Enzo Fondi, Pioneer of Interreligious Dialogue, Dies

Early Follower of Focolare Movement

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JAN. 7, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Enzo Fondi, pioneer of dialogue among believers of different religions, died Dec. 31. He was 73.



Fondi was one of the early followers of Chiara Lubich´s Focolare Movement. Together with Natalia Dellapiccola, Fondi was responsible for the spiritual formation of the Focolares, and for interreligious dialogue at the movement´s center in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.

Religious leaders were quick to praise the life and work of Fondi.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, explained that Fondi´s secret was the "quality of [his] spiritual life."

Upon learning of Fondi´s death, Bishop Giuseppe Martinelli of Tripoli, Libya, wrote Lubich expressing the hope that the deceased "will help us all in this challenge of dialogue with the Muslim world."

Members of the Focolare Movement in Pakistan, who 15 years ago began to dialogue with Islam, said in a message: "Love for our Muslims has united us to Enzo. ... He helped us to understand them. It was not easy to break the news to the Muslims. Some wept."

Fondi´s funeral was held in Castel Gandolfo last Thursday. It attracted 1,500 members of the Focolare family, including founder Chiara Lubich, as well as Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist representatives.

Fondi was born in Velletri, near Rome, in 1927. He was a doctor, and came from a well-off family. He left all this in 1950 to enter the first Focolare community of Rome.