Recollections: Chiara Lubich

30 April 2008

The Rt Revd Edward Holland writes

FURTHER to Lavinia Byrne’s obituary for Chiara Lubich (Gazette, 4 April), there is one aspect of her understanding and approach that I think is worth adding: her sense that Jesus and his message of love are not just for Christians, and certainly not just for Roman Catholics. This was an understanding that grew through her life.

To begin with, she thought her experience of “God as Love” was quite personal, so that she and her friends set themselves to live with the love she saw in Jesus, among themselves and towards others, especially those in need. The response of other Roman Catholics, including her bishop, showed her that this was the way for the Roman Catholic Church to be renewed.

Then Christians of other denominations responded, beginning with German Lutherans, and followed by people in other denominations, so that she soon found that she had the attention of leaders of many denominations, including the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

But the final development was the response of people of other faiths and of none. She had the advantage of being a lay person, and a woman, and so was quite unthreatening to people, and came apparently with no political baggage. She did not appear to be, and indeed was not, proselytising. Her message was very simple: “Jesus says, ‘Love one another as you have been loved.’” And this was a message that could be accepted by many people of good will, of all faiths and none. Their response was: “That’s something we can understand and something we can at least try to do.”

As Mother Julian has said, “Love is the answer.”

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