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Manuela Silva's legacy to Portugal (and the world)

Last October 7th Manuela Silva, the economist considered "the Portuguese face of the fight against poverty" and a great friend of the EoC, left us

By Felipe Coelho.

Professor Carlos Rodrigues wrote the following words about her: "Manuela Silva saw the economy from the point of view of being of service to people and of sustainable and inclusive development". Together with Bruto da Costa, Manuela conducted the first studies on poverty in Portugal in the 1980s and promoted the idea of ​​turning the declaration of poverty as a violation of human rights into a law.

In her first public speech on the EoC in 1998, Manuela sensed its prophetic meaning: "The EoC is born from the vision of a woman who, (...) has the great merit of daring to break the thick curtain of economic determinism , which is always in favor of the most powerful (...) Chiara believes that the Gospel has implications not only in the personal lives of believers, but that it must also penetrate collective life, including the organization of companies and the economy." On that occasion she asked herself: "Why not put the EoC in a position so that in the future it can have an amplified effect on a humanist and solidarity-based economic model for the 21st century? I think it's the right time! (...) On the other hand, a theoretical work, based on the experience acquired, in order to produce scientific competences (...) seem to be absolutely indispensable and urgent to me.” The personal meeting with Chiara Lubich dates back to 2004 in one of the last public moments of the Founder of the Focolari Movement.

The National Commission for Justice and Peace of Portugal (CNJP) remembers her this way: "Endowed with an extraordinary capacity for initiative and teamwork, 101106 Polo Giosi 15 rid 400Manuela has never failed to devote herself to these causes, not due to advanced age, nor due the disease that unfortunately affected her. (...) An example is the recent creation of the network "Taking Care of the Common House - the Church at the service of Integral Ecology" of which she was the inspiring soul, in the last phase of her earthly life".

A few days before her "departure" Pedro Patto (the current president of CNJP) and I went to visit her. You could sense that she was "in a hurry" to leave everything in place, but with the serenity of one who fully trusted the people she had involved to carry on the many seeds she had sowed. The message from Luigino Bruni, in which he thanked her for what she had done for the EoC and gave her an update on how the preparation of the “The Economy of Francesco” event proceeded, gave her great joy.

Manuela Silva had the ability to ‘make an impact’ at 360º on people. The current Portuguese center-right party President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the former president Ramalho Eanes (the first after the dictatorship), as well as Carlos Carvalhas, successor of the historical leader of the PCP (Portuguese Communist Party), in addition to many other personalities, were all present at her funeral. It was a profound moment that witnessed the greatness of her life and commitment, her contribution to the EoC and her being part of the small group of professors called upon to contribute to the preparation of "The Economy of Francesco". The note from the President of the Republic states that, Manuela lived "a life dedicated to causes of great importance (...), including social justice, the fight against poverty and the defense of Human Rights" and that "her death is a major loss for Portugal ”.

Journalist António Marujo, who knew her well, wrote: "In the last few moments Manuela took her sister's hand, and gave her her last message: "I'm leaving, but tell my friends that I really enjoyed living". "In the funeral homily, Don Antonio Janela referred to these last moments stating: "That she really enjoyed living is the best reply a Christian can give to death".

We’ll conclude with a text written by Manuela that challenges us all: “We are facing an enormous cultural and spiritual challenge, which supposes and imposes a double commitment, at all levels, especially in the education of our young generations, for a new concept of a good and happy life, which can translate into new lifestyles, ways of thinking and acting, of production and consumption, taking care of oneself, of others, of our own place, of the country in which we live and of the whole Planet Earth, in which today we all live and where the new generations will live in times to come." To paraphrase António Marujo again: "This was the life program that Manuela Silva loved to live".

We are convinced that the best way to honor her person and memory is to continue to live and believe in the EoC in particular, while not missing the encounter with history that "The Economy of Francis" - which was so close to Manuela - represents!

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