Rome(AsiaNews) – “There are many reasons to thank the Lord for the gift of this fearless woman to the Church, a kind messenger of hope and peace,’ said Benedict XVI in the message he sent on the occasion of Chiara Lubich’s funeral. She was the “founder of a large spiritual family that embraces multiple domains of evangelisation,” also said the Pope. “I especially want to thank God for Chiara’s service to the Church; a silent and keen service always in agreement with the ministry of the Church.”
The message of the Pope, who said that he “was taking part spiritually” in the funeral, was read by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone who presided the funeral of the founder of the Focolare Movement.
Despite the bad weather, a huge crowd was there to listen to him, moved, silently filling every space in and outside the basilica, following the ceremony on specially-installed maxi-screens.
People came from around the world. Among those who came to bear witness to Lubich’s commitment to dialogue among Christians and believers of other religions, there were leaders representing various movements, people like Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant’Egidio Community and Anna Maria aus der Wiesche, from the Evangelical Lutheran Christusbruderschaft in Selbitz (Germany). There were people from other Christian Churches like Metropolitan Gennadios, Orthodox archbishop of Italy and Malta in representation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, German Evangelical Bishop Christian Krause, and Anglican Bishop Robin Smith. Among those from other religions, there was Lisa Palmieri, representative for the American Jewish Committee to the Holy See, Imam Izak El Hajji Pasha from the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque in Harlem, New York, Rev Yasutaka Watanabe, chairman of the board of directors of Risshō Kōsei Kai (a Japanese Buddhist movement) and Pra Tongrathana, a Theravāda Buddhist from Thailand.
In his address Cardinal Bertone said that the 20th century was full of bright stars of divine love. “Notwithstanding its many contradictions,” he said, “the last century saw God inspire many heroic men and women; people who as they tried to relieve the pain of the sick and the ill and share the fate of ordinary people, the poor, those at the bottom, also shared the bread of charity that heals the heart, opens the mind, rebuilds trust and passion in lives broken by violence, injustice and sin. Some of these pioneers of charity are already saints and blessed for the Church; people like Fr Guanella, Fr Orione, Fr Calabria, Mother Teresa of Kolkata and many more.”
The last century “was also the century in which new Church movements were born. And Chiara Lubich has a place in that constellation with a charisma all of her own which distinguishes her character and apostolic action,’ he added.
“The founder of the Focolare Movement did not create a welfare or humanitarian association, but in her quite and humble way, she devoted herself to light the fire of God’s love in people’s heart. She inspired people to be love themselves, to live the charisma of unity and communion with God and their fellow human beings, to spread love and unity by making themselves, their homes and their work a focolare, a hearth in which a blazing love becomes contagious and lights up all that is around it; a mission that everyone can carry out because the Gospel is within everyone’s grasp: bishops and priests, children, teenagers and adults, the consecrated and the laity, married people, families and communities; all called to live the ideal of unity which is to let all be one! Indeed, in her last interview during her long agony Chiara said that “the wonder of mutual love ‘is the vital sap of the mystical Body of Christ’.”
“To us, especially to her spiritual children, falls the task of pursuing the mission she started. In heaven, where we like to think she was welcomed by Jesus her groom, she will continue to walk with us as well as help us.”
“Today as we say goodbye with affection, let us hear again from her own voice the words she loved to repeat so many times. I hope that at the end of times the Opera di Maria (Works of Mary) as it awaits to appear as a single group before an abandoned-risen Jesus may cite words by Belgian theologian Jacques Leclercq that have always move me: . . . your day, God, I shall come towards You. . . . I shall come towards You, God (. . .) and with my craziest dream, I shall bring you the world in my arms. This is Chiara’s dream; may we always and incessantly long for it too: ‘Father, may all be a single thing so that the world may believe.’”