Communion-and-Liberation Founder Dies

Monsignor Luigi Giussani Succumbs in Milan

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MILAN, Italy, FEB. 22, 2005 ( Monsignor Luigi Giussani, founder of the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation, died in his residence. He was 82.

On behalf of the CL presidency, Father Julián Carrón sent a statement to all the movement’s communities, to inform them that at 3:10 a.m. today, «the Lord … called our beloved Don Giussani.»

His death was linked to circulatory and kidney failure, in addition to a lung inflammation.

«Secure in the hope of resurrection, through the intense pain of this separation, in the embrace of Christ, we acknowledge him as father more than ever, he who now contemplates the Presence, so desired by him, of Jesus Christ, who all his life taught us to know and love, this being the total consistence of everything and every relationship,» said Father Carrón.

«Entrusting ourselves all to the Virgin, ‘living source of hope,’ we ask the communities to celebrate the Eucharist,» the priest added. «Grateful for Don Giussani’s life, we pray that his faith, hope and charity will be ever more our own.»

A vigil is being kept over Monsignor Giussani’s remains in the chapel of the Sacro Cuore Institute in Milan, open to all who wish to visit it.

This Thursday, on behalf of the Pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will preside over Monsignor Giussani’s funeral service in the cathedral of Milan at 3 p.m., said Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls.

Last weekend, John Paul II sent a message to the founder of Communion and Liberation, aware of his precarious state of health.

«In this moment of great suffering, I wish to send you an affectionate greeting, assuring you of my spiritual closeness,» said the Pope, promising his «fervent prayers» so that God would console him.

The Holy Father invoked the «maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, health of the sick,» for Monsignor Giussani and imparted a «special apostolic blessing,» to him and to the members of Communion and Liberation.

A few days earlier, leaders of the ecclesial movement requested all members to pray the rosary for their founder, who was reported in serious condition.

Luigi Giussani was born Oct. 15, 1922. His mother, Angela, transmitted to him a simple religiosity. «How beautiful the world is and how great God is,» she whispered to him one night.

From his father, Beniamino, an artist and anarchic socialist, Luigi learned the desire for justice and the love of beauty: painting, poetry and music.

He entered the seminary when he was young and was ordained a priest in 1945. After teaching at the Berchet school in Milan, he became a professor of theology at the Catholic University of Milan.

His numerous books were presented at the United Nations in New York in 1997, as written by «a particularly inspired representative of man’s religious sense.»

His thought is summarized in his great passion: the discovery of the infinitely great and the infinitely small, that is, the mystery of Christ, God-made-man. Giussani oriented everything to the beauty and joy of the encounter with man’s Redeemer.

Last October marked the 50th anniversary of the Student Youth initiative, which Father Giussani founded at the Berchet School.

That group eventually became Communion and Liberation, a name that appeared in 1969. It synthesizes the conviction that the Christian event, lived in communion, is the foundation of man’s genuine liberation.

In 1982, the Pontifical Council for the Laity recognized Communion and Liberation as an association of pontifical right. Today it is present in close to 60 countries.

Communion and Liberation does not require any form of registration, just free participation. A fundamental instrument of formation of the movement’s followers is the weekly catechesis called «School of Community.»

The object of this ecclesial movement is the Christian education of its own followers and cooperation with the mission of the Church in all realms of contemporary society.

In a letter last February, John Paul II said to Monsignor Giussani that Communion and Liberation «can justly be considered, together with a great variety of other associations and new communities, as one of the shoots of the promising ‘spring’ inspired by the Holy Spirit in the last 50 years.»

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