I never got so deep into this
movement and as a scientist/student doctor was always sceptical....
Especially when a charismatic but dody focolarino told our gen
meeting a 'wonderful' tale of a gen who chose to go to the gen
meeting instead of his parents special wedding anniversary as
that was the will of God... Please !!!! The alarm bells never
stopped ringing after that...
....my deepest experience (albeit
hideously superficial) was spending a student summer at Loppiano.
Pretty much finished off my interest as so weird. Yet I did feel
some peace and a sense of God then.
Went to a conference in
Florence this autumn, and out of curiosity walked up from Incisa.
Just to wander. I Was horrified by the US $$ evangelist 'church'
and centre, and obsessive attempts to show me round, give me a
lift, show me artworks. Politely insisting I wanted to just
reminisce alone and walk back wasn't enough, they stuck like
glue and I had to set off PDQ when no-one looking... and still
got followed down the hill by a suicide love-bomber. I think God
was with me as my rusty 15 year old unused Italian became quite
Focolare is a failed
experiment, a cult, a dangerous remnant of 20th century
Christianity and really should be wound down when we get a Pope
who is in tune with the reality of the world.
I left last week, after 37 years of intensive commitment. Now I undergo all
kind of tentatives for "recuperation", letters, emails, phone
calls. It makes me feel guilty.
I guess isolation will become the hardest thing if I keep my door close to
these people whom I believed being friends for the longest part of my life.
Tears and fears
Yes, the isolation will be the hardest thing, because the calls etc will stop
if they realize you've made up your mind. It will be hard. And you will have to
go through a period of mourning for all those long years which I hope also
have some good memories. But remember , there is a life after focolare, there
is the church at large peopled with normal people, not saints ,but those are
real. Think of Resurrection time...it will come for you too , with a finding of
your own real identity, strong in the knowledge from a quoting in the Old
Testament "even if a mother forgets her child, I will never forget you"
Marcel ( no email / no homepage) wrote:
Can you tell us more why you left? A person who has been committed for 37
years and has got to know the movement quite well must have a serious reason
It is easy to imagine what you must feel now. I left 12 years ago after 12
years of commitment and I still sometimes feel kind of guilty.
However I can assure you there is life after focolare Social life, familiar
life and spiritual life as well! You finally get to know better what catholic
faith is about, you can know its beautiful tradition without the
"communitarian spirituality" bias.
Michelle ( no email / no homepage) wrote:
As a non-catholic Christian I am offended to be invited. To quote the
brochure-The movement, which originates in the Catholic Church, includes
Christians, members of other religions, and people of no religious
conviction, all of whom are committed to bringing about a world in which
there is more solidarity, more unity. In fact at the retreats having a
Catholic Eucharist daily doesn't encourage Christian unity at all. It's
click-ish and non biblical. I would also not be interested in any
"movement" which does not disclose all financial information.
If this is true I wouldn't
send a dime.
Lucy ( no email / no homepage) wrote:
I think this movement has the potential to lead to moral relativism, and
confusion. I hope the pope puts more oversite into this organization. The
people I know in it can only parrot: Jesus prayed for us to be one. My
Answer: Not at the price of apostasy from the TRUTH!! The people I know in
this don't really think for themselves, it is all focolare this and that.
They have about all the charm of an AMWAY salesman.
david ( no email / no homepage) wrote:
I have just heard of Focolare, and I E mailed New York for details. Then I
got onto this site. I have previously been a member of other 3rd orders and
find that they seem to start to own your soul, and they have deviant slants
which are apostasies.
I also feel with organizations, that they seem to erect a barrier between me
and God. In their words, if you want to relate to God, you seem to have to put
the 3rd order in place beforehand. That seems to be where your allegiance
seems to begin with God. In that sense, I find that I am calling a group or a
person "Father" in my life, and the bible distinctly says,
Just lately, in my life, I have left behind ALL groups, because I have found
that give anyone half an ounce of authority, and if they happen to be open to
a whisper from Satan, that authority can get demonic, and power drunk, and
control freakish, and dominant to a very unhealthy degree.
I have even heard of people having breakdowns due to the motivation factor of
one or more "seniors" in these groups.
I think if you really live under the Spirit of God, you will take from any
message, what God seems to be telling you, rather than having to take things
that some "father" figure, no matter how "sheep" they
dress up as, can quietly dominate. It may surprise readers to know, that many
people of that ilk, actually need DELIVERENCE MINISTRY. So be wary of wolves
in sheep clothing. I have had experience of this. My relationship with God
is now DIRECT. It is not through some monkey on Satan's string. The world is full of 'em
Marushka ( no email / no homepage) wrote:
I am not involved in the Focolare movement anymore, although nearly my whole
Yesterday my mother told me that a young man, who was in Focolare in our
town, died. Several years ago he told God he can take his life in exchange
for solving problems that occurred in that time in the male part of the
Focolare movement in our country. Three years ago he really got sick and he
died the day before yesterday. People from the Movement would say - oh, what
a wonderful young man, he offered his life for others. But I ask - for whom
is it good that this young man died? Does God need the suffering to introduce
changes into problem situations? I do not believe it.
The scientists discover more and more how powerful can the soul/mind
influence our body.
I would even say that from certain perspective it is easier to suffer and die
than to live and "fight".
maria ( no email / no homepage) wrote:
Dear Marushka, you give a typical example of the wide spread dolorism .
Christ has taken all our sins and suffering upon Him .We can't "add"
anything to that. Only offer our suffering to Him .HE has redeemed us .Poor
What an excellent point you make. I was impressed when I first "met the
movement" at the people who claimed they were "willing to die for
me." Quite a shock to hear someone say that, but at a shallow level,
that is sometimes the manipulative purpose. It's hard to keep in mind what
the original purpose was and how that came about. I find balance in always
going back to the beginning of ANY thing and remembering the basic ABC's.
But back to your statement. For me, what I found disappointing, and continue
to find disappointing, is that I can not find (well, not 100% true, but
close)...I can not find anyone willing to LIVE for me. Do you know what I
mean? I mean a quick phone call or short message. I wonder sometimes if I
continue to get the silent treatment, or if the world has just changed to
where we are all so busy just trying to keep up, living in a world of
information overload, toxic overload, and just too much of everything and too
Wouldn't that be a kick for them to update what has become a cliché to now
say, "I am willing to live for you." Of course, who would be
willing to do that? Perhaps we could begin with, "I am willing to live
for you for 5 minutes"? How might the outcome have been different for
your sensitive friend.
But regarding suffering, I do also add that to offer our sufferings for a good
cause has its merrits if one has a (wince) healthy attitude towards it. For
example, perhaps lame, if I am depressed or in physical pain, and I offer it
for someone or a cause, consciously, it puts my focus off of myself and
towards my neighbor. And at times we can both benefit.
Well, that's my two cents, not well thought out, because my husband is
cooking bacon and I can smell it. Thank you for your post! I am sure you will
hear something perhaps with more depth from the others.
Claire ( no email / no homepage) wrote:
I am moving deeper and deeper into this movement. At present I feel myself
to be objective, I recognize the questionable and difficult aspects of the
movement and I am concerned for myself. At the same time, I have never been
accepted so unconditionally and unequivocally in my life. Your site is
helping me to be sure to remain grounded, but for how long, I do not know.
I'm afraid to leave my email address because I know I may be recognized.
Deanna ( no email / no homepage) wrote:
your letter left me sad and concerned for you. I have seen quite a few times
in my life how people, even extremely smart ones, "give their reason
up" for some organization, including Focolare. In this struggle and
influenced decision, there is nothing to do with person's level of intellect,
and everything to do with the emotions.
At this moment, you are still at your senses, but as you realize and fear, it
may not take long until you will "break" under the pressure, and
accept the things you are wondering now. And this would be a great loss,
because by the words of Antoine de St.Exupery, "I know only one freedom,
and that is the freedom of the mind". You are at the brink to give your
freedom up, perhaps for long years - and it would take long to get it back,
while you can also lose a lot in the meantime. People's real stories with
Focolare could be a good warning for you, as it also seems to be, thanks to
What is happening to you now, when you feel that "I have never been accepted
so unconditionally and unequivocally in my life", is a deliberate
technique called "love bombing", that is used by many if not all
mind-controlling organizations (incl. new religious movements of that kind).
The newcomer finds her/himself in the centre of a constant attention, smiles,
seeming acceptance, love affirmations, sharing of interests, apparent
"soul-mates" and "kindred minds"... It is very hard to
resist, especially if one is in a life situation where there are big changes,
insecurity, losses, vulnerability of some kind, spiritual/mental
identity-quest etc (is this also your case?). The Apologetics Index
http://www.apologeticsindex.org defines it as "The practice of some cultic movements to shower
new recruits or prospects with extra love and attention. Seen by many as an
unethical persuasion tactic designed to hinder critical thinking regarding
the pros and cons of joining or remaining with the group". You can read
about this for instance on:
In neuropsychological aspect, a Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Hans Breiter says:
"Some people seem to be born with vulnerable dopamine systems that get
hijacked by social rewards." This is what is happening to you now, and
it seems wonderful, but in reality "the "love" is feigned and
the practice is manipulative".
Btw, I'm not stating, that those in Focolare who "love-bomb" you
right now, are aware of what they are doing. An average focolare-member is
just carrying on the practice that was once applied on her/himself... perhaps
even in the best intention - but not rendering account to oneself, what s/he
is doing and whether it is honest or a manipulation. Those on this web space,
who have went through Focolare and being involved in its recruiting systems,
can tell you all about how they themselves did it, and how sincere they were
while doing this.
For your own sake, I hope cordially that you will be able to see these things
through, give a name to your uncomfortable feelings and intuitions, and step
back while you still can. Keeping one's freedom of mind and capability to
conduct one's own life, is worth all the losses, or "losses". And
there is nothing to do with rejecting God, because you can certainly love and
serve God better and more sincerely, if you are a free mind and free soul but
not just an anonymous particle of some group where always "someone knows
better, what is the will of God and what is good for you".
As for now, I cordially suggest you to read some books, that will give to you
an insight of what are your perspectives, if you let yourself to be
overwhelmed and persuaded to hand over your life to a mind-controlling group,
whether Focolare or some else. Make your decisions only after you are well
informed what you are doing. I know, that it can be hard, because the lure of
the "loving group" is very strong. But there is all your life at
stake, that is too precious thing, and you can never regain the years that
you will lose being "inside", that in fact could be spent
productively and creatively for yourself and for the others/society. In a
restrictive and controlling group, your unique life can become wasted.
I hope you have the possibility to use Amazon or some other bookstore. I
include here the Amazon links for just some books, that will help you to make
some sense of what is happening to you. If you are in Europe, the same books
can sometimes be found in other languages. I try to place them in the order
of importance. But even just the first one is already probably enough to
bring you to your senses.
Start from here:
Margaret Thaler Singer - Cults in Our Midst
Janja Lalich - Take Back Your Life
Steven Hassan - Releasing The Bonds: Empowering People to Think for
Steven Hassan - Combatting Cult Mind Control
Michael Langone - Recovery from Cults
Robert Cialdini - Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Last but apparently no least - I hope you have already read Gordon Urquhart's
book about Focolare (along with the other New Religious Movements in the
After reading the book of Margaret Thaler Singer, the book of Urquhart should
be your solid source of proof, that most part of the phenomenon she
mentions, are well present and fervently used also by Focolare (yes, also and
still nowadays, even if you have been told that "these things don't
happen any more). And this is why this movement can not really be recommended
I can only pray for you, and keep you in my heart, hoping that at least this
one personality would not be destroyed and one life would not go wasted, as
it has happened to many before you, and will still happen to many. If you
want to contact me or somebody, write to the webteam of this site - you can
create an anonymous mail account for this. We will do our best to help you,
if this is what you want. I wish you all my best.
P.S. For those, who read Italian, the book of Thaler Singer is translated and
available in full on the Web. Very recommended reading for everyone, inside
or outside (still or already) of Focolare.
Claire ( no email / no homepage) wrote:
Thank you for your comments, both Fred and Deanna, it means a lot to know that
there is a place in which one can reach out. Thanks Fred, I am a sensible
person- and I certainly can judge for myself. However I feel that independent
thought is not transcendental- one can judge only until that ability is
refused them or drowned in something they may think they want. For
friendship, love and acceptance under the watchful eye of God, I do not
consider that the self should be completely lost- although, of course, self
sacrifice is necessary in every loving relationship- God-lived or otherwise.
I see my friends in the Focolare and they are impenetrable. Without the
movement they feel they mean nothing. And they mean so much. Sometimes I feel
like them, but that's changing.
Deanne I thank you for reassuring me that I'm not going crazy. I have taken
some time away from the movement but I feel a sense of guilt. Towards what, i
do not know. Maybe it's not even guilt.
Your advice concerning the things I might look out for is gratefully
received- and although I'd no phrase for it, I definitely feel a systematic
energy in the attention and affection I receive. I am from a troubled family
background- I guess that makes me vulnerable to a lot of things. I have never
had to explain myself to the people of the Focolare- but sometimes I'd like
it if, just once, they'd ask me to. Thanks again. Claire