The dialogue continues in Caux

 Maria Voce, invited to a convention promoted by the Swiss Foundation "Initiative et Changement", gave a presentation on the Economy of Communion

The dialogue continues in Caux

By Franco Galli
Published on on August 17, 2010

Leaving Montreaux by car, immersed in a breath-taking panorama, we arrived in Caux, a small Swiss village that looks over the lake of Geneva, about 1000 meters above sea level. The Maria_Voceinternational convention, "Trust and integrity in a globalized economy", was held from August 15-17 in the town's monumental castle, which today has been transformed into a hotel. The event was organized by the Swiss foundation called "Initiative et Changement", a NGO that operates on the international level to prevent conflicts, intercultural dialogue and trust beyond differences among various social subjects. Six days of debate and elaboration, in which personalities in the world of economy, social entrepreneurship and representatives of NGOs coming from all over the world, tried to "explore new ways for a more just world economy".

Participants came from throughout the world and partook in the teaching of what was called the "spirit of Caux", synonymous to friendship, collaboration and shared effort in the walk towards universal fraternity.

In 2003, Chiara Lubich, invited by the foundation's president, Cornelio Sommaruga, presented a theme titled "Can religions be partners in the walk towards peace?" To answer the unprecedented challenges of post-9/11, Chiara affirmed that "the contribution of religions is decisive". And she continued by narrating her personal experience, the discovery of that art of loving that is rooted in the Gospel and which brings a love that does not know "any form of discrimination".

Lavinia Sommaruga (daughter of the president of that time), active in the field of sustainable development and the promotion of human rights, was the promoter of the meeting involving youth, students, entrepreneurs and economists. Touched by the figure and ideas of Chiara Lubich, she felt the responsibility to prepare the coming of the current president of the Focolare Movement, Maria Voce, in order to continue the dialogue begun then and to make the experience of the Economy of Communion known to the people present. "The EoC: instrument at the service of who works for a united world" was the title of Maria Voce's presentation. She proposed a return to the ethical values and to a culture of giving rather than one of having and possessing, recalling the need of being rooted "in humanistic and Gospel values" so that things are not reduced to simple utilitarianism and efficiency. She then added, "There is a globalization that goes in the direction of God's plan of love, for unity and the fraternity of the human family," remembering how giving is "a culture and an art".

While developing her theme, Maria Voce clarified the singularity of the EoC, whose basis is "a simple, fascinating, extremely efficient concept - and why not say it - a revolutionary one! The businesses that accept this philosophy put their profits in common in three ways: one part for the poor, for who is in need, a second part for the formation of men and women prepared for sharing and the third part for reinvestment in the development of the business that could-should become a community of people linked among one another by true relationships."

She continued by recalling the experience of around 800 businesses that are linked and of the business parks that witness the validity of what she was expressing. An eco of awe was the reaction of the announcement that more than 200 doctoral and academic theses had been written on this topic. Concluding, the president of the Focolare affirmed, "Economy is called to sit at a table where important decisions are made, and the Economy of Communion cannot miss out on this appointment with history." A half-hour of questions and answers followed.

In the afternoon, visiting the center and through direct testimonies, it was possible to gather the work of moral and concrete reconstruction which took place in post-war Europe and in the whole world in the years that followed. A woman whose husband had been shot by the Nazis told her story: "After the war, I wanted Germany to disappear from the face of the earth. Having heard that the first German refugees were arriving in Caux, I was planning on leaving until when one of the towns founders told me, 'Can you imagine a future Europe without these people?' I was in my room for three days without eating, and in the end, I was able to forgive".

Knowing one another and in the reciprocal exchange, it became always more clear that "Initiative and Change" and the Focolare Movement share similar goals and can help one another, as Lavinia Sommaruga said, "in facing the questions of vital importance that today's world must face."

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