The Embrace. Towards a culture of encounter-NEWS

August 2020

Rimini, Tuesday 18 August - A chat with friends, after dinner. This is the first impression we get from Fer -
nando De Haro's interview with Mikel Azurmendi to present his latest book, Abbraccio. Verso una cultura
dell’incontro (published in Italy by BUR, August 2020).
The presentation of the guest, at first, is concise. Azurmendi: Basque sociologist, first a member of ETA and
then its firm opponent, expert in sociology, but also in anthropology, ethics and comparative religious studies.
But during the meeting a much deeper slice of life is revealed.
Starting from the author’s autobiographical experience, De Haro introduces the human journey made by
Azurmendi in what he himself calls his «journey to the discovery of the "tribe" of Communion and Libera -
tion», until his conversion to Christianity. A long series of seemingly fortuitous circumstances. A distressing
period of illness, a long stay in hospital, the first contact with De Haro through the frequencies of his radio
broadcast, the relationship with Javier Prades and many other people related to the Movement, until the
invitation, in 2016, to participate in the Encuentro Madrid (the Spanish counterpart of the Rimini kermesse).
«I never thought I'd meet something like this in my life» Azurmendi confesses. «It was a great surprise
Abandoning the neutral observation typical of sociological investigation, Azurmendi tells how the urgency
of explaining what he was seeing in these meetings was born in him, retracing the causal and temporal links
of the wonder he was gradually feeling. «What did I have to do with Christians?» he asked himself at first, a
Marxist sympathizer with a militant past. Going through his personal history, as well as that of his country,
he describes the points of contact - the ideal of justice, the meaning of education, the value of charity, the
sense of identity - that have led him to deepen the sociological and religious dimension of the CL Movement
to the point of sharing the intimate and profound question that has made its way through the friendships
thus encountered: «What if Jesus had really risen?».
In a time of distancing, the Meeting is thus able to bring the public to meet its guests at home, telling a human
journey moved by the desire to give reason for what happens and reaffirming the culture of encounter
that so amazed Azurmendi.