Communion and Liberation
COMMUNION AND LIBERATION
An English translation of Communione e Liberazione, the name of a spiritual and apostolic movement that had its origins in Italy, where it is also known by its acronym CL. Communione e Liberazione, an outgrowth of an experiment in Catholic Action (3:262a), was founded by Luigi Giussani (b. 1922) in the 1950s, and approved as a Confraternity by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Feb. 11, 1982.
Concerned about the declining influence of the Catholic majority on the social and cultural life of Italy, Giussani, a priest of the archdiocese of Milan, began to work with young people. He resigned his post as a lecturer at the theological school in Venegono, near Milan, to take a teaching assignment in a Milan high school. There he started a catechetical program within the young girls section of the Catholic Action (Azione Cattolica ) movement, and for over a decade Giussani's experiment was known simply by the acronym GS (Gioventu' Studentesca ), as the young women's section of Catholic Action was called. His program became prominent in most schools in Milan and spread to Romagna and other parts of the country.
Giussani's basic principle is the totality of Christian life commitment: faith cannot be confined to some interior recesses of one's being, but must engage all aspects of a Christian's life and action. Giussani identified the enemy as a kind spiritual schizophrenia, a situation which he blamed on some Italian apostolic movements that separated personal commitment from public policy: Giussani's movement split from the Catholic Action movement in 1964–65 over his disregard of its rigid structure, which organized its members according to sex, age, and education. Shortly afterwards Communione e Liberazione faced another major crisis, in 1968, when its failure to come to grips with the widespread student protests and demonstrations caused some of its most promising leaders to leave the movement for secular and leftist groups. Nonetheless CL became more and more prominent in the Church and Italian society because of its dynamism and readiness to confront moral issues like divorce and abortion. Members gained influential positions in some sectors of the press, labor, education, and political parties. With the accession of Pope John Paul II (1978), CL found favor in Vatican circles, and began to spread outside Italy. In the 1980s CL had adherents in 20 or more countries, including the United States (Boston, New York, aand Washington, D.C.).
Structure. The Communione e Liberazione is loosely organized, with an International Council in Milan, where the different branches are represented. At the local level, the strength of the movement is the study groups, "Schools of Communion," where members meet to study and reflect on important Church documents and materials provided by Giussani's central headquarters. The weekly community meeting of the members is regarded as the culminating point of communion and personal commitment. The "Schools of Communion" are linked with one another in a loose organization that gives CL influence and strength far beyond the strict canonical scope of a confraternity. Some members form special interest groups, addressing issues of labor relations, family problems, and Italian and European politics. The official organ of the movement is the bulletin Litterae Communionis CL, but its ideology is also strongly promoted in some highly successful Italian periodicals such as Il Sabato, 30 Giorni, L'Avvenire, and a series of books published by Jaca Book, a publishing house in Milan.
Bibliography: f. perrenchio, "Communione e Liberazione," a. favale, ed., Movimenti ecclesiali contemporanei. Dimensioni storiche teologico-spirituali ed apostoliche (2d ed. Rome 1982) 375–401. r. ronza, Communione e Liberazione. Interviste a Luigi Giussani. (Milan 1976). g. riva, Don Giussani (Milan 1986).