Chiara Lubich - 'one of the great figures of the modern Church'

 Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, died on Friday. Fides news agency reported: "In a serene climate, of prayer and deep emotion, Chiara Lubich ended, at the age of 88, her earthly journey tonight, 14th March 2008, at 2am in her home in Rocca di Papa (Rome), where she had returned last night upon her wish, following her hospitalization at Policlinico Gemelli." With these words, an official release from Movimento dei Focolari announced this morning the death of its founder, Chiara Lubich. All day, yesterday, hundreds of people went to her room to pay her their last respects, then stopped in meditation in the adjoining chapel and stayed around the house. It was an uninterrupted and spontaneous procession. To some, Chiara even managed to nod, despite being so weak. Chiara Lubich, born in Trent in 1920, started a movement of spiritual and social renewal the Focolare. During the Second World War among the poor in the city of Trent there began what Chiara herself calls, "a divine adventure". Today the movement has millions of affiliated persons in 182 countries. It brings together not only Catholics but also other Christians of more than 350 different communions, as well as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and persons with not religious membership, all committed to live and spread universal brotherhood to help build up the unity of the human family. Concrete initiatives include "cittadelle di testimonianza", project for economy of communion involving over 750 companies who devolve part of their profit to the poor, 1000 social works, particularly in developing countries, more than 12,000 adoptions at a distance. Chiara Lubich wrote the Commentary, published by Agenzia Fides, on the Missionary Intention of the Holy Father for October 2002, which was: "That missionaries, whether priests, religious or laity, may have the courage to announce Jesus' special love for the poor." She wrote: "Love is the heart of the Gospel message. Christ himself demonstrated this with his words and works during his life on earth. This love is of a universal dimension which proposes as the law of life to all those who decide to follow Jesus: "Love your neighbour as yourself" (Mt 19,18; cf. Mt 22,39). Loving our neighbour, every neighbour, all those we meet on the path of life. "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? () And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others?" (Mt 5,46-47) This love is typically Christian: a love which makes no distinction, like the love of our heavenly Father who "makes the sun shine on all, good and bad, and the rain fall on all, good and bad". But undoubtedly, Jesus in his love for everyone, showed special love for the poor: he was concerned for all who suffered... It is therefore particularly opportune to call attention to the place given to the poor in the life of Jesus. It is wonderful to underline that the poor were the first to receive his love and that the love we show to the needy will save us and allow us to share in the glory of the kingdom of heaven, as he himself promises when he speaks of the last judgement (cfr Mt 25, 31-40). We must proclaim Christ's love for the poor. But for this proclamation to be effective every Christian must become poor... This is the path that all Christians are called to walk, not only missionaries, priests and religious. The Holy Father calls all Christians to commit themselves to new Evangelisation (Novo Millennio Inuente 40), to proclaim with courage Christ's love for the poor. In this way we will be an example and stimulus for the world - so lacerated by all forms of violence and discrimination - so that between rich and poor countries there may be a more equal distribution of goods to ensure justice and peace." Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Chiara Lubich, and know that this inspirational woman will be greatly missed. Her life was one of exceptional service and devotion in response to the prayer of the Lord, "May they all be one". She sought to incarnate the belief that love will transform the existence of every person. ' 'We are all indebted to her work with the Focolare Movement, especially in building friendship between Christians and with people of other faiths. I offer my prayers and sincere condolences to all her family and friends.' 'May the Good Lord, whom she served so faithfully in this life, welcome her into the joy of His Kingdom." The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams paid tribute Chiara Lubich. Speaking to Vatican Radio on Saturday , Dr Williams said that she had affected the lives of many Christians: "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. Her writings and teachings gave inspiration to hundreds of thousands and we lament her passing with very deep feeling. She was someone I had the privilege of meeting and I've had very fruitful contact over many years with the Focolare Movement who have been kind and supportive and inspirational to me in my own ministry. My heart goes out to them as they mourn Chiara's passing. I think we have seen in her one of the great lights of the present Christian generation." Source: FIDES/Lambeth House/Archbishops House

Share this story