Church leaders to celebrate Focolare founder

 Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and Dr Rowan Williams will lead Focolare members and friends in a Memorial Service to commemorate the life of Chiara Lubich who died on 14 March at her home in Rocca di Papa, outside Rome. The Service, with prayer, music and reflection, will take place in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday, 21 June at 3pm. The Focolare Movement, founded by Chiara Lubich in 1943 in war-torn Trent, has grown and spread to number 140,000 members and two million adherents in all corners of the globe. Chiara Lubich was renowned for her commitment to unity and dialogue particularly amongst Christians and with the faithful of world religions. In 1977, in London, she received the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion and her interfaith and ecumenical work continued to receive recognition with awards from Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and also from governments and academic institutions. The conferral of an honorary doctorate in divinity by Liverpool Hope University was one of her last public engagements, in January this year. On learning of her death, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, commented: Chiara Lubich sought to incarnate the belief that love will transform the existence of every person. We are all indebted to her work especially in building friendship between Christians and with people of other faiths., Chiara Lubich made several visits to the UK beginning in 1965 when she was the first Catholic woman to speak in Liverpool,s Anglican Cathedral and returning several times over the years to meet personally with both the Archbishops of Westminster and Canterbury. On her last visit, in June 2004, Chiara spoke in Methodist Central Hall on the theme: What future for a multi ethnic, multi religious, multi faith society?, before a 2,000 strong gathering of people of all ages, denominations and faiths. Chiara Lubich was a woman of extraordinary vision and her writings and insights have a wide appeal ranging from children and young people, to bishops and theologians, as well as academics and those from the world of business and politics. Chiara Lubich was one of the great figures of the modern Church, she set a new tone and a new agenda for the community life of many Christians we have seen in her one of the great lights of the present Christian generation., (Dr Rowan Williams) Alongside the Archbishops of Westminster and Canterbury, there will be people from many Churches as well as representatives of other faiths present in the UK.

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