.- The Vatican announced today that a letter of condolences from the Holy Father sent Tuesday was read during the funeral Mass of Communion and Liberation founder, Msgr. Luigi Giussani, who died this week at 82.
The funeral was celebrated at 3 p.m. yesterday in Milan's cathedral by Pontifical Legate, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. An estimated 30,000 people, both inside and outside the Duomo, were present for the Mass.
The Pope wrote in his letter that, "I learned with great emotion, the news of the death of dear Msgr. Luigi Giussani, which came at the end of a long illness, accepted by him in a spirit of serene abandonment to the divine will and generous participation in the mystery of the Cross of Christ."
Pope John Paul said that he had met the Msgr. on many occasions "and admired his ardent faith which was translated into a Christian witness capable of stimulating, especially in young people, a broad and convinced welcome of the Gospel message.”
“I thank the Lord,” the Pope wrote, “for the gift of his life that was spent without reserve in coherent adhesion to his own priestly vocation, to constantly listening to the needs of contemporary man, and in courageous service to the Church.”
His entire apostolic action could be summed up in the open and decisive invitation that he knew how to extend to all who came to him, to a personal encounter with Christ, the full and definitive answer to the deepest longings of the human heart."
The Holy Father noted that Msgr. Giussani had "proposed Jesus as 'a companion' to young people, "having forsaken an academic career to dedicate himself to the formation of students.
"His evangelizing activity”, the Pope wrote, “began in the 1960s, presenting the truth of faith with an open and ceaseless dialogue, with coherent docility to the Magisterium of the Church and above all with an exemplary witness of life.”
“Thus”, he said, “was born Communion and Liberation, which grew over the years thanks to the apostolic ardor of this fervent Ambrosian priest." St. Ambrose, Father and Doctor of the Church, is the patron of the archdiocese of Milan.”
"Christ and the Church: here is the synthesis of his life and his apostolate. Without ever
separating one from the other, he communicated to those around him a true love for the Lord and for the various Popes whom he personally knew."
In his concluding remarks, the Pope wrote, "A defender of man's reason, Fr. Giussani had a profound knowledge of literature and music and was convinced of the value of art as a path leading to mystery.”
Followed by the members of the movement he founded, now in many countries of the world, and listened to as well with respect by persons of different faiths and
different professions, I love to remember him as a master of mankind and defender of the religiosity written in the human heart."