Focolare Movement Praised by Pope for Its Work

John Paul II Hands a Letter to Founder Chiara Lubich

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II personally handed a letter to Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, in which he recognizes its members’ contribution to make the Church a «school of communion.»

Lubich was in St. Peter’s Square today to participate in the celebration of the 24th anniversary of this pontificate. She was accompanied by some 600 members of her movement, whose official name is the Work of Mary and which has spread to 182 countries.

The great majority of «Focolares» are attending the movement’s General Assembly, being held in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, which gathers its leaders every six years.

In addressing Lubich in the letter, as well as the 141,280 members and 2.23 million followers and supporters of the Focolare Movement, John Paul II expresses his appreciation for «the valid contribution it makes in the pursuit of its specific end, namely, the promotion of communion through the search for and practice of dialogue.»

This work is done «both within the Catholic Church, as well as with other Churches and ecclesial communities, and with different religions and nonbelievers,» the Pope continues in the letter.

«While during these days you are verifying and projecting the life and activities of the movement, I am very happy to renew to you my esteem and appreciation for the apostolate that you carry out and for the many initiatives that you promote so that the Church will increasingly become the home and school of communion,» the Pope says.

The Holy Father also proclaimed the Year of the Rosary, «the privileged way of contemplation and of assimilation of the mystery of Christ» — which will take place from this month until October 2003.

For this reason, he requested the movement, dedicated especially to Mary, to pray this contemplative prayer and to «give the necessary importance to the initiative of a year dedicated to the rosary.»

«Offer your contribution so that these months will become a motive for interior renewal for every Christian community,» the Pope explains in his letter.

«The Year of the Rosary will also stimulate you to intensify the contemplation of Christ through the eyes of Mary, to imitate him and radiate his presence in the environments in which you live,» the Holy Father emphasizes.

«In a special way, I know that I can entrust to your prayer the mystery of Jesus crucified and abandoned as a way to contribute to the realization of his supreme desire for unity among all his disciples,» the Successor of Peter concludes.

Chiara Lubich founded the Focolare Movement in wartime Italy on Dec. 7, 1943. It received the first pontifical approval in 1962. Its updated general statutes were approved by a decree of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 1999.

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