Original Text of the article in Spanish here
Translation: Martyn Drakard
On 15th October this year we shall celebrate one hundred years since the birth of Luigi Giovanni Giussani, the founder of Communione e Liberazione (Communion and Liberation). The movement first arose in Italy in the 1960’s and is now present in some ninety countries on the five continents.
After Don Giussani died in 2005, he was replaced as head of Communion and Liberation by Fr Julian Carron, a post he held until 27th November, 2021. Since the retirement of Fr Carron, Davide Prosperi has been interim president of the Fraternity. This 50-year old chemist from Milan, married and father of four children, is Associate Professor of Biochemistry and director of the Nanomedicine Centre of the Bicocca University of Milan and from 2011 was the vice-president of the Fraternity.
Communion and Liberation, which describes itself as “a way of life and for life” is celebrating this centenary as “a look towards the future”, because Don Giussani’s life has given rise to an “unending river flowing through history that always yields fresh fruits’ in the words of Prosperi, who hides neither the difficulties nor the “pruning” that members of the Fraternity can undergo along the way.
How is the Communion and Liberation family celebrating the centenary?
—As a wonderful opportunity to thank God for the great gift of the figure of Don Giussani and all the gifts and graces of intelligence and heart that he received.
It is not a nostalgic glance towards the past, but a look forward because the life of don Giussani gave rise to an unending river flowing through history that always yields fresh fruits.
Of course, like every tree, including those that grow in the soil of the Church, it has been pruned by the Spirit so as to remain forever young and open up to every new period of history.
This year will be an opportunity to go deeper into the teachings of don Giussani and in the way of life he taught and brought to the world with his own life.
Dates like this one, for institutions of the Church, are a good time to “return to the origins” and remind us of the charisms of the founder. Accordingly, which are the key points of the charisms of D. Luigi Giussani that you intend to emphasise during the celebrations?
—First of all, the original conception of the faith he handed down to us. Faith, that is, as man’s response to the grace of Christ that takes possession of our existence and transforms us from within. It reaches us through other men and women who impact us and attract us with their lives so filled with light and promise.
In the second place, this year will also be a good occasion to read again the many works that sprang from his heart, all of them written for our benefit and important for people today because they contain a never-ending promise of life that unites us with other men and women, our co-travellers on our way towards God.
Taking an active part in culture, education and reaching out to society form an essential part of Communion and Liberation. In a world that seems to take a stand against the Christian outlook on life, what part does Communion and Liberation play?
—Christ is always alive because He has risen from the dead and at each and every moment he is speaking to the heart of man through other men, so that the hearts and minds of our brothers and sisters may discover the promise of life and true happiness that the incarnation of the Son of God brought to this earth.
Whether it is through personal relations or involvement in social and community life, or as we approach works of culture, or charity or mission, all these form part of Christian life and the gift brought us by don Giussani.
Hence, what he has communicated to us is a passion for Christ which straightaway becomes a passion for man, not only for “humanity”. But for each human being. From this arises our passion to educate, which is the core of the Christian message which through our encounter with don Giussani and the movement he inspired has “conquered” us and become a true and proper vocation for each one of us.
Communion and Liberation today
How would you define the work of the members of Communion and Liberation today, their hopes and challenges?
—We must help each other to restore God to the screens of our lives. A life without God is a life without a future and without prospects, but also without roots in the here and now.
A life without God means a life without the possibility of transcending present circumstances by accepting them but also finding in them a call to go forward. To put God back into our lives; this was the great teaching of don Giussani.
To discover that God is not our enemy, not against us but is rather the source of our existence, of the promise of good things which are buried, more or less deeply in our hearts and that can lead our human personality to its true fulfilment.
In the second place, to show that the Christian life is not the life of an individual in his relationship with God but is the life of a community present in history that offers itself as a beacon on a mountain top or like the salt of the earth to give light and life to our whole existence.
The rebirth of the “I” and the rebirth of community experience are the two poles of the Christian life that nourish each other. Without an “I” that is genuine and aware of its actions, community life would be nothing more than a social experience with no depth. Unless it reaches out to others, the life of the “I” would find no way of expressing itself or nurturing itself.
After some years in which the pandemic has cancelled such established encounters as those of Milan or, in Spain, the one in Madrid, how have you managed to keep alive this spirit of dialogue and personal encounter “with everything going against you”?
—The pandemic and the present war can make us close in on ourselves and make us give way to fear, convinced that existence has no worthwhile future, that human relationships easily break up and that promises are deceptive. But, on the other hand, if we are helped by our brothers and by the life of the Church, by the teachings of the Movement and the testimony of don Giussani, we can open up and be the first to show a hope that is able to cope with the circumstances of the present time, which knows how to overcome evil and share in the victory of Christ, and show our brothers and sisters the ways of goodness and truth.
Carron’s retirement and a new chapter
This centenary comes at a new time for Communion and Liberation. The updating of the norms related to the governance of associations of faithful in June gave rise to the retirement of Fr. Julian Carron and you taking over as interim president. How are you managing these changes?
—We must always go forward, recognizing all the good that has been recorded in these seventy years of the history of the Movement, in gratitude to Carron for having taken up the baton of a work that is so great and impressive in the history of the Church and of mankind, while at the same time knowing how to draw up new forms of responsibility and presence in society.
I am absolutely convinced that this way is possible while living obedience to the Pope and the Pastors of the Church who are asking us to take this step, giving reason of the hope of don Giussani for having generated through the Spirit an important event that will last throughout time.
I am absolutely convinced that this way is possible while living obedience to the Pope and the Pastors of the Church who are asking us to take this step.
How do you see the future of Communion and Liberation?
—The future is in God’s hands; it is up to us to be cheerful and passionately heed the voice of don Giussani and be the forgers of ways of life that are ready to take notice when mankind cries out to us.