the leadership of Focolare in CR and therefore they must repent of it adequately. In this case as well as for other of his offences (robbery, deceits, lawless liquidation of a delegature of pontifical right) L. Hučko must be withdrawn from the office of Greek-Catholic Exarch in Prague. In addition, his forcible installation by Cardinal M. Vlk and Cardinal A. Sodano, in spite of all protests of believers, is an injustice to this Eastern Church in CR where almost 95% of the believers are Ukrainians. These were thus precluded from an opportunity to have their own exarchate and their own bishop in the same way as it is in other states of Europe.
It is necessary to bring to light the whole activity of Focolare in CR and to expose the antichristian substance of the whole movement. Surely, there are ordinary members who are not initiated into the higher politics of the movement and certain obscurities are explained to them only one-sidedly and thus submitted to be believed by them. These members are convinced of absolute innocence of the movement. 28.
What is the true face of Focolare love and unity?
Where sin is not called sin and evil is not called evil, but all is covered with a phrase of love, it is not possible to speak about true repentance and Christianity at all. Love without truth does not exist!
Nowadays, when the world is full of impurity, occultism, all kind of sin and rebellion against God, it is a false vision for Christians to try to make unity with the world which has not received Christ and lies under the sway of the wicked one (cf. 1Jn 5:1), or with pagan religious systems which are soaked through and through with demonic powers and with the spirit of antichrist (cf. 1Cor 10:20-22).
Spiritual programme of the Focolare movement:
1) Unity with the world without respecting the Decalogue, without discernment of sin, good end evil, truth and lie, without discernment of Christ and antichrist!
2) Unity and mergence with pagan religions and with their magic practices.
This is what the Focolare movement calls love today.
Older priests and professors of theology warned us of the danger of this movement especially with regard to the sixth commandment (i.e. keeping the celibate)! Someone even uttered a term: “Focolare harlot house”. We understood that term in such a way that as there is a woman standing in the forefront, the whole movement is led by womanish spirituality, sensitivity, by various side ways avoiding directness and confrontation with the truth. At one meeting with bishops Chiara L. said: “I felt like Christ among the apostles.” Providing that she repented, she could perhaps say “like Mary Magdalene among the apostles.”
We also thought that the above-mentioned term was pointing at the question of the doctrine of the faith and at the violation of the first commandment (religious syncretism).
Today we know that these older priests meant the sixth and the ninth commandment. No wonder! If this movement does not emphasize truth and repentance, nor does it tolerate any mention of the reality of spiritual fight, and if it does not radically fight against sin and against the pressure of the demoralized world, then the injured human nature regularly causes that impurity and carnal pleasures are not called a sin but love!
An example of this is the enforcement of the act of registered homosexual partnership in CR, for which the biggest blame falls upon the Focolarine Cardinal M. Vlk.
If someone dares to remind the movement leaders of the Decalogue and God’s justice, one is immediately menacingly reduced to silence by a phrase that he/she has a false and deformed image of God, for God, they say, is first of all love. If this “daring fellow” is a member of this movement, he is immediately rebuked: “Brother, you’re not in unity”, or “Brother, you’ve got no love!”
Personal testimony: At a meeting of the Focolare movement in Prague, where in the centre was a big photograph of Chiara Lubich, a young Focolare priest was holding a young Focolare girl by her hand for about five minutes, they were looking in each other’s eyes and stroking each other’s hand. The bystanding Focolarines saw nothing bad about it, on the contrary, they behaved similarly!
The movement is based on spiritual and moral syncretism whose fruit is e.g. in CR, where the Church leadership is held by Focolarines, external apostasy of believers from the Church and internal apostasy from the biblical and Catholic identity. It is necessary that the false gloriole be torn off and that the whole movement either repent in truth or be dissolved because its activity is to a great detriment of the Church. The worst thing is that the leadership is unable to receive the spirit of truth and genuine repentance, therefore apparently the only possibility that remains really is that either this movement will continue destroying the Church with impunity, or it will be dissolved. May God do a miracle so that this movement could finally receive the spirit of repentance and truth!
However, in order to create at least minimal conditions so that God may do this miracle, at least one of the Focolarines holding the key positions in this movement would have to repent publicly in relation to the most elementary issues connected with the Catholic faith and moral life.
1) What kind of repentance should there be on the part of the founder Ch. Lubich? Returning all doctorates of honour, medals and awards from buddhists, hinduists, Rotary Club and others, along with a public apology for thereby having given a bad example and offence! Abolishing prem-yoga, renouncing the spirit which is behind yoga vibrations as well as the spirit of false unity with the world which is hidden behind the misused term “love”. She should likewise renounce the unclean spirit and the spirit of lie which is hiding in this movement behind the terms “love” and “unity”. At the same time she should thereby open both herself and the whole movement to the Spirit of truth and repentance.
2) Regarding the form of repentance for the Focolarine Cardinal M. Vlk –the only thing expected of him is sound self-criticism. That means that in proper time, i.e. 17th May 2007 when he will reach his 75 years of age, he should retire from the office of the Archbishop of Prague.
We believe that he will be able to make a penitent gesture, i.e. to confess that for 15 years he has been shielding by his silence the heresies of the apostate Prof. T. Halík, which has done great harm to the Church; and besides, before his retirement to pronounce a clear word on these heresies and to dissociate himself from them, which is necessary to the recovery of the Church.
The next gesture should be a public rehabilitation of unjustly harmed orthodox professors.
3) What repentance should there be on the part of the (Focolare) Archbishop of Olomouc Jan Graubner? First of all justly to admit his mistake in supporting the Oriental spirituality by way of zen-buddhist recollections for religious which were a part of their formation at the theological faculty. 29.
Next he should repent publicly in front of the priests entrusted to him that for 15 years he allowed them to be deformed by atheistic spirit which is connected with the educational system of HCT at the theological faculty. He should likewise repent of his support of unsound feminism, in particular that he approved the appointment of a woman to the post of dean of the theological faculty, and in addition, that he is supporting professors who try to enforce clerical ordination of women!
4) The Focolare bishop L. Hučko should repent that during the Communist regime he was in active contact with StB and he stubbornly denies this fact. Further he should repent of the lawless liquidation of a delegature and of stealing its property as well as of stealing the whole property belonging to an old widow K.Š.
Your Eminence, we realize that it is not decisive who someone was in the past but who one is today. If in the past one erred and for example collaborated with StB or promoted HCT (which has a far more detrimental impact), but one repents of it sincerely at present and, on the contrary, now defends Christ, then it is necessary here to emphasize mercy. However, if a religious person was betraying Christ in the past and now remains in this state and abuses the Church office against Christ and the Church, then the Church is obliged to check up, “to lustrate”, even the past of that particular hierarch and to deprive him of his office!
And concerning the Focolare movement, let us return to the term “Focolare harlot house”. It is human to sin; however, it is demonical not to call sin as sin! This conscious disregard for the reality of sin prevents the Holy Spirit from leading the deceived Catholics towards true conversion without which there is no salvation.
Therefore the catchphrase about love which destroys the truth here is in its substance a sin against the Holy Spirit.
This is the main and a covert problem of the whole Focolare movement.
This movement reached an unusual growth in the postconciliar era. They managed precisely to grasp a decadent spiritual wave in the Church. A false postconciliar spirit, which opened the Church to the spirit of the world as well as to the spirit of syncretism and liberalism, even to atheism through HCT, got incarnate and created unity with the Focolare movement and became the bearing stream of a mortal infection inside the whole Church. We say that Chiara has the spirit of Jezebel, and that because of the fact that through the movement she officially, though covertly, incorporates an antichristian spirit into the whole Church! What a cheat, when in this all the movement appears as the model of a newly reformed Church! But of what sort of a Church? Of such where there is no more difference between truth and lie, where one does not need to repent any more, where the spirit of lie has made false unity between “the new” Church and the world. And therefore the founder of Focolare has to renounce this spirit or this movement must be dissolved!
Fr. Metoděj R. Špiřík ThD. OSBM., Fr. Cyril J. Špiřík Ing. ThD. OSBM., Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk ThLic. OSBM.,
Fr. Eliáš A. Dohnal ThD. OSBM.,
Pidhirtsi, 2nd February 2007
Copy to: His Holiness Benedict XVI, The Congregation for Bishops, Cardinals and bishops of the Catholic Church
4. An open letter to the Bishops of the Czech and Slovak Republic 1.3.2007
Most Reverend Bishops of CR and SR,
We are motivated to write a letter to You in order to clarify a certain public proclamation concerning us which was written by one of the former members of the OSBM Order. We do not condemn him but because his public proclamation will obviously come to You soon, we are obliged to react to it. It was written on 16th February 2007 in Bratislava, it contains an introduction and four points. Especially the fourth point is formulated in such way that we have to open again concrete facts regarding the Focolare movement.
The catchphrases about God’s Judgement, God’s face, clean conscience, sincerity, death… used in the introduction by the author, seminarist V.O., testify to the fact that he is writing this letter to someone else than to those to whom he is addressing it and who know him. For those who know him in person know that behind strong words there is not the spirit of sincerity but the spirit of hypocrisy.
The seminarist V.O. writes in his letter: “I am afraid lest God should once mark us as hypocrites and pharisees when we call others to repentance (Hučko, Vlk, Koubetch, Chautur, Tondra and others) but we do not repent ourselves.”
Neither him nor anyone else of those to whom he addresses the letter and whom he challenges to repentance called the above-mentioned Church personalities to repentance. Therefore from his part this challenge is illogical.
The author, however, does not have on mind only the events in Prague in 2003 but above all the contents of the book “Four Words from Ukraine” and the letters written to the Holy Father, to the cardinals and bishops (www.community.org.ua), where the central idea is the problem of HCT, the incorrect interpretation of Nostra aetate, that is syncretism with pagan religions, as well as the Focolare movement which makes inseparable unity with these two poisonous spiritual streams.
The next key topic of our letters is pointing at the abuse of the Church authority towards the liquidation of true life in the Church. We pointed at the antichristian system inside the Church, which was built by Cardinal Sodano and Cardinal Casaroli who had usurped the supreme rule in the Church and from the major part they thus bear the responsibility for her hard crisis. We claim that towards the recovery of the Church it is necessary to introduce effective punishments for those who abuse the entrusted Church office, not excluding bishops and cardinals. 30.
The seminarist V.O. acts as if he is one of us, though he is not at all, and he artificially takes on himself the responsibility for the events in Prague and for the letters we have written to the Holy Father and to cardinals, and he even expresses himself as if he were a co-author of our letters and he is calling not us, the authors, but those who have not written them, to repentance.
Let us proceed to the first point of the letter written by the seminarist V.O. where he writes: “A false prophecy of Fr. Eliáš… which he told in the morning after the prayer (erko). He said that he had a vision of Canaan in the Czech Republic and that he had heard a date when it would be fulfilled (25th March 2003). The prophecy was not fulfilled… A false prophecy is a deadly sin (besides the fact that there is an influence of the evil spirit).”
Response: After each hour of the interior prayer (erko) there follows at least a 15-minute common reflection. None of us four could recall anymore what V.O. was stating. Why? Because almost every reflection is full of encouragement and inspiring views related above all to the Holy Scripture and to our personal life. Concrete visions of Canaan served us for encouragement and they did not bind anyone in his conscience.
However, only now, when our attention was publicly drawn to this fact, we realized an astonishing thing: God actually did answer our plain childlike faith. We were praying for Canaan and the Lord began to work, but in a different way than we had thought. “God will give what we are asking for or He will give something better or He will give it later.”
Instead of Canaan in CR only, God is opening Canaan in the whole Church. At that time such idea did not even cross our mind. In 2003 we did not even anticipate that within two years Cardinal J. Ratzinger would become the Pope, that Cardinal Sodano would be divested of the office of the Secretary of Vatican and that even through our letters and other seeming trifles the Lord would open the door to a spiritual awakening. However, it would not be possible to preach the truth in public if by God’s Providence we had not been put in the situation and category of those most powerless and disgraced priests and religious who were even condemned to the dismissal from the Order for artificially invented guilts. Now we thank God that He permitted that L. Hučko was forwarded to the post of bishop because along with us also he became an implement to tear off the false mask of Focolare.
Chiara L. has already pronounced triumphally: “One day the Church will wake up and everything around and inside will be focolarini.”
Concerning the field of the first commandment – the sin of occultism – and also concerning the historic-critical theology (HCT), we have been fighting against these two spiritual ulcers for a quarter of century. Without pointing at the three erratic blocks (HCT, false respect for foreign religions connected with occultism, and false spiritual stream of the Focolare movement) it would not be possible to start building the spiritual Canaan – the renewal of the Church.
And if we deal with the issue of prophecy in general, we can see that biblical prophecies were many times accomplished only in the spiritual sphere. For example when the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary: “… The Lord God will give Him (Jesus) the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever…” Physically He did not sit on the throne; on the contrary, He was killed. Similarly, the prophecy of Jonah concerning Nineveh was not fulfilled because of the changed conditions – repentance of people.
Let us proceed to the second point: The author, though he was not initiated into the interior matters, concludes that the Ukrainians in Prague by no means intended to have their own exarchate and their own bishop but that all was the guilt of Basilians, and then he uses the following terms against us: “deceit”, “rebellion”, “slander”, “unrepented sin”, “God’s Judgement”.
We propose that at the challenge of the seminarist V.O. we should be committed to a Church trial, and that the whole case should be complexly treated there. We are not afraid of this trial; however, unfortunately, the other side is afraid, i.e. Bishop L. Hučko, Cardinal M. Vlk and the whole Focolare movement as well as Cardinal A. Sodano. We can prove in a simple way that we committed no offence either against God or against the Church. That is also why we thereby turn in humility to the Holy Father and ask him to appoint a just (impartial) tribunal which would examine not only all our deeds and words concerning the issue of the appointment of L. Hučko by Cardinal A. Sodano and Cardinal M. Vlk to the post of Bishop of the Greek-Catholic Church in CR, but also that the Holy Father submit for investigation the whole backstage and the way of appointment of L. Hučko, his past (lustration in StB /State Security Committee/ records), intrigues of Cardinal M. Vlk and of Focolarines and above all the whole antipapal and anti-Church policy of Cardinal A. Sodano with which the case of L. Hučko is integrally connected.
The third point of the letter is a commentary on a newspaper item (May 2003) published in the daily “Metro”. The seminarist V.O. claims that there was a great deceit committed because the author signed only put his signature to the mentioned item, identified himself with it but had not elaborated it himself.
Response: For example bishops and the Holy Father, too, are usually given drafts and even whole articles elaborated by people who are initiated into a particular issue and the Holy Father as well as bishops take upon themselves full responsibility by their subscription.
The police which inquired into an alleged charge of a slander of L. Hučko officially confirmed that the article did not contain anything that would not be publicly known – namely that in CR there was such practice that a title of CSc. (Candidate of sciences) could not be granted to anyone who at the same time was not a member of KSČ (the Communist party) or a collaborator of KSČ or StB (KGB), and thus the police confirmed that the author of the article did not commit any criminal offence which Bishop L. Hučko demanded of them to uphold.
The fourth point of the letter is related to the issue of an attempt at state registration of the Ukrainian Church. Here one can clearly see how Focolare by help of personal contacts and various pressures, if need be even by help of bribes, manages to manipulate the state officials.
What aim did Cardinal A. Sodano and Cardinal M. Vlk pursue by appointing a high official of Focolare as a bishop of the Greek-Catholic Church? It was two things: 1) Not to permit that in CR there could exist any opposition that would not be under the control of Focolare. In the case of Ukrainians the matter was a different Church than the Roman-Catholic one and the Ukrainians had their rights and titles to their Ukrainian Church and to their bishop; however, Cardinal M. Vlk did not care about it. He solved it on a higher level – with Cardinal A. Sodano. 2) The matter was a penetration of Focolare into the hierarchical structures of the Eastern Catholic Churches! The problem was the lustration of L. Hučko which was demanded by the Ukrainians in several-day-long successive protests in front of the Nunciature in Prague. However, Cardinal M. Vlk and Cardinal A. Sodano boycotted this problem by silence. Finally L. Hučko was installed. Since people demonstrated in silence even on the day of the consecration in the Church of St. Climent, the Focolarines “put things in order”. They broke the banners of several people and even children against their heads and in anticipation they had called an anti-terrorist police unit. When the police arrived and found out that there were only silent believers who were praying the Rosary and standing still with banners, to the shame of the Focolarines they left. For safety’s sake the Focolarines did not permit the television nor anyone else to shoot in the cathedral. None of the Ukrainians had the intention to thwart the consecration of L. Hučko. They only wanted to point at their human and religious rights. According to the Czech laws every higher state official must go through lustration, whether in the past he was not a confident of StB. L. Hučko and Cardinal M. Vlk along with whole Focolare were silent upon this and they saw to it that the massmedia were silent, too, as Cardinal M. Vlk confessed later. Only after three years L. Hučko “lustrated” himself by pronouncing that he had never been in any contact with the StB employees nor had he ever spoken with them.
The force of the Latin Church on Ukrainians who had no recourse in a foreign country, and moreover the public threatening by L. Hučko that he would let them be deported from CR, calling them a dark mass, was a big affront to poor believers who amidst the pressures of the world in a foreign country were seeking firm ground, a piece of home in their Church. A handful of intellectual Ukrainians, who had been living in CR even before the working migration came here after the fall of Communism in 1990, instituted an action committee headed by Dr. M.L. The aim was to stand up against the injustice which was insensibly represented by the Focolarines. Such manipulation and sin against our Eastern Church is called by a censorious term “latinization”. In Ukraine it was performed mostly by Poles and the reaction to it was that priests and believers were turning in protest to the Orthodox Church and many eventually completely defected into the schism. Nonetheless, the Focolarines did not want to learn from the history, they tenaciously pursued their aim even over corpses, yet still shielded by a catchphrase about love. The group of Ukrainians constituting the committee came to learn about the Czech laws related to various religious communities. The condition of the establishment of a religious community was 300 members and the statutes that must not have in their basis any principles supporting terrorism or manipulation of human mind.
The Ukrainians needed somehow to draw the attention of Rome to their rights, but through the concrete wall of Cardinal Vlk, and then in addition even of Exarch L. Hučko, it was not possible. Claiming their right and proceeding in compliance with the ecclesiastical bon ton which was controlled by this hierarchical group led to no result, so they decided to circumvent this Church machinery, to found their Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church before the state and then to demand of Rome to accredit this community ecclesiastically. They were convinced that they would not gain their right in any other way. The problem was that the majority of the Ukrainians were not citizens of CR, which was a condition of the registration. When there were about 70 signatures wanting, various friends of the Ukrainians, believing as well as unbelieving, resolved that they would support them by becoming members of this religious community and that after the community is established some of them would remain and others would return to the Church where they were registered. They thus wanted to help the Ukrainians to resist the Focolare dictatorship and monopoly of power. When the statutes and all formalities were ready, something unexpected happened: the Focolare leadership joined with the leadership of the state body which was to grant legal accreditation to this community according to the laws of the Czech Republic. The Czech state is tolerant and seemingly it has nothing to do with clericalism. Nevertheless, the Focolarines managed to influence the employee of the Ministry of Culture Mrs. RNDr. Řepová in such a way that she was even ready to go against the Czech laws. First she was inventing all kinds of tactics how to liquidate the whole thing and then she started to fight against an alleged schism by means of psychological manipulation. To each claimant whom she considered a citizen of the Czech Republic she wrote a missionary letter so that an unconscious Catholic should become conscious that faith cannot be changed. This religious propaganda performed by a person who considers herself an atheist was a wonder of the “Focolare mission”. It is a pity that the state official concerned did not take all Roman-Catholic registers in CR and did not write similar letters to those who even do not know that they are Catholics, so that they could wake up and remain faithful to the Catholic Church. It would be wonderful!
People who of their own free will made an application for the state registration were psychologically manipulated and intimidated by her letters to take back their voluntary request for the membership. Every ordinary man when receiving such a threatening letter from the ministry gets frightened that he is committing some crime for which he will be faced with a trial and therefore he rather recedes in good time. It is well known that in the atheistic CR it is a matter of principle with the state bodies that they do not comply with the demands of the Church. What a love and unity, obviously even in material aspect, the Focolarines are able to display when their interests are at stake. A state body which under normal circumstances is indifferent, as a rule reacting negatively, suddenly launched into an abnormal and, moreover, a personal activity that for the good of the Church it even broke the Czech laws, risking thereby the loss of employment at the ministry and impending punishments, in order to achieve the fulfilment of the aim of the Focolarines and thus to discourage the needed number of members so that the community would not be founded. The poor Ukrainians in CR thereby lost the last chance of defending their human and religious rights.
This atheist woman not only cared for the good of the Catholic Church but she also prevented a possible danger of an alleged schism. Then she referred to the Church hierarchy which had inspired her to it. The Ukrainians demanded an organization independent of the Czech Focolare hierarchy. According to international as well as religious laws every man is allowed to transfer to a schism or to whatever Church and the state must not obstruct him. The Czech Republic is not ruled by the Moslem laws of jihad, and now the Czech state all at once makes an exception seeing to it that these Ukrainians not fall into an alleged schism, in spite of the fact that none of the Ukrainians had such an intention. What an astonishing care of the Catholic sheep by an atheist who thereby trespasses human and religious liberty as well as the Czech laws. At that time Archbishop J. Graubner (a Focolarine) wrote a letter. Quotation: “We have confidential information that there is a danger of schism.”
This statement on “confidential information” reveals the connection of Archbishop J. Graubner and of the Focolare leadership with the state bodies with an aim to preserve a governmental monopoly of Focolare even over the Byzantine Church! We did not agree with the proceeding of the Focolare leadership towards the Byzantine Church – to make her practically its vassal and deprive her of the liberty and the right to her identity. This is a crime against the canon law and against the religious minority which, on the contrary, even in accordance with the Second Vatican Council is to be supported, and not abused and gradually assimilated by the Roman Catholics. When we stood up for the disappointed Ukrainians by writing letters and appealing to various high state bodies, everything was turning back to Mrs. Řepová and the response was still the same catchphrases. This person was well aware of the fact that Ukrainians must not succeed at any cost, since this was the only way how to gain right for a religious minority in the Church. For the Focolarines who have the spirit of the world it is no problem to make unity with unbelieving people, and even with explicit enemies of the Church.
Only a few examples of how Focolare pushes through their people to Church as well as state bodies, and that to the key posts.
In CR there is a dictatorship of the Focolare movement in the whole Catholic Church and nowadays even in the Byzantine one! What about Slovakia? There is one Focolare bishop, but he killed a man in a car accident, so he has a certain cross. In the leadership of KBS (Conference of the Bishops of Slovakia) the secretary is a married Greek-Catholic priest at the age of something over 30 and at the same time there are two women employees from the Focolare movement. At the Ministry of the Interior there was an establishment post for a priest in spiritual ministry. The KBS secretary and Focolare saw to it that this post was given to a layman! The Focolarine Mr. Ch., father-in-law of the mentioned KBS secretary, shortly after his entering the job forwarded here two more Focolarines. Mr. Ch. put on a uniform, in spite of the fact that he had not gone through the military service, and receives a salary of 50.000 Sk a month. An average salary in Slovakia is 10-12.000 Sk. The matter here is not money but the influence which this movement has here, and such influence is not only at this ministry. These machinations of Focolare will in the end bring shame upon the bleeding Church which is being interiorly liquidated by this movement! If Focolarines do not get into power they pursue the following aim – to forward their people into power. And as soon as they come into power in the Church, e.g. L. Hučko in CR, then even counter to canon laws and counter to the orders of the Nuncio they enforce their interests. Then there follows a merciless liquidation of those who have the Spirit of God and do not have the spirit of Foco – the spirit of the world. Focolarines were not afraid because they were backed by Cardinal A. Sodano. They appeared in the name of the Holy Father and no one put up any resistance to them, they liquidated all in the bud either psychologically or by abusing the Church power. A picture of it is especially the Czech Republic. In Slovakia they have not yet gained control over the whole area. Provided that there are people of God appointed to the key posts here, then there may come a true reform of the Church which consists above all in the change of the spirit. However, against such internal revival the spirit of Focolare will stand up harshly.
By the call for “repentance” from the seminarist V.O. we were forced to deal with the issue of Ukrainians and Focolare again. We ask that the whole affair connected with the consecration of L. Hučko and with the question of injury done to Ukrainians be solved by the Church court, and thereby also our alleged guilt.
We brought a legal action Libellus Litis to the Holy Father as against Exarch L. Hučko so against Cardinal M. Vlk (sheltering of an apostate Prof. T. Halík). We uphold this charge, since these are matters which are related to the faith and morals. Without a radical intervention in the spiritual system which has been built by Focolare in the Church in CR, there cannot come a true spiritual awakening.
Fr. Metoděj R. Špiřík ThD. OSBM., (the former superior of the Delegature of St. Procopius), Fr. Eliáš A. Dohnal ThD. OSBM.,
Fr. Cyril J. Špiřík ThD. Ing. OSBM., Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk ThLic. OSBM
Pidhirtsi, 1st March 2007
Copies to: Apostolic Nuncio in CR and SR, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, State Secretary of Vatican, Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church
5. SOS to the Holy Father for the salvation of the Church in the Czech Republic and in the world 7.3.2007
His Holiness Benedict XVI Supreme Pontiff Città del Vaticano
In an open letter to ČBK (Czech Bishops’ Conference) dated 6th March 2007 we pointed at the spiritual background of self-destruction of the Church in CR and partially in SR (Slovak Republic) as well.
Now we are turning to You with a request that You not let Yourself be manipulated by various psychological pressures from the part of the Czech liberals and their allies who are liquidating Christianity in CR.
We ask You again to pronounce a clear statement on the issue of:
historic-critical theology (HCT)
false interpretation of Nostra aetate leading to syncretism.
We further ask You:
To accept the abdication of Cardinal M. Vlk (17th May 2007) and not to give space to the representatives of the Focolare movement in the leadership of the Church in CR.
To appoint three or four new bishops to CR in this time, and that to the key posts with the purpose that they begin a reform of the internally paralyzed Church.
Would to God that this step of Yours may become a precedent of the renewal of the Church in other states as well. Please, make these steps even at the cost that many will rouse big resistance against You. But these many are just roarers, and still, they appear as the only spokesmen of the Church.
If You leave the Church in CR in the hands of these ravenous wolves, then the responsibility before God will fall upon You. Act bravely and purposefully even at the cost that the enemies should intend to liquidate You physically or in some other way.
We lodged Libellus litis against Cardinal M. Vlk for his approval of the activity of the apostate Prof. T. Halík. Act wisely and act in time. Surround Yourself by faithful people and forward them to the key posts so that when the roar of enemies starts, You will not remain alone and in isolation!
It is now 100 years since the publication of the encyclical “Pascendi” of St. Pius X. St. Pius X endeavoured to renew everything in Christ. Would to God that he may be Your pattern and intercessor in heaven. Your life and Your time are precious. We pray for You. God gave You to our suffering Church as the greatest hope of her true renewal.
Fr. Eliáš A. Dohnal ThD. OSBM., Fr. Metoděj R. Špiřík ThD. OSBM., Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk ThLic. OSBM
Pidhirtsi, 7th March 2007
Copies to: Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church
6. Notification to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota concerning the stealing of the property from an old widow by Focolare Bishop L. Hučko 12.4.2007
Tribunal of the Roman Rota Prefect Rome
We thereby draw Your attention to the fact that the case of stealing the property from Mrs. Dr. Kalina Šutková from Prague (CR) committed by the Focolare Bishop L. Hučko is a publicly known fact, and that not only in CR. Mrs. K. Šutková lodged an accusation of the theft with Your Tribunal and urged it several times. Your silence and non-treatment of this case compromises the Catholic Church.
We suppose that we, as witnesses of this theft but also as the part concerned and harmed, have a right to draw attention to this affair.
We remind in brief: Bishop L. Hučko through intrigues and deceit stole the property from the OSBM Order and from the widow Mrs. Šutková. The Apostolic Nuncio J. E. Ender ordered Bishop L. Hučko in the presence of the OSBM General Superior D. Ljakhovych to return this property. Bishop L. Hučko promised that he would return it, but he did not and waited until a new Apostolic Nuncio would enter the office. However, the new Nuncio recommended Mrs. K. Šutková to lodge an accusation against Bishop L. Hučko with the Roman Rota. Mrs. Dr. Šutková did so. The reaction to it was such that Bishop L. Hučko sent his Vicar General M. Hanuš, his secretary K. Baláž and the lawyer of Cardinal M. Vlk Mrs. Dr. Civínová to Mrs. K. Šutková to intimidate her in the name of the Church. These manipulated her and under moral pressure they forced her to sign an affidavit prepared in advance containing a text according to which she disclaims her property in favour of the Focolare Bishop L. Hučko. When they left and she read the copy of this affidavit, she immediately – in the presence of a notary – retracted this violation of will, and that in writing, and at the same time she brought an accusation against Bishop L. Hučko for this crime with the Roman Rota and with the Holy Father, in which she insists on returning her the property.
Your Eminence, every judicious man, and he even does not have to be a Christian, has a sense of elementary justice and he would settle this case immediately: he would punish the thief and return the property! The more so because Bishop L. Hučko even has the cheek to demand high financial rent from Mrs. Dr. K. Šutková and from her nephew, who cares for her, for their flat in which they live and which L. Hučko stole from them.
Why does Bishop L. Hučko act so arrogantly and cynically? Because he is the leading representative of the Focolare movement in the root of which there is the spirit of the New Age and the spirit of the world which just wears a Catholic mask. A testimony to Focolare syncretism is a huge notice which was hanging in the entrance hall of the Mariapoli Centre: “Bhakti – the way of love. Unity with God and universal brotherhood of Hinduism and Christianity.” (New City 10/2002) 34.
C. Lubich received several doctorates of honour from hinduists and buddhists, established yoga of love (prem-yoga) and experienced spiritual vibrations in common meditations with them. This vibrating spirit which C. Lubich received has penetrated the whole Focolare movement. Such unity and such love is already an internal apostasy from Christ and from the Church!
Focolare shelters itself behind the gesture of Assisi*. This movement has become a sect in the Church and it must either be abolished or repent publicly! *Assisi: see Sandro Magister’s article on page 52
Your Eminence, we know that Your duty is not to deal with the spiritual substance and heresies of this movement, that falls within the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – whether this Congregation will prohibit this movement or challenge it to public repentance! We now ask You for only one thing: that You help the old widow, that her property stolen from her by Bishop L. Hučko is returned to her before she dies.
Fr. Metoděj R. Špiřík ThD. OSBM., Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk ThLic. OSBM., Fr. Eliáš A. Dohnal ThD. OSBM.,
Pidhirtsi, April 12th 2007
Copies to: Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church
7. Letter by the three priests, to representatives of non- Catholic churches 30.12.2007
Prayers for unity of Christians (18th-25th January, 2008)
To all representatives of non-Catholic Churches
Dear representatives of non-Catholic Churches,
We have sent you several copies of letters concerning concrete forms of repentance. In those letters we turned to our Holy Father and to our Catholic cardinals. In this letter we are turning to You. Already for several decades prayers for unity of Christians take place every year from 18th to 25th January. In relation to these common prayers and efforts, we are sending you two ideas:
of true unity in Christ;
of a true relation to the mother of Jesus.
1) True unity in Christ
There is a big difference between the terms ecumenism and unity. The day before His death, Jesus prayed for unity of His disciples. That we may understand correctly what unity means, several times He makes it accurate what it rests in. The aim and the fruit of this unity is that the world may believe. The reaction to those who have believed is then as follows: “The world has hated them because they are not of the world.” (Jn 17:14) False unity through so-called ecumenism and interreligious dialogue is, on the contrary, making of unity with the spirit of this world.
Jesus next emphasizes: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (v.17)
The spirit of Buddhism and the spirit of New Age, which does not distinguish between truth and lie, has nothing to do with truth or with sanctification. So-called ecumenical unity without the spirit of repentance, without the Spirit of truth, is no unity in Christ.
If at least two people, who have believed in Jesus, are to make true unity in Him, they both along with their “old man” (old nature) (see Rom 6:6), which is in them, must enter spiritual death, that means deny their self. Otherwise speaking about unity with Christ or about mutual unity is mere deceit and misleading catchphrases.
Nowadays the world is promoting false unity in the spirit of antichrist. One speaks here about uniformity, about so-called globalization with the world, which, in essence, is being promoted even by the Focolare movement inside the Catholic Church. This movement disguises itself by pious phrases about unity and love and hypocritically shelters itself even behind the papal authority and behind Marian devotion. But all that is a deceit. It is unity with lie and sin.
Focolare has neither the Spirit of truth nor the spirit of true repentance. This movement is a Trojan horse inside the Church; it makes syncretism with paganism and with the spirit of atheism which is behind the historic-critical theology (HCT). Cardinal M. Vlk (Focolare) has removed orthodox Catholic professors from the Catholic theological faculty in Prague (Czech Republic) with the help of state institutions and has installed there the rule of the spirit of apostasy through HCT and through respect for (or unity with) paganism. The fruit is death of God’s life in the Church in the Czech Republic and legalization of homosexual marriage in the state. Who has all this on conscience is the hierarchy comprised of members of the Focolare movement.
How can the Catholic Church make true unity with other Christian denominations when, in fact, it has abandoned the substance, which is a living relationship – true unity with Christ? Through the teaching of HCT the present-day Catholic Church practically does not believe in the Divinity of Christ. It teaches about some Christ of faith and historical Christ. This spirit of heresy declares that the Holy Scripture is not inspired by God but is on the same level with pagan fables and myths. Such heresies are taught by apostatic Catholics, but also Protestants, and both then make false ecumenical unity without Christ! Such unity leads to eternal perdition. Without repentance there is no unity. True disciples are nowadays being persecuted and spiritually killed by those who have usurped the Church power and promote false unity.
By this letter we are turning today to all Christians and invite them onto the way of true unity which is built on the principles of the Gospel and on the true spirit of repentance. 35.
Even here we invite the Catholic Church anew to repentance. Last time (8th December 2007) we asked the Holy Father to declare six-year public penance – repentance (2008-2013). In the first place we emphasize a demand that the Holy Father should forbid the teaching of HCT. We also asked him to make an act of public repentance for a great offence caused by the Pope John Paul II not only to all sincere Catholics but also to all Christians through the gesture in Assisi*. This gesture is being perpetually and widely abused to create a false public opinion in the Church and has become a precedent to follow. Buddhists, Hinduists, animists, however, do not pray to God but to demons. This is being intentionally concealed from the Catholics. *Assisi: see Sandro Magister’s article on page 52
The contemporary Catholic theology thus opens itself to the spirit which puts Christ’s Church on the same level with pagan religions. This is a great deceit and demagogy. Regrettably to say, this spirit is promoted by many Catholic theologians and approved by many bishops. Such attitude is a self-destruction and destroys whatever mission. We admit that a lot of non-Catholics, such as the Orthodox, the Evangelicals, or the Pentecostalists, are clear not only about the question of historic-critical theology, which they radically reject, but also about so-called respect for pagan religions.
False respect and false unity is notoriously emphasized by all who have not been converted and have not yet received the Spirit of Christ (cf. Rom 8:9). These are spiritually dead Christians. In reality they are enemies of Christ within the Church and make unity with the spirit of this world.
Hereby we also want to draw the attention of you non-Catholics to the 6-year public penance and we invite you to set for us Catholics an example of true repentance founded on the biblical principles. The model of unity may be likened to a sphere in the centre of which is Jesus. Each of us is on the surface. As much one launches out into the deep – into the centre, so much one is close to Jesus and so much one is also in unity with those who likewise are close to Jesus. Unless we break with the spirit of the world, we shall attain no unity with Christ.
Not all things in ecumenism are bad. However, bad is the foundation and that is the spirit of the world, the spirit that avoids true repentance. The spirit of repentance is avoided by a major part of the hierarchy, by a major part of the clergy, by a major part of men and women religious and by a large number of Christians, too. To them and to each of us it may be applied: “Unless you repent, you will all perish.” (Luke 13:3)
2) A true relation to the Mother of Jesus
The relation of the Catholic Church to the Mother of God
The doctrine of the Church includes an article of faith that Mary is the Birthgiver of God – Theotokos. This dogma was proclaimed at the Council of Ephesus on June 7, 431… [rest omitted as it does not concern Focolare]
In Christ, Fr. Metoděj R. Špiřík ThD. OSBM., Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk ThLic. OSBM., Fr. Eliáš A. Dohnal ThD. OSBM.,
Pidhirtsi, 30th December 2007
Copies to: The Holy Father Benedict XVI, Cardinals and bishops of the Catholic Church
8. Letter to the Bishop of Žilina 29.2.2008
Msgr. Tomáš Galis, Bishop of Žilina
We additionally send You our congratulations on Your election to diocesan bishop in the newly established diocese. On this occasion we quote from Katolícke noviny (note: “Catholic News”, a Slovak weekly): “We need to thank the Holy Father but also the Slovak bishops who worked on the accomplishment of these changes. Their meaning we shall understand only later. This is a new stage of life in the Catholic Church in Slovakia…” (KN 24 February 2008)
If it is a new stage of life and if it is all with the blessing of the Holy Father, one presupposes that there are sound foundations established for the spiritual renewal in Slovakia. This concerns first of all the people who are to introduce this new spirit of reform. So this concerns Your person.
We remind of a sad event, which was kept in silence and which those who elected You did not take account of. It concerns a car accident in which You killed a person. “Thanks to” a certain bishop You avoided a trial. This affair is a kind of a stain and what You ought to have done was to self-critically hand over this concrete chance of career to someone else who would have far greater dispositions to secure the spiritual revival of the new diocese than You.
When we were in Slovakia, a certain bus driver ran over a man, in the same way as You; the man, however, was of Romany (Gipsy) origin. Within a few days, according to the Gipsy blood feud, this innocent driver was killed and his dead body was hung on a crane. Similarly, a Gipsy child ran under the wheels of a certain woman doctor and was killed. The Romanies searched for her to take their revenge. The poor woman had to leave her work and flee to the unknown. In the Old Testament there were so-called places of refuge for people who unintentionally killed a human. In these places they were safe. When there is a car accident, the criminal law refers to the principle: “The driver was obliged to conform the ride to the circumstances.” How many innocent people are in prison for a car accident in which they were not guilty. In Your case the authority of bishop covered the eyes of justice and You easily continued the path of Your career.
You are a member of the Focolare movement. This movement, even in Slovakia, systematically pursues the aim to fill all the key posts with members of Focolare. We ask: What spirit will this movement promote? We need not go far to get the answer: in the neighbouring Czech Republic (CR) the whole Church is in the hands of Focolare. The Church leadership is silent on evil, makes unity with heretics and silently liquidates all orthodox-minded personalities. Cardinal M. Vlk, a Focolarine, has already for 17 years been shielding the apostate Tomáš Halík and his activity. The Focolare leadership of the Church in CR to a large extent acts in complicity in the laws of so-called registered partnership (of homosexuals) which have been enforced in CR. 36.
Before the presidential election this leadership should have at least supported the President who promotes Christian principles, or at least should have forbidden the priest Tomáš Halík from his fervent propaganda in favour of a candidate who does not promote these Christian principles. The silence of the Focolare leadership meant here tacit consent to T. Halík and to the unchristian principles! Another Focolarine, Bishop L. Hučko, is known for his “virtues” – unfortunately as a professional thief and cynic. What about Archbishop J. Graubner? This Focolarine allows the liberal spirit to liquidate the future priests and likewise at the theological faculty in Olomouc he allows re-education of religious in the spirit of liberalism and New Age, which is completed by zen-buddhist spiritual exercises. Head of this theological faculty is a woman dean. This progress of false feminism has recently been enforced even in the very Bishops’ Conference (ČBK) which now has a spokeswoman, a Focolarine. This imprudence may be compared to a situation when doctors would choose a woman cook to be their spokeswoman, or hockey-players a woman hairdresser to be their coach.
These absurdities are obviously the consequence of the fact that in the forefront of the syncretistic Focolare movement there is a woman. We repeat again: behind the Focolare movement is not the spirit of repentance, the spirit of truth, but unity with the spirit of the world and love for sin and for heresies!
How purposefully this movement is promoting its structures even in Slovakia is manifest. A young married Greek-Catholic priest, a Focolarine, is the secretary of KBS (Conference of the Bishops of Slovakia); his father practises divination by pendulum and his mother, similarly, has taken courses in occultism. The Catholic press, radio, seminaries – all key posts are gradually being lobbied by the Focolarines. And now in Slovakia, Focolare celebrates its triumph – it has its own diocese at last and step by step there will be next and next added. We feel like crying when witnessing this reality, when considering the future of Slovakia; however, KN tells us: “Their meaning (i.e. of the changes) we shall understand only later. This is a new stage of life in the Catholic Church in Slovakia.” A stage without conversion, without concrete repentance, without true following of Christ, that is a stage of gradual self-destruction!
Your Excellency, God is giving You a chance and this chance consists in repentance. Become the first Focolare bishop who will take the reform of the Church seriously, and that not in the spirit of Chiara, in the spirit of New Age, but in the spirit of true repentance! And start from Yourself!
God is seeking people who give first place to the kingdom of God and to the salvation of immortal souls! How shall You stand before God’s Judgement for the responsibility You have so easily taken on Yourself? In the present times, when the Church is being internally liquidated, it is necessary that in the key posts there be true witnesses of Jesus Christ who do not seek their self but “die for Christ’s sake every day” like St. Paul (cf. Rom 8:36). The core of betrayal in Focolare is that they have religious phrases but no true repentance. Especially the leading personalities of Focolare have shut themselves off from the Spirit of truth! You, however, be a pattern of repentance and renewal in this movement! Sooner or later judgement faces the whole Focolare movement for its propagation of the spirit of New Age and spirit of syncretism and for causing a covert decay of the Church!!!
You, however, be a holy bishop, this we wish You from the heart; then You will really commence “a new stage of life in the Catholic Church in Slovakia”.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Eliáš A. Dohnal ThD. OSBM., Fr. Metoděj R. Špiřík ThD. OSBM., Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk ThLic. OSBM
Pidhirtsi, 29th February 2008
Copies to: The Holy Father Benedict XVI, The Czech and the Slovak Bishops’ Conferences (ČBK and KBS)
9. Letter to Cardinal Levada, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Focolare – a sect inside the Church
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Prefect, Cardinal William Joseph Levada
The ex-members of the Focolare movement studied an analysis by G.A. Galanti Ph.D. who investigated into the Moon’s sect, so-called Unification Church (Church of unity), and in their study they came to the conclusion that over 10 different techniques of so-called brainwashing are used not only by the Moon’s sect but also by the Focolare movement. These techniques have been described in the book by R.J. Lifton “Study of Brainwashing”.
In what aspect does the Focolare represent a danger for the Church?
The danger of the Focolare consists in the fact that though having a Catholic exterior it leads away from the most essential thing without which no one can be saved, and that is saving faith and true repentance!
The Focolare has another Christ, a different spirit and a different gospel (cf. 2Cor 11:4). The evidence of it is the fact that the Focolare has never defended the fundamental truths of faith and morals but is doing quite the opposite!
If for false love and unity sin is not called sin and the truth the truth, Jesus then cannot be the only and exclusive Saviour and the only Way to salvation. The Focolare introduces the spirit of New Age into the heart of the Catholic Church.
Unity and love on New Age basis
Chiara Lubich was granted the Rotary award of the Tridentine Alto Adige Südtirol 2001. Mr. Mattarolo, a Rotary representative, declared: “We have similar aims, though we in a non-confessional context… we also want unity.” (New City 9/2001)
The Rotary Club is closely related with Freemasons who covertly work inside the Church with the aim of her liquidation. If the Rotary granted Chiara its award and she received it without shame, then the question arises: What are those similar aims and what kind of unity is it that the Focolare movement and this strange organization share?
Syncretism of the Focolare movement
Worship of God intertwined with worship of demons in animals is syncretism.
“14th June. In the entrance hall of the Mariapoli Centre there is an unusual notice hanging: Bhakti, way of love. Unity with God and universal brotherhood of Hinduism and Christianity.“ (New City, 10/2002)
Bhakti is no way of love because it is a false way of self-divinization and idolatry. Christianity cannot be in universal brotherhood with hinduism. Why? Because the Christian worships the Only God and hinduism worships demons – gods with small g (cf. 2Cor 6:14f). The First Commandment expressly forbids this syncretism: “I am the Lord your God! … you shall have no other gods…” (Deut 5:6-7; 14-15)
The founder of the Focolare, Chiara, was granted several doctorates of honour by hinduists and buddhists, and also her so-called PremYoga is a testimony to the unity of spirit of the Focolare with hinduism and buddhism. But this is apostasy from the saving faith. This is a sin against the Holy Spirit – renunciation of the Spirit of truth, receipt of the spirit of lie and death. This is a public betrayal of Jesus Christ. The statement of Archbishop J. Graubner fully applies to Chiara and the Focolare movement (sect): “The change of attitude would entail the admission of guilt, penance and reparation. This, however, is a too high demand upon people who deny (personal and only) God and (true) spiritual values in general!” The Focolare therefore must either repent of apostasy or be publicly excluded from the Church because spiritually it does not belong to her any more!!!
The fruit of the Focolare in CR – 1 million Catholics have fallen away
Within 10 years of the Focolare rule in the Czech Republic (CR) one million Catholics have fallen away (from 5 to 4 million). The Czech Republic is the most atheistic state in Europe. The Focolare hierarchy bears the blame that the act of registered homosexual partnership was enforced in CR in 2006. Already for several years Forum 2000 takes place in Prague every year, which has become a means of opening the Catholic Church for buddhism and for the spirit of New Age. The main initiator is the apostate priest Tomáš Halík who makes unity with the Focolare hierarchy in CR. So it is not only Halík but also the Focolare movement who are apostates. The Catholic Weekly in CR is, in its whole substance, in unity with them, too.
The Focolare movement is a big danger for the whole Church because this covert way of apostasy is being publicly presented as a model of new renewed Church. The Focolare cunningly shelters itself behind the Virgin Mary and behind numbers of Popes.
This movement has become a sect inside the Church which must either be abolished or repent publicly!
Liquidation of an orthodox faculty
In 2002 the Focolare Cardinal M. Vlk by help of state authorities de facto liquidated the Catholic Theological Faculty in Prague. The faithful Catholic professors were dismissed: V. Wolf Prof. Th. D., J. Polc Prof. Th. D. and others. Their posts were occupied by liberal professors with the spirit of the world (with the spirit of HCT). In 2005 a certain student was twice failed by the examiners in his final exams because he said that homosexuality is a sin.
Cooperation of the Focolare and the state power
In 2003 Cardinal M. Vlk, in spite of strong resistance of the believers, enforced the Focolare member L. Hučko as bishop of our Byzantine Church in CR. He thereby destroyed the demand for establishment of the Ukrainian Church sui juris.
Before the consecration of L. Hučko (May 2003) the Ukrainians silently demonstrated for about two weeks in front of the Apostolic Nunciature in Prague holding a placard: “We demand disclosure of personal files of L. Hučko”. The pressures for publication of the whole affair in the mass media were strong, but the Focolare movement by help of its net and contacts reduced the mass media to silence. Cardinal M. Vlk declared: “We saw to it that nothing of it be published.” As early as the Communist regime L. Hučko, in spite of being the leader of the Focolare, received the scientific degree of “candidate of sciences”. Such degree could be granted only to a member of the Communist party, or to an agent of StB (State Security Committee).
Nowadays the Focolare, and not only in CR, is working to put its people in all structures of the state power. They are promoting there their sectarian interests to the detriment of the Church.
The Focolare consciously lies
The spokeswoman of the Czech Bishops’ Conference (ČBK) Mrs. I. Sargánková from the Focolare movement published mendacious information (25th March 2008) about our alleged excommunication, which afterward was carried by The Catholic Weekly and other mass media. This is a purposeful lie.
The responsibility for this falls on the Focolare members: Bishop L. Hučko, secretary of the ČBK, Archbishop J. Graubner, president of the ČBK, and Cardinal M. Vlk. We repeat: We are regular members of the Greek-Catholic Church and, moreover, we are rightful bishops and members of the OSBM Order!
The Focolare in Slovakia
How purposefully this movement is promoting its structures even in the Slovak Republic (SR) is evident. A young married Greek-Catholic priest, a Focolarine, whose father, a Focolarine, practises divination by pendulum and whose mother, similarly, has taken courses in occultism, is the secretary of KBS (Conference of the Bishops of Slovakia). His father-in-law is employed at the Ministry of Home Affairs owing to the Church’s lobbying; The seminaries, Catholic press, radio – all key positions are gradually being lobbied by the Focolarines. And now the Focolare celebrates its triumph in Slovakia – it has its own diocese at last and step by step there will be next and next added. 38.
We feel like crying over this reality when considering the future of Slovakia; however, The Catholic News (SR) tells us: “Their meaning (i.e. of the changes) we shall understand only later. This is a new stage of life in the Catholic Church in Slovakia.” A stage without conversion, without concrete repentance, without true following of Christ, that is a stage of gradual self-destruction!
Accusation against Bishop L. Hučko
I am turning to You as a member of the Greek-Catholic Church in the Czech Republic (CR) with an accusation against the Greek-Catholic Bishop L. Huchko who illegally took possession of my property (a flat on 1281/3 Pospishilova St., Prague – Zhizhkov, and a house on 35 Prima St., Prague – Smikhov). I turned to the Bishops’ Conference and then to the Apostolic Nuncio in CR with a request for help but they did not help me. The Apostolic Nuncio recommended me to turn to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, which I did.
On 3rd April 2006, the Vicar General of Bishop L. Huchko – Fr. Milan Hanush, the secretary of Bishop L. Huchko – Fr. Kornelius Balazh and the advocate of Cardinal M. Vlk (the Archbishopric of Prague) – Mrs. Civinova JUDr. intimidated, psychologically manipulated and deceived me – an old and ill widow – and forced me to sign a pre-prepared document with my personal identification number and name. Later I realized that it was written there that I disclaimed my property, withdrew my complaint against Bishop L. Huchko dated 17th October 2005, and the text also contained defamation of Basilian fathers.
Now, when I freely realized what had happened, I officially withdrew that signature of mine, and I protest against this criminal act of Bishop L. Huchko and his accomplices.
Your Holiness, I ask You earnestly to defend my cause and to bring Bishop L. Huchko to return my property to me. Beside You and God I have no more hope.
In case of my early death, or in case Bishop L. Huchko hastens my death through further intimidation, I wish all my property could be disposed of in compliance with my last will.
With devotion and hope, Dr. Kalina Šutková
Prague 5th April 2006
Supplement: In February 2008 L. Hučko no longer waited for anything and anyone, he took the stolen house by force, wrenched out the locks and inserted his own. Thereafter he removed the furniture of Mrs. Šutková from the house. So the house on 35 Přímá St. is already occupied by Bishop L. Hučko who is now waiting for the death of Mrs. Šutková in order to get possession of her flat, too, on 1281/3 Pospíšilova St., Prague – Žižkov where she lives.
The Focolare demands restitution of property from the state (CW 22/2008)
On 27th March 2008 Archbishop J. Graubner, president of the ČBK, declared, referring to the Czech parliament: “The negative standpoint (concerning restitution of property) of those who robbed the Church and want to destroy her is not surprising.” This, however, applies in the first place to the Focolare which stole the last property from a poor widow and from poor religious and wants to destroy the living Church. The Focolarine Archbishop J. Graubner continues: “The change of attitude would entail the admission of guilt, penance and reparation.” The Focolare in CR accuses the state of a crime against the Church. A far greater crime in relation to the Church is that the Focolare destroys the Church in her substance. It has never admitted this serious guilt, it has never repented of pernicious syncretism and pharisaism and it has never sought reparation.
The next Graubner’s statement holds true above all about the Focolare again: “This (admission of guilt, penance, reparation) is a too high demand upon people who deny (personal and only) God and (true) spiritual values.”
The Focolare steals Church properties
Through lack of vocations there is the danger that the Benedictine property in Emmaus (Prague) will be transferred to the Archbishopric of Prague, which will afterwards pass it on its Focolare members. At a command from above (on initiative of Cardinal M. Vlk) the prior was no more allowed to admit two priests into the Order. Similarly, Bishop Hučko (Foco) stole a house from the Basilian Order in Sázava. Neither the protest of General Superior OSBM nor the intervention of Apostolic Nuncio Msgr. J. Ender was of any help. Other religious orders or communities will obviously be liquidated in a similar manner, and their properties will be transferred to the apostate and syncretistic Focolare movement.
Pseudoart and the Focolare
There was an art exhibition in Prague which exposed a cross with a naked woman on it and pictures of similar character. The believers asked the ČBK leadership to protest against the offending of the Christian faith. The ČBK spokesman, who interpreted the attitude of Cardinal M. Vlk, declared that “this is a matter of worthful art and those who take offence at it do not have Catholic faith”.
Feminism and the Focolare
The Theological Faculty in Olomouc (CR) has appointed a woman dean to the post of its head. The professors at this faculty are already openly propagating the idea of ordination of women. Who is fully responsible for this state is Archbishop J. Graubner (Focolare).
Hypnosis in SR
Max Kašparů, a psychiatrist and hypnotizer and a close co-worker of the apostate Prof. T. Halík, received a doctorate in divinity at the Theological Faculty in Košice for proposing hypnosis as a pastoral practice. The blame for this crime falls partly on Bishop F. Tondra, president of the KBS, next on the rector of the Seminary in Spišské Podhradie, on the leadership of the Theological Faculty in Košice and also on its rector Doc. A. Konečný, a Focolarine. Košice and Spiš make unity with the spirit of Prague liberalism and with the New Age spirit of Prof. T. Halík. 39.
Hypnosis in CR
Bishop L. Hučko (Focolare) has established a bureau of social and legal advice for the hypnotizer M. Kašparů, so that he may “profitably develop the new pastoral service in the Church” under this label. This is another abuse of our Eastern Church. The Orthodox Church radically forbids hypnosis because it is tied with occultism.
A reform in the Czech Republic
We propose the following solution for recovery of the ČBK and of the spiritual life in the Czech Republic:
A rightful step in relation to the Czech Catholics would be the withdrawal of Cardinal M. Vlk for retirement. Archbishop in his place may be e.g. his Vicar General M. Slavík ThD.
Archbishop J. Graubner may be transferred e.g. to the vacant see in Litoměřice. In his place in Olomouc the orthodox-minded priest V. Wolf Prof. ThD. may be installed, who can at the same time be appointed cardinal.
Bishop L. Hučko should be sent to a monastery where he could repent as he is doing harm to the Church. In his place there can be a true Catholic Ukrainian appointed and the exarchate of the UGCC established.
It would be good to assign Fr. Petr Dokládal and Fr. Pavel Uhřík to the Apostolic Nunciature as bishops who along with the Apostolic Nuncio will be responsible for the orthodoxy of faith and morals in CR.
Heresies of the Focolare bishops
Question: In the Czech Republic there are several Focolare bishops – and where the bishop is there is the Church, too, isn’t there?
Answer: Yes, where the bishop is there is the Church too, even if this bishop is weak and sinful. However, if this bishop is a heretic, he has automatically excluded himself from the Church (a heretic denies the very substance of salvation and of the Church)! The view of the Eastern Church is: The bishop-heretic was stripped of God’s grace, and therefore the people of God must no longer obey him, otherwise they participate in his heresy and apostasy and are in danger of eternal damnation. Therefore the Focolare bishops have to repent in public, i.e. they have to separate themselves:
from the heresy of syncretism of Chiara Lubich and from the heretical opinion that Christianity and pagan religions are parallel or even equal ways to salvation;
from the heresy of historic-critical theology (HCT) which, in essence, denies the Divinity of Christ and the inspiration of the Scripture.
Until they do so, the faithful must not obey them as bishops-heretics!
The Focolare makes unity with the lie, with other people’s property, with the Rotary Club, with hindus, with buddhists, with the apostate T. Halík, with HCT, with the spirit of pharisaism, with the spirit of New Age…
The Focolare has love for sin, syncretism, occultism, hypnosis, feminism, ordination of women, homosexuality, pseudoart, Church rule…
The fruit: Within 10 years 1 million Catholics have fallen away in CR.
The dangerous influence of the Focolare consists mainly in leading away from the most essential thing, without which no one will be saved, and that is the saving faith and true repentance. The Focolare is really a sect inside the Church!
the bishops of the UGCC
+ Metoděj, OSBM
+ Markian, OSBM
+ Eliáš, OSBM
Pidhirtsi, 1st June 2008
Copies to: His Holiness Benedict XVI, Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church, Bishops of the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine, President of CR Václav Klaus, Ministry of Culture, CR
10. A letter concerning the Focolare
At last after a longer pause You’ve again launched into an attack on the Focolare. Yet it was mere repetition of that which had been said before. It would need proving that on a worldwide scale their organization is in fact secretly directed by Freemasons. The Focolare movement has very strong links with state apparatus. The Focolarines have their people everywhere, in different offices, in science, education, government, business etc. Moreover, the chief bosses certainly are the former StB agents (note: State Security Committee). Exactly as You write. They do not need the property for the sake of the Church, but for their own. They want to tunnel under the Church and then to bury her bit by bit so that she will no more motivate anyone to choose to live a God-consecrated life. The Church will be disintegrated and secularized… She will employ more laymen than God-consecrated celibates; and this is the project of Jewish Freemasons, that eventually the clergy and religious should try to admit different people, non-celibates, to ordain women etc. This is the project of a new Church without Christ.
13th June 2008 X.Y.
Dear brother in Christ,
We understand that You do not want Your name published if You have such a sharp view of the Focolare, and obviously You also have some painful experience with this Church organization. You write that it would need proving that the Focolare is in fact secretly directed by Freemasons. We respond – if it is true, we believe that somebody else will prove it in due time. Our service to the Church was to clearly express that the Focolare is not founded on truth but that this movement avoids the spirit of truth and repentance. Therefore one cannot speak here about true conversion or following of Christ. That the Focolare is covertly directed by Freemasons we neither deny nor claim. But what we do claim publicly is that the Focolare is a sect inside the Catholic Church.
You used a formulation that the Focolare wants to tunnel under the Church and that our notice regarding Church property is topical! We reacted to Archbishop Graubner’s statement from the last month, wherein he uncompromisingly claimed the Church property and made thieves of the Czech government. That was why we pointed out again the property which the Focolare had stolen from the widow K.Š. from Prague. We also reminded of our own experience with the theft of our small house in Sázava and of the covert efforts of the Focolare to steal the Benedictine property in Emmaus.
As for Your hint about ordination of women, secularization of the Church and finally a Church without Christ (cf. syncretism of the founder), this is, unfortunately, a realistic description.
We are really grateful to the Focolare leadership, especially to Bishop L. Hučko that he actually forced us to think over the substance of the Focolare and over how great danger it represents to the Church!
the bishops of the UGCC
+ Metoděj, OSBM., + Eliáš, OSBM., + Markian, OSBM., + Samuel
Pidhirtsi, 19th June 2008
10. Bishop Frederick about Focolare
Bishop Frederick about Focolare
I am sorry, dear Bishops, that in the letter N. 8 Focolare seems a sect to you.
Perhaps there is a mistake in the understanding of Focolare spirituality. It is love and unity.
It is better understood in our country which is multireligious. We have to love all. People of other faiths also are to be loved and take their deep desire for love. Deus Caritas est, et qui manet in Caritate manet in Deo et Deus in Eo. (“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”)
Bishop Frederick, Jhansi [INDIA]
Dear Brother Bishop,
Thank You for sincere expression of Your attitude. We quote: “I am sorry, dear Bishops, that Focolare seems a sect to you.”
We understand Your pain, but for us too it was painful to state this truth hidden for many people, that Focolare is a sect inside the Church.
We quote next: “… Focolare spirituality … is love and unity.”
Reply: This spirituality is not in Spirit and truth and therefore even the so-called “words of life” of the founder have nothing in common with true life of repentance and conversion. If first and foremost we do not witness to our Lord Jesus Christ in whom only is salvation and remission of sins, it is no true love. Martyrs and missionaries were true witnesses to Christ. This, unfortunately, cannot be said about Focolare.
The bishops of the UGCC
+ Samuel, + Markian, OSBM., + Metoděj, OSBM., + Eliáš, OSBM
Pidhirtsi, 21st June 2008
11. Letter to Cardinal M. Vlk
Cardinal M. Vlk, Archbishopric of Prague
We were informed about Your reaction directed against the Holy Father Benedict XVI for his remission of the excommunication of the bishops consecrated by Archbishop M. Lefebvre.
You are all talk about tolerance and focolare love; however, it is in fact only and only tolerance for heresies, especially for the ones of the apostate Prof. T. Halík. On the other hand You pin a deterrent label of fundamentalists on the orthodox Catholic faithful. And You put the orthodox Catholic Pope Benedict XVI into the same category. Two years ago he met You halfway and prolonged the term of Your office up to 17th May 2009. We hope that You will not have the impudence to hypocritically ask His Holiness to prolong Your office even further, and thus to make him as if remit Your anathema!
We remind You that before God You are a dead member of the Church because You have separated from her by uniting with a heretic and apostate T. Halík. You cover his heresies and thus participate in them. 41.
God’s anathema, which we made public on 29th June 2008, cannot be withdrawn from You even by the Holy Father unless You Yourself renounce the heresies. If You should die in this state of apostasy and not repent, You would be eternally condemned! Stop laughing at God at last. God will not let You ridicule Him!
Bishops of the standing Synod of the UGCC
+ Metoděj OSBM., + Samuel, + Markian OSBM., + Eliáš OSBM
Pidhirtsi, 18th February 2009
His Holiness Benedict XVI, Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church, Msgr. Diego Causero, Apostolic Nuncio to the Czech Republic
12. Letter to Msgr. L. Hučko, Exarch of the Greek-Catholic Church in CR 11.6.2009
Msgr. L. Hučko
Exarch of the Greek-Catholic Church in CR
At the beginning of this month You wrote a letter to Fr. Cyril Špiřík OSBM, in which You demand that by 1st July 2009 he should hand over to You the keys from our monastery in Sázava, whereby You would definitively seize it for Yourself. Fr. Cyril and Fr. František were exposed to great pressures in CR and finally capitulated. We quite understand them. The small monastery in Sázava was re-built with our own hands out of a barn and financed mostly by money-gifts from our parents and relatives. Many times we worked there till midnight so that we could have a roof over our heads. You did not help us with a single penny! You simply stole this property of ours.
Even the former Apostolic Nuncio E.J. Ender had to tell You openly that You had committed a mean robbery and also to challenge You to return the property! You promised to do so, but did not. When the Apostolic Nuncio was assigned to another country, You laughed at Your promise!
Moreover, You have stolen a small house in Prague which was donated to us by Mrs Kalina Šutková Dr. When she demanded that You should return it to her, You seized the house for Yourself – You had the locks picked and put Yours instead. For safety’s sake You took in a lodger. Now You are waiting for the death of this old lady so that You may thereafter seize even her flat in Prague which You, likewise illegally, have transferred to Yourself. It is a scandal that a person like You is a bishop of our Greek-Catholic Church in CR.
It is a scandal that for about 20 years You were a representative of the Focolare movement in the former Czechoslovakia. This case is a testimony that besides unity with heresies and love for lie this movement has one more typical sign – it is a brigandish organization!
We hereby call You to return the stolen house (35 Přímá St.) and flat to Mrs Šutková.
We hereby call You to return to us the stolen house in Sázava which You illegally transferred to Yourself, too. We did not appeal to ecclesiastical courts. These, unfortunately, do not act in accordance with the law but shelter the apostate structure in the Church, including You and Cardinal M. Vlk along with the whole apostate Focolare movement.
Your Excellency, we would like to remind You, too, that by 14th September 2009 You as bishop are obliged to confess the true faith and to renounce heresies. We are attaching the formula. We have to warn You that not to confess the faith is a far graver transgression than to steal a house. Unless You publicly announce Your confession, similarly to Cardinal Vlk and Prof. Halík You will be excluded from the Catholic Church and the Greek-Catholic believers must not obey You – as an apostate bishop – any longer!
Bishops of the Standing orthodox Catholic Synod of the UGCC
+ Eliáš OSBM., + Metoděj OSBM., + Markian OSBM., + Samuel OSBM.,
Pidhirtsi, 11th June 2009
The Holy Father Benedict XVI, Bishops of the Roman-Catholic Church in CR, Bishops of the Roman-Catholic Church in SR
Attachment: Formula of the confession of faith and renouncement of heresies
13. An appeal to the Pope 2.7.2009
His Holiness Benedict XVI, Città del Vaticano
There is no reason – with regard to Your responsibility – why You should make another apostolic visit to the Czech Republic (CR) in the span of 19 years after the fall of Communism. John Paul II visited the CR twice, in 1990 and 1996.
Your visit is scheduled for 26th-28th September 2009.
How will Your visit be abused?
Remember that those who liquidate the Church abuse gestures. Your visit will be a gesture by which:
you will approve of the heresies of Prof. T. Halík and CardINAL M. Vlk. In compliance with the canon law both of them are under an anathema! 42.
By Your gesture You will confirm an erroneous opinion that the papacy is more than God’s laws, whereby this gesture will actually become a means of liquidation of the papacy. The meaning of the papacy is to protect the faith and morals and by no means to do the contrary! You represent Christ, His true teaching, His Church. Only the very fact that You will come to the CR means that You will have to meet with Cardinal M. Vlk and directly or indirectly with Prof. T. Halík. Thus You will help to accomplish the covert aim of the apostates who want to create a public opinion that You do not condemn their heretical teaching and that, de facto, You remit their anathema or acknowledge that heresies which they uphold are no heresies. Thereby, however, You Yourself would deal a fatal blow to God’s institution of the papacy and full responsibility would fall upon You; You would thus condemn You Yourself!
We understand Your powerlessness in the Vatican since the rule there has been covertly usurped by the antipapal structure which systematically carries out self-destruction of the Church.
In this structure there is also Cardinal M. Vlk along with some other cardinals. These exert a moral pressure upon You to make You visit the CR and thus de facto confirm public heresies and heretics who were excluded from the Church by God owing to their heresies!
Another intention of the apostates is to use your visit to boost the Focolare movement. We repeat: In the beginning this movement was built upon genuine Christian trust in God (Turin, 1945). Later on, however, it became a covert means towards disintegration of Christianity in its essence. The Focolare adherents have never said a clear word against heresies. Cardinal Vlk as a Focolare liberal and protector of heresies (of Prof. T. Halík) has on his conscience that the CR was one of the first countries in Europe which passed the laws of homosexual marriages! This movement is a cancer of the Church. It is a scandal that there is a woman in its forefront again! It is a scandal that 200 bishops are marching after Chiara. Their spirituality lacks conversion and repentance as well as the Spirit of truth. The catchphrases about love lead to demoralization and pharisaism! Unity, which they emphasize so much, is not unity with the suffering and abandoned Jesus but with heresies and with the spirit of the world! It is true that a lot of genuine Focolare members became victims of deceit and manipulation. The Focolare movement has many signs of a sect. It does not bring a blessing to the Church but hampers a genuine and true spiritual awakening! Unfortunately, the structure which has been built up by it influences not only the Church but even the secular institutions. In the CR it even affects the political sphere! (example: the statement of the ex-minister Kalousek – see Letters from UA 8/09)
Another intention in abusing Your visit is to pull strings to get the post of CardINAL M. Vlk for a bishop with the same focolare spirit of apostasy. The journalists write that on the occasion of Your visit – allegedly – You are going to express Your thanks to Cardinal Vlk. What for? For apostasy of one million believers? For liquidation of orthodox professors at the theological faculty in Prague? For enforcement of homosexual laws? Vlk is strongly opposed to You; nevertheless, he wants to use You for the promotion of his man in his place so that the liquidation of the Church may continue!
Your Holiness, we beseech You before God and before the bleeding Church not to visit the Czech Republic!
Bishops of the orthodox Catholic Synod of the UGCC
+ Samuel OSBM + Metoděj OSBM + Markian OSBM + Eliáš OSBM
Pidhirtsi, 2nd July 2009
P.S.: The CR suffers from great floods these days. Every believing person knows that as Prague was flooded after an intense propagation of homosexual marriages in 2002, so is it this year too, after the ratification of the immoral Lisbon Treaty. These floods are a clear sign of God’s punishment. Naturally, Cardinal Vlk commented on it in exactly the opposite way. Nevertheless, the responsibility for this punishment falls fully upon the apostatical leadership of the Church in the CR, which does not repent nor leads others to do so!
14. An appeal for the confession of faith and renouncement of heresies 25.7.2009
Maria Voce – president
Giancarlo Faletti – co-president
Alberto Ferrucci, President of New Humanity movement
Pier Giorgio Colonnetti, Vice President of New Humanity movement
Luigino Bruni, Coordinator di Economia di Comunione
Marcella Ferrari, President of Azione per il mondo unito
Salvatrice Infantino, Vice President of Azione per il mondo unito
Dear representatives of the Focolare movement,
Our orthodox Catholic Synod of the UGCC has turned to the Superiors General of some of the religious orders and institutes, appealing to them to confess the true Catholic faith and to renounce heresies. This appeal is adequate for the situation the Church finds herself in. We send You the formula of the confession of faith and renouncement of heresies. Please, send this formula to the Holy Father by 15th August 2009. We would like to ask You, too, to let us know after You have done so. On 16th August 2009 we will make Your attitude public before the whole Church. Either a positive or a negative one. We want to warn of the fact that this is no non-committal questionnaire. 43.
By this letter, as successors of the apostles and prophets, we oblige You in conscience in the authority and name of God. If You do not confess the faith and manifest clear dissociation from concrete heresies, You will thus promulgate Your unity with them. This being the case, You will incur God’s anathema (Gal 1:8-9) and the latae sententiae penalty of excommunication by reason of heresy.
May the Mother of God obtain for You the courage to clearly confess the true Catholic doctrine and to dissociate Yourself from the spirit of the contemporary heresies.
Please, send Your reply to our e-mail address.
Bishops of the orthodox Catholic Synod of the UGCC
+ Eliáš OSBM., + Metoděj OSBM., + Markian OSBM., + Samuel OSBM.,
Pidhirtsi, 25th July 2009
Copies of the promulgation to:
The Holy Father Benedict XVI, Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church, Patriarchs and Bishops of the Orthodox Churches
15. An anathema on leading representatives of the Focolare movement 16.8.2009
On 25th July 2009 the leading representatives of the Focolare movement were appealed to confess the true Catholic doctrine and to renounce the contemporary heresies. They were warned of the fact that if they do not do so publicly and do not send their confession of faith to the Holy Father by 15th August 2009, they will fall under God’s anathema and under the latae sententiae penalty of excommunication by reason of obstinate persistence in heresy. Unfortunately, they did not confess the faith.
As from 16th August 2009, the below-named Focolare representatives incur God’s punishment of anathema. Through them a curse has been made manifest which lies on the whole Focolare movement up until these heretics are removed from the highest offices.
It concerns the following persons:
1) Maria Voce – President
2) Giancarlo Faletti – Co-President
3) Alberto Ferrucci, President of New Humanity movement
4) Pier Giorgio Colonnetti, Vice President of New Humanity movement
5) Luigino Bruni, Coordinator of Economia di Comunione
6) Marcella Ferrari, President of Azione per il mondo unito
7) Salvatrice Infantino, Vice President of Azione per il mondo unito
We have to point out that in case the persons concerned are priests, as from now they administer all sacraments, except for holy Baptism, invalidly. The Word of God says about these: “He who greets them shares in their heresies.” (cf. 2Jn 11)
(Announcement: The 14 Superiors General who incur the punishment of anathema also include Fr. B. Koubetch OSBM (the Basilians). He fell under excommunication on 7th July 2009.)
OTHER INFORMATION ON FOCOLARE
INTERRELIGIOUS CONCERT PROMOTES PEACE AND UNITY
Hong Kong (UCAN) October 20, 1998 An interreligious concert gathered 200 people of various religions here for a message of peace and unity. Those present ate an Indian vegetarian dinner and took part in the Light of Unity Interfaith Concert, the first organized by the Hong Kong Network on Religion and Peace (HKNRP), Oct. 17.
Performances were staged by the Catholic Focolare Movement, Buddhist Youth Centre, Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of Hong Kong, the Hindu group International Society for Krishna Consciousness and the Raja Yoga Centre, a worldwide spiritual movement.
The concert included Chinese, Indian, African and Filipino dances, Indian chanting, and songs in English, African and Chinese languages. Stressing HKNRP’s mission to promote peace through spiritual cooperation and common service, moderator Maureen Chen noted that the word “religion” is not always accepted and that religions sometimes spark war instead of peace.
HKNRP, a local network of religious and spiritual followers set up in 1995, comprises members of 15 religious organizations and other individuals. It organizes interreligious visits and dialogues on values.
Visiting Cardinal Sees Dialogue as ‘Only Way’ to Peace
http://www.cardinalrating.com/cardinal_6__article_4523.htm July 25, 2006
Cardinal Ennio Antonelli of Florence, Italy, expressed hope during a recent visit to the Philippines that the Church will foster dialogue among peoples because there is “no other way” to peace.
TAGAYTAY CITY, Philippines (UCAN, July 21, 2006) Cardinal Antonelli came to attend a gathering of about 30 Asian bishops sponsored by Focolare, an Italy-based Catholic movement that aims to build a spirituality of communion. 44.
The meeting was held June 30-July 2 at Focolare’s Mariapolis Center in Tagaytay City, 55 kilometers south of Manila.
On July 1, the cardinal told UCA News how the Asian bishops had impressed him through their sharing on the theme of the gathering: “Jesus Crucified and Forsaken: The Countenance of God, Love, A Way for Humanity.”
Bishops attending the meeting came from various countries and territories, including India, Japan, Korea, Macau, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.
Cardinal Antonelli, 69, served from 2000 to 2005 as secretary general of the Italian bishops’ conference. Besides his pastoral work, he has taught literature, art history and dogmatic theology at the Theological Institute of Assisi in Rome. He also served for a time as chaplain of the Catholic Teachers’ Association and various Catholic action groups in his homeland.
Through an interpreter, the cardinal shared stories that were being told at the gathering, and reported his own experiences of dialogue. He also explained why he regards dialogue as a way for Catholics to bear witness to Christ.
The interview with the Italian cardinal follows:
UCA NEWS: What is the gathering all about?
CARDINAL ENNIO ANTONELLI: In the meetings, we are speaking especially of the spirituality of communion. We also discuss the dialogues that Focolare is promoting, and how Focolare helps bring about renewal in parish life. We also reflect on Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” (God is Love).
Which bishops were present?
These bishops of Asia are friends of Focolare. The event is not so much a public and institutional event, but rather a spontaneous meeting of bishops who are friends and who wish to experience brotherhood among prelates that share the same spirituality and interest.
There are 30 bishops from 10 Asian countries. It may be hard to get a list of their names because not all countries represented at the meeting have the same religious freedom as exists here in the Philippines.
What is Focolare’s role in the Church of Asia?
Focolare is an institutional type of work. Its secretariat is at the Roca de Papa in Rome. Its official title means “the work of Mary.” Focolare has many branches, including one composed of bishop friends of the movement.
The head of that group is Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk of Praha (Prague). He was to come here but could not, so he asked me to replace him.
Focolare contributes to the whole Church through its spirituality of communion. Pope John Paul II said in his apostolic letter “Novo Millennio Ineunte (At the beginning of the new millennium)” that bringing the Church and the world into communion should be the primary concern of everyone. It should be a concern at all levels — Christian families, the parish, the diocese, and at national and even international levels. The Churches in Asia should also come together to build communion.
Asian bishops should be building such communion in their own dioceses and in the universal Church. They should support the pope because the episcopal college is co-responsible for the whole Church. So, in the work for sanctity, it is very important that communion becomes a way of life, a relationship with Christ and among us. It is a communion of love, of charity.
How does Focolare promote dialogue?
Focolare has taken initiatives in four ways: dialogue within the Catholic Church, ecumenical dialogue among Christian Churches, interreligious dialogue and dialogue with people with no religious affiliation.
The objective of dialogue, first of all, is to get to know one another better so as to overcome prejudices and allow common values to emerge, as well as to respect differences that may exist among the different religions. Dialogue can help us collaborate on the social and cultural planes, and live together in peace — peace among countries and religions.
How did the Asian bishops impress you?
We spoke about cultural dialogue with people who are not believers, to emphasize the value of human rights, the fundamental right of humans to collaborate for peace, integrity, justice and freedom.
There were updates and video documentaries showing dialogue initiatives — for example, by Buddhists in Japan. It was beautiful to see the Buddhists dialoguing not only with Catholics and other Christians but also among themselves, with different Buddhist denominations. The Buddhist leaders said the Christians helped their internal dialogue by creating an atmosphere of brotherly love and joy, and maintaining it.
Something similar was reported in a documentary about the head of Focolare in Thailand. She met with Buddhist monks at the highest level, and there was a beautiful atmosphere.
How does that compare with dialogue in Europe?
In Europe, there was a meeting two years ago in Stuttgart, Germany, to give a soul to Europe. There were Catholics, other Christians and people of many other religions from various nations of the continent. Dialogue is important for Europe to be not just a common market, but a community founded on human values and a common civilization.
There is dialogue in Europe, especially among Christian Churches. Muslims, Buddhists and even Jehovah’s Witnesses are all in Europe, so there also are initiatives to dialogue with Muslims and Buddhists, and they are all positive.
But dialogue in Europe is more limited because non-Christians are the minority there, while in Asia the Muslims are the majority in some countries and Buddhists in others. Still, it is significant that they recognize and very much appreciate the Catholic Church, even though the Catholic Church is a small minority in Asia. We must cultivate hope.
Can the Vatican foster interreligious dialogue?
It is already doing much. The big meetings in Assisi*
were called by John Paul II. [Pope John Paul II invited leaders of major world religions for a day of “prayer for peace” in Assisi, Italy, in 1986, and again in 1993 and 2002.] They were just the tip of the iceberg. There have been many more initiatives in different parts of the world. 45.
It is not only the Vatican, but also bishops carrying out initiatives in interreligious as well as ecumenical dialogue. In Florence, I have taken part many times in Ramadan (the Islamic holy month) activities, praying in silence with Muslims.
What about war and fundamentalism?
There are many big risks but we must work for peace. It has to be through dialogue. There is no other way, whether it is religious dialogue, social dialogue, cultural dialogue, in the socio-economic or even political level.
How do you deal with relativism?
Every year, I send a letter to families of my diocese, and the theme this year is “Christians in a Pluralistic Society.”
In that letter, I first remind the people to be aware of our faith in Jesus Christ, and to put Jesus at the center of our lives and love him.
The second thing is to dialogue with people of other religions because Jesus is the Savior of all. He loves all and draws all to himself. He helps them to know the truth, to do good and find everything that is good and true. A person may be a non-believer, but he may have many human values that are beautiful. He may possess that which is true. We must be happy to find this truth in him.
The third part of my letter encourages Christians to offer their faith, to propose it to someone who does not believe, but with the utmost respect toward that person. It is like saying, “I am happy to be Christian but I would be happier if you were Christian with me.”
There is no chance of religious relativism, that all religions are the same. All religions present good things and good values. But Jesus Christ is the presence of God Himself among us. This is totally unique, without comparison.
That differs from proselytizing?
Proselytizing is when someone of a particular faith tries to “conquer” another by using force and psychological and economic pressure, or offering some sort of advantage. But if I offer my faith with joy, I tell the other, “I am happy to be your friend and I see you possess many values, and you can be happy if you share my faith.” This is not proselytizing. It is professing my own faith, giving witness to my own faith.
Whoever has met Jesus Christ cannot remain silent. We cannot be silent about what we have seen and heard. We must proclaim it. *Assisi: see Sandro Magister’s article on page 52
Work of Mary (Focolare Movement) Founded Amid World War II
Vatican City, September 4, 2006 (Zenit.org)
Official name: Work of Mary Also known as: Focolare Movement Established: 1943
History: At the beginning of the 1940s, in the climate of hatred and violence of the Second World War, Chiara Lubich — a young elementary schoolteacher in Trent, her native city, whose thirst for truth had led her to enroll at the Philosophy Faculty of Venice University — discovered God is the only ideal which endures when everything else is falling down. With her first companions, in the shelters during air raids, she only took the Gospels with her. She was to write later that “those words seemed to be enlightened with a new light.”
God is love. In the commandment to love one another, they discovered the heart of the Gospel; in the testament of Jesus “that they all may be one,” they found the divine plan for universal unity and the purpose of their life; in the crucified Jesus who called out that his Father had abandoned him, they found the secret for the building of unity everywhere.
From their experience of the Gospel lived in daily life, a specific communitarian spirituality emerged, which gave rise to the Focolare Movement. In 1948, Lubich met Igino Giordani, member of Parliament, a writer, journalist and pioneer of ecumenism. Recognized as the co-founder thanks to the contribution that he made to the embodiment of the spirituality of unity in the social environment, he was to be the first married Focolarino. Father Pasquale Foresi is also recognized as co-founder, and is the first Focolarino priest, who made a major contribution to the introduction of theological studies into the movement, founding the Città Nuova publishing house and the Cittadella at Loppiano.
On June 29, 1990, the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed recognition of the Work of Mary (the Focolare Movement) as an international association of the faithful of pontifical right.
Identity: The Work of Mary was given this name because of its particular link with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ and of all men and women, of whom it wishes to be a reflection on earth, as far as possible.
The Marian nature of the movement is institutionally expressed in terms of its presidency, which is lay and female. The variety of people that belong to it, its worldwide spread, its purposes and the works that it undertakes, all to a certain extent reflect the universality of the Church. Its specific feature is the pursuit of the ideal of unity which gives it its spirit, its aims, its structure and its government. This is why it is committed to working for ever greater unity between the faithful of the Catholic Church; to establish communion and a common testimony with other Christian brothers and sisters in order to restore full unity; to achieve, through dialogue and common activities together with people of other religions, union in God among all believers, as the way of enabling them to come to know Christ; to engage in dialogue with people of good will and to work together with them for common purposes, to strengthen universal brotherhood throughout the whole world and to open up their hearts to Christ.
Organization: The movement is governed by the General Assembly, and the Centro dell’Opera, comprising the president, co-president and vicar, and the general councilors. The movement is divided into zones, with their own management bodies which answer to the Centro dell’Opera. At the heart of the Focolare Movement are “focolare centers” for men and women who live life in common or married life. 46.
An integral part of the Movement are the branches for diocesan priests and deacons, volunteers, and gens (children and young people), and gen’s (young men with a vocation to the priesthood), religious, and bishops who are friends of the movement, and also the following movements (branches working in many different ecclesial and civil fields): New Families, New Humanity, Young People for a United World, Youths for Unity, the Parish Movement.
Membership: The Work of Mary has 140,440 members worldwide. The centers of common life (“Focolare”) are present in 89 countries as follows: Africa (17), Asia (14), Europe (31), Middle East (6), North America (8), Oceania (3) and South America (10). There are about 4.5 million other people who are involved more broadly in the movement, including 47,000 from other churches; 30,000 co-workers and sympathizers belonging to other faiths, and 70,000 co-workers and sympathizers without religious convictions.
Works: The Work of Mary has established a large number of Mariapolis Centers, which are places for spiritual and social formation and ecumenical and interfaith meetings; Cittadelle, which are places where members of the movement can stay and socialize, with training schools, craft activities and farms; and nongovernmental organizations for international cooperation, such as AMU and New Humanity.
There are also publishing houses; audiovisual centers; international musical groups; artistic production centers; the “Economy of Communion” project implemented in the management of 761 companies; a residential middle school and higher secondary school in Cameroon; social schools for education in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue; courses for family mediators; and vocational training schools.
Publications: Città Nuova, published fortnightly (in 25 languages, 40 editions)
Nuova Umanità, a cultural journal published every two months, with synopsis translated into five languages
Gen’s, a journal for priests and seminarians published every two months in five languages
Unità e Carismi, published every two months for religious in seven languages
Gen2, a monthly magazine for young people in six languages
Gen3, a magazine published every two months for teen-agers in eight languages
Gen4, a magazine published every two months for children in seven languages
Parola di Vita (commentary on words of Scripture), published monthly in 80 languages and 16 local dialects
Economia di Comunione, published twice a year in six editions and six languages
Web site: www.focolare.org Headquarters: Movimento dei Focolari Centro Internazionale, Via di Frascati, 306
00040 Rocca di Papa (Roma) Italy Telephone (39) 06-947-989 — Fax 06-9474-9320 E-mail: email@example.com ZE06090410
Prelate Warns of a Global Cooling
Prague, Czech Republic, October 2, 2007 (Zenit.org) A “cooling off” of love and solidarity is even more dangerous than global warming, said the archbishop of Prague. Cardinal Miroslav Vlk made that comment at an annual ecumenical meeting, which brought together 43 religious leaders from 18 Churches and ecclesial communities, at the invitation of the prelate.
The leaders — all friends of the Catholic lay Focolare movement — focused on a spirituality of communion, something they said is necessary if the cause of ecumenism is to advance in the 21st century.
The bishops listened to testimonies of priests and laypeople who, nourished by the Focolare spirituality, supported the persecuted Church in what was then Czechoslovakia.
The meeting also served to analyze the 3rd Ecumenical European Assembly, recently concluded in Sibiu, Romania.
Cardinal Vlk said: “There is a worldwide warming of the planet that worries us. But there is a cooling off of love and solidarity that is ever more dangerous.”
He spoke about the experience lived in the meeting: “We are creating a ‘dialogue of life.’ We place an accent on what we have in common, beginning with baptism. We do not ignore the problems that exist […] but we are convinced that, with evangelical love, with love above all for Jesus crucified and abandoned, they can be transformed.”
1st Focolare Cofounder Dies. Pontiff Mourns Death of Focolare Founder.
Chiara Lubich Dies at 88
Vatican City, March 14, 2008 (Zenit.org) Benedict XVI expressed his condolences at the death of the founder of the Focolare Movement, Chiara Lubich, who died today at age 88. The Pope sent a telegram to Father Oreste Basso, co-president of the movement, saying that it was “with deep emotion” that he learned of the news of the “pious death” of Lubich, “which came at the end of a long and fruitful life marked by her tireless love for the abandoned Jesus.”
“At this moment of painful separation I remain affectionately and spiritually close to her relatives and to the entire Work of Mary — the Focolare Movement that began with her — and to those who appreciated her constant commitment for communion in the Church, for ecumenical dialogue and for fraternity among all peoples,” the Holy Father added.
“I thank the Lord for the witness of her life, spent in listening to the needs of modern man in complete faithfulness to the Church and to the Pope,” he said. “And, as I commend her soul to divine goodness that she may be welcomed in the bosom of the Father, I hope that those who knew and met her, admiring the wonders that God achieved through her missionary ardor, may follow her footsteps and keep her charism alive.
“With such sentiments, I invoke the maternal intercession of Mary and willingly impart my apostolic blessing to everyone.”
According to the Focolare Web site, the Pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, will preside over a funeral Mass on Tuesday at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
Lubich founded the Focolare Movement in the 1940s, discovering her call to foster unity amid the horrors of World War II. The group is now present in some 180 countries and includes members of various creeds, all dedicated to the spirituality of unity. 47.
CHIARA LUBICH, FOCOLARE FOUNDER, DEAD AT 88
Rome, March 14, 2008 (CWNews.com) Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare movement, died on March 14 at her home just outside Rome. She was 88 years old.
Born in Trent, Chiara Lubich was deeply moved by the hours she spent in prayer with friends during the heavy bombardment of the region by Allied troops in World War II. In 1943, at the age of 23, she took private vows and began working on the creation of a new lay movement.
The Focolare movement, which took its name from the Italian word for “hearths,” is dedicated to spiritual renewal in families and throughout the world. The group combines a strong Marian devotion with a commitment to ecumenical work, guided by the vision “that all may be one.”
Focolare spread quickly during the late 20th century, gaining official recognition from the Holy See in 1962. Today the lay movement claims hundreds of thousands of followers throughout the world.
Chiara Lubich had become an influential leader in the Church. She was a close adviser to Pope John Paul II, who appointed her to participate as an observer at several meetings of the Synod of Bishops. Upon learning of her death, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of her “tireless love for the abandoned Jesus” and her energetic work for “communion in the Church, for ecumenical dialogue and for fraternity among all peoples.”
Suffering from declining health for the past year, Lubich was hospitalized this past weekend when she had difficulty breathing. When she did not respond to medical treatment she chose to return home for her final hours of life.
The funeral for Chiara Lubich will be held at the Roman basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls on March 18. The Focolare movement will now face the choice of a new leader — who, according to the movement’s charter, must be a woman.
Catholic activist Chiara Lubich dies
March 17, 2008 http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=6232
One of the most influential women in the modern Catholic Church, Chiara Lubich, has died at the age of 88.
BBC news reports Lubich, who founded the Focolare Movement, died in Rome after years of ill health.
The UNESCO peace prize winner – who was close to the late Pope John Paul II – founded the lay movement, an organisation dedicated to helping the poor that has over two million supporters in more than 180 countries.
The movement seeks to spread Christian values by promoting traditional families and inter-religious dialogue.
Born in the northern Italian city of Trento, she felt a call during World War II at the age of 23 to alleviate human suffering.
Pope Benedict praised her “constant commitment for unity within the church, ecumenical dialogue and brotherhood among all people”. “I hope that all those who knew her or met her, admiring the wonders God performed through her fervent mission, follow in her footsteps, keeping her charisma alive,” the Pope said.
She won the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education in 1996, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Prize in 1998 and the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1977.
Her funeral will take place next Tuesday at Rome’s Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, the Vatican said.
1st Focolare Cofounder Dies
Rocca di Papa, Italy, April 2, 2008 (Zenit.org) Chiara Lubich’s first companion in founding the Focolare Movement died Tuesday, just two weeks after Lubich herself was laid to rest. Natalia Dallapiccola, 83, was “the first to follow [Chiara]” in death, just as she had done in life, a note from Focolare reported.
The Focolare movement highlighted the key role Dallapiccola had had in spreading their charism of unity in the countries of Eastern Europe. Lubich sent her to West Berlin in 1959 to start the movement there. Three years later she was sent to eastern Germany with the first group of Focolare doctors, requested there by the local bishop faced with the fleeing of medical professionals to the west. Dallapiccola also established contacts in Poland, then Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Lithuania. Though her health was already waning by 1976, she opened within Focolare the mission of interreligious dialogue, building relationships with Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist leaders. “Chiara had called Natalia ‘Anzolon,’ angel, in the Tridentine dialect, because of the ever living love in her for everyone,” Focolare statement noted.
‘Mirror Room’ Helps People Discover Divinity Within Themselves*
Post by Denden, Canada: August 21, 2008 at 11:46 pm
Though the idea is nice to help other people know that all of us are children of God therefore we shouldn’t be harming one another, there is a dangerous doctrinal error here in praying before a mirror instead of in front of the BODY and BLOOD of JESUS who is TRULY PRESENT in the TABERNACLE. This is reflected by the comment of the sister that the meditation room is a more important place of prayer than the TABERNACLE. If she has not been moved to love others while praying in front of Jesus, it is because she has not fully grasp the command of Christ to love others as he/she love himself. I think that to simply remind people about it frequently is enough to change our attitude towards others not necessarily having to pray in front of the mirror. This could lead to heretical views and watering down on the teachings of Christ and the Church. Look at the movement of Focolare founded by Chiara Lubich.
*Please see this ministry’s report entitled “UNIVERSAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT, INDORE” at
INFORMATION ON FOCOLARE, INDIA
The Focolare completes 25 years in India by Margaret Francis
In The Examiner, The Archdiocesan weekly of Bombay, January 21, 2006, Full page report.
EXTRACT: November 27, 2005 marked an important milestone in the life of the Focolare Movement in India.
St. Andrew’s Auditorium, Bandra was bustling with activity and universal brotherhood as it was the venue for the programme… It was the Silver Jubilee of the Focolare Movement in India! …Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Ivan Dias together with two more Bishops and a number of priests from different parts of India…
The programme was interlaced with artistic interludes.
A professional Bharata Natyam dancer performed an exquisite dance beseeching God to come into his soul and transform his mundane existence into one of divine glory of worshipping the Lord.
The audience watched the dance with reverence and awe, particularly because it was done by a Christian artiste and this form of dance has for a long time, been part of the Hindu culture…
Inter-religious Dialogue, one of the most beautiful fruits of the Focolare Movement, is an important tool for building unity. Various personalities who have been working with the Focolare for the progress of inter-religious dialogue in India were interviewed.
A hymn of praise to God our loving Father, whom we can all call upon by whatever name our faith teaches us, was sung by one of the eminent professors of the Hindu-Christian dialogue.
And as a gracious conclusion to a programme so profoundly full of grace, Cardinal Ivan Dias bestowed his blessing with encouraging words to the Focolare…
Super Congress’09: Children vow to stand up for peace
http://www.thehindu.com/2009/08/11/stories/2009081150770200.htm The Hindu, Staff Reporter, August 11, 2009
Coimbatore: As part of the Super Congress 2009, that took off in Coimbatore on Saturday, the participating children from various countries took a pledge to stand up for peace here on Sunday.
With the theme “Peace: Action for Violence against Children and Young People”, the Coimbatore Peace Festival was held at the Avinashilingam University for Women. The events began with the inauguration of the Peace Corners. It was an exhibition of the myriad religions and religious rituals and festivals of India. Then, the children and all others who were part of the Congress gathered on the grounds of the university and took part in the peace pledge.
T.K. Shanmuganandam, Chancellor, Avinashilingam University for Women, administered part of the oath that made the children promise that they would work with dedication to preserve and strengthen the unity of the communities and nations. They also guaranteed never to resort to violence and that they would always try to settle all differences and disputes peacefully.
The other part of the oath was administered by Alan Nazareth, Managing Trustee, Sarvodaya International Trust, Bangalore. He led the children in the pledge to commit themselves to peace and that they would always stand up for peace. The pledge was followed by a video presentation on Hiroshima Day. Saroja Prabhakaran, Vice-Chancellor, Avinashilingam University for Women, Marina Pracchia and Roberto Catalano, representatives from the Focolare Movement, addressed the children. Cultural programmes by children representing various countries and cultures were performed.
Posting in KonkaniCatholics yahoogroup Digest No. 2081 by Adrian Pereira, November 15, 2009
The Movement & Our Charism
The Focolare Movement is an ecclesial Movement. It is part of the new charisms of the last century, which John Paul II, in his Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Christifideles Laici’, defined as “graces of the Holy Spirit for the edification of the Church, the good of mankind and the needs of the world.”
Every new movement has a particular charism, ours is – Unity!
Origin & About the Founder
During World War 2, as with most of Europe, the Italian city of Trent was being regularly bombed. In the midst of all this destruction, a group of young girls – most in their late teens & early twenties – used to take shelter in one of the many underground air-raid shelters. One of them was Chiara Lubich.
Each of these young women came to realize that nothing in this world is indestructible – all their dreams were destroyed. One wanted to go to University but could not, another looked forward to staying in a big house, but it was destroyed and another girl was waiting to get married to her fiancé but he never came back from the war.
They concluded that everything was “vanity of vanities” and could be destroyed. Everything except God Himself – so each time the air-raid sirens would go off, they would rush to the shelter and take along with them a copy of the Gospel.
There, gathered around a small fire-place (led by our Founder – Chiara Lubich), they would read God’s word and contemplate on it. On one such occasion, they came across the words of Jesus – “Father, May they all be one – as You & I are one”. They found new meaning in this desire of Jesus and from then on Unity became their way of life. They focused on “Living the Gospel” and loving everyone they came across – without exception.
The Idea Grows
Many around Chiara and her friends were impressed by their little acts of love during the war, where at times they gave everything they had to someone needier, always believing that God would provide a hundred-fold and HE did. People would come knocking at their door and were never turned away. 49.
As people approached them for help, they also wanted to know that amidst so much destruction what made these girls so cheerful and were inspired by their experience. Many decided to follow their simple principle, to actually “Live the Gospel” and the movement grew.
It was later recognized by the Holy Father as an ecclesial movement and was given the name – The Work of Mary. However, as the origin of the movement was around a Fire-Place (Foco in Italian), the movement also came to be popularly known as the Focolare.
The Movement Today
The Movement Today has grown across more than 190 countries around the world and has among its members, peoples of all nationalities, creeds, cultures, ages and walks of life. We have children, youth, those married, religious (even Bishops & Cardinals) who follow our Ideal of Love and Unity. We build unity in the world by doing small acts of love at the individual level. Then at the community level, there are a number of events and activities. At a more universal level, we are also involved in helping the Church further its inter-religious dialogue with Muslims (primarily in the US), with Buddhists (in S.E. Asia) and Sikhs, Hindus (in India).
This is easy – you are already a member if you simply follow the gospel and try to live it in your life, in your own small way. Then of course, you are invited to know more about us, so you can better understand our spirituality and calling. As our charism is Unity, we are open to everyone, who dreams of a united world and of spreading God’s love to all.
In India, we have centers in Mumbai (Mahim, Santacruz & Goregaon), New Delhi and Bangalore. We also have regularly a number of activities and out-reach in Goa, Pune and Mangalore. To know more about the Focolare, I invite you to visit the International Website: http://www.focolare.org/home.php?lingua=EN
As mentioned by Prem, there might have been some controversies related to our involvement in inter-religious dialogues, of which I am personally not aware. However, Prem, I am sure if you are seeking the truth even in this matter, my friends will be happy to answer your questions.
If you are anywhere in India, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and request for specific information on current activities at your location. You are welcome to mention my reference & how you heard about the Movement.
GENERAL INFORMATION RELATED TO FOCOLARE
The Seven Capital Vices of the Movements, According to “La Civiltà Cattolica”
Three “dangers” and four “challenges”: through the magazine of the Rome Jesuits, the Vatican makes a critical appraisal of the movements. A warning for the Neocatechumenal Way, Focolare, Sant´Egidio, and Bose
by Sandro Magister
ROMA – With John Paul II, the communities and movements that have arisen within the Catholic Church during the past few decades have enjoyed a mild climate, wrapped up in the friendship of the pope. But shadows gather where light shines. A recent editorial in “La Civiltà Cattolica” listed the “dangers” and “challenges” posed to the Church by many of these movements. The editorial – dated June 19, 2004, entitled “The ecclesial movements today,” and signed by Jesuit Fr. Giuseppe De Rosa – is all the more important insofar as it was reviewed and authorized before printing by the Vatican secretariat of state, as is the rule for every edition of “La Civiltà Cattolica.” Reading it is like glancing over a reminder note, not for the use of the current pontificate, but for that of the next, with a list of unresolved questions. And the answers must be found. In making a survey of the “dangers” and “challenges” posed by the movements, the magazine does not mention names. But its not difficult for the experts to identify the institutes under criticism, point by point.
According to the editorial by “La Civiltà Cattolica,” “the most serious and difficult challenges that the ecclesial movements pose to the Church today” are the following four.
THE LEGISLATIVE VACUUM
The first is “the lack of an overarching law.” “The present code of canon law does not deal explicitly with the ecclesial movements,” and this generates confusion. They must be “given canonical systemization”: an undertaking “which, however, shows itself to be particularly difficult.”
This observation is valid for most of the movements. An important exception is represented by Opus Dei, which, since it became a personal prelature – the only one in the Church today – has enjoyed a solid and untouchable juridical framework.
The second concern is the presence in some movements of religious men and women belonging to other institutes: this “has provoked an identity crisis for some of them and has induced others to leave their own institutes or to establish a sort of dual membership.” This phenomenon is observed especially among the Charismatics and members of the Neocatechumenal Way. It frequently happens, for example, that Jesuits or Franciscans become part of these movements. Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, official preacher of the papal household, is a famous case of dual membership: he is a Franciscan friar, and at the same time he is part of the Charismatic movement Renewal in the Spirit. There are many cases of dual membership among the Charismatics. In the Neocatechumenal Way, on the other hand, it happens more frequently that a religious abandons his own institute of origin and shifts completely to the movement founded by Kiko Argüello e Carmen Hernández. It is understandable that ancient and glorious religious families would not look with a kindly eye upon the exit of their own consecrated men and women, and the passage of these into new movements.
NON-CATHOLICS IN THE HOUSE
The third challenge “is constituted by the fact that some ecclesial movements […] admit baptized non-Catholics”: if these “were to become very numerous, they might influence the general assemblies to make substantial statutory changes, putting in danger the Catholic nature of the movement itself.”
This brings to mind the Focolare movement founded and headed by Chiara Lubich, which counts among its members thousands of non-Catholics and non-Christians, among whom are many Muslims and Buddhists. It is true that the non-Catholics belonging to Focolare do not enjoy any deliberative power, but the fear is that they might gain influence as a pressure group and weigh upon the public image of the movement and of the Church, in a relativistic sense.
More substantial is the case of the monastic community of Bose, the founder and prior of which is Enzo Bianchi. There are some non-Catholics who have full membership in this community: the Swiss Reformed pastor Daniel Attinger, two other Protestants, and the Orthodox monk Emilianos Timiadis, previously the metropolitan archbishop of Silyvría. And this is enough to make it impossible for Bose to receive canonical approval from the Holy See, not to mention the other obstacle constituted by its being a mixed community, with monks and nuns in the same monastery.
PRIESTS TORN AWAY FROM THE DIOCESES
The fourth critical point mentioned by “La Civiltà Cattolica” deserves to be cited in full:
“The most delicate challenge is that of the participation of priests in the movements. It must be remembered, in the first place, that some movements have created their own seminaries, in which the students are formed according to the charism of the movement and prepared to be priests at the service of the movement itself. Then there remains the open question of the canonical incardination of these priests: if the movement has as its marks universality and missionary activity, which are recognized and approved by the Holy See in granting the movement the status of a public association, who should incardinate its priests? Generally, recourse is had to an instrumental incardination, in which a bishop well disposed toward the movement incardinates the priest into his diocese, while leaving him available – in general full time and with full freedom of movement – to the movement itself, through a written agreement. This means that a priest thus incardinated is at the service of the movement, wherever it may need him. But difficulties can arise if a bishop is succeeded by another who does not agree with this type of incardination, or if urgent and grave pastoral needs require the presence of the priest in the diocese: in this case, it can happen that the bishop tends to restrict the freedom of the priest and ignore the written agreement. Among other issues, such an agreement has more a formal than a juridical value, as it is not provided for in canon law.”
Many movements correspond to this profile. The most visible case is that of the Neocatechumenal Way, with more than fifty “Redemptoris Mater” seminaries throughout the world, from which thousands of priests have emerged and been juridically incardinated in the dioceses, but are often, in fact, at the exclusive service of the Way.
Analogous cases include the Community of Sant´Egidio, Focolare, the Marian Oases, the Missionary Community of Villaregia, and many more: all with priests at their service, ordained or contributed by friendly bishops.
The solution proposed by “La Civiltà Cattolica” is that “the movements that are by nature universal and missionary should obtain the faculty of incardinating their own clergy,” as is the case for the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits, and for the institutes of consecrated life in general.
In effect, among the movements that have arisen during the past few decades, some have already obtained the faculty of incardinating their own priests: the Legionaries of Christ, the Lefebvrists who re-entered the Catholic Church, the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo – linked with Communion and Liberation and with superior general Fr. Massimo Camisasca – and, naturally, Opus Dei, as it is a personal prelature.
The Neocatechumenal Way has tried, in the past, to obtain the status of a personal prelature. But without success. Many of the new movements have characteristics that make them unsuitable for full approval by the Vatican Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life. The Marian Oases, for example, apart from having a woman as superior general, have communities of men and women together: under these conditions, it is unlikely that they would obtain from the Holy See permission to incardinate their own priests.
To this list of four unresolved problems, the editorial of “La Civiltà Cattolica” adds three warnings of other dangers inherent to the movements.
The first danger: “The tendency to make absolute their own Christian experience, holding it to be the only valid one, for which reason the ‘true’ Christians would be those who are part of their own movement.”
The second: “The tendency to close themselves off; that is, to follow their own pastoral plans and methods of formation for the members of the movement, to carry out their own apostolic activities, refusing to collaborate with other ecclesial organizations, or seeking to occupy all the territory themselves, leaving scarce resources for the activities of other associations.”
The third: “The tendency to cut themselves off from the local Church, making reference in their apostolic activity more to the methods of the movement and the directives of its leaders than to the directives and pastoral programs of the dioceses and parishes. From this arises the sometimes bitter tensions that can be created between the ecclesial movements and the bishops and pastors.”
Disputed Questions – Like Salvation Outside of the Church
ROMA – To celebrate the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s pontificate, cardinals from all over the world will converge on Rome next October. The journalists who cover the Vatican, meanwhile, are traveling in the opposite direction. From Rome, they are swarming to 25 cities on five continents to talk about the pope.
It’s an initiative of Italy’s foreign ministry. Sandro Magister was assigned Tokyo, a congenial city with his preselected theme: the relationship between the Catholic Church and the great non-Christian religions, in particular those of Asia.
Here is the complete text of the conference address:
John Paul II and the Other Religions: From Assisi*
to “Dominus Iesus”
by Sandro Magister
Tokyo, June 18, 2003 *Assisi: see pages 35, 36, 46
There are some events that John Paul II and he alone, has wished should take place. He has desired them and brought them into being, for the first time in papal history and against the will of many members of the Church of his time – cardinals, bishops, priests, and faithful. It is likely that no other pope will reproduce them, at least not in the same way.
He carried out the first of these very special events at Assisi on October 27, 1986. He called to his side representatives from the most varied religions in the world and asked them to pray for peace – each to his own god. The multicolored swath of religious men in Piazza San Francesco, with the pope among them dressed in white, was a potent symbol.
But it was a dangerous symbol as well. Even though the idea was far from John Paul II’s intention, the message that came out of this meeting, for many, was one of a kind of United Nations of faiths. It seemed to speak of a multireligious coexistence in which each faith was as good as the other, and among which the Catholic Church took its place as an equal.
Years later, in fact, on August 6, 2000, Pope John Paul II and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger felt it their duty to make a declaration that would act as an antidote to this relativistic poison. It was titled “Dominus Iesus,” and it recalled a basic, fundamental Christian truth: that man finds salvation only in Jesus. The declaration triggered an earthquake. From without, the champions of secularism accused the Church of intolerance. From within, charges of anti-ecumenism sprang forth. This was a sign that “Dominus Iesus” had pinpointed a real malady in the Church, one that was discovered in Assisi and that had its destabilizing effects in Asia, and even more so in the Indian subcontinent. But let’s take things in order.
The first event on this rocky road was staged in 1986, in the town of Saint Francis. John Paul II made the announcement on January 25, and the critical reactions came immediately, especially within the Vatican Curia. But the pope wouldn’t be bridled, and entrusted the management of the event to one of his trusted cardinals, one of the few who agreed with him on this point, the French cardinal Roger Etchegaray, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The liturgical aspect was handled by Virgilio Cardinal Noé, the previous papal master of ceremonies. The scenographic and organizational aspects of the event were entrusted to the community of Sant’Egidio and the Focolare movement, both seasoned engineers of media events and already at the center of an international network for relations with non-Christian religions.
On October 27, television stations all over the world broadcast the images of the event that the pope had so strongly desired: pilgrimage, fasting, prayer, peace among peoples and religions. John Paul II even revived a medieval tradition by invoking on that day a “divine truce,” a halt in the use of arms on all war fronts throughout the world. It so happened that practically no combatants paid attention, but the symbol outweighed reality, and the image of the pope praying with the heads of so many different religions established itself as one of the most powerful signs of his entire pontificate.
But at the same time, critical reservations about the event were taking shape. The event in Assisi added fuel to the fire through some of its more excessive gestures. Some of the city’s churches were allotted for the prayers of Buddhists, Hindus, and African animists, as if these buildings were neutral containers, void of any indelible Christian value. The Buddhists set up a shrine of Buddha on the altar of the local Church of Saint Peter. The absence from Assisi of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the prefect for the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was not improperly interpreted as the self-distancing of the cardinal who, by his office, is the custodian of sound Catholic doctrine. The pope himself did not escape criticism. There were those who recalled that in February of that same year, during his voyage to India, he had given speeches of unprecedented openness toward that country’s religions, and at Bombay had
even let a priestess of the god Shiva anoint his forehead with a sacred Hindu symbol. A few of those who complained about this were Indian bishops. One of them, from Andhra Pradesh, said, “The pope knows Hinduism from books, but we, who live with it and see the damage it does to our good people, would never make certain speeches.”
“Redemptoris Missio,” 1990
John Paul II was aware of the criticisms. But that’s not all – he welcomed and shared the deep meaning of the remarks made by Ratzinger and others of similar stature. The pope confirmed this in an encyclical that he began to draft soon after the meeting in Assisi, which would come to light in 1990: “Redemptoris Missio.” As seen in its initial Latin words, the same as those in the title, the theme of this encyclical is the evangelizing mission of the Church, as it obeys the command of the Risen Jesus to His disciples, to go forth and teach and baptize all men, even unto the ends of the earth. As often happens, this encyclical was not produced in a vacuum, but was given in response to a real or feared straying from the mark: a stroke of the rudder by the successor of Peter to put the barque of the Church onto the right course.
The straying in question is, more specifically, the impoverishment of Catholic missionary vitality, its dilution into a vague dialogue with other religions and cultures, or even worse, into a dialogue stripped of the will to proclaim the truth and to solicit conversion to Christ, the only savior. 52.
In effect, beginning from the affirmation of the Second Vatican Council in the decree “Nostra Aetate,” according to which “the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in other religions,” the period after the council saw the widespread approval of the idea of transforming the missions into a simple commitment to foster the maturation of the “seeds of truth” present in the various religions – in other words, to help the Hindu be a good Hindu or help the Muslim worship his one God – as if these seeds were themselves distinct ways of salvation, independent of Christ and even more independent of the Church.
“Redemptoris Missio” decisively contrasts this “indifferent mentality, unfortunately widely diffused among Christians as well, which is rooted in incorrect theological views marked by a religious relativism that leads to the conviction that one religion is as good as another” (no. 36). The encyclical reaffirms the necessity and urgency of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus. This means an explicit proclamation. It means a proclamation made in the certainty that no other religion can save anyone apart from Christ, the only “way, truth, and life.” Few at the time noted the centrality of this encyclical in the teaching of John Paul II. But ten years later, when the pope thought it necessary and urgent to return to these themes, many citations from this encyclical were used emphatically in “Dominus Iesus,” which reemphasized even more definitively than “Redemptoris Missio” that proclaiming Christ to the nations is both unavoidable and irreplaceable.
The Asian Question
In 1994, John Paul II explained again his view of relations between the Catholic Church and non-Christian religions in his book/interview entitled “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” published simultaneously in many languages.
The pope maintains that there are religions that are by nature “particularly close to Christianity,” like the animist religions of Africa, from which conversion to the Gospel can come more easily. But he formulates an opposite judgment concerning the “great religions of the Far East”: Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism. These “are of a systematic character,” and are thus far less penetrable. This explains why, in these regions, “the missionary activity of the Church has born, we must acknowledge, very modest fruit.”
But the pope dedicates most of his attention and concern to Buddhism. This religion, he says, “is, like Christianity, a religion of salvation,” but the doctrines of salvation contained in these religions are “contrary” to each other. Buddhism’s salvation is “negative,” based upon the conviction that “the world is evil, and is the source of evil and suffering for man,” and that “to free oneself from this evil one must free oneself from the world.” This does not involve drawing nearer to God: “Complete detachment is not union with God, but the so-called ‘nirvana,’ or rather a state of perfect indifference toward the world.” Ultimately, “Buddhism is to a great extent an atheistic system,” despite the fascination it exercises. “Thus it is not out of place to warn those Christians who open themselves enthusiastically to certain proposals coming from the religious traditions of the Far East.”
These unexpectedly harsh judgments that the pope expressed in regard to the religion of Buddha provoked protests among Buddhists, but also among Catholic theologians in the avant-garde of dialogue with other religions. There were those who thought John Paul II was retreating from the advances in dialogue made in Assisi. In reality, in the same chapter of his book/interview, the pope recalled the interreligious encounter of 1986 in words that, if anything, might have suggested the contrary suspicion. The “historic” meeting in Assisi, he said, had convinced him more than ever that “the Holy Spirit works efficaciously even outside the visible organism of the Church.” And “he works upon the foundation of the ‘semina Verbi’ that almost constitute a common soteriological root among all the religions.”
The Enigma of the ‘semina Verbi’
To non-specialists, the preceding phrase may sound enigmatic. “Soteriological root” means the capacity for eternal salvation. The “Verbum,’ ‘Logos’ in Greek, is the Son of God made man in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, through whom the world was made and by whom all men are saved. As for the ‘semina Verbi,’ ‘the seeds of the Word,’ this is a very ancient expression, coined by Justin Martyr c. 150 A.D., which returned in the documents of the Second Vatican Council to designate whatever is “true and holy” even in the non-Christian religions.
To be precise, according to the early Fathers of the Church, including Augustine, the ‘seeds of the Word’ do not fecundate the pagan religions, of which the Fathers give an extremely negative judgment; they are rather to be found in Greek philosophy and the wisdom of the poets and the sibyls. But in its modern version, the formula is applied precisely to the non-Christian religions, with two meanings. The first meaning is that of the Second Vatican Council, in which the ‘semina Verbi’ are the mysterious presence of Christ the savior in all religions, insofar as these contain what is “true and holy” and thus salvific as well, but always through Christ, in ways that only He knows.
The second meaning is the one adopted by some theological currents during the second half of the twentieth century. In the judgment of their adherents, non-Christian religions have their own salvific capacity, not a mediated one; all of them express the manifold experiences of the divine, in an independent and complementary way; and Christ is the symbol of these manifold ways rather than the one necessary way.
The oscillation between these two meanings is not only a matter of theological dispute. It influences pastoral practice, the missions, and the public profile of the Church. The second of these meanings, in particular, took shape in a precise religious enterprise on the border between Christianity and Hinduism, created in India in the middle of the twentieth century by three spiritual adepts who came from Europe.
The Saccidananda Ashram
These three are the Frenchmen Jules Monchanin (1895-1957) and Henri Le Saux (1910-1973), and the Englishman Bede Griffiths (1906-1993), all priests, the latter two Benedictine monks. Monchanin and Le Saux, who emigrated to India, founded an ashram there in 1950, a place of meditation and prayer, dedicated to the Indian-Christian contemplation of the Trinity. They gave the ashram the name Saccidananda, a three-part Sanskrit word that evokes the ‘trinity’ of the Vedic religion: the origin of all, wisdom, and beatitude. 53.
The Saccidananda ashram stands even today in the wooded heart of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, in a sleepy little village called Thannirpalli, 300 miles south of Madras. And yet, this remote spiritual place soon became an extraordinary and cosmopolitan center of attention. In 1968, when Monchanin and Le Saux left the scene, Bede Griffiths became the site’s spiritual guide for a quarter of a century, and the ashram became part of the Camaldolese Benedictine family. Some of the most famous Catholic theologians working in the field of interreligious dialogue made extended visits there: from the Indian-Spanish priest Raimon Panikkar to the Belgian Jesuit Jacques Dupuis; from the Senegalese Aloysius Pieris, another Jesuit, to the American Camaldolese Thomas Matus.
The place itself visibly displays the interweaving of the Christian and Hindu faiths. Even now, whoever visits the ashram will be struck by the resemblance between the church in which the monks pray, which contains some Buddhist elements, and a Hindu temple. The “Holy of Holies” is dark and mysterious, like the cavern of Mother Earth from which the new creation arises. The colorful cupola is populated with saints and with four depictions of Jesus similar to the Buddha, a lotus flower, and the symbols of the five elements, all the way up to the vertex of infinite divinity. The monks begin every prayer with the sacred Sanskrit syllable “Om,” the primordial sound from which the earth was born. Every liturgy is reshaped and reflects interreligious spaces without immediately recognizable boundaries.
There is, however, a surprising element that leaps immediately to the eyes of the visitor, even more now than in past years. The few monks of the ashram are Indian, but the men and women who come to the monastery for hospitality are not: almost all of them come from Europe and North America. Conceived by the spiritual adepts of the Old Continent precisely as a bridge between the Christian faith and that of the Indian subcontinent, the Saccidananda ashram would seem to have failed to achieve its stated objective. It seems to reflect an unresolved problem entirely within Western Catholicism.
Cardinal Ratzinger Takes the Field
It is the problem that Cardinal Ratzinger subjected to incisive criticism in a substantial discourse given in Mexico in May of 1996 to the South American bishops, but intended for the entire Catholic world. It was a watershed address. Ratzinger, with the pope’s full consent, pointed to interreligious relativism as “the fundamental problem of faith in our time.” A few months later came a document from the International Theological Commission in line with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Then came the investigation of the theologian Dupuis, the most visible exponent of a “pluralistic theology of religions.” Then came the declaration “Dominus Iesus.” All of this was to reorient the Church with regard to a tendency judged as being extremely dangerous.
In his discourse in 1996, Ratzinger describes religious relativism as “a typical product of the Western world,” which is all the more insidious in that “it puts itself in contact with the philosophical and religious intuitions of Asia, particularly those of the Indian subcontinent.” And why is this so dangerous? Because throughout its history, Christianity has confronted various religious and anti-religious challenges, from Greek polytheism to Islam to modern secularism, but now that the Eastern religions are presenting the challenge, Western Christianity is more vulnerable. This is because the Eastern religions have a natural affinity for the secular relativism that reigns supreme in the West. Thus they exercise a contagious fascination that smashes the very foundations of the Church.
The Church has sought to respond to this challenge in various ways over the past decades, and the 1996 document by the Theological Commission traces these responses back to three main principles. There is an “exclusivist,” or “neo-orthodox” current, which in the Catholic context stakes itself on the traditional magisterium, while that of Protestantism follows the great theologian Karl Barth. This current defends the thesis that Christianity is the only salvific faith and the only direct revelation of God to humanity. For the exclusivists, the ancient expression “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” (“Outside the Church there is no salvation”) holds firm.
Then there is the “inclusivist” current, which is well represented in Catholic theology by Karl Rahner. For its adherents, the previous maxim is reversed: “Ubi salus ibi Ecclesia” (“Wherever there is salvation, there is the Church”). And what they mean by the Church is a community as vast as the world, made up of baptized persons, professed Christians, but also by masses of “anonymous Christians”: those believers who find salvation in their respective religions, including those of Asia, and enter mysteriously by these tortuous ways, without realizing it, into the one Church of Christ.
Last come the “pluralists.” The most embattled of these is the Presbyterian theologian John Hick. But this current has its defenders even among Catholics, lead by the American Paul Knitter, followed by Panikkar, Pieris, and the spiritual teachers of the Saccidananda ashram. For the pluralists, Christianity does not have the right to make an exclusive claim to the truth. Even Christ is a transcendent reality, composed of all of his historical incarnations, of which Jesus is not the only – and perhaps not the last – instance. For the pluralists, the “Shema Israel” of the Jews, the Christian Creed, the Muslim act of faith “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet,” and the Buddhist belief that at the heart of reality there is the emptiness of Nirvana all have their own saving power.
But are these professions of faith all equally true? This is a serious question. From the assertion that “all faiths are valid” for salvation, the pluralists pass quickly to the assertion that “all faiths are true.” But can truth be relativized in this way? One can understand why Cardinal Ratzinger, the guardian of the Church’s doctrinal truth, would see a grave danger in theological pluralism. The fact that the secular and religious relativism of Europe and America receives this sort of consecration from the East adds to the persuasive force of his argument.
The Dupuis Case
Until the end of the ’90’s, anyway, pluralistic theorizing was limited to intellectual circles. Things changed when one of the regulars of the Saccidananda ashram, the Jesuit theologian Dupuis, left India and came to the Gregorian University in Rome, run by the Jesuits, the most authoritative of the pontifical universities and the one that for centuries has formed the leaders of the Catholic Church worldwide. 54.
In 1997, Dupuis published a book that was also the outline of his teaching, with the title “Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism.”
Until then, Dupuis had had a reputation as an orthodox theologian. The Vatican had called him in as a consultant for the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The secretary of the council at the time, Michael L. Fitzgerald, now its president, while speaking in Assisi at the tenth anniversary of John Paul II’s meeting with religious leaders, introduced him as “a Catholic theologian who avoids pluralism and forcefully opposes the trivialization of Christ.” And when the much-hyped book came out, the Gregorian endorsed it with great praise; the enthusiasts included Fitzgerald and the rector of the athenaeum, Giuseppe Pittau, the former rector of Sophia University in Tokyo and currently the secretary of the Vatican congregation for Catholic education.
But the wind changed a few months later. On April 14, 1998, “Avvenire,” the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, unexpectedly did a hatchet job on the book, in an article written by a theologian with strong Vatican ties, Inos Biffi (no relation to Cardinal Biffi). Also in April, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the one Ratzinger presides over, opened a preliminary inquiry of Dupuis and his book. On June 10, Ratzinger and the other cardinals of the congregation decided to conduct a secret investigation.
Even Dupuis was told nothing. But another signal appeared in the middle of the summer. “La Civiltà Cattolica,” the bimonthly published by the Jesuits in Rome, issued a review critical of Dupuis’ book. The review was as authoritative as the man who wrote it, the respected Jesuit Giuseppe De Rosa. But it had an even greater value, as do all the articles of “La Civiltà Cattolica”: it was read and approved before publication by the Vatican secretary of state. The article ended with a list of accusations in the guise of questions, first of all about Jesus Christ: “Does the Christology of Fr. Dupuis do full justice to the contents of the New Testament and Tradition?” Then it asked about the Church: “Has it given the proper importance to the mediation of the Church in the work of salvation?” It finished with a question about the necessity of converting unbelievers: “If the other religious traditions have their own salvific figures, their own prophets, their own sacred scriptures; if they are already the people of God, already part of the kingdom of God, why should they be asked to become disciples of Christ?”
On October 2, 1999, Dupuis was finally told that he was under investigation. The Jesuit Father General, Peter Hans Kolvenbach, sent him a list of the points of controversy, which had been established by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was given three months to present a brief in his defense. Meanwhile, he was obliged to speak to no one about the contested themes. He could not even continue to teach, as his course at the Gregorian was closely connected to those themes.
It was the notice of the termination of the course, posted at the Gregorian, that brought the case into the public eye – and the polemics broke out immediately. The English Catholic publication “The Tablet” came to the defense of the accused with an article by no less than the Austrian cardinal Frank Konig, over ninety years old and one of the pillars of the Second Vatican Council. But the most resounding reactions came from India. The archbishop of Calcutta, Henry D’Souza, accused the Vatican of wanting to gag theologians by attacking one “respected for his orthodoxy” with the intention of silencing them all, with India especially in its sights. And it’s true, in fact, that India was under fire. Before the outbreak of the Dupuis case, the last two condemnations by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were from that subcontinent. The first was Tissa Balasuriya, a religious of Sri Lanka, who was excommunicated in 1996 for his disturbing book in which he demolished important articles of the Creed, and was then readmitted to the Church on condition of repentance. The second was Anthony De Mello, an Indian Jesuit who wrote wildly successful best-sellers, still sold in dozens of languages, who was condemned “post mortem” on June 24, 1998, under the accusation of having dissolved God, Jesus, and the Church into a cosmic, somewhat New Age spirituality with an oriental flavor.
“Dominus Iesus,” 2000
The Holy Year of 2000 was drawing near, as planned and prepared with great care by John Paul II, and the Church seemed to want to establish clarity withindoors. The inauguration of the Jubilee, in reality, refocused some of the critics. The ceremony of the opening of the holy door was audaciously new, compared with tradition, and was vaguely interreligious: the resplendently vested pope was surrounded by dancers in Indian costumes perfumed with oriental scents. But the pope was in no frame of mind for peaceable concessions, as demonstrated by the strong gestures with which he opened the Jubilee year: from the “mea culpa” for the sins of Christians in the past, to the remembrance of the martyrs of yesterday and today, to the solemn reaffirmation of the doctrine according to which “Jesus Christ, and no one else, can give us salvation.” (Atti 12:4)
This reaffirmation took on weight in a declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dated August 6, 2000, whose title is taken from its initial Latin words: “Dominus Iesus.” It is not presented as an organic treatment of the relationship between the Christian faith and other religions. It limits itself to defining the errors to be corrected and to repeating the essential truth. One of its central passages reads: “The thesis that the revelation of Jesus Christ is of a limited, incomplete, and imperfect character, and must be completed by the revelation present in other religions, is contrary to the faith of the Church….This position radically contradicts the affirmations of faith according to which the full and complete revelation of the salvific mystery of God is given in Jesus Christ” (no. 6).
“Dominus Iesus” shields itself with many citations from the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Even so, as soon as it was published, it was met with a deluge of criticism, both from within and from outside the Church, second only to the reception that the highly controversial encyclical “Humanae Vitae” received in 1968. The most famous of the theologians, Hans Kung, labeled it as “a combination of medieval backwardness and Vatican megalomania.” 55.
It was rejected by leaders of other Christian confessions and other religions. There were protests from defenders of secularism, tolerance, ecumenism, and dialogue.
But the more striking fact is that among the critical voices there also appeared those of senior leaders of the Church hierarchy. Archbishop (now Cardinal) Karl Lehmann, the president of the German bishops’ conference, contested the declaration’s lack “of the style of the great Council documents.” The other German archbishop, Walter Kasper (also a future cardinal), complained of “communication problems.” Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini echoed his comment, hoping that “little by little things will be made clear.” But the most clamorous was the distancing of the Australian cardinal Edward Cassidy, then president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. From Lisbon, where he was participating in an interreligious meeting after the model of Assisi, Cassidy contrasted the ecumenical sensitivity of the office over which he presided with the insensitivity of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith directed by Ratzinger: “We, with our ecumenical experience, have a sensitive ear that tells us something is being disturbed. They, on the other hand, have the scholastic manner of saying ‘This is true, that is not true.’ This document has created ambiguity, and now we must seek to avoid imprecise interpretations.” To reassure the critics, Cassidy added that in any case “Dominus Iesus” did not bear the pope’s signature, as if to say that its authority was weak and that it could be corrected easily.
Return to the Origins
In fact, it was Ratzinger who signed the document. But at the end of the document, it was also written that John Paul II had “ratified and confirmed [it] with sure understanding and with his apostolic authority and [had] ordered its publication.” And to avoid any ambiguity, on Sunday, October 1, 2000, the pope intervened publicly and in person to reemphasize that he had wanted “Dominus Iesus” and “approved it in a special way.”
Ratzinger himself countered the specific accusations made by Church authorities, in an interview he gave to “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,” reprinted on October 8 by “L’Osservatore Romano.” “Dominus Iesus,” the cardinal said, represented the Council documents “without adding or taking away anything.” Both Cassidy and Kasper “participated actively in the drafting of the document,” and “almost all of their proposals were accepted.” If there were a problem of understanding, “the document should be translated, not scorned.” But above all, “with this declaration, whose authors proceeded step by step with great attention, the pope wished to offer to the world a great and solemn acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as Lord at the Holy Year’s culmination, thus firmly bringing the essence of the Christian faith to the center of this event.”
The polemics surrounding “Dominus Iesus,” Ratzinger concludes, must not obscure its true objective, that of forcefully reaffirming “the essence of Christianity,” summed up by the apostle Paul in the formula of faith “Jesus is Lord”(1 Cor. 12:3).
This last statement is the one that really marks this dispute. A cardinal and theologian, Giacomo Biffi, archbishop of Bologna, takes it up and repeats it in pointed words: “That the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith should have thought it necessary to intervene in the question of ‘the uniqueness and universal salvific character of Jesus and the Church’ with the declaration “Dominus Iesus” is of unprecedented seriousness, because in two thousand years there has never been felt the need to recall and defend such basic truths.”
The follow-up to the events comforted both Ratzinger and Biffi, as well as the pope. In the fall of 2001, among the most important cardinals and bishops meeting for a synod in Rome, none of them returned to polemicize over “Dominus Iesus.” On the contrary, most of them agreed that religious orthodoxy was in danger, and that it was necessary to restate fundamental truths. Dupuis made his amends, and signed a Vatican pronouncement that reaffirmed that “it is contrary to the Catholic faith to consider the various religions of the world as ways complementary to the Church in the order of salvation.” The theologian Angelo Amato, a specialist in Christology and oriental religions who had lived for many years in India and was one of the authors of the outline of “Dominus Iesus,” was promoted to the top level of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as Ratzinger’s chief collaborator.
And thus John Paul II, on January 24, 2002, could return to Assisi with greater tranquility for an interreligious prayer meeting similar to the one in 1986. Similar, but not the same, that is. It took care to avoid any appearance of syncretism and confusion. Ratzinger, who had stayed away the last time, came to this meeting. His conviction, which is also that of the pope, is that “the faith of simple believers must be protected.” And this is the function of the magisterium of the Church: “The baptismal Creed, in its ingenious literalness, is the measure of all theology. And the Church must be able to tell its faithful which opinions correspond to the faith and which do not.”
To make a sum of this account, between the first and the last of his trips to Assisi, John Paul II has accompanied the whole Church on a rediscovery of the fountain of its life, its reason for being: “Dominus Iesus,” Jesus is Lord.
Lilly Marie Caldwell Medina
Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2005 11:47 AM Subject: Surprise !!!!
…I was taking a Eucharist course with the Bishop of Miami, it was very interesting, but I expected to learn more things, people started to talk too much to the Bishop about the problems in their parishes and did not let him give the class as he was supposed to, but it is O.K. I met very nice people…
I am very impressed with the attachments you sent to me about the Tsunami, very impressed also with the story of the 400 Catholics that nothing happened to them. Certainly you are privileged, good Christian, good writer, much talents and thanks God you give Praise to HIM using them for HIS Glory.
Michael, I met some persons of a movement called “Focolare Movement” founded in Italy by Chiara Lubich, she is still alive, do you know something about this movement? I have been doing some searching in the Internet but I will like to know more about them. I was considering join them, but first I want to know in the very deep inside of the movement their real doctrine and way of working with the Church. Well Michael, receive my love to you and family.
God Bless + Lilly Marie Medina, USA
Sent: Saturday, January 21, 2006 5:32 PM
Dearest Michael, Thank you very much for your reply + news. I’ll keep pray from now regarding the problem in your eye.
Here below the e-mail that I sent you after I met Fr. Joseph in Calcutta:…..
… And I have shown the works of Fr. Joseph to one of our Carmelite Father (he was an official exorcist for a while…) so, he also told me that his writings are very well done (he asked me if there are copies of Fr. Joseph’s writings also in Italian and Spanish!!!). I really hope to get in touch with Fr. Joseph in the future (and he encouraged me to do so).
Then, Michael, I wrote to you again from Bombay, bringing you some news from there:…….
You see Michael! Jesus permitted that I met and spoke directly to Fr. Korko, just a little while before I left St Xavier’s…
So, he informed me about his last year of Sabbatical time… He gave me a couple of “good” addresses (SIGH!!!!) of indo-
Christian Ashrams, and he encouraged me to write back to him… He is going to apply to the new Jesuit Provincial Father to manage a new place somewhere… I’ll investigate about that, and I’ll let you know…
In Bombay everything went well. I stayed in St. Pius X Seminary Complex, so I met many priests there. A community of Focolare is very close to the Seminary, so I met consecrated people also there. Yes, Michael, there was enough time to meet Bro. Alvito too (but I think that, if the Lord, in a way, didn’t permit that, it could mean that it wasn’t the right moment!)… Pietro Braccu, Italy
Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2009 2:38 PM Subject: Your website
Dear Mr. Michael Prabhu,
I am a practising Catholic in the Charismatic Renewal (not a part of any group) and would like to be updated with the teachings of the Catholic Church and any other anti-catholic teachings that infiltrate the Church, which I found on your website. Please add me on to your e-mailing list.
I would like to suggest a few topics that you could include in your website:
The Focolare movement (Catholic in origin but seemingly going the wrong way)…
Sent: Saturday, March 28, 2009 12:58 PM Subject: Re: THANK YOU FOR WRITING
Dear Bro. Michael Prabhu,
…Regarding some info on Focolare, please click on the links below
In the first link, though the facts of Focolare as put forth by the blogger seem authentic, this person’s ideas/ideals as represented in her website seem questionable. She is against the Catholic Charismatic Renewal itself, which I think is due to lack of involvement with the right group(s) and unclear direction.
The second link is a support website by people who have left Focolare due to various reasons…. APJ
Sent: Wednesday, August 05, 2009 3:23 PM Subject: FOCOLARE
If you have any documentary [printed] evidence of errors* in the Focolare movement, please send me or tell me where to locate them. *The errors are connected with ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue Love, Michael
EXAMPLE 2: The Examiner, January 21, 2006, Full page report. The Focolare completes 25 years in India
Dear Reverend Fathers and friends,
If you have any documentary [printed] evidence of errors* in the Focolare movement, please send me [with source details] or tell me where to locate them.
*The errors are connected with ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, and even New Age, I understand!!!
If you know anyone in India or overseas, layperson, priest or Bishop, connected with the Focolare, could you, in confidentiality, please give me their contact information? Love, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 10:35 PM Subject: Re: FOCOLARE
Dear Mike, I am glad you have taken up about this movement.
I always felt the Focolare too had a contribution to make to he evil that’s affecting the Church. I felt that in the name love of IRD is extending too far. I gather that at their gatherings in Mumbai one of the activities that they have by way of recreation is Yoga. This is reliable info.
Sent: Monday, August 17, 2009 1:40 AM Subject: Re: FOCOLARE
Dear Mike, I am trying to get you details of Focolare….but there is the same difficulty as this minister expressed. The reason: many have experiences a great bit of love, acceptance and respect in this movement and hence they would not want to betray the movement where they have felt blessed… yet at the same time they know that there are a few instances of new age practices. One of them even said: Why blame them (Focolare) when the Church in itself is corrupt and promoting these things or are even silent or not clear about many things?????????? So very true.
Maria Laura Pio
Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 5:31 PM Subject: Re: FOCOLARE
Dear Michael, Hello! I just read your mail. I have often heard those same things about the Focolare, but I never went to dig up the matter. There is a recent blog created by ex-members of the Focolare: http://blogfocolare.blogspot.com/ I do not know these persons, but perhaps if you contact them, they can give you information.
Warmly in Christ, Maria Laura, Switzerland
UPDATE JANUARY 1, 2013
priest, name withheld
Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2012 2:30 AM Subject: remember – be aware
I remember that a few years back we had a little telephonic discussion about the Focolare and we did feel that something was wrong about it. I did not do any further study on it at that time because Pope John Paul II was an active promoter of this movement along with many in the hierarchy in Rome and here too. I do not know how they have landed in Mumbai and have a base here in Mumbai. I do not know whether you have done some research on them but it seems to be a very serious issue. I have realized the seriousness when I was talking to a person very much involved with the Focolare and was stunned at her conviction and the hurt she experienced when I had to tell her that it is a dangerous movement to be in.
I see that Cardinal Oswald Gracias also holds a same philosophy of God and love, as evident from his many interviews and that he is often in touch with them.
The following link gives a fantastic exposure
I always felt that it was a movement in the church to prepare the way of the Anti-Christ!
– CATHOLIC APOLOGETICS –
THE FOCOLARI MOVEMENT AND ITS INTERNATIONAL RAMIFICATIONS
By Dr. Regina Hinrichs
This article was written from a conference given by the author to the congress “Theologisches”, at Fulda, in October 1997.
For many years, Dr. Hinrichs has undertaken researches regarding contemporary subversive religious movements. During her works, she was naturally led to put her attention to the powerful organization of the “Focolari” (in Italian, hearths, homes) and to its “Charismatic” founder, Chiara Lubich.
The “Focolari” (whose original name is “Opus Mariae”- The Work of Mary) defines itself as a militant movement for unity, open to persons of all convictions. Today, its influence spreads to the whole world. They are very active propagators of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogues. – Le Sel de la Terre, No.25
THE VISIBLE ORGANIZATION OF THE “FOCOLARI”
To make a sound judgement concerning the Focolari Movement, to understand the personality of its founder Chiara Lubich and untangle the interdependence which unite the multiple international ramifications of this movement, it is necessary to take a look at its organization and the extent of its network.
Let us start by some figures. During the ecumenical meeting of Graz, (Austria), in the summer of 1997, Chiara Lubich boasted that there are followers of more than three hundred churches were adhering to her work founded in 1943. According to her own informations, the movement counts more than 90,000 internal members, to which is necessary to add two million sympathizers from more than one-hundred eighty countries. The “Words of Life”, commentaries of the passages of the Holy Scripture composed by Chiara Lubich, have been translated in ninety languages. Twenty-seven publishing houses belong to the “Focolari“.
There are multiple ways to adhere to the movement: in the center members are found who are tied by a formal engagement and live in little communities according to the practice of three vows (poverty, chastity, obedience); then, come the married adherents who equally make vows; finally, the voluntary collaborators who belong to one of the satellite organizations surrounding it.
Thus the movement of volunteers is born, that is the group of laymen without formal engagement, which has given birth to the “Movement for a New Society”. This one, in its turn, has promoted the “International Bureau of Economy and Work (labor) which enjoys a consultative voice at the UN.
We must also mention diverse associations Gen (from the Italian, generations): that of young adults, that of the youth and of the children, who all add to their name this formula: “For a United World“. Let us also notice the male musicians (Gen Rosso) and also the female musicians (Gen Verde), and also the Gen S (seminarians), for the Focolari disposes of their own seminaries for the formation of priests. It is then just that the foundress speaks of “our” theologians and of “our” theology. Later on, we shall come back on this point.
At regular intervals, the various Gen organize feasts. There are also summer meetings called Mariapolis and “general telephonic conferences” of each month. These reunions have for purpose to assure the cohesion at the bosom of this very widespread organism, to stimulate the spiritual life of members and to exchange news from the movement.
We must also mention the “colonies“. Nineteen exist to this day. The first ones are founded in Italy, such as that of Lo Piano installed near Florence since 1964. Others have been added with the passing of years, in Switzerland, in Germany, in Africa, in the United States, in Argentina, and in the Philippines.
Thus, let us recognize it, in almost fifty years, a considerable work has developed and widely spread in the entire world, a work which does not cease to grow and which is supported by numerous diocesan priests, religious, bishops, cardinals, and by the pope himself. As a matter of fact, to give an idea of the approbation which Pope John Paul II grants to the Focolari: he reserved to them the exclusive use of the audience’s room of Casteldolfo.
THE FOCOLARI: A MOVEMENT FOR THE UNITY OF RELIGIONS
After having briefly described the external structure of the Work of Mary (Opus Mariae, such is the official name of the Focolari), we must examine the foundations of this truly impressing construction. What are the spiritual and religious convictions which form the basis of this organism?
Three evangelical texts – strangely interpreted- are at the origin of the intuition of Chiara Lubich:
1) The prayer of Jesus ut unum sint;
2) The promise of the Lord, “When two or three are gathered in my name, I in the midst of them”;
3) The abandonment of Jesus on the cross expressed when He cried: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me.”
These three formulas are closely tied between them by the idea of unity. For it is this experience of unity which is at the base of the work of Chiara Lubich. Here are her confidences on this regard: “In a shelter illuminated by a candle, we were reading the Gospel. We felt particularly attracted by the prayer of Jesus Ut unum sint (St. John 17). We were surprised ourselves, for these words no longer seemed to us difficult to understand; on the contrary, we were having the impression to understand them a little. We were sure: it was the rule, the Magna Carta of our new life.”
Likewise, these explanations taken from the mouth of the foundress: “The Focolari is a little community in the world, its members do not differ in nothing of this world, they dress and work like others. At the same, this community is something special, for it comprises of people who left the world, their country, their family, their work, in order to put their life at the service of the unity of the world.”
Of which unity does it treat? Upon which does it rest? In a “telephonic conference”, Chiara Lubich defined unity in these words. “The unity is that which results from the common research of the same luminous truth”
The principle of the religious unity of a group of persons is not therefore the unity of faith which they profess; it is not the revealed truth to which they adhere and all believe in the same manner, but the partaking of a same quest for research.
THE ECUMENICAL EXPERIENCE OF LONDON, ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE PRAYER OF JESUS UT UNUM SINT
Chiara Lubich’s own testimony describing what she felt when she received the ‘Templeton Prize’, in London, can help us to grasp what she means by unity. (Let’s point out the passage that these words explain why her movement could so easily spread in the whole world.)
“After my speech in London, those who were present and who were followers of different religions seemed to me united. I asked myself, how did it happen? Perhaps the reason was that almost all were believers in God and in that moment He embraced us all? When I left, the first one to approach were the members of other religions. A Tibetan monk told me that he was going to write immediately to the Dalai-lama so that the latter put himself in contact with me. Four Jews expressed their joy telling me that at the bottom, the Old Testament is the trunk of the tree on which Christianity is grafted. Evidently, they meant to say that the development of our movement came from this same tree. After, came the Hindus, Sikhs and others.”
Chiara Lubich herself interpreted this event as a realization of the prayer of Jesus ut unum sint.
“Even if we adhere to different religions, we become one. Perhaps it was so because all believe in God and that, in this sense, He embraces us all in a moment?”
An amazed Catholic will ask: how is it possible that Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, and Sikhs united in this room, all believe in God? In which God? It’s not thinkable that this is the triune God professed by the Christians.
Leaving from this experience of London, the movement of Focolari extended more and more in reversing the “narrow barriers” of diverse confessions, included there those of Christianity as it is visible in the citations which we have just read. Thus, because she had been particularly impressed by the fact that after her speech in London, Buddhists, Jews and Sikhs had approached her, the idea of unity among religions imposed itself to the mind of Chiara Lubich and became the first pillar of her work.
Then the question how to attain this unity conceived as a global unity? This unity, answers Chiara Lubich, takes body and fulfills itself in the measure when we become one with our brothers. “To be one”, “to make ourselves one” is a key expression of the Focolari movement. It signifies to listen, to be interested with the problems of the other person, to agree with, to confirm him in his preferences, to tie up a close relationship with him.
This program: “To make ourselves one” implies more: from the persons, it extends to religions and to diverse traditions; its field of action is universal. “We must make ours also the different civilizations also so rich, the sometimes traditions, and to make the germ of the Gospel grow” explains Chiara Lubich in a discourse entitled, “The Priest Today,” in which she highlights the idea that the priest today must be, before all, a man of dialogue.
“When two or three are gathered…” Jesus is in their midst.
Unity being the will of God (since Jesus said it in his prayer ut unum sint) from then on the Focolari movement works to accomplish the unity; it does the will of God and works in the name of Jesus. 59.
Consequently, Chiara Lubich believes that she can refer to the word of the Lord: “When two or three are gathered in My name, I am present in their midst” and apply it to her work. She draws from it the following commentary: “This word of Jesus is for the movement (Focolari) the norm of norms, it is that which has the incontestable priority: the presence of Christ among us. Thus the divine fraternity that Jesus has brought on earth for all humanity is invested of meaning and of life.”
Jesus is in the midst of us, she explains, when we practice reciprocal love which He asks us to practice; it is this love which accomplishes unity. Jesus is then “an enormous help (!) for a very lively ecumenism. With this help, we rediscover the fraternity which facilitates mutual comprehension and which destroys the many centuries of prejudices.
Three erroneous convictions are at the basis of the Focolari movement:
1. Man must, above all, establish peace on earth (in contrast, the First Commandment of the Christian aims at the love of God).
2. Religions are responsible for wars and conflicts (the Church teaches that wars and conflicts come from sin).
3. The unity of religions can bring peace on earth (Our Lord said, on the contrary: “My peace I give you, not as the world gives it”).
From Le Sel de la Terre, No.25
The Cry of Jesus on the cross: an appeal to overcome divisions and to re-unite by dialogue.
These reflections (see part I, July-August, 1998) lead us to the third pillar of the foundation upon which rests the spirituality of the Focolari: the cross, more exactly, the cry of dereliction of Jesus on the cross.
The cry which Our Lord did utter in His agony is interpreted by Chiara Lubich as a cry of anguish because of existing divisions and therefore, as an urgent appeal for reconciliation:
“By Him, by His cry, we are capable to engage ourselves beyond all wounds, of all separations and divisions, to reconstitute the unity of the Church. Thanks to Him, we have acquainted ourselves with numerous churches and confessions, we have grasped their particularities and we have learned to esteem them; we feel like brothers and sisters, united by baptism and reciprocal love.”
In other words, the schisms and separations are due to prejudices, to diversity of mentalities and of cultures. The means which must logically permit to surmount these differences and these separations so sorrowfully felt, is dialogue.
For Chiara Lubich, the remedy to divisions is not therefore in the apostolic mission which obeys to the order of Christ; “Going therefore, teach ye all nations, baptizing them (…) teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mt xxviii, 19-20), that is: announce to them the revealed truth, free them from errors that enchain them. For her, unity does not come from truth: the doctrinal intolerance constitutes on the contrary a seed of insupportable ruptures.
To make unity, the only way then is a dialogue. The inter-confessional dialogue among Christians, but also – since the movement is much wider than the borders of Christianity – the interreligious dialogue.
Chiara Lubich, worthy winner of the Templeton prize
For organizations and societies of thought that encourage this religious dialogue, Chiara Lubich has been occupying for a long time, an imminent place. To be convinced of this, it suffices to consider the abundant international rewards she has received in her life.
These prizes that she has received are numerous and reveal the esteem which is given to her in world religious circles:
-1977: Templeton Prize
-1988: the Prize “Feast of Peace” of Augsbourg
-1996: doctor honoris causa of the Catholic University of Dublin
-1997: prize of Education for Peace of UNESCO; doctor honoris causa of the Catholic Universities of Manila, Taipei and of Bangkok.
The Focolari movement has evidently benefited of the reputation of its founder: its growth, its international recognition and its introduction in organizations which pursue the same ends have been greatly facilitated by it.
The Templeton Prize
Firstly, we must present the Templeton prize instituted in 1972 by Sir John Templeton and awarded each year since 1973. It is the largest prize of the world (more than a million dollars). Among the beneficiaries, we find Mother Teresa, Roger Schutz, Cardinal Suenens, C-F.V. Weizsacker, a Buddhist, a rabbi, a Hindu, and … Chiara Lubich.
Sir John Templeton instituted his prize to be the religious counterpart of the Nobel Prize. The latter has for aim to honor the progress in the natural sciences. Similarly, the Templeton prize encourages the “progress in religion”.
The presentation brochure of the Templeton foundation define clearly the meaning of “progress in religion”: since we note that there exists a progress in all that which pertains to human experience and effort, the same thing must happen in religious matter. Moreover, since in other domains, we witness an always more accelerated progress, it is necessary to expect the same phenomenon in the field of religion: a universe which does not cease to broaden requires a broadening religious conscience, new cultural horizons and new spiritual liberties.
Therefore, the intention for which this prize is given is clear: it is to reward the work accomplished for the conquest of the liberty of conscience in religious matters and to stimulate the initiatives of the pioneers in this domain. Thus, are judged worthy of interest, no matter from what religion they proceed, all efforts made in order to arrive at a deeper spiritual conscience or at a better understanding of what is the meaning of life, as well as all enterprises inspiring dedication and love or orienting man’s life towards God so that he finds there new creative energies.
The brochure emphasizes that syncretism – the attempt of fusion and reconciliation of diverse religious convictions – must be avoided. The Templeton prize is on the contrary destined to highlight the diversity of religious beliefs and of their expressions. Consequently, tolerance occupies there a very important place. There is no question of truth or error. On the contrary, it is simply a matter to help man to recognize “the infinity of the universal spirit”, the multiplicity of roads by which the Creator reveals Himself to man.
In vain do we look for the mention of a personal God, as the Christian faith requires. On the other hand, a few lines below, the text of the brochure speaks of “the Divine”. This equivocal reference truly appears to be an allusion to the Great Architect of the universe.
A prize well awarded?
Why was Chiara Lubich judged worthy to receive this Templeton prize? What motivated the jury to make this choice?
The brochure of the Templeton Foundation consecrated to Chiara Lubich gives several reasons.
Firstly, the Focolari movement has shown the world that it no longer suffices today to adhere to an instituted church. The theologians of the 1950’s – states this document – were considering the church as the Mystical Body of Christ. At present, theology has made a double progress: we now speak of the “people of God” and we insist on the experience of a personal conversion to Christ. Now, these are the characteristic traits of the Focolari
Another sign of progress (equally present in the Focolari) – continues the brochure – is the new tone given to spirituality: traditionally, it was impersonal and abstract; from now on it nourishes itself from the lived experience of the individual. Our reader, quite surprised, will ask how could a multitude of saints nevertheless grow on such dry ground of the Church of old up to 1950!
Moreover – pursues the publication – the new commandment “love one another” extends indistinctly to all men, and it is what the Focolari practices in opening itself to persons of all convictions. (The word of Pius XII proclaiming the XXth Century, “the Century of the Mystical Body of Christ”, is even quoted at this place as if it designated mutual love between all men of all religions.) If then we practice this commandment in this spirit, our comportment will give birth to a mutual respect among states and peoples, will provoke a diminution of fear among men and the abolition of all their frontiers.
Finally, the text notes that Chiara Lubich and all her works are efficiently militant in the church at the service of ecumenism.
The ‘qualities’ underlined in these lines are for the least ambiguous. In fact, they are those claimed by the tendencies and the changes which brought the revolution in the Church. Consequently, we must ask ourselves: does Chiara Lubich truly possess these ‘qualities’; did she merit this strange prize or have we misunderstood and misinterpreted her person and her intentions? To answer, let us bring ourselves back directly to the statements pronounced by the person concerned on ecumenism and on the new ecclesiology.
Chiara Lubich and Ecumenism
In her speech after the presentation of the Templeton prize, Chiara Lubich treated at length of the expansion of her work beyond the limits of Christianity.
There she mentions the Jews to whom in a certain sense, are united to us Revelation. On the subject of the Muslims, she emphasizes full admiration, to what point they are faithful to their religion. She is in ecstasy before the Hindus who give, she says, the first place to love:
“We love them just as they are and it is together that we look for these truths which unite us most narrowly to live them together, to share our experiences in our commitment for God and our brothers.”
Referring to the Gen movement which we have described above (see part I), she explains that the followers of other religions can be received in the Focolari, and then, call themselves according to their religion of origin: Gen-Muslim, Gen-Buddhists, etc. As to the fact that these members of other religions have a conception of God totally different from that of Christianity, it matters a little, it seems. Only love counts and the effort which we do to construct a world of love.
What Chiara Lubich wants is “to live the Gospel”. But having seen what precedes, we have the right to ask: of what Gospel is it about? What becomes of certain words of Christ like these ones: “I did not come to bring peace but the sword…” “I came into the world to bear witness to the truth”? What does she do about the warning against false prophets, of the condemnation of idolatry, of the affirmation that Christ is the key which must bring the fall and rise of a great number, and of many similar other works?
As we have seen, the end sought by the Focolari movement is unity; Chiara Lubich believes she is accomplishing the will of God, since she says:
“Jesus took the human nature in order that all may be one. On the Cross, in his dereliction, it is for that that He gave His life. Now, it is up to us to fulfil this end: above all, the Opus Mariae has made as its own the task to unite the entire humanity.”
Consequently, the ecumenical effort accomplished by the Focolari, if it concentrates firstly on “the instruction and sensibilization of Catholics in view of the unity of Christians and in view to obtain a fraternal community with the members of other Christian churches” cannot logically stay there; it aspires to embrace members of other religions.
Chiara Lubich and the New Ecclesiology
Concerning the Church, the statements of Chiara Lubich also go in the same sense as that of the Templeton Foundation. She is convinced that, thanks to Vatican II, the Church has done a great leap forward in the right direction. She gives as signs: collegiality and the priority given to love.
If, during the ecumenical assembly of Graz, she seemed to profess without ambiguity the faith in the one Church founded by Jesus Christ, she nevertheless adds: “in this context arises the fundamental importance of ecclesiology”. Of which ecclesiology is it about? Making allusion to Cardinal Willebrands who had spoken to her when the Templeton prize was awarded to her, she explains that it is necessary to deepen the ecclesiology of the “communio” that in this resides the great chance of future ecumenism and that the efforts to reach the unity of the Church must take that ecclesiology as a starting point. 61.
Moreover, it is in this sense that the Ecumenical Council of Churches and other similar institutions do operate, she says, when they seek to put to work an “ecumenical spirituality”. For the divisions which have shaken the foundations of the Church in the course of the past two thousand years have been caused by the diversities of opinions due to a defect of love among Christians.
She deplores these divisions of Christians which are contrary to the Divine Will expressed in the words of Christ “ut unum sint”. And since the lack of love is responsible for these divisions, an increase of love will be able to bring us to the lost unity.
“In the course of centuries, because of a growing indifference, a lack of comprehension, or even a certain hatred for the other churches, each church hardened itself, in a way. In each of them, then, a great love is necessary; a common love must seize all Christianity, a love which pushes us to have all in common, to be each a gift for the others.”
We note it again: the question of truth or error is not even mentioned. The church which she wants to build is not then the Una, Sancta, Catholica et Apostolica Ecclesia, which, one in Herself, in her doctrine and in her rites, is living until our days. What is this new church, then?
“We could thus figure out the future Church: that there is a unique truth, but that it expresses itself in different ways, that it is composed of different points of view and that it offers us its richness in a multiplicity of interpretations”.
This goes without comments.
Last point: how to achieve this new conception of the Church? We said it already: in instituting a universal dialogue which will include all the people of God.
“Thanks to this dialogue, we are more apt to discover, appreciate and live consciously this great heritage which is the common bond of all Christians. We desire to see this unique people who is already visible everywhere where there is a church”.
The Focolari Movement prototype of the future Church
The Focolari find themselves at the heart of this building of the Church of the future. Already, Chiara Lubich tells us, hundreds of thousands of persons, members of about three hundred churches, live the charism of unity which is at the bosom of the Focolari. These persons are the models of that which, at the universal scale of the world, still remains to be accomplished. During the speech she delivered in Manila for the presentation of her title of Doctor honoris causa, the foundress of the Focolari spoke of our theologians and of our doctrine, in referring to the Opus Mariae. What did she mean? She saw herself in a situation similar to that of St. Francis of Assisi, who by his own experience of poverty, was at the origin of a new universal doctrine; or even of St. Thomas Aquinas, who before being recognized as Doctor Communis, was the theologian of his particular Order. Similarly, Chiara Lubich esteems that her theology and her particular experience at the bosom of the Focolari must prepare the integration of the charism on unity in the entire Church.
“The charism of unity furnishes us with the conditions required to create a great theology of Jesus [which, evidently, did not exist up to this day! Ed], not a theology of Jesus of a thousand years ago but of this Jesus living today in His Church.
The presence of the little word “today” is always very revealing and disturbing, in this kind of discourse. For, Christus heri, hodie et in saecula, Christ is always the same. To put a contrast between the historical Jesus and the one who lives today in the Church is illegitimate. The famous words of G. K. Chesterton come to mind: “The Church alone preserves us from the humiliating slavery to be a child of our time.”
Thus, in an exemplary and living manner, the Focolari movement pretends to demonstrate to us that unity has been made possible, and that it incarnates the first step – but it may already be the second! – on the way which leads to the Church of the future.
The dream of a Cosmic Unity and of a New World
Obviously, one may ask what are the foundation and the nature of this unity which offers to the members of the most diverse religions and most varied philosophies the means to live together – because we are already very far from the starting point of the Focolari, that is, to live the Gospel. How can a Christian, a Hindu or a Muslim live this unity on a day to day basis? It is hard to imagine. What will be the basis of their community of life?
In Graz, Chiara Lubich has answered this question:
“Do nothing to another which you do not want him to do to you. This is the basis which enables us to live in a loving relation with the members of other religions.”
However, from what she has also said in this discourse in Graz, she is not content with the unity among religions; she aims further, to even envisage a more global spirituality of unity that will allow man to communicate with nature:
“To live an ecumenical spirituality signifies to give man a possibility more vast to reveal himself as sons and daughters of God, and when, in each domain, we all make an effort to preserve the nature, this one will answer mysteriously to our love as well as all that lives of God and subsists thanks to him.”
In weighing these strange statements, we ask what sense are we to give to “to reveal”, for, evidently, the word is not used in the sense which we know. We are very far from the supernatural revelation of the life of grace. The same question may be put forward concerning this mystic of the nature which “lives of God” and “answers to our love”. Hasn’t the pantheistic idea of the unity of the whole cosmos, of which the New Age publications speak so often, influenced this conception?
The end of this discourse also makes us think of the vision of the future expressed in the circles of thought apparently foreign to the Focolari – but are they really?
“Our planet is threatened by dramatic divisions, albeit destruction. This new life permits us to regress and progress simultaneously. Thus it is that humanity will find again this unity for which God created it, and the churches will realize this plenary community which Christ conferred to His Church in founding her.”
In other words, by ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, mankind reaches beyond that which divides it and tends towards the era of peace and of total regeneration which is its ultimate end. As to the “churches”, their role is to promote this wonderful ‘New Age’ of man and the world become one.
In the talks held during the collation of the Education for Peace prize (UNESCO), Chiara Lubich had already expressed similar ideas:
“It is together (that is, with the adherents of other religions) that we advance towards the fullness of the truth to which we all aspire. Thanks to the spirituality of the Focolari, men and women of almost all nations attempt today (…) to be (…) seeds of a new people, of a world of peace, (…) of a more united world.”
In summary and in the light of all these texts, we then note that, twenty years after the awarding of the Templeton prize, Chiara Lubich fully confirmed that she was truly worthy to receive this dark recompense.
The international alliances of the Focolari
In the logical sequence of the prized which Chiara Lubich was awarded, we must now take a look at some of the international organizations with which the Focolari movement is more or less connected.
Nykkyo Niwano and The World Conference of Religions for Peace
In 1979, two years after Chiara Lubich, a man with whom, she admitted herself, she carried on a profound spiritual exchange for years, was judged worthy to receive in his turn the Templeton prize. This man, well known in world religious circles, is Nykkyo Niwano. He is the founder of a lay Buddhist organization: Risso Kosai-Kai, and of The World Conference of Religions for Peace. He was the sole Buddhist invited at the Second Vatican Council as an observer.
The Templeton Foundation explained its choice of Nykkyo Niwano to honor his tireless efforts in the domain of interreligious dialogue and of world peace.
In his thanksgiving speech, the awarded developed the following point: Before everything, he says, it is important that humanity form a global community. In the process involved in this, religions play a very important role. Their ends must be: the search of happiness, spiritual deepening, and world peace. It is the task of The World Conference of Religions for Peace to take away every obstacle put in the way which leads to a world living in peace.
These clarifications are not useless and they do not keep us from our topic as Nikkyo Niwano is tied to Chiara Lubich by a close friendship, and she is herself honorary president of the World Conference he has founded. She therefore adheres perfectly to the objectives of this institution:
“We approve and fully support some Buddhist initiatives for peace in the world, such as the well appreciated World Conference of Religions for Peace has brought.”
The ‘U.N.-type’ friendship of The World Conference of Religions
This Conference was founded in 1970. Its founding act claims its origin from the ideas of three American religious leaders, one of whom is no other than Bishop Wright, the future Cardinal! It was decided to set up the international secretariat in New York, facing the U.N. building because, from the very beginning a close collaboration with the world organization was envisaged.
Besides, some facts permit to illustrate the efficacy of this collaboration. Thus, it is the Conference of Religions which proposed Chiara Lubich as awarded for the Education for Peace prize (UNESCO) which she received in 1996. On the other hand, the Conference of Religions enjoys a consultative status with the UN and UNICEF. It has also obtained to be approved as NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) with UNESCO, in 1996.
There exist some close liaisons among all these international organizations, religious or lay, which form a tentacular network, acting in the same direction. It is an undeniable fact. For example, Federico Mayor, General Director of UNESCO, published an interview in a German magazine of the Focolari movement: Neue Stadt (New City). But, it is necessary to know that F. Mayor, and other functionaries who occupy high positions in the UN, collaborate very actively with the Lucis Trust (originally Lucifer Trust – Ed.) of A.A. Bailey (Foundress of the Lucifer Trust, a master-mind of the New Age – Ed.). It is clear that in associating themselves with those people, one walks on slippery grounds.
But let us continue our examination of the World Conference of Religions founded by Nikkyo Niwano.
Rodrigo Carazo figures among its honorary presidents. This former president of Costa Rica entertains the liaisons similar to those of Federico Mayor: he is also an active collaborator of the Lucis Trust.
The Conference of Religions also had as president (now retired) the former Archbishop of New Delhi, Angelo Fernandes. This man openly supports the powerful organization of the Planetary Citizens, which has become an occult group. During an assembly organized by UNESCO in Barcelona, he made a discourse having for theme: “A global spirituality of social responsibility.” He defined the spirituality in the following way:
“The conscience of our responsibility for a new organization of political and economical institutions, a responsibility which is anchored in the personal experience of the divine.”
For an Archbishop, it is truly a remarkable definition.
Other points render his speech worthy of our attention. Angelo Fernandes several times quotes Robert Muller (a functionary who occupied a directive post in the UN during forty years and who collaborated as well at the Lucis Trust where he had some responsibility). Fernandes relies too on Dag Hammarskjöld and U Thant, other great promoters of a worldwide global spirituality, indispensable, according to them, to our new planetary conscience. It is clear, and Angelo Fernandes explains profusely, the decisive element of this new “spirituality” is its worldwide dimension and its concern for the planet. We need, he says, to institute a new global and universal community, because, from now on, it is the only form of a viable community. In this logic, he finishes his discourse exhorting us all to become that which, in reality, we are already: one.
It is impossible not to see the relations which exist between these principles and those of Chiara Lubich, which we have exposed above. By the very choice of words, the objectives propagated over the years by the groups close to Aries and by the powerful groups of mondialists, can be found in the ideas of the founder of the Focolari. Besides, we saw it, these V. I.P s. of mondialism are her friends whom she does not cease to frequent.
SOME COMMON UNDERTAKINGS OF THE CONFERENCE OF RELIGIONS AND OF THE FOCOLARI
But that which precedes belongs to the order of declarations of intention and of discourses. Collaboration does not stop there. It remains to say by what concrete undertakings the World Conference of Religions for Peace and the international societies which are connected to it, apply their principles and fulfill their appeals to a mondial unity with the Focolari.
Two events of these later years are, on this regard, worthy of consideration because they gave way to great manifestations in which the Focolari were involved. We wish to clarify that the information which we are going to give on this subject come from the documentation of the World Conference itself.
The centenary of the Parliament of Religions
First, in 1993, there took place, thanks to the hospitality of the Archdiocese of Chicago, the congress of the centenary of the Parliament of the Religions of the World – previously held in Chicago in 1893.
In the context of this anniversary, a meeting was also held in Amsterdam. It is more interesting for us because it concerns more directly our topic. For the organization and the running of this assembly was, in a great part, entrusted to the movement of the Focolari.
At the start, there was a reading from a text of Pir Vilayat Khan, in which he exhorted his listeners to pursue the interreligious dialogue. Notably – and we find there a known refrain – he asked the representatives of religions to encourage aspirations towards universality hidden in their traditions. Pir Vilayat Khan is not unknown in international circles: he is the honorary president of the Club of Budapest founded by the Club of Rome: he is also of the signatories of the Manifesto of the
planetary conscience published by this club.
Many speakers were heard, among whom a member of the Reformed Church of Switzerland – also member of the Focolari – and an adept of Brahma Kumaris, a group about which we shall speak later. The speeches and discussions were accompanied by prayers, meditations taken from diverse religious traditions, and a floral ceremony which, unfortunately, is not described in the documentation
The sixth World Conference of Religions
The second event which enlightens the activity of the World Conference and of the organizations which are connected to it is the “Sixth World Conference of Religions” held in Rome – more exactly at the Vatican and at Riva del Garda – in 1994.
The motto around which the participants were gathered was: “Save the world – Religions for peace.” Without doubt, the world and each one of us need to be saved, but, obviously, the true and only Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ, was the great Forgotten of this Conference.
The principal end was to establish a deepened dialogue between religions, to come closer effectively to each other. Two kinds of activities lead to that: on one side, appeals and discourses pronounced before the assembly by diverse religious leaders: on the other side, a common participation to the ceremonies of several religions: Islam, Shintoism, Judaism and local religions (animism).
As we have already emphasized, these meetings refrain from being syncretists. They do not seek to reunite elements taken in each religion to make with this mixture something new, a supra-religion which will occupy the place of the old ones. The purpose is to form a unity among existing religions by mutual tolerance, in overcoming and in preserving the particularities of each tradition, and in respecting their own historical forms.
Nevertheless, words aside, is such an undertaking possible? In the common edifice which they construct together, the mixed traditions cease forcibly to be specific and do constitute, in fact, a picturesque enrichment destined to satisfy the disparate sensibilities of everyone. Moreover, how will elements of opposite origin formally contradicting each other be able to stay together? The ones or the others must necessarily yield. A certain form of syncretism is therefore inevitable.
But especially, how can a Catholic keep his faith intact in the midst of such confusion? How can he continue to pretend that Catholicism is the only truth, and that outside of Christ and of the True Church, there is no salvation? He might well persist in believing it interiorly, but it will be necessary that he says it no longer openly, that he reduces his faith to a religious opinion among others (which is a denial and an infidelity) and that he accepts not to trouble the universal peace.
For such is the ultimate end: the summum bonum of this undertaking of the recuperation of world’s religions: to establish peace on earth. Not the peace which God gives, but that of man. The mondialists want the religions to serve as instruments to accomplish this planetary mission which they took on themselves in the name of humanity.
The second part of the conference – the most interesting for us – took place at Riva del Garda. The Focolari movement was extremely active there, as the leaflet of information of the World Conference does not cease to emphasize. Without their disinterested commitment, especially in relation with the media, the great success of this meeting would not have been possible, as it is reported.
It is worth looking at the list of speakers of Riva del Garda, for we always find the same networks of international fraternity. On the Catholic side, we notice the presence of Cardinals Arinze, Etchegaray and Martini, as well as Archbishop Fernandes, whom we know already, and the theologian Hans Kung. The U.N. was represented by Yasushi Akashi, its delegate in former Yugoslavia. There was also, naturally, the founder of the World Conference, Nikkyo Niwano mentioned previously.
As a conclusion, “the declaration of Riva del Garda” was adapted, it was solemnly read on board of a boat moving across the water. This ceremony had a symbolic importance: the boat navigating on the lake signifies the voyage of men towards peace, guided by religions: but the shore, the end, is not yet reached.
This declaration summarizes the results and the objectives aimed at by the assembly. The central point is the intention of forming a world community and to fix on it rights and obligations. It proclaims that an enlightened religiosity contributes to the triumph of liberty and of human rights. It affirms the importance of interreligious dialogue to “heal the earth” and chase from it the destructive elements. It is not very difficult to guess what is meant by these “destructive elements”, and moreover, the declaration itself explains it: these are religious nationalism and extremism.
Such ambition demands, of course, the collaboration with the U.N.: the conference confirms its commitment in this sense. The declaration speaks further of the “healing of the world” at a local as well as at a global scale. It depicts a harmonious and peaceful universe which is the end of life and of the aspirations of man.
Unity among religions is especially encouraged. In view of the reconciliation, everyone is asked to know how to use the sacred texts coming from other religious traditions, to treat other religions with respect, to meditate together, for all that is a source of mutual enrichment.
Finally, the text draws up a vision of a unified religion, similar to a giant copula (does it not look rather like the head of a pyramid?), which integrates generously in its bosom all religions. If the diverse religions thus behave themselves, then “without violating their identity and their pretense of possessing the truth of the purely religious order, they could discover convergence and complements in the socio-ethical order”.
It is useless to show, point by point, that this declaration contains almost no principle which a Christian can accept without reservation. This is horrifying, because a great number of the representatives of the Catholic Church were present and actively participated in this meeting, and the Focolari have energetically encouraged it. In fact, it makes sense that these “Catholics” have not condemned in words that which they practiced and lived during the rest of the conference. For there were invocations and meditations of Buddhists, of Indians and of Hindus, and numerous pagan ceremonies.
Moreover, the World Conference of Religions for Peace publishes, in its brochure of information, an interreligious calendar, in which are found reunited the feasts of nine religions: Christianity, Sikhs, Islam, Buddhism, Baha’i, Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Zoroastrianism. The only Christian feasts named are: Christmas, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Easter, and Pentecost. They are given the same rank as the pagan feasts, as the expression of a religious tradition among others. They are tolerated, they may even show themselves on the condition that they respect the others, that they do not seek to prevail on others, neither to trouble nor prevent the great unity envisaged.
THE BRAHMA KUMARIS UNIVERSITY
Among the international and religious organizations that we have named and to which the movement of the Focolari is connected, there has been mentioned of the Brahma Kumaris, a society founded in Karachi in 1936, and which describes itself as a ” spiritual university the world” (Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University).
This university has had foundations in the whole world, especially in Asia and in Europe (in eighteen countries). Its primary aim is to encourage meditation and spiritual apprenticeship by the development of the “Ego –the I”. But beside these preoccupations concerning the individual, this university pursues the same ends as the organizations we have spoken of, about world peace, the advent of a harmonious world, the collaborations with the world religious organizations, with UNICEF and the U.N. (it also has a consultative voice at the economic and social council of the U.N. and it was received also as NGO).
We find then the same milieu and the same frequentations with which the Focolari movement is connected.
Moreover a publication of the Council of the
Parliament of World Religions (for which the Lucis Trust makes some publicity!) explicitly mentions the links uniting all these international organizations . We find there documents published by these organizations, and numerous proofs that they all belong to same vast network linked more or less tightly. It is true that neither the Focolari movement nor Chiara Lubich appear in this publication, but all their mondialist friends with whom they collaborate are there.
Cornelia Ferreira, an expert in the domain of the New Age, solemnly expressed the danger in which we live:
“One of the aims pursued for a long time by the masonic New World Order finally seems at hand: ONE World Church, being built for the last 150 years, is taking shape. Among the collaborators working in this direction, we see certain leaders of the Catholic Church who contribute to it through the international organization named the World Conference of Religions for Peace.”
1. Man must, above all things, establish peace on earth (in contrast, the first commandment of a Christian aims at the love of God).
2. Religions are responsible for wars and conflicts (the Church teaches that wars and quarrels come from sin).
3. Unity of religions can bring peace (Our Lord says on the contrary: “My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, do I give unto you.”)
On the other hand, the only end interesting a Catholic is to root himself always more deeply in the Mystical Body of Christ. It is this deep union with Christ which – Deo juvante – will lead us one day to the “visio beatifica“, the beatific vision, and thus, to eternal peace.
Categories: new age