"Essential Writings" launched in Dublin

"Chiara Lubich: authentic witness of vital contribution of laity in Church" - Archbishop Martin

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

The Archbishop of Dublin has spoken of the vital contribution of lay people to the renewal of the Church, as exemplified in Chiara Lubich, founder of the international Focolare movement.

Launching Chiara Lubich’s Essential Writings in Dublin on Thursday (29th Nov 07), the Archbishop spoke of his first contact with her. “I was left with an indelible impression. It was that Chiara was a lay woman who was able to bring a dynamic contribution to the renewal of the Church as a lay woman.

“She has no inferiority complex about being a lay woman,” he went on.  “She showed us how vital the contribution of lay people is to the Church through her authentic witness and coherence.”

Chiara Lubich was born in Trent, Italy on 22 January 1920 and is founder and president of the Focolare Movement. It has its origins in the Catholic Church, though it has now spread to all Churches. At its heart is the living out of the gospel especially the phrase “That all may be one”.

Her book, Chiara Lubich’s  ‘Essential Writings’ – gathers together her writings from her first inspirations during the Second World War, to their development into political and social insights.

Callan Slipper, an Anglican minister who jointly translated and edited the book, said  Ms Lubich’s spirituality was unique. “Most other spiritualities are personal, but here, as a group and individually, we go to God together.”

The third section of the book applies her ‘spirituality of communion’ to areas of human life, ranging from psychology to family life, to social communications, politics and economics.

Archbishop Martin said Chiara Lubich’s ‘charism’ was  a true charism “ a gift for the building up of the Church.”

He paid tribute to the people of the Focolare saying that wherever there was a need to “foster unity in the Church, the Focolare were there before me.  I received resounding support in fostering unity between the churches, between the ecclesial movements and between priests.”

Professor of Economics Ray Kinsella, who also spoke at the launch, said he was fascinated by Lubich’s ‘Economy of Communion’ project – a business model that works in a way that respects both worker and customer and gives profits to those in need.

He told ciNews that the Economy of Communion charism was a “genuinely prophetic one”.

“It cannot be a coincidence, it must be providence, that it was given to us in 1991, at a time when western capitalism was embarked on a path to self destruction.

“And what Chiara did was to show that there was a different way. It wasn’t about a negative criticism, or it wasn’t a criticism of markets or the market economy. It was to say that these need to be transformed from within and that this was radical and demanding, but it could be, and indeed it has been, done.”

He said business schools had a responsibility to heed what Ms Lubich wrote about economy serving the ‘whole person’.

“There is a real danger, in my view, that higher education can be seen simply as an annex to Ireland.inc. and that would be to betray both what education is about and what it can contribute to economics.”

Chiara Lubich’s vision of economics was sustainable, because rooted in the Gospel and “in values that resonate right across the human experience of different faith groups and individuals.”

Over 100 people were at the launch, including Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazarotto, representatives of ecclesial movements, of different churches and other non Christian religions, including Dr Jasbir Singh Puri, head of the Sikh community in Ireland and Dr Ali Al Saleh, Imam from the Milltown Shia Mosque.

Dr Saleh told ciNews he was amazed when he heard about Chiara Lubich, who spoke about things like “integration, spirituality, and overcoming divisions between people, decades before these had become issues.”

Yesterday Cardinal Séan Brady, in one of his first functions as Cardinal, launched the book  in Northern Ireland .

The Focolare is present in 182 countries, reaching about 5 million people. It has 800 businesses based on the Economy of Communion and more than 1,000 social programmes worldwide.

In Ireland the movement numbers around 500 members, with a further 5000 linked in various ways. Its activities include local Word of Life groups which help participants be a positive force wherever they are; activities and  courses to support couples and families; ‘Intercultural Exchange’, organised by young people, which enables Irish and new Irish people to meet and truly get to know one another; Run4Unity, organised by teenagers, which raises money for scholarships for their peers elsewhere who cannot afford education and an action by young children who make and distribute  models of the child Jesus in public at Christmas to highlight the ‘real’ meaning of Christmas.

Picture shows Dr Ali Al Saleh greeting Dr Diarmuid Martin at the lauch of Chiara Lubich’s Essential Writings.