60 Years of Focolare Movement, in One Book

Founder Chiara Lubich Attends Presentation

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ROME, FEB. 17, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Chiara Lubich helped present a book that condenses the 60-year history of the Focolare Movement she founded in wartime Italy.



"I want to testify to this: God is the author of this work," Lubich said during the presentation last Friday in Rome.

The 600-page book, entitled "A People Born of the Gospel -- Chiara Lubich and the Focolarini" ("Un Popolo Nato dai Vangelo"), was written by Enzo Maria Fondi and Michele Zanzucchi, and published by St. Paul's.

It traces the start of the Focolare Movement, amid the 1943 bombings in Trent, Italy, to the era of ecumenical dialogue. The book also covers activities of the movement in then Communist Eastern Europe.

The Focolare Movement involves 4.5 million people worldwide, almost half of whom are members or sympathizers. It also includes non-Catholics, non-Christians and nonbelievers.

The founder believes the title of the book reflects the reality. "This is precisely what the movement is: a people born of the Gospel," Lubich told Vatican Radio.

"In the early days," she said, "when it first arose in the shelters of Trent, because of the war, my first companions and I only carried a small Gospel with us, and we were impelled by the charism that the Lord had inspired in our hearts, to read it, live it and put it into practice.

"Everything came about precisely from the Gospel, everything came from there. It is our founding book."

Numerous civil and religious authorities, as well as representatives of Islam, were present for the book's presentation.

Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, spoke about the Focolare members -- doctors -- who went to Communist Eastern Europe in the 1960s. They didn't go there to be "against" a regime, he said. "Only the love of Jesus was in them, who died on the cross," the bishop said.

Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio, spoke about the historic profile of the Focolarini, including the issue of the role of women in the Church.

"With her history, Chiara shows how there is a way that gives us an answer," Riccardi said, "It is with the growth of the charismatic dimension, that the cause of woman also grows."

Lubich said the fact that a woman has great influence in the Church is "very normal, … because in recent times the Marian profile of the Church has been brought into the open."

"As theologian Urs von Balthasar and the Pope himself affirm, Mary is not only present at the beginning of the Church, but has been present in different ways throughout the centuries," Lubich added on Vatican Radio.

See www.focolare.org.