Some 70,000 people from at least 47 countries came to hear Pope Francis speak to the Communion and Liberation movement.
St. Peter's Square was completely full, so Pope Francis walked through a connected street to greet those who couldn't enter.
Communion and Liberation was created 60 years ago and its founder died ten years ago. The current president explained that movement members came to see the Pope so that he could teach them what to do to keep the charism fresh.
JULIAN P. CARRÓN
President, Communion and Liberation
"We have come as beggars, with a desire to learn. We want you to help us to live with more fidelity and passion for the charism that we have received."
Pope Francis first said that he admires and knows the writings of their founder Luigi Giussani. He added that they have helped him a lot as a priest.
He then delivered an important speech about the relationship between large Church institutions and the message of their founders. First, he advised that charism is a means and not an end.
"Remember that the center is not the charism, the center is Jesus Christ. When I put in the center of my spiritual method, my spiritual path, my way of practicing, I've lost my way. All spirituality, every charism in the Church should be "de-centered." Only the Lord is at the center."
On the other hand, he said that the key to remaining loyal to founders is not to repeat what they did, but to do what they would have done.
"Luigi Giussani's legacy cannot be reduced to a museum of memories, decisions, rules of conduct. Certainly, one should be loyal to tradition. But fidelity to tradition, as Mahler said, means keeping the fire alive and not worshiping the ashes."
After the meeting, the Pope greeted many representatives of Communion and Liberation initiatives and several friends of the movement, including former Anglican Church Primate Rowan Williams.
The Pope looked happy. Before leaving, he stopped to spend time with a group of prisoners in an Italian prison. A member of the movement has organized a cooperative for them to prepare for life outside prison.