PADDY AGNEW in Rome
PRESIDENT MARY McAleese and the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, are among the speakers due to address the annual "Meeting For Friendship Between Peoples" next week, held by the influential Italian Catholic lay movement Comunione e Liberazione in Rimini.
President McAleese, who delivers one of the opening speeches of the six-day meeting tomorrow evening, is expected to deal with the history of the conflict in Northern Ireland in an address entitled, "The Forces Which Change History Are Those Which Change The Hearts Of Men".
Archbishop Martin will take part in a public debate on Tuesday, focused on the figure of John Henry Newman and entitled, "In Defence Of Reason".
Founded in 1954 by Italian Monsignor Luigi Giussani, Comunione e Liberazione (CL) is, to some extent, an Italian version of the influential Spanish lay movement, Opus Dei, although it has no formal connections with Opus Dei. Throughout its history, it has received both public and tacit support from at least three popes Paul VI, John Paul II and the current pope, Benedict XVI. The current papal household is run by consecrated members (Memores Domini) of CL.
Generally perceived as right-wing, conservative and integrationalist, CL has often been politically active in Italy. In the 1970s, the movement played a prominent part in failed campaigns to prevent the legalisation of both abortion and divorce. CL has always counted important shakers and makers among its public supporters, including most notably the seven-times prime minister Giulio Andreotti.
Although it is primarily an Italian phenomenon, CL does have a significant international presence, being active in approximately 80 countries worldwide, including Brazil, Spain, the US and Ireland. The Rimini "Meeting For Friendship Between Peoples", which runs from tomorrow to next Saturday, has become a major socio-cultural highpoint of the Italian summer.