Fraternity of Communion and Liberation
ALSO KNOWN AS
Communion and Liberation
At the beginning of the 1950s, realising the need to rebuild the Christian presence in the student world, Father Luigi Giussani, a professor at the Theological Faculty at Venegono (Varese) dedicated himself to teaching religion in schools. The experience of a small group of students from the Berchet classical high school in Milan, which gathered around him, led to the establishment of Gioventù Studentesca (Student Youth). With the strong encouragement of the Archbishop of Milan, Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, Gioventù Studentesca spread to other Italian cities, and after 1968 it also began to involve undergraduates and adults. This led to the establishment of Communion and Liberation which, in 1980, was to be canonically recognised by the Ordinary Abbot of Montecassino, Mgr Martino Matronola. The first fraternity groups were set up in the latter half of the 1970s by CL graduates who, using a method based on communion, wished to strengthen their membership of the Church as adults, along with the responsibilities that this entails. It was through their spread to various countries that the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation came about. On 11 February 1982 the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed recognition of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation as an international association of the faithful of Pontifical Right.
The essence of the CL charism is the proclamation that God became Man; in the affirmation that this man - Jesus of Nazareth, who died and rose again - is a present event, whose visible sign is communion, that is to say, the unity of a people led by a living person, the Bishop of Rome; in the awareness that it is only in God made man, and hence within the life of the Church, that man is more true and humanity is truly more human. In the educational proposal made by CL, the free acceptance by the individual of the Christian message is determined by the discovery that the needs of the human heart are met by the annunciation of a message that fulfils them. It is the reasonableness of the faith which leads men and women who have been transformed by their encounter with Christ to commit themselves with Christian experience to affect the whole of society. This commitment strengthens their awareness of their own identity, enabling them to see their life as a vocation, and is supported by the experience of communion which makes the memory of Christ’s coming a daily reality. The educational process, nurtured by proclamation and catechesis, attending retreats and spiritual exercises, and the celebration of the sacraments, gives pride of place to the dimensions of cultural work as a means of deepening and expressing their faith and as a condition for having a responsible presence in society; charity work, as education in service to be freely given to others and social commitment; and the mission, as education in the sense of the catholicity of the Church and as a vocational choice. Bearing witness to Christ in schools and universities, in factories and offices, and in the local neighbourhood and in the city, takes place above all through work, which is the specific way in which adults relate to reality.
The life of the Fraternity is lived through the free formation of groups of men and women of all conditions and states of life, whose friendship and communion are based upon their common commitment to move forward together towards holiness, which they acknowledge to be the genuine purpose of human existence. The association is guided by the President and by the Central Diakonia, of which all the international leaders are members, and the officials in all the various areas in which it is present, and representatives of the other entities that have emerged from the CL charism: the Memores Domini Lay Association (see page 197); the priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St Charles Borromeo; the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Assumption. In the dioceses, the diocesan leader is assisted by a Diakonia and by a spiritual Assistant appointed by the local Bishop acting on a proposal by the Fraternity President. Since 1997, the Communion and Liberation International Centre has been operating in Rome, as the liaison centre linking all the parts of the movement worldwide.
The Fraternity has 47,994 members in 64 countries as follows: Africa (9), Asia (7), Europe (28), Middle East (3), North America (7), Oceania (1) and South America (9). Over 60,000 people share the CL experience.
Individuals and groups belonging to the Fraternity have taken the responsibility to create cultural, charitable and entrepreneurial works linked together in the Company of Works which has offices in Italy and abroad. These include sheltered homes for the mentally ill, drug-dependants, the disabled, AIDS patients and the terminally ill; companies to provide employment for the disabled; NGOs (AVSI in Italy and CESAL in Spain) to provide assistance and foster the development of poor countries; foundations such as the Food Bank, which provides daily food to over one million poor people in Italy, and the Pharmaceutical Bank; solidarity Centres to assist the unemployed in seeking a job; welfare facilities in children’s prisons in Africa and America; aid for needy families and finding homes for people in difficulty. The initiatives that have emerged in the field of culture have become a special place for ensuring that the pooling of different experiences is an opportunity for every individual to communicate their own proprium regarding the Christian event: cultural centres, schools (often created by parents’ cooperatives), publishing houses, publishing and newspaper initiatives; foundations and academic institutions; international conferences, such as the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples. The Sacred Heart Foundation in Milan is directly dependent upon the Fraternity, as a non-profit entity which manages schools, and works for the promotion and protection of free education, consistent with the Christian tradition and the teaching of the Church.
Traces Litterae Communionis, a monthly magazine in Italian, French, English, Polish, Portuguese/Brazilian, Russian, German and Spanish; Piccole Tracce, a magazine for children published every two months.
Fraternità di Comunione e Liberazione
Via Giuseppe De Notaris n.50
Tel 02 66595088
Fax 02 66594670
Centro Internazionale di Comunione e Liberazione
Via Malpighi, 2 - 00161 Roma - Italy
Tel. [+39] 06.44252752 - Fax 06.44252544