|Milan Cathedral, February 24, 2005 / John
A Defensor of Reason, He proposed the “Companionship” of Christ
Personal letter of John Paul II (read during the funeral by Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity)
1. It was with deep emotion that I received the news of dear Monsignor Giussani’s death, at the end of a long period of illness, which he accepted in a spirit of serene abandonment to the divine will and of generous sharing in the mystery of Christ’s cross. His departure is a source of sadness for his family, for the presbyterate of the Archdiocese of Milan, for the Movement of Communion and Liberation to which he gave origin, and for many other people who respected and loved him as a zealous minister of God. I feel spiritually close to all with intense affection in this moment of painful separation.
2. I had many occasions to meet Monsignor Luigi Giussani and to admire his ardent faith, which found expression in a Christian witness capable of arousing, especially in the young, broad and convinced acceptance of the Gospel message. I thank the Lord for the gift of his life, spent unreservedly in coherent adhesion to his priestly vocation, in constant attention to the needs of contemporary man and in courageous service to the Church. His whole apostolic activity could be summarized in the frank and decisive invitation, which he was able to address to all who approached him, to a personal encounter with Christ, the complete and definitive answer to the deepest expectations of the human heart.
3. Fr Giussani proposed the “companionship” of Christ to very many youngsters who, now adults, consider him their spiritual “father.” He set aside every prospect of an academic career and devoted himself to the formation of students needing points of reference and models for inspiration. In the sixties, he began his evangelizing activity presenting the truth of the faith with an open and unceasing dialogue, with a coherent docility to the Church’s magisterium, and above all with an exemplary witness of life. Thus was born the Movement of Communion and Liberation, which grew in the course of the years thanks to the apostolic ardor of this fervent Ambrosian priest, who was able to engage many disciples in an impassioned missionary journey.
Christ and the Church: here is the synthesis of his life and of his apostolate. Without ever separating one from the other, he communicated around him a true love for the Lord and for the various Popes that he knew personally. He also had a great attachment for his Diocese and for his Pastors.
4. A defender of human reason, Fr Giussani had a deep knowledge of literature and of music, and accorded great value to art as a road that leads to the Mystery. Followed by those belonging to the Movement he founded, now spread in many countries of the world, listened to with respect by many people of various faiths and various professional responsibilities, I like to remember him as a master of humanity and defender of the religiosity inscribed in the heart of the human being.
5. While I offer fervent prayers of suffrage, which I entrust to the Blessed Virgin, for this faithful servant of the Gospel, I ask God that all those who knew and met him on their way, experiencing the wonders that the Lord worked in them through his witness, might follow his footsteps faithfully and keep alive his charismatic intuition. I think in this moment of his spiritual children gathered in the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation and in the lay association Memores Domini.
May Mary, sweet Mother of the Redeemer, watch over each and everyone. With this wish, I cordially send Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, the Prelates and priests gathered, all those who mourn the departure of dear Monsignor Giussani, and all those present at the funeral rites the comfort of the Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, February 22, 2005
Joannes Paulus II