Pope Francis’ meeting with the movements, new communities, and ecclesial associations on Saturday brought hundreds of thousands of people to greet the Holy Father. A palpable excitement filled the streets of Rome as the Pope waved to the crowds in his popemobile not only in St. Peter’s Square, but also the thousands lining the street of Via della Conciliazione.
Movements such as Communion & Liberation, Rinnovamento nello Spirito (Renewal in the Spirit), and the Neocatechumenal Way arrived to the meeting full of joy and excitement to see the Pope.
Erasmo Fuggini, a member of Communion and Liberation, told ZENIT he came because of the significance of the meeting during the Year of Faith. “A meeting like this is very important,” he said. “The Year of Faith is an important time for all the movements to dedicate our lives to the service [of the Church].
Various movements launched initiatives during the Year of Faith, following Pope Francis’ call to “bring the power of the Gospel wherever you go.” Communion and Liberation, for example, opened a ‘House of Welcome’ where according to Fuggini, they ‘receive, inform, educate and formate youth for life.”
“The movements,” he said, “are the life of the Church. Its important to hear the message of the successor of Peter, he who makes present the Church.” A message, Fuggini continued, that calls all movements “to renew and continue our path.”
Aldo Caldegari, a member of the charismatic movement Rinnovamento nello Spirito, expressed his joy at being present at the meeting. Caldegari travelled from Treviso, in northern Italy, to be present at the meeting.
“We are happy to be here with all the different movements, our brothers, to meet the Pope,” Caldegari said.
When asked by ZENIT as to why he felt this meeting was significant for all movements, Caldegari noted that the movements are “the most lively and vivacious part of the Church today.”
“It is an important moment that Holy Father wanted and invited all of us to attend. Pope Francis invited us during the meeting in Rimini through Archbishop [Salvatore] Fisichella to come here for this,” Caldegari said.
Announcing the Gospel with Simplicity and Clarity
During the emeeting, the Holy Father also took a moment to address the crowds, even answering several questions posed to him by representatives of various movements. Pope Francis captivated many at the openness of his responses.
“I always remember Holy Friday,” the Pope recalled during the vigil, “ [my grandmother] would take us to the evening candlelight procession and at the end of the procession, my grandmother would have us children kneel down and she would say, “Look, He is dead, but tomorrow he will resurrect.” I received the first Christian announcement from this woman, from my grandmother! This is beautiful! The first announcement from the home, with the family!”
The Holy Father received a thunderous applause from the crowds gathered as he recalled memories from his childhood.
“One of the qualities of this Pope is that he is close to the people. Especially when he recounts real personal life experiences to help people in their own conversion, in their own way of life,” said 27 year old Michele Floris, a member of the Neocatechumenal Way in Rome.
Floris also noted the Pope’s simplicity and clarity in his manner of speaking. “What also moved me was the fact that he appealed to all of us present to bring a living Christ forward and not himself,” he said.
Regarding the significance of the Holy Father’s meeting with the various movements and ecclesial realities, Floris said that today’s Church in the 21st century has many different ways for people to come close to God. “There is no longer an exclusivity, the Church speaks many different languages but always focused on Jesus Christ.
“On a personal note,” Floris continued, “I feel that he is more a bishop of Rome and not just as a leader of the whole Church. I very much like the fact that he has more a contact with the people here in Rome. He speaks to us a pastor of Romans and not just as the Pope of the Universal Church.”