Newsletter of the District
- February 2000
Focolari Movement and its International Ramifications
Dr. Regina Hinrichs
was written from a conference given by the author to the congress
“Theologisches”, at Fulda, in October 1997.
years, Dr. Hinrichs has undertaken researches regarding contemporary
subversive religious movements. During her works, she was naturally
led to put her attention to the powerful organization of the “Focolari”
(in italian,hearths, homes) and to its “Charismatic” founder,
(whose original name is “Opus Mariae”- The Work of Mary) defines
itself as a militant movement for unity, open to persons of all
convictions. Today, its influence spreads to the whole world.
They are very active propagators of ecumenism and inter-religious
- Le Sel
de la Terre, No.25
of a Cosmic Unity and of a New World
one may ask what are the foundation and the nature of this unity
which offers to the members of the most diverse religions and most
varied philosophies the means to live together – because we are
already very far from the starting point of the Focolari, that
is, to live the Gospel. How can a Christian, a Hindu or a Muslim
live this unity on a day to day basis? It is hard to imagine.
What will be the basis of their community of life?
In Graz, Chiara
Lubich has answered this question:
to another which you do not want him to do to you. This is the
basis which enables us to live in a loving relation with the members
of other religions.”
what she has also said in this discourse in Graz, she is not content
with the unity among religions; she aims further, to even envisage
a more global spirituality of unity that will allow man to communicate
“To live an
ecumenical spirituality signifies to give man a possibility more
vast to reveal himself as sons and daughters of God, And when,
in each domain, we all make an effort to preserve the nature, this
one will answer mysteriously to our love as well as all that lives
of God and subsists thanks to him.”
these strange statements, we ask what sense are we to give to “to
reveal”, for, evidently, the word is not used in the sense which
we know. We are very far from the supernatural revelation of the
life of grace. The same question may be put forward concerning
this mystic of the nature which “lives of God” and “answers to our
love”. Hasn’t the pantheistic idea of the unity of the whole cosmos,
of which the New Age publications speak so often, influenced this
The end of
this discourse also makes us think of the vision of the future expressed
in the circles of thought apparently foreign to the Focolari – but
are they really?
is threatened by dramatic divisions, albeit destruction. This new
life permits us to regress and progress simultaneously. Thus it
is that humanity will find again this unity for which God created
it, and the churches will realize this plenary community which Christ
conferred to His Church in founding her.”
In other words,
by ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, mankind reaches beyond
that which divides it and tends towards the era of peace and of
total regeneration which is its ultimate end. As to the “churches”,
their role is to promote this wonderful ‘New Age’ of man and the
world become one.
In the talks
held during the collation of the Education for Peace prize (UNESCO),
Chiara Lubich had already expressed similar ideas:
“It is together
(that is, with the adherents of other religions) that we advance
towards the fullness of the truth to which we all aspire. Thanks
to the spirituality of the Focolari, men and women of almost
all nations attempt today (…) to be (..) seeds of a new people,
of a world of peace, (…) of a more united world.”
and in the light of all these texts, we then note that, twenty years
after the awarding of the Templeton prize, Chiara Lubich
fully confirmed that she was truly worthy to receive this dark recompense.
alliances of the Focolari
In the logical
sequence of the prized which Chiara Lubich was awarded, we must
now take a look at some of the international organizations with
which the Focolari movement is more or less connected.
and The World Conference of Religions for Peace
In 1979, two
years after Chiara Lubich, a man with whom, she admitted herself,
she carried on a profound spiritual exchange for years, was judged
worthy to receive in his turn the Templeton prize. This
man, well known in world religious circles, is Nykkyo Niwano. He
is the founder of a lay Buddhist organization: Risso Kosai-Kai,
and of The World Conference of Religions for Peace. He was the
sole Buddhist invited at the Second Vatican Council as an observer.
Foundation explained its choice of Nykkyo Niwano to honor his tireless
efforts in the domain of interreligious dialogue and of world peace.
In his thanksgiving
speech, the awarded developed the following point: Before everything,
he says, it is important that humanity form a global community.
In the process involved in this, religions play a very important
role. Their ends must be: the search of happiness, spiritual deepening,
and world peace. It is the task of The World Conference of Religions
for Peace to take away every obstacle put in the way which leads
to a world living in peace.
are not useless and they do not keep us from our topic as Nikkyo
Niwano is tied to Chiara Lubich by a close friendship, and she is
herself honorary president of the World Conference he has founded.
She therefore adheres perfectly to the objectives of this institution:
and fully support some Buddhist initiatives for peace in the world,
such as the well appreciated World Conference of Religions for Peace
friendship of The World Conference of Religions
was founded in 1970. Its founding act claims its origin from the
ideas of three American religious leaders, one of whom is no other
than Bishop Wright, the future Cardinal! It was decided to set
up the international secretariat in New York, facing the U.N. building
because, from the very beginning a close collaboration with the
world organization was envisaged.
facts permit to illustrate the efficacy of this collaboration. Thus,
it is the Conference of Religions which proposed Chiara Lubich
as awarded for the Education for Peace prize (UNESCO) which
she received in 1996. On the other hand, the Conference of Religions
enjoys a consultative status with the UN and UNICEF. It has also
obtained to be approved as NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) with
UNESCO, in 1996.
some close liaisons among all these international organizations,
religious or lay, which form a tentacular network, acting in the
same direction. It is an undeniable fact. For example, Federico
Mayor, General Director of UNESCO, published an interview in a German
magazine of the Focolari movement: Neue Stadt (New City).
But, it is necessary to know that F. Mayor, and other functionaries
who occupy high positions in the UN, collaborate very actively with
the Lucis Trust (originally Lucifer Trust – Ed.) of
A.A. Bailey (Foundress of the Lucifer Trust, a master-mind
of the New Age – Ed.). It is clear that in associating themselves
with those people, one walks on slippery grounds.
But let us
continue our examination of the World Conference of Religions
founded by Nikkyo Niwano.
figures among its honorary presidents. This former president of
Costa Rica entertains the liaisons similar to those of Federico
Mayor: he is also an active collaborator of the Lucis Trust.
of Religions also had as president (now retired) the former
Archbishop of New Delhi, Angelo Fernandes. This man openly supports
the powerful organization of the Planetary Citizens, which
has become an occult group. During an assembly organized by UNESCO
in Barcelona, he made a discourse having for theme: “A global spirituality
of social responsibility.” He defined the spirituality in the following
of our responsibility for a new organization of political and economical
institutions, a responsibility which is anchored in the personal
experience of the divine.”
For an Archbishop,
it is truly a remarkable definition.
render his speech worthy of our attention. Angelo Fernandes several
times quotes Robert Muller (a functionary who occupied a directive
post in the UN during forty years and who collaborated as well at
the Lucis Trust where he had some responsibility). Fernandes
relies too on Dag Hammarskjöld and U Thant, other great promoters
of a worldwide global spirituality, indispensable, according to
them, to our new planetary conscience. It is clear, and Angelo
Fernandes explains profusely, the decisive element of this new “spirituality”
is its worldwide dimension and its concern for the planet. We need,
he says, to institute a new global and universal community, because,
from now on, it is the only form of a viable community. In this
logic, he finishes his discourse exhorting us all to become that
which, in reality, we are already: one.
It is impossible
not to see the relations which exist between these principles and
those of Chiara Lubich, which we have exposed above. By the very
choice of words, the objectives propagated over the years by the
groups close to Aries and by the powerful groups of mondialists,
can be found in the ideas of the founder of the Focolari.
Besides, we saw it, these V.I.Ps. Of mondialism are her friends
whom she does not cease to frequent.
UNDERTAKINGS OF THE CONFERENCE OF RELIGIONS AND OF THE FOCOLARI
But that which
precedes belongs to the order of declarations of intention and of
discourses. Collaboration does not stop there. It remains to say
by what concrete undertakings the World Conference of Religions
for Peace and the international societies which are connected
to it, apply their principles and fulfill their appeals to a mondial
unity with the Focolari.
of these later years are, on this regard, worthy of consideration
because they gave way to great manifestations in which the Focolari
were involved. We wish to clarify that the information which we
are going to give on this subject come from the documentation of
the World Conference itself.
l The centenary
of the Parliament of Religions
First, in 1993,
there took place, thanks to the hospitality of the Archdiocese of
Chicago, the congress of the centenary of the Parliament of the
Religions of the World – previously held in Chicago in 1893.
In the context
of this anniversary, a meeting was also held in Amsterdam. It is
more interesting for us because it concerns more directly our topic.
For the organization and the running of this assembly was, in a
great part, entrusted to the movement of the Focolari.
At the start,
there was a reading from a text of Pir Vilayat Khan, in which he
exhorted his listeners to pursue the interreligious dialogue. Notably
– and we find there a known refrain – he asked the representatives
of religions to encourage aspirations towards universality hidden
in their traditions. Pir Vilayat Khan is not unknown in international
circles: he is the honorary president of the Club of Budapest
founded by the Club of Rome: he is also of the signatories
of the Manifesto of the planetary conscience published
by this club.
were heard, among whom a member of the Reformed Church of Switzerland
– also member of the Focolari – and an adept of Brahma
Kumaris, a group about which we shall speak later. The speeches
and discussions were accompanied by prayers, meditations taken from
diverse religious traditions, and a floral ceremony which, unfortunately,
is not described in the documentation
l The sixth
World Conference of Religions
event which enlightens the activity of the World Conference
and of the organizations which are connected to it is the “Sixth
World Conference of Religions” held in Rome – more exactly at
the Vatican and at Riva del Garda – in 1994.
The motto around
which the participants were gathered was: “Save the world – Religions
for peace.” Without doubt, the world and each one of us need to
be saved, but, obviously, the true and only Savior, Our Lord Jesus
Christ, was the great Forgotten of this Conference.
end was to establish a deepened dialogue between religions, to come
closer effectively to each other. Two kinds of activities lead to
that: on one side, appeals and discourses pronounced before the
assembly by diverse religious leaders: on the other side, a common
participation to the ceremonies of several religions: Islam, Shintoism,
Judaism and local religions (animism).
As we have
already emphasized, these meetings refrain from being syncretists.
They do not seek to reunite elements taken in each religion to make
with this mixture something new, a supra-religion which will occupy
the place of the old ones. The purpose is to form a unity among
existing religions by mutual tolerance, in overcoming and in preserving
the particularities of each tradition, and in respecting their own
words aside, is such an undertaking possible? In the common edifice
which they construct together, the mixed traditions cease forcibly
to be specific and do constitute, in fact, a picturesque enrichment
destined to satisfy the disparate sensibilities of everyone. Moreover,
how will elements of opposite origin formally contradicting each
other be able to stay together? The ones or the others must necessarily
yield. A certain form of syncretism is therefore inevitable.
how can a Catholic keep his faith intact in the midst of such confusion?
How can he continue to pretend that Catholicism is the only truth,
and that outside of Christ and of the True Church, there is no salvation?
He might well persist in believing it interiorly, but it will be
necessary that he says it no longer openly, that he reduces his
faith to a religious opinion among others (which is a denial and
an infidelity) and that he accepts not to trouble the universal
For such is
the ultimate end: the summum bonum of this undertaking of
the recuperation of world’s religions: to establish peace on earth.
Not the peace which God gives, but that of man. The mondialists
want the religions to serve as instruments to accomplish this planetary
mission which they took on themselves in the name of humanity.
part of the conference – the most interesting for us – took place
at Riva del Garda. The Focolari movement was extremely active
there, as the leaflet of information of the World Conference
does not cease to emphasize. Without their disinterested commitment,
especially in relation with the media, the great success of this
meeting would not have been possible, as it is reported.
It is worth
looking at the list of speakers of Riva del Garda, for we always
find the same networks of international fraternity. On the Catholic
side, we notice the presence of Cardinals Arinze, Etchegaray and
Martini, as well as Archbishop Fernandes, whom we know already,
and the theologian Hans Kung. The U.N. was represented by Yasushi
Akashi, its delegate in former Yugoslavia. There was also, naturally,
the founder of the World Conference, Nikkyo Niwano mentioned
As a conclusion,
“the declaration of Riva del Garda” was adapted, it was solemnly
read on board of a boat moving across the water. This ceremony had
a symbolic importance: the boat navigating on the lake signifies
the voyage of men towards peace, guided by religions: but the shore,
the end, is not yet reached.
summarizes the results and the objectives aimed at by the assembly.
The central point is the intention of forming a world community
and to fix on it rights and obligations. It proclaims that an enlightened
religiosity contributes to the triumph of liberty and of human rights.
It affirms the importance of interreligious dialogue to “heal the
earth” and chase from it the destructive elements. It is not very
difficult to guess what is meant by these “destructive elements”,
and moreover, the declaration itself explains it: these are religious
nationalism and extremism.
demands, of course, the collaboration with the U.N. : the conference
confirms its commitment in this sense. The declaration speaks further
of the “healing of the world” at a local as well as at a global
scale. It depicts a harmonious and peaceful universe which is the
end of life and of the aspirations of man.
religions is especially encouraged. In view of the reconciliation,
everyone is asked to know how to use the sacred texts coming from
other religious traditions, to treat other religions with respect,
to meditate together, for all that is a source of mutual enrichment.
text draws up a vision of a unified religion, similar to a giant
copula (does it not look rather like the head of a pyramid?), which
integrates generously in its bosom all religions. If the diverse
religions thus behave themselves, then “without violating their
identity and their pretense of possessing the truth of the purely
religious order, they could discover convergence and complements
in the socio-ethical order”.
It is useless
to show, point by point, that this declaration contains almost no
principle which a Christian can accept without reservation. This
is horrifying, because a great number of the representatives of
the Catholic Church were present and actively participated in this
meeting, and the Focolari have energetically encouraged it.
In fact, it makes sense that these “Catholics” have not condemned
in words that which they practiced and lived during the rest of
the conference. For there were invocations and meditations of Buddhists,
of Indians and of Hindus, and numerous pagan ceremonies.
World Conference of Religions for Peace publishes, in its
brochure of information, an interreligious calendar, in which are
found reunited the feasts of nine religions: Christianism, Sikhs,
Islam, Buddhism, Baha’i, Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Zoroastrism.
The only Christian feasts named are: Christmas, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday,
Easter, and Pentecost. They are given the same rank as the pagan
feasts, as the expression of a religious tradition among others.
They are tolerated, they may even show themselves, but on the condition
that they respect the others, that they do not seek to prevail on
others, neither to trouble nor prevent the great unity envisaged.
Among the international
and religious organizations that we have named and to which the
movement of the Focolari is connected, there has been mentioned
of the Brahma Kumaris, a society founded in Karachi in 1936,
and which describes itself as a " spiritual university the
world” (Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University).
has had foundations in the whole world, especially in Asia and in
Europe ( in eighteen countries). Its primary aim is to encourage
meditation and spiritual apprenticeship by the development of the
“Ego –the I”. But beside these preoccupations concerning the individual,
this university pursues the same ends as the organizations we have
spoken of, about world peace, the advent of a harmonious world,
the collaborations with the world religious organizations, with
UNICEF and the U.N. (it also has a consultative voice at the economic
and social council of the U.N. and it was received also as NGO).
We find then
the same milieu and the same frequentations with which the Focolari
movement is connected.
publication of the Council of the Parliament of World
Religions (for which the Lucis Trust makes some publicity!)
explicitly mentions the links uniting all these international organizations
. We find there documents published by these organizations, and
numerous proofs that they all belong to same vast network linked
more or less tightly. It is true that neither the Focolari
movement nor Chiara Lubich appear in this publication, but all their
mondialist friends with whom they collaborate are there.
an expert in the domain of the New Age, solemnly expressed the danger
in which we live:
“One of the
aims pursued for a long time by the masonic New World Order finally
seems at hand: ONE World Church, being built for the last 150 years,
is taking shape. Among the collaborators working in this direction,
we see certain leaders of the Catholic Church who contribute to
it through the international organization named the World Conference
of Religions for Peace.”
convictions constitute the basis of all these conceptions to which
the Conference of Religions works assiduously and, with it,
the Focolari movement:
Man must, above all things, establish peace on earth (in contrast,
the first commandment of a Christian aims at the love of God).
Religions are responsible for wars and conflicts (the Church teaches
that wars and quarrels come from sin).
Unity of religions can bring peace (Our Lord says on the contrary:
“My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, do I give unto
On the other
hand, the only end interesting a Catholic is to root himself always
more deeply in the Mystical Body of Christ. It is this deep union
with Christ which – Deo juvante – will lead us one day to
the “visio beatifica”, the beatific vision, and thus, to