Sant´Egidio Community, at 34, Hears Papal Praise

John Paul II Hails Its Evangelical Friendship

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2002 ( John Paul II praised the Community of Sant´Egidio for its evangelical friendship when he celebrated the ecclesial movement´s 34th anniversary with bishops, priests and other Christian leaders.

Three hundred Catholic, Orthodox, evangelical and other religious leaders, who try to live the spirituality of the Sant´Egidio Community, attended the audience held today in the Vatican.

Sant´Egidio, an ecclesial movement born in Rome in 1968, was founded by Andrea Riccardi. At the time, Riccardi was not yet 20. He is now one of Italy´s best-known historians.

This ecclesial movement has been proposed for the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. It has more than 40,000 lay members working in more than 60 countries.

Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni, the priest who followed the community´s first steps, spoke on behalf of those present. As in the early days, Sant´Egidio members meet in the evening to pray. They dedicate a good part of their lives to helping the neediest.

Addressing the Pope, Bishop Paglia said that the bishops, priests and Christian pastors present are united by «friendship with Sant´Egidio Community. They have come into contact with Sant´Egidio either here, in Rome, in the afternoon prayer in the Basilica of Santa Maria of Trastevere, and in service to the poor, or in the different cities of the world where the community is present.»

«We all experience the beauty and efficacy, both personal and pastoral, of the bond of friendship and fraternity that is born of the Gospel,» the bishop continued.

John Paul II replied by saying that «it can be said that friendship characterizes all aspects of life of Sant´Egidio Community.»

«Friendship lived with evangelical sensibility is an effective way of being Christians in the world,» the Holy Father said. «It allows one to cross borders and jump distances, even when they seem insurmountable. It is an authentic art of encounter, of careful attention to dialogue, of a loving passion for communicating the Gospel.»

«This friendship becomes a force of reconciliation: a truly necessary force in this time marked, tragically, by conflicts and violent confrontations,» the Pope continued. Sant´Egidio has helped with peace efforts in the world, notably in Mozambique and Guatemala.

Lastly, the Pontiff exhorted Sant´Egidio and individuals close to its spirituality to «go into the deep.»

«The century that has just begun expects that the Gospel will be faithfully communicated faithfully — ´sine glossa,´ as St. Francis liked to say; it expects disciples to be profoundly consistent witnesses,» the Pope concluded.

More information on Sant´Egidio is at

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