Pope Fondly Recalls Communion-and-Liberation Founder

In Message Relayed to the Ecclesial Movement

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2005 (Zenit.org).- With a keen memory of Monsignor Luigi Giussani, founder of Communion and Liberation, Benedict XVI relayed a blessing to the ecclesial movement’s recent Spiritual Exercises.

The annual retreat, held in Rimini, Italy, from April 29 to May 1, began in the presence of 27,000 members of the Communion and Liberation.

Sixty countries were connected through videoconference — including Uruguay, Honduras, Egypt and Ethiopia for the first time. The meeting’s theme, «Hope That Does Not Disappoint,» was taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans (5:5).

Communion and Liberation founder Monsignor Giussani died Feb. 22 at age 82. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) presided at his funeral as Pope John Paul II’s envoy.

In a message sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Benedict XVI wished to express his closeness to the participants in the Rimini retreat and to impart his apostolic blessing.

«While the memory is still very intense in his soul of the moving obsequies of deceased Don Luigi Giussani in Milan’s cathedral, the Holy Father, participating spiritually in the fervor of these days of reflection and prayer (…), very much hopes that they will be fruitful in apostolic and missionary ascetic renewal and ardent zeal,» read the text.

The message was addressed to Father Julián Carrón, whom Monsignor Giussani himself chose as his successor. Father Carrón led the movement’s Spiritual Exercises.

«Hope,» the «theme of the meditations, is significant,» stated Cardinal Sodano. «How timely it is for our time to understand the value and importance of Christian hope, which is rooted in a simple, unhesitating faith in Christ and his word of salvation!»

Cardinal Sodano proposed Monsignor Giussani and John Paul II as witnesses of hope.

«Your founder preceded in a short time the holy death of our beloved Holy Father John Paul II,» the message said. «The two ardent witnesses of Christ leave us as inheritance the testimony of total dedication to ‘hope that does not disappoint’; hope that the Holy Spirit infuses in the hearts of believers, pouring into them the love of God.»

Communion and Liberation aims to bring its followers to Christian maturity and help in the mission of the Church in all the spheres of contemporary life. It is present in some 70 countries.

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