Pope Encourages Hospitalized Focolare Founder

Chiara Lubich Admitted for Breathing Difficulties

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 12, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI sent a message of encouragement to Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare movement, who has been hospitalized in the Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic.



According to a press statement released today by the Focolare movement, Lubich, 88, arrived to the hospital in February for a scheduled checkup, but stayed due to breathing difficulties.

According to professor Salvatore Valente, chair of the Division of Respiratory Physiology at the clinic, the founder's breathing is insufficient and she has been put on an artificial respirator. "For the moment," he said, "a tendency to recuperate breathing on her own has not appeared."

Benedict XVI sent "a special blessing" in his letter to Lubich, said the press release.

The Pope said, "I am keeping informed of the trials you are going through and I hope to assure you in this difficult moment that I am remembering you in my prayers so that the Lord gives you physical relief, spiritual consolation, and shows you signs of his benevolence, allowing you to experience the redemptive value of the suffering lived in profound communion with him."

The communiqué reported that Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople visited Lubich, living with her a moment "rich in spirituality and of profound communion."

The patriarch was in Rome last week to visit Benedict XVI and to mark to mark the 90th anniversary of the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

The patriarch said after visiting Lubich: "I wanted to come to deliver my personal greeting, and that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, to the beloved Chiara Lubich, who has given and continues to give to the whole Church. I also imparted to her my blessing. I am happy that I was able to visit her."

Lubich was also visited by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, archbishop of Prague, and Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Catholic lay Community of Sant'Egidio.