Focolare Founder Gets Honorary Doctorate

ROME, JAN. 23, 2008 ( The founder and president of the Catholic lay Focolare movement was awarded an honorary doctorate in theology from the ecumenical Liverpool Hope University.

The degree-granting ceremony will be held today in Liverpool, but a delegation from the university personally presented the doctorate to Lubich in Rome on Jan. 5. Lubich, who turned 88 on Tuesday, was not expected to be present at today’s event due to poor health.

A Focolare communiqué explained that the doctorate rewards Lubich’s important contribution “to the life of the Church, […] to the peace and harmony of society, […] to the reunification of Christians of different denominations,” and “to the promotion of dialogue and understanding among different religions.”

The communiqué said future collaboration between the Focolare movement and the university is expected. One area of collaboration will be between Hope University and the Focolare’s Sophia University Institute, set to open next fall near Florence, Italy.

There are some 7,000 students enrolled at Liverpool Hope University, an institution which sprang from the fusion of two Catholic schools with an Anglican one.