03/14/2008, 00.00
ITALY- ASIA

Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, has died

She was a protagonist of the Churches rebirth before and after the Second Vatican Council. Her movement is committed to inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue on a global scale.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Chiara Lubich, founder of the Work of Mary, better known as the Focolare Movement, died at 2 am this morning in here home in Rocca di Papa, close to Rome.  She returned home yesterday evening, at her express wish, after a lengthy stay at Gemelli hospital.

A press release issued by the Movement states that “in a serene and intensely moving atmosphere of prayer, at the age of 88 Chiara Lubich concluded her earthly journey”.

 “All day yesterday” – continues the release,  – “hundreds of people - relatives, close collaborates and her spiritual children – passed through her room to bid her a final farewell, before gathering in the nearby chapel, and around the house in prayer.  An uninterrupted and spontaneous procession.  To some, Chiara was even able to signal understanding, despite her extreme weakness”.

Chiara Lubich (baptised Silvia) was born in Trento on January 22nd 1920.  After an childhood marked by poverty, during the Second Word War, she decided to dedicate herself to God and instinctively follow a “new path” in the Church, of lay consecration and a community founded on love, which reflects the “family of Nazareth”.

After a period of hostility and difficulty with the ecclesial hierarchy of the time, in 1964 Chiara was received for the first time by the Pope, then Paul VI, who recognised the movement as "A work of God”. From then on private and public papal audiences – with Paul VI and then John Paul II – multiplied, as well as their interventions during international events.

Pope Wojtyla recognised the guidelines of the Council in the Focolare Movement as well as an expression of the “radicalism of love” in its charisma.

Meanwhile the influence of the Movement was spreading throughout the Catholic Church and in other Christian churches, in particular the Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran churches.

Averting the new challenges of an increasingly multicultural and multi religious society, in the 70’s, along with her Movement she established relations with figures and movements in diverse religions: Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Hindu. In 1994 she was nominated honorary president of the World Council of Religions for Peace (WCRP).

 

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