Davide Prosperi and Pope Francis at the audience on October 15, 2022 for Fr. Giussani's centenary (Catholic Press Photo)


The life of the movement and key steps taken in recent years, including the relationship with politics and culture. The President of the Fraternity speaks in an interview with Corriere della Sera.
Marco Ascione

“Communion and Liberation will not give up giving its own judgment on reality.” Davide Prosperi is a 52-year-old biochemist, Professor at the Bicocca University, and specialist in Nanomedicine. From Milan, he is married and is the father of four, and has a brother who is a priest. He is discreet and little known to the general public. As of November 27, 2021, he sits on the highest seat in the Fraternity of CL. Today, two and a half years after taking office, he has agreed to talk about the relationship with politics of a movement that is often in the spotlight precisely because of its action in the public arena. As well as the legacy of his predecessor, Spanish theologian Julián Carrón.

Professor, what is the movement founded by Giussani today?
What it has always been, the proposal of a friendship that has a single purpose: to live and bear witness to the Christian event. It is a simple proposal that is open to all, made persuasive by Fr. Giussani and which has taken root in 90 countries in the last seventy years.

Yet the perceived image is also that of a divided movement. Perhaps in search of an author. Why has the transition from Spanish theologian Julián Carrón to you created so many palpable tensions?
I would not speak of a divided movement. The Church is asking all movements to mature, which among other things involves new ways of choosing leadership after the death of the founders. As for us, Fr. Carrón’s sudden early resignation created some disruption. At the time I was not involved in the decision, but I share the reason he gave, namely that he wanted to allow the movement to be more free in following the indications of the Church.

So what happened?
According to what I see today, unfortunately, not everyone understood that decision and in fact some are having a hard time accepting the changes. Having said that, the movement is much bigger even than those who lead it. I trust that everyone will participate as much as possible in the journey we are on now. Everyone lays their own brick, which always rests on the bricks of those who came before them.

Paraphrasing the thought of your predecessor, you wrote that beauty, understood as faith, is not only “disarmed”, as he argued, but also “armed”. It is a strong word: is this a new step for CL?
The beauty of Christianity is disarmed because it does not need any power to impose itself. But, I was saying, it can also in a sense be ‘armed’. Not because it is belligerent, but because it posits meaning. And Christ, the meaning of everything, saves the world by sometimes opposing the logic of the world. Fr. Giussani’s proposal attracted us precisely because it is an integral Christian proclamation, nothing discounted. And without giving in to the temptation to only take pieces of truth, perhaps those that are most convenient or attract consensus. Experience tells us that this way things in life ultimately do not add up.

Politically, the Fraternity has long affiliated itself to the Democrazia Cristiana and later to Forza Italia. Then there was Carrón’s attempt to disassociate CL from the political sphere. Today many politicians who have been educated within the movement are members of Fratelli d’Italia. Does this mean that Meloni’s is the party to look at for leadership?
I do not agree about the militancy you speak of, its seems to me that there is widespread representation across various parties. In recent decades we have perhaps found more consonance and space for action in a so-called moderate area, but there is no shortage of people close to our history who are engaged elsewhere. Not forgetting some very relevant institutional experiences. CL does not aim to identify with a party, and political commitment is always personal and free. What unites us is the judgment on reality dictated by faith. And it is in such unity, even in politics, that we witness to the new humanity brought by Christ. We do not intend to give up this witness.

Have you not also spoke with the Fdl deputy, Lorenzo Malagola, who is a member of CL and author of the amendment on abortion and the presence of pro-life groups in clinics?
I learned about his initiative from the newspapers. CL does not guide politicians’ initiatives on Catholic issues. That said, faith is not detached from reality and offers a new gaze at the world. The anthropological issue is one of the focuses of our attention.

That is, do you agree with Malagola and will therefore fight on issues such as abortion and euthanasia? This issue is also much debated within the center-right itself. For example, Marina Berlusconi, has said that regarding civil rights she feels more “in tune with the common-sense left.”
On these issues we do not deviate even a millimetre from what the Church has always said. Then let the politicians be politicians. We are not looking for a fight at all costs, though we are interested in better understanding and showing the convenience of the Christian vision of life for all. And to defend the freedom to be able to do so, even publicly.

The Meeting is a great cultural showcase. It is also often so for the government of the day. The Prime Minister was much applauded by the CL audience two years ago. Will she return this year?
I do not know, I am not involved in these decisions as the Meeting has its own autonomy. Let me say, however, that the Meeting is much more than a political showcase. It is one of the most significant cultural expressions originating from that experience of the pertinence of faith to life which I was talking about. As for the applause, the audience at the Meeting is an intelligent audience and if they applaud it is because they approve of the things they hear or at least find them interesting. Other prime ministers have been applauded, some have also been criticized.

What is CL’s relationship with the Compagnie delle Opere, traditionally defined as the economic arm of the movement? And why did the Cdo, and not you directly, take a position regarding the European elections?
Exactly like the Meeting, there is a common origin but also a space of autonomy and freedom. Moreover, the Cdo also involves many people who are not from CL. That is why the definition you report, which has unfortunately become commonplace, does not hold up. As for the document circulated before the European elections, it is part of our educational method to value those who risk a judgment that we feel is true, thus we propose it to everyone.

Whatever the reason, Roberto Formigoni did not run for the European elections. Are you sorry or relieved?
The judgment on Formigoni cannot be reduced to investigations, and he should be credited with merits, such as the attempt to implement the idea of subsidiarity in the reforms made in Lombardy. But every person has a trajectory and tasks in life can change. Today, for example, he could convey to young people the many positive aspects of his political experience.

Pope Francis is considered a harsh judge of movements. He keeps telling you to “not look at your navel.” How do you plan to respond to this call?
My experience, in my relationship with him, has been the opposite of what you describe. Personally, I have always found him to be affectionate and paternal. And like all fathers, sometimes he corrects you to make you grow. Francis has grasped the importance of movements for the Church and helps us understand that our purpose is in function of the Church, not in function of ourselves. If we were limited to education among ourselves we would just create another parish outside the parish. Our task is mission, building the Church in the world.

Published on corriere.it