Newsletter of the District of Asia

 January - February 2000

The Focolari Movement and its International Ramifications
Part 3

by: Dr. Regina Hinrichs

This article was written from a conference given by the author to the congress “Theologisches”, at Fulda, in October 1997.

For many 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, Chiara Lubich.

The “Focolari” (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 dialogue.

- Le Sel de la Terre, No.25

The dream of a Cosmic Unity and of a New World

Obviously, 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:

“Do nothing 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.”

However, from 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 with nature:

“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.”

In weighing 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 conception?

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?

“Our planet 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.”

In summary 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.

The international 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.

Nykkyo Niwano 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.

The Templeton 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.

These clarifications 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:

“We approve and fully support some Buddhist initiatives for peace in the world, such as the well appreciated World Conference of Religions for Peace has brought.”

The ‘U.N.-type’ friendship of The World Conference of Religions

This Conference 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.

Besides, some 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.

There exist 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.

Rodrigo Carazo 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.

The Conference 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 way:

“The conscience 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.

Other points 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.


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.

 Two events 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.

Many speakers 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

The second 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.

The principal 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 historical forms.

Nevertheless, 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.

But especially, 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 peace.

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.

The second 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 previously.

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.

This declaration 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.

Such ambition 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.

Unity among 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.

 Finally, the 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.

Moreover, the 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).

This 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.

Moreover a 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.


Cornelia Ferreira, 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.”

Three erroneous convictions constitute the basis of all these conceptions to which the Conference of Religions works assiduously and, with it, the Focolari movement:

1.        Man must, above all things, establish peace on earth (in contrast, the first commandment of a Christian aims at the love of God).

2.        Religions are responsible for wars and conflicts (the Church teaches that wars and quarrels come from sin).

3.        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 you.”)

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 eternal peace.

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