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NederlandsLatest update: February 24th, 2008                                         Italiano



In this section of the website we try to give more insight into the deeper motivations and structures of the focolare organisation by people who have first hand experience. This is done as a reaction to many questions we received regarding this subject.


This is what one of the visitors of our website wrote to us:

As a devout catholic, I have tried to get to know about focolare spirituality, because my dear friend became a full-time member of focolare. I approached  the movement with open mind, because she told me that this is the best that can  happen in one's life, that they have an Ideal, that the Pope is with them etc etc.
Obviously she wanted also me to know it. But the more I got to know the movement, the less I liked it, because in my humble opinion, the tacking marks  of spiritual manipulation, brainwash and personality cult are so evident  everywhere I look. 

Because of her, I probably will continue to go occasionally there as long as needed, because I don't want to let her down. As many, who  are recruited in Christian sects, also she is very tender, very sweet, very  good willing, trusting and vulnerable person - but also quite naive, defenceless  and submissive to influences. With great sadness I notice, that in many ways she has given up her reason, her independent thinking, and her intellect is somehow degenerating. 

But she cherishes the friendship with me, and has  often asked me to stay her friend, so I will do it for her whatever it takes. I think  this is the best how I can help her. I can not do to her the same the movement  is doing - I can not try to counter-brainwash" her. 

Because what the movement  is doing, is I think a mental violence, and I can not do the violence EVEN if I  would believe that it is for good cause. I don't pretend that I know the will of  God. I can just hang on, stay next to her, be there if she needs me, and pray for  her. If the day will come, when she will be brought to her senses, I will be there  for my friend to help her return to the beautiful world of freedom. 

For more information about other opinions and recent discussions you can visit our GUESTBOOK

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Remarks of yet another guest:

At one level the focolare does not appear to be democratic. At the risk of sounding really scandalous...who says that is a bad thing? Is the Catholic church democratic? Not really. However, in case you despair at that, then at least consider the fact that the majority of the coordinating council of the movement (including the president) is elected every seven years by the zone delegates. This is clearly laid down in the statutes of the movement which have been approved by the Church. So, is focolare democratic? Yes and No. As for how the Gen "white" for a zone is chosen, I really don't see that the system in place has any problems. 

The 'internal' members of the movement are not quasi trade union members, with "rights" accorded to them because of their 'status'. They are individuals who have voluntarily undertaken a way of life guided by a spirituality which has been closely monitored, evaluated and approved (at least by the Roman Catholic Church) as an authentic charisma. I have never had any problems sharing my concerns about how things should or shouldn't be within focolare, however I also recognise that just because I view something one way doesn't mean it should change. Change does happen in the movement - I can see that in the time I have known it and if you speak to people who have been around longer you will see that that is true, but, again a bit like the Church, I guess that the belief is that change should be directed by a slow discernment of the Spirit and not by individual or minority group pressure.

Answers of the Webteam

We never said that not being democratic is a bad thing, but we believe it could be an issue to discuss, not something above discussion. Sometimes a gen had a discussion in the focolare and the ultimate reason for doing something was that the leader felt is was God's Will to do it. Here we see a potential danger. Focolare seems to consider itself to be a mirror of the Catholic Church (Mystical body of Mary as mirror of the Mystical body of Christ). You also seem to imply that the fact that the Catholic Church is not democratic may be enough  to legitimate the focolare not being democratic.

As you might know, the election process of the president and the council is influenced heavily by talks among the participants in the days before elections. The statutes mention that the voting members have to be together in meditation for 3 days before elections. By that time everybody knows what is expected of them.... And, by the way, who has appointed the delegates that choose the new president in the first place? Wasn't that the President herself???

Let's forget about the gen-white for a moment and look at the leaders of New Humanity, New Parishes and other mass movements. These are grown up adults who could have a vote about their leaders but we never saw anything of the kind. Yet a lot of money and time is involved in these movements.

We appreciate your view about sharing your concerns in the focolare. What worries us is that you and many others do not know everything that is going on, you are left in the dark and told to trust the Spirit. But people, even focolarini can make mistakes. We have been told that even if a focolarino makes a mistake, and you do what he tells you, God will make sure it is the right thing after all. If is brings you pain, it is a chance to love Jesus Forsaken....

Then you say that the movement is closely monitored. We wonder about this a lot. By this time, a lot of important clergy in the Catholic Church participate in the Focolare. It seems not so difficult for some bishops to approve of a group that they themselves are part of.

Our appeal is to focolare is: to be more transparent. Not to give in to individuals or minority groups but to ask for peoples opinions and to be open about the decision making process in all levels of the movement. God's Will should not be a secret. Let us know about what happened in 1943 and what is going on now in the countries where focolare politicians are working.

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Question from a friend

I am an outsider, with very little contact with movement. In fact I am a non believer of the Catholic church. In your website, you said "this site is not accusing the focolare, but we are asking legitimate questions". I take that you have been with the Focolare House and you may also spent couple of years in Lopiano. For whatever reason(s), you left the movement. 

My question to you is that why didn't you ask the right questions before committing yourself? Isn't the time spent in Lopiano long enough to judge for yourself whether the life of the movement is suitable for or not? My understanding is that when you stay in the Focolare house as a Popo or Popa you sign a covenant to donate all your possessions to the movement that includes your income. I don't see any deception. 

Why don't you give the reader some fact not accusation of the deceptions you keeping talking about. Let the reader decide whether there is any ground to believe you. 

Answer to a friend

Reading your story, I see two questions:
First: Why did I not ask questions before I got involved with the focolare?
Second: Can I give more facts about deception by the focolare?

To start with the first. When I got to know the focolare I was still very young and in a vulnerable situation. I was alone and experienced some problems in my life. Focolare people were very friendly to me and has was receptive for their friendliness. The focolare did not appear to be a threat to my personality. After some time I got more involved and it was a thrill to work with them. Every time I did something right I was rewarded and I was told if I did something wrong. Life became very simple. I remember that I tried to convince myself like this: “If Chiara has thought about the right way of living so much and she tells us how to do it, what is the use of me trying to find out all for myself what is right for me? If I live like Chiara I will be sure to go to Heaven.”. So I stopped asking questions to myself and to the focolare. I now regret that focolare people encouraged me to live like this, without any critical reflection. 
I never lived in Loppiano and never made vows like you assumed, but I was involved in spreading the movement to other regions. In doing this, it became clear that this high goal justifies almost every means. Making yourself one with another person, except in sins, meant that we never revealed out true intentions (spreading the focolare) but we were always playing theatre, a so called Devine comedy... In the end I lost my personality and did not know who I was anymore. 
In short: Before you are in the focolare, you do not know what questions to ask, and when you are inside, it is too late to ask questions because everything is so naturally right.

Secondly some more facts about deception. There is so much of it, I don’t know where to start. Let me give you some facts.
1. Not one of the important decisions that are made by the leaders of focolare is democratic.
2. There is no clarity about the amount of money that focolare posses  and how it is used.
3. Leaders in the co-ordinating Council have complete power over the lives of people who have given vows to the movement.
4. The co-ordinating Council controls all of the branches like Parish Movement, Gen Movement, New Humanity.
5. The prizes and honorary doctorates that Chiara received are prepared by focolare people in the different countries and their aim is to emphasise the humanitarian side of focolare while it actually is a deeply religious, catholic organisation.

Now you may think these are no facts but accusations. Many people have said so before, but nobody has given any evidence to the contrary. Here is my evidence:

1      I have been a full time member for 20 years and part of the time I was in the local co-ordinating council.          Never has there been any voting about any issue of policy in the movement.

2      I often asked for annual reports, other people also did but nothing was showed or given. 

3      People have been sent to far away countries because they did not function right or because it was      said that this country needed a popo or a focolare. 

4       Branches do not choose their own leaders but the Capo-zona talks with the leaders in Rome and then  it is decided who will be leader of a branch.

5      This is tricky because it is well guarded. But if you look at all the prizes, you can recognise a pattern. Focolare people may say it is Gods Plan, but I believe that humans cannot begin to fathom Gods plans. We are convinced that the power that the focolare represents because of their financial, political and economical influence generates the necessary opportunities that are needed to win prices for Chiara.

So my dear friend, here is your answer. If anybody like to give a reaction, please do so but preferably in a decent way. I am sure that Chiara is not at all happy with all those defenders of the true faith who show no love or respect for me or the other webmasters. Always remember your aim: To love your enemy.

Take good care 



Note: This is not the official Focolare website. The information on our website reflects the personal views and opinions of the webmasters and the visitors of this website. We thank everybody for the many encouraging reactions. Please feel free to write to us; we have taken every possible precaution to guarantee your privacy and confidentiality.


The main goal of this website is not to criticise the Focolare but to help people. We try to do this in 3 ways:

    1. Information and counselling for people who are part of the Focolare or the Gen movement

    2.Understanding and friendship for people who have left the Focolare

    3. Information for new members or people who are thinking about joining the Focolare

This website does not repeat the information given on the official Focolare website. We give our own thoughts and impressions and are independent of the Focolare organization.


We are working hard to translate our website to other languages like Italian , Spanish, German and Dutch. We would also like to improve the visual appearance of our website. Because we are still a small group, we could use some help. Please if anybody has some time, contact us at focolarenet@mail.com.

Every offer will be seriously considered.

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