02/24/2005, 00.00
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Father Giussani gained many hearts for Christ, says Cardinal Ratzinger

Milan (AsiaNews) – Visibly moved, Card Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, remembered Father Giussani as a 'dear friend', a man whose faith was 'undaunted', a man who gained many hearts for Christ by showing that Christianity was more than a 'set of dogmas', that it was a 'story of love' for Christ.

Cardinal Ratzinger, who represented the Pope, officiated at the funeral of the founder of Communion and Liberation. The ceremony took place today in a Milan Cathedral crowded by about 10,000 people with another 30,000 standing outside in the driving rain.

At the end of his homily, Cardinal Ratzinger invited all those present to pray for the Holy Father who has been taken ill again and hospitalised at Rome's Gemelli hospital.

"Father Giussani grew up in a family that had little bread but a lot of music," Cardinal Ratzinger said. "But such beauty was not enough for him for he wanted a greater beauty, an infinite beauty, and found it in Christ".

For the Cardinal, if the life of the Milan-native could be defined in a few words, it would be: he had 'steadfast eye on Christ'.

"Father Giussani understood that Christianity was not a system of ideas, a set of dogmas, a moralism, but rather an encounter, a story of love and an event," the prelate said.

His 'story of love for Christ' kept him away from any 'vague romanticism'; it made him understand that "meeting Christ meant following him [on a] path across dark valleys".

Cardinal Ratzinger said that Father Giussani did not want to live for himself; he gave himself to so many.

"He was a faithful servant of the Gospel and became a true father to many. In doing so, he gained hearts, not for himself, but for Christ," the Cardinal stressed.

For him, Fathers Giussani "made the world a better place and opened the doors of Heaven to the world". The central place of Christ gave him the gift of insight in age "full of temptations and errors".

Speaking about 1968, the year when some thought that everything was possible, when young students from Gioventù Studentesca went to Brazil, the Cardinal noted that they "found poverty and were tempted to leave Christ out", tempted to invest themselves in fulfilling more "pressing needs" on this earth and leave Heaven for later, tempted to "change Christianity's nature, turning it into a moralism, and turn the latter into politics", so that "belief would be reduced to action".

A rift between particular interests and a loss of direction would have followed. "People would have been divided; they would have been unable to build something together."

"With his undaunted faith," Cardinal Ratzinger added, "Father Giussani was able to keep the eye on the prize, that is: the central importance of the encounter with Christ" because "who does not give God, does not give enough; who does not find God in the face of Christ, does not build but destroys. As we have so often seen, human action would have been lost somewhere in man-made ideologies and dogmas".

"Father Giussani's love was also love for the Church," Cardinal Ratzinger stressed. "He was always the faithful servant of the Holy Father and his bishops. His legacy is a new way of thinking about the Church: Communion and Liberation".

"He taught us that true freedom needs communion. Freedom for the self alone kills communion and so, to be true, freedom must be in communion with the Truth."

Lastly, Cardinal Ratzinger spoke to the young. "Let us heed this message: Without God, nothing good can come. He shall remain an enigma to us if we cannot see Him in the face of Christ". (LF)

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Father Giussani: people, joy and mission
Father Giussani, in the Pope's words: promoter of a personal encounter with Christ
Cardinal Ratzinger will preside over Father Giussani's funeral on behalf of the Pope
Take the truth, beauty and peace of Jesus to the world, Pope tells CL
The Pope will meet with the Communion and Liberation Movement