Papal Message to Funeral of Focolare Founder

"I Give Thanks to God for the Service Chiara Has Offered to the Church"

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's letter to his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who celebrated today the funeral Mass of the founder of the Focolare Movement, Chiara Lubich.



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To Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state

I spiritually participate in the solemn liturgy with which the Christian community accompanies Chiara Lubich in her taking leave of this earth to enter the bosom of the heavenly Father. I renew with affection my profound condolences to the leaders of the whole Work of Mary -- Focolare Movement, as well as to those who have collaborated with this generous witness of Christ, who have given themselves without reserve to the spreading of the Gospel message in every ambit of contemporary society, always attentive to the "signs of the times."

There are many reasons to give thanks to the Lord for the gift he has given to the Church in this woman of intrepid faith, a meek messenger of hope and peace, founder of a great spiritual family that extends across multiple fields of evangelization.

Above all I would like to give thanks to God for the service Chiara has offered to the Church: a silent and incisive service, always in harmony with the magisterium of the Church. "The Popes," she said, "have always understood us." That is because Chiara and the Work of Mary have always tried to respond with docile fidelity to each one of their invitations and desires.

The uninterrupted list of each of my venerable predecessors, from the Servant of God Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII to the Servants of God Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, is a concrete testimony. The thought of the Pope was for her a sure directional guide. Moreover, seeing the initiatives that she has started, one could even affirm that she had an almost prophetic capacity to intuit [that thought] and act on it in an anticipatory way.

Her heritage passes now to her spiritual family: May the Virgin Mary, constant model as a reference point for Chiara, help each member of Focolare to follow the same path, contributing to make the Church be ever more a house and school of communion, as dear John Paul II wrote after the Jubilee Year 2000.

May the God of hope receive the soul of our dear sister, [and] console and support the commitment of those who take on her spiritual testament. For this intention, I assure a particular memory in prayer, as I send to all those present in the sacred rite the apostolic blessing.

From the Vatican, 18 of March of 2008

Benedictus PP XVI

[Translation by ZENIT]