CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 1, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The general assembly of the Focolare movement is set to elect a successor to founder Chiara Lubich.
Lubich, who founded the movement in 1943, died in March. She led the movement for more than 60 years.
Clara Cottignoli, a communications officer of the Focolare movement, confirmed to ZENIT that, “as our statues stipulate, […] a woman will be Chiara Lubich’s successor.” She added that half of the 500 participants are women.
In a telegram sent to the delegates gathered through July 31 at the Mariapolis Center of Castel Gandolfo, Benedict XVI encouraged the lay movement “to continue the fruitful evangelical testimony according to the charism of the mourned and unforgettable Chiara Lubich.”
The papal message, signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s secretary of state, expressed the hope that “this important event will inspire generous resolutions for renewed adherence to Christ,” as well as an “ever greater apostolic impetus that will respond to current challenges.”
It is not yet known when the elections will take place. At present the delegates are working in several commissions to address important topics for the life of this apostolic movement.
At present the Focolare is present in 182 countries, and has 141,000 members and 2,115,000 “friends and adherants,” 30,000 of whom are non-Christians.