By John-Henry Westen

TORONTO, March 17, 2008 ( – Chiara Lubich, the foundress of the worldwide Focolare Catholic lay movement which strives to unite people to live their lives for God, died March 14 at 88 years of age.  A funeral Mass for her was held today in Rome’s famed Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, offered by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. 

Lubich’s movement has millions of adherents and has spread into 182 countries.

To a church packed with thousands, Cardinal Bertone read a message from Pope Benedict XVI which gave thanks to Christ “for the life of Chiara Lubich”.  The Pope praised her “silent and incisive service to evangelisation”, which was “always in harmony with Church teaching”.

Focolare members who spoke to recalled her strong pro-life convictions.  One recalled a 1986 pro-life conference on “Creating a Culture of Life” where Lubich and Mother Teresa were the main speakers.

During her speech Lubich said: “We know that the child to be born is a human being from the moment of conception. The child therefore, cannot be considered an extension of the mother: he or she is another human being.”  She added, “A woman’s greatness, her personal growth lies in being the cause of life, not in suppressing the child of her womb.”

“God repeats in one of the Ten Commandments: ‘Do not kill.’ But God is not a tyrant. If He is demanding, it is because He has provided the way even in difficult circumstances and has given the means to help carry out this commandment,” she said.

For more information on the Focolare movement visit: