Chiara Lubich Extols "Fraternity" in the Political Realm

Focolare Founder Points to Role of Ecclesial Movements

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MADRID, Spain, DEC. 8, 2002 ( Focolare Movement founder Chiara Lubich says the events of Sept. 11 highlight the need to make “fraternity” a political category.

At the invitation of Joan Rigol i Roig, president of the Catalan Parliament, the 82-year-old Lubich addressed an audience of political, social and journalistic leaders on “Fraternity as a Political Category,” the Web page of the Focolare Movement reported.

Referring to the recent attacks in Kenya and the events of Sept. 11, Lubich said that the World Trade Center tragedy caused the “walls of indifference” to fall. “It is as if the eyes of a nation opened and saw the absolute need for the establishment of fraternity, and not just among Americans,” she said.

This fraternity has been advocated by figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and the Dalai Lama. However, she added, “Jesus was the one who highlighted fraternity and gave it as a special gift to humanity, praying before he died: ‘Father, that they may all be one.'”

“Other examples of the role of fraternity in the political field are found, for example, in the motto of the French Revolution: ‘Liberty, equality and Fraternity,’ although this endeavor was understood in a restricted manner,” Lubich continued.

She also emphasized the role of fraternity in the so-called global village: “It is a sign of the times — many religious, social and political factors demonstrate it.” Yet, it seems that a line of thought “capable of respecting differences while understanding unity” has yet to be fully developed, Lubich added.

One instrument toward making fraternity real, she maintains, is the multiple ecclesial movements and communities in the Church, as they influence the political realm. This is the case with the Focolare Movement, which gave birth to the Movement for Unity.

The Movement for Unity arose in Naples in 1996. It has spread throughout the world, and boasts the participation of representatives and members of various political groups.

“It is not a new party, but the contribution of a new political culture and praxis,” Lubich said. It is expressed in several points.

The first is politics as a vocation. “Whoever is a believer realizes that God calls him to it (…), the nonbeliever perceives the answer as an echo in his conscience; but it is always love that moves both,” she said.

The second is love of neighbor — not only fellow partisans, but also adversaries and political opponents. This means knowing how to listen to one another, and coming closer to the society that all seek to serve: “Fraternity finds full expression in reciprocal love, of which democracy, properly understood, is in great need.”

Lastly, the idea is contemplated that “the other’s homeland must be loved like one’s own.”

To achieve all this, Lubich emphasized the need for dialogue between the government and the opposition, conducted through constructive criticism “that does not seek to stamp out the other, but to correct him, in order to improve him.”

In the discussion following the Nov. 29 conference, the participants expressed the need to put Lubich’s proposals into practice.

Lucia Fronza, director of the Movement for Unity, and Lubich herself pointed out two indispensable elements in political action: “To love the other, but also to express what we think; otherwise, what contributions would we make?”

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