The Focolare Movement – What is it?

The Focolare Movement began in Italy in 1943 as an ecumenical unity effort for spiritual and social renewal. Chiara Lubich (1920—2008), a Catholic, is the founder of the movement, and said her concept came from John 17:21: "that they may all be one…" as Jesus prayed. Focolare is Italian for "hearth."

When World War Two ended, the women who lived together in Trent, Italy, who had formed the core of the movement, dispersed to plant the movement in many places. According to the Focalare Movement's US website, there are two million adherents or supporters of the movement in 182 countries. Adherents come from many religions and even include those who are non-religious, though the movement is largely Catholic.

Lubich sometimes called the Focolare Movement the "Work of Mary," the idea being that Focolarini would bring Jesus to the world, just as Mary did. She also thought the Focolare Movement was similar to Mary as a mother and unifier.

Those in Focolare want to live out the gospel to erase division and create a world of peace. It is an admirable goal. However, Jesus' charge to His followers is to make disciples (Matthew 28:18–20). Focolare does not preach or teach Jesus as the only way to God (John 14:1, 6), but simply wants to unify all people who may (or may not) believe in some sort of generic god. This is contrary to the teachings found in the Bible. James 2:19 states, "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!"

Focolare sets aside the message of the New Testament that peace can be found only in God, and He only by Jesus. The movement relies on a common humanity plea, elevating Mary as a universal mother, and Catholicism as a basis, but not a requirement, for membership.

Contrastingly, true Christian unity is formed on an agreement of the doctrine of the Bible, salvation only through Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and no other way to God nor salvation (Acts 4:12). True Christian unity is a work of the Holy Spirit who indwells all who are in Christ. Focolare is not biblically Christian.

Paul describes Christian unity in Ephesians 4:3–7: "… maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift."

Some of Focolare's goals are admirable, but apart from Christ they are impossible. We cannot bring about unity through human effort, and certainly cannot attain unity apart from a solid foundation in the single truth of Jesus Christ. Rather than seek world peace, we are to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is only through knowing Jesus that people will be saved. One day He will return, and then peace will come (Acts 1:11; 2 Peter 3:9–10; Revelation 21—22).

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