Frank Johnson reviews ‘Living Dialogue – Chiara Lubich on Christian Unity’.
[New City Magazine – May 2009]
Dialogue as a means of drawing individuals or groups together has become something of a watchword in recent years. The Christian Churches too have adopted this approach and, although ecumenical dialogue seems to have hit the buffers recently, it is still seen as the only way ahead. For Chiara Lubich, the word dialogue has a very clear meaning: two sides coming together in mutual respect and love and sharing their beliefs, their traditions and their vision, with one important proviso – there should be no intention of imposing one’s views on the other. This is the kind of dialogue that she and the Focolare Movement have been engaged in now for more than forty years.
This little booklet contains the essence of Chiara’s ideas about ecumenism and ecumenical dialogue through a number of talks she gave on various occasions to ecumenical bodies, especially the World Council of Churches. The title of the book, Living Dialogue, is representative of the Movement’s approach to ecumenism: to look for what unites and to live these things together. Speaking of this ‘living dialogue’ Chiara says:
Because of it we feel that we are already one family; we feel that we form among ourselves ‘a Christian people’ which includes lay people, but also priests, pastors, bishops and so on… This people is like a leaven in the ecumenical movement that awakens in everyone the sense that, as baptised Christians capable of loving one another, we can all contribute towards realizing the Testament of Jesus.
Anyone, whether a member of the Focolare Movement or not, will find rich treasures in this book and encouragement to feel that, whoever they are, they can make a valid contribution to ecumenism. It should be on the shopping list of anyone committed to the search for Christian unity.