VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2004 (Zenit.org).- In a message to Monsignor Luigi Giussani, founder of Communion and Liberation, John Paul II blessed the pilgrimages marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the ecclesial movement.
Tens of thousands of CL pilgrims are visiting shrines worldwide in thanksgiving for the movement.
Among the countries involved in the celebration include the United States, Russia, Brazil, Nigeria, Uganda, Albania, Bulgaria, Tunisia, Malaysia, Spain, Austria, Japan, Israel and Lebanon.
In Italy, where Communion and Liberation, CL, was founded, more than 45,000 defied the rain on Oct. 16 to celebrate the anniversary at the Marian shrine of Loreto.
The Italian members of CL consecrated themselves “once again to Mary, to obtain renewed impulse to follow Christ, the Way, Truth and Life, and to be credible heralds through the coherent testimony of their unreserved, personal adherence to his Gospel,” the Pope wrote in his message to Monsignor Giussani for the occasion.
“Spiritually present in this act of praise and thanksgiving, I impart to you, dear Monsignor, and to the participants of the significant manifestation as well as to all those from different countries who will join in the Marian prayer initiative, the apostolic blessing, pledge of copious heavenly favors,” the Holy Father said.
Monsignor Giussani, in his own message to the pilgrimage on CL’s 50th anniversary, said: “Without the Virgin, we cannot be certain about the future, because the certainty of the future comes to us from Christ, the Mystery of God made man.”
“Through her the gift of the Spirit has been communicated to man; the last stage of the history of humanity began in Mary’s womb,” the monsignor said.
“For us, prayer to Christ is ever more identified with prayer to the Virgin,” he added. The CL founder encouraged daily recitation of the “holy rosary, which is contemplation of the Mystery; it is contemplation of the Most Holy Trinity.”
Monsignor Giussani, who turned 82 on Oct. 15, gave life to the movement a half-century ago in the student youth group of the Berchet secondary school in Milan.
The name “Communion and Liberation” first appeared in 1969. CL is active in almost 70 countries. There is no formal registration in the Movement, just free participation. Every week, its followers are catechized in the “School of Communion.”
The objective of this ecclesial Movement is the Christian education of its followers, and cooperation with the mission of the Church in all areas of contemporary society.
In a letter last February to Monsignor Giussani for the movement’s golden anniversary, John Paul II said that CL “can justly be considered, together with a great variety of other associations and new communities, as one of the shoots of the promising ‘spring’ inspired by the Holy Spirit over the last 50 years.”
Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, in his recent congratulatory message, said: “As John Paul II has recalled on other occasions, the [movements and associations] have been a providential response to the extreme need of the Church and of the world for Christian communities able to propose the faith as a personal encounter with Christ that transforms life, and able to form mature Christian personalities, conscious of their baptismal identity and of their vocation and mission.”
During the Italian pilgrimage to Loreto, and following the recitation of the rosary, Father Julián Carrón, Monsignor Giussani’s right-hand man, said: “We can cry out full of gratitude before all: What is most dear in our life is Christ himself because he dwells bodily in the fullness of the divinity.”
He ended his testimony asking the Virgin of Loreto for “this grace: that in addition to sustaining us in the troubles of life, that we will so love Jesus that we will not be ashamed of him before the men we meet, so that they will be able to find, through us, what we have found.”
Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, presided at the Mass in Loreto and recalled the Holy Father’s words in “Novo Millennio Ineunte”: “We will not be saved by a formula, but by a Person, and the certainty that he infuses in us: I am with you.”
“This is the heart of the educational and communicative passion of the Christian experience as lived and proposed by CL,” the cardinal said.
Alluding to the movement’s history, Cardinal Sepe praised “the fruitfulness of an educational method able to meet, fascinate and change men of different cultures and origins.”