Pope Francis tells Communion and Liberation leader: ‘Do not look at your navel’

Pope Francis tells Communion and Liberation leader: ‘Do not look at your navel’

Pope Francis greets members of the international Catholic movement Communion and Liberation in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 15, 2022. / Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

CNA Staff, Jun 19, 2024 / 14:57 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis in an audience last week with the president of Communion and Liberation (CL) reportedly told the leader not to “look at your navel” but to share their movement with the whole Church.

Communion and Liberation is an ecclesial movement founded in the 1950s by Italian priest Father Luigi Giussani, a theologian and public intellectual. It received papal recognition in 1982 and today is present in 90 countries worldwide, with its members — clerical and lay — primarily focusing on community, culture, and Catholic education and faith formation. Its members meet weekly in small discussion groups that they call the “School of Community.”

In a June 15 audience, the pope received Davide Prosperi, president of CL, and Father Andrea D’Auria, director of CL’s International Center.

As reported by Prosperi, the pope spoke of “the need to share the charism and for a co-responsibility in the leadership of the movement.” He also stressed, Prosperi said, that every charism must conceive of itself as being at the service of the whole Church.

Prosperi said Pope Francis said several times during the audience: “Do not look at your navel, go outside, go outside! The whole Church needs this.”

“A movement, the Holy Father reminded us, must remain faithful to its charism by communicating itself creatively in every place around the world where it is present,” Prosperi said.

Pope Francis has previously warned representatives of Catholic movements that the desire for power and recognition are temptations that hinder their call to serve the Church, saying it is “treachery” when a leader “wants to serve the Lord but also serves other things that are not the Lord.”

CL has faced dissension among some members in recent years over its governance. The Holy See in September 2021 appointed a special delegate to oversee Memores Domini, the lay-consecrated branch of CL. Two months later, Father Julián Carrón announced his resignation as president of CL, and Prosperi succeeded him.

Pope Francis spoke to thousands of CL members at a 2022 event marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Giussani. Giussani died in 2005 and his cause for beatification was opened in 2012.

“Times of crisis are times of recapitulation of your extraordinary history of charity, culture, and mission; they are times of critical discernment of what has limited the fruitful potential of Father Giussani’s charism,” the pope said. “They are times of renewal and missionary relaunch in light of the current ecclesial moment as well as the needs, sufferings, and hopes of contemporary humanity.”

He encouraged the movement to foster unity amid diversity and to not waste any time with “gossip, mistrust, and opposition.” He added: “Please, do not waste time.”

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