08 February 2021
Opera di Maria
The Pope to Focolare: a call to a new maturity
On Saturday, 6 February, participants in the General Assembly as well as other members of the Opera di Maria—Focolare movement were received in audience by Pope Francis in the Paul VI Hall. They were accompanied by the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, and the Undersecretary of the Dicastery, Linda Ghisoni. In his address, the Holy Father invited the members of the Focolare movement to live the sensitive “post-Foundress” time with a “dynamic fidelity,” so as to “continue to be a living expression of the foundational charism.” He also called to mind “the importance of a crises” in living out “a call to a new maturity,” with particular attention to “persons’ spiritual crises which involve the intimacy of the individual and the sphere of conscience,” and which “must be approached prudently and only by those who do not hold governing positions at any level within the movement” because, he added, “the mingling of the sphere of external government with the sphere of conscience gives rise to abuses of power and to other abuses, of which we have witnessed.” Finally, he exhorted them all to “live the spirituality with coherence and realism,” adopting a style of fraternal closeness outside of the Movement, and of synodality within the Movement “so that all the members, as custodians of the same charism, may be co-responsible and share in the life of the Opera di Maria and its specific ends.”
The meeting with the Pope was the culmination of two intense weeks that the Opera di Maria-Focalare Movement experienced in the town of Rocca di Papa during its General Assembly. Some highlights of this time include the elections of the new general leadership of the Opera: Margaret Marie Karram, of Israeli nationality, as the new President; and Fr. Jesús Morán, a Spaniard, re-elected as Co-President.
On Sunday 7 February, at the end of these days of profound meetings and reflection, a Mass of thanksgiving and intercessory prayer for the start of the mandate of the new President was celebrated at the same location in Rocca di Papa, presided over by Cardinal Farrell. In his homily, commenting on the Sunday Mass readings, the Cardinal exhorted those assembled to experience moments of personal and communal ‘bewilderment’ as opportunities for spiritual growth in the light of faith, which help in attaining detachment from self and fosters a whole-hearted return to God. In experiencing one’s own fragility, one discovers Jesus’ closeness to suffering humanity, of which the Gospel of the day speaks. The Cardinal also invited all members of the Opera to remain faithful to the charism which, he explained, "is nothing other than returning to the beauty of a personal relationship with Jesus, sincere and ‘totalitarian,’ as Chiara said; that is, one which leaves nothing in the our life that is not touched, illuminated, and transformed by the luminous holiness which emanates from Jesus.” At the end of the Mass, the Prefect also took part in the so-called “CH Link up,” a worldwide videoconference during which he conveyed a message of encouragement to all the members of the Opera, assuring them of the vigilant accompaniment and closeness of the Dicastery to the Focolare Movement.