VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2004 ( John Paul II encouraged the members of Communion and Liberation movement to continue to propose Christ to people so that they will find in him the meaning of their lives.

The Pope joined in the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of this ecclesial movement with a letter sent to its founder, Monsignor Luigi Giussani of Italy.

Communion and Liberation (CL) says its purpose is the education to Christian maturity of its followers, and collaboration in the mission of the Church in all the spheres of contemporary life.

It began in Italy in 1954 when Father Giussani established a Christian presence in the Berchet high school in Milan with a group called Gioventù Studentesca (Student Youth). The current name of the movement, Communion and Liberation, first appeared in 1969.

It synthesizes the conviction that the Christian event, lived in communion, is the foundation of the authentic liberation of man. CL is today present in about 70 countries.

In the letter, published today by the Vatican press office, the Pope invites CL members to live their charism with enthusiasm, "proposing in a fascinating way, and in harmony with contemporary culture, the Christian event, perceived as a source of new values, capable of directing the whole of existence."

"It is necessary and urgent to help people to encounter Christ, so that he will become the ultimate reason for living and operating," the Pope writes.

"This experience of faith generates a new way of looking at reality, a responsibility and a creativity that concern every ambit of existence: from work to family relationships, from social commitment to the animation of the cultural and political environment," he states.

According to the Holy Father, CL "proposes an experience of faith able to take root in the most diverse cultures; an experience that profoundly changes people's lives, because it drives them to a personal encounter with Christ."

Therefore, it "can rightly be considered, along with a great variety of other associations and new communities, one of the buds of the promising 'springtime' aroused by the Holy Spirit in the last 50 years," he states.

On the occasion of the movement's 50th anniversary, Monsignor Giussani also sent a letter to John Paul II, dated Jan. 26, in which he states: "Not only did I have no intention of 'founding' anything, but I believe that the genius of the movement that I saw coming to birth lies in having felt the urgency to proclaim the need to return to the elementary aspects of Christianity, that is to say, the passion of the Christian fact as such in its original elements, and nothing more."

The monsignor continues: "Perhaps it was precisely this that awoke the unforeseeable possibility of encounter with personalities of the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Protestant and Orthodox worlds, from the United States to Russia, in an impetus of embrace and appreciation for all that remains of truth, of beauty, of good, and of right in whoever lives a sense of belonging."