from issue no.06/07 - 2004


Ten million requests for help from Pius X during the war



Corriere della Sera on 12 June devoted ample space to the opening of a section of the Vatican Archives, which reveal the existence of millions of requests for help to the Vatican during the Nazi dictatorship and the Second World War. The synthesis of the article is as follows: «10,000,000 pleas for help. The letters from the families of people lost in war. Among them many Jews». The Corriere della Sera published various letters, among them that of the Chief Rabbi of the Holy Land, Isaac Herzog, who asked help for the Chief Rabbi of Oslo, Julius Samuel, arrested by the Nazis, and one in which Pier Paolo Pasolini asks Pius XII’s help in getting news of his father imprisoned in Africa.


Totti and the Madonna of Divine Love

The image of the Madonna of Divine Love

The image of the Madonna of Divine Love

Totti chose the popular sanctuary of the Madonna of Divine Love, a few kilometers from the sporting center of Trigoria, to forget the three days disqualification inflicted at the European Cup after spitting at the Danish footballer Poulsen. «Most Holy Madonna of Divine Love, I ask pardon of you and pray you never abandon me. Yours, Francesco.» That was what Roma’s number 10 wrote in prayer on a card, wrapped in the shirt worn during the opening game in Guimares on 14 June last. Totti went to a priest, Don Fernando Altieri (who has known the player from childhood), and gave him his Italia shirt and a card to take to the sanctuary. Totti chose the way of faith to wipe out his outburst. «The best way of saying sorry», he then explained, «is to go to one person who can forgive. And that’s why I felt the need to offer my shirt to the Madonna of Divine Love. I have trust in her and I feel at peace with God and men». La Repubblica, Sunday, 4 July.

I share your aspiration to the patriarchate, but…
«… I share your aspiration, well founded also in canonical and conciliar discipline, to have full juridico-ecclesial structure. I share it in prayers and also in suffering, awaiting the day ordained by God on which I can confirm, as Successor of the apostle Peter, the ripe fruit of your ecclesial development. In the meantime you know well that your request is being seriously studied, also in the light of the valuations of other Christian Churches». It was in this manner John Paul II addressed the members of the permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church - led by Cardinal Lubomyr Husar – received in audience on 3 June. The Pope did not make it explicit, but the aspiration in question is that of the creation of a patriarchate with its See in Kiev.

Announcement of special Eucharistic Year for 2004-2005
«I am happy to announce a special year of the Eucharist. It will begin with the World Eucharistic Congress, planned for 10 to 17 October 2004 in Guadalajara (Mexico), and will end with the next ordinary Assembly of the bishops, which will be held in the Vatican from 2 to 29 October 2005». Thus the Pope on 10 June during the celebration of Corpus Domini.

Erdogan meets the Catholic bishops
On 21 June, the Muslim prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan received the Catholic bishops of Turkey for the first time. Sandro Magister gave the news in the on-line news site he edits for L’Espresso. According to the columnist , during the meeting Erdogan «requested the bishops to support the entry of Turkey into the Union and rejoiced when they told him that their Episcopal Conference was already part of the Council of the European Episcopal Conferences. He promised the institution of a new bilateral commission on the question of the juridical state of the Church and announced a decree for the restitution to the Assumptionist Fathers of buildings confiscated from them in the past».

Sodano pontifical legate at Regan’s funeral
L’Osservatore Romano of 9 June published on its front page a telegram of condolence from the Pope on the death of former president Regan, who died four days previously. At the end of the telegram the Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano was detailed as “Pontifical Legate” to the funeral which took place on 11 June in Washington. It is rare for the Secretary of State to be sent by the Pope to funerals of important personages whether ecclesiastic or lay. It was done for the funeral of King Baudoin in 1993, of Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1997 and of the cardinal of New York John Joseph O’Connor in 2000.

Cardinal Lehmann and Hans Küng
«The prodigy is that Küng, the prince of the critics, is for the first time taking part in a highly official ecclesial gathering of Catholics, in a debate on the Council and the future of Catholicism, with a prince of the Church». So said Marco Politi, columnist of La Repubblica, in a brief account of the Katholikentag, the Catholic assembly of the German Church, in which thousands of the faithful take part, held this year in Ulm from 16 to 20 June. The article, published on 20 June under the heading The heretic meets the cardinal, indicated as the high point of the meeting the debate between theologian Hans Küng and Cardinal Karl Lehmann, president of the German Episcopal Conference. The article concluded as follows: «The public listens, applauds, hums, whistles at one or other of the courteous duellists. “I would like a Pope who travels less and instead allows joint communion of Christians and recognizes reciprocally the ministers of worship of the different churches”, Küng articulated clearly, and people murmur their dissent from criticism of the papal travels and at the same time applaud, convinced of the idea of taking communion with Protestants and Orthodox. “Shake hands, shake hands!” the crowd urges at the end of the debate and Hans and Karl willingly clasp hands. Küng expresses a wish: “That there be enough cardinals at the Conclave who think like Lehmann to elect a John XXIV”. The cardinal is more sober: “Apart from our points of difference I have never had doubts about what Küng has achieved in theology”. Weren’t you afraid of the encounter? I ask the cardinal at the end. “It is important to show a Church that isn’t afraid of dialogue and discussion”. And will you elect a John XXIV? “Who knows what name he will take!” he replies laughing». Obviously, we add, the later the better.

Tettamanzi: humility, courage and wisdom
«We understand the complexity of the political situation in Israel, but we have come to Jerusalem as dreamers of peace, driven by a need which is Christian but also profoundly human. Peace has a price, to achieve it both adversaries need to take a step backwards and make a gesture of reconciliation». So said Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan in his speech to the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), as reported in an article by La Repubblica of 22 June. The article gave another passage from the cardinals’ speech: «In these days I have come across a great deal of suffering – the cardinal said to the assembly – but also some small examples of peace and reconciliation. All of us have the most serious task of constructing peace in the world. The complexity of the real situation cannot be simplified by the dreams of those who want peace but the contending parties in this conflict must both have the capacity to take a step backwards, in the direction of dialogue and reconciliation. To do so requires humility, courage and wisdom».

Scola: the desiring ego and sacrifice
«The weakness of the current Christian offering lies in its inability to show the anthropological, social and cosmological implication of the mystery of our faith». The quotation come from an interview granted by the Patriarch of Venice, Angelo Scola, to Marco Politi and published in La Repubblica on 27 June. In the interview the patriarch touched on the subject of pleasure and enjoyment and stated: «“It has to do with accepting that the fulfillment of desire is not within the reach of my desiring ego. That is the point. The fact that the stretch of my desire is the infinite does not mean that I am capable of satisfying it”. And so? “In order to achieve it I must pass by way of the other, at that point my desire encounters sacrifice, because the other is always different from me. The secret lies in understanding that desire does not finish where sacrifice begins and wanting does not end where duty begins. Sacrifice is the truth of desire. Need is internal to wanting”» The following day Sandro Magister commented in the L’Epresso on-line news site he edits: «The interview is planned to be the first in a series with “the new Italian cardinals”. And it’s right it should begin with the rising star Scola, increasingly canvassed as possible next pope».

“Hammerer of the night” in Venice
Summer vandalism in Venice at the end of June. The capital of a column in the Ducal Palace and two statues in a church suffered damage. La Stampa of 29 June explained that the deranged man was outraged by the image of «God handing the tables of the Law to Moses. The hammer smashed the arms of the two protagonists, as well as the Ten Commandments. The “hammerer of the night” also smashed the hands of the statues of Saint Mark and Saint Francis» on the facade of the church of the Redeemer. The following day the news of more damage was reported, this time to a bas-relief, said to be of “the Madonna of Quintavalle”, near the church of San Pietro in Castello, in which the Child Jesus, in the arms of the Madonna, hands the keys of the Kingdom to Saint Peter. This time «the tiara and the hand of Peter, the hand of the Madonna which holds the child, the halo and the keys which she is consigning to the fisher of men» fall beneath the hammer blows. On 30 June the presumed hammerer of the night, an engineer suffering from mental problems, was arrested.

Honor to Wojtyla

During his visit to the Vatican president Bush decorated the Pope with the most important honor of the States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. On his return to the US Bush conferred the same medal on other public figures, the journalist Norman Podhoretz, a New York intellectual of Jewish origins, considered the “grandfather” of the neo-cons. On the occasion Podhoretz, who edited the magazine Commentary for 35 years, confirmed not only his support for the doctrine of preventive war, but also that he intends to go further in a book he means to write. The New York Times of 24 June wrote that the provisional title of this new book refers to the era that began with the attacks of 11 September: The Fourth World War: how it began, its significance, and why we must win.

Yes to condoms

«From the pulpit of the Baptist church of the Great Exodus in Philadelphia, in front of the applauding black congregation, George W. Bush, apostle of sexual abstinence against Aids, proposes for the first time in America recourse also to condoms to limit the evil. He did so with some reluctance, recalling the so-called Abc formula employed – he underlines – with notable success in Uganda: abstinence first, then conjugal fidelity, then, finally, “when it is appropriate, condoms”». So began an article in Corriere della Sera on 25 June, which explained that «Abc comes from abstain, be faithful, and condoms».

Turkey in Europe and the theory of the clash of civilizations

Bush: Europe is not a Christian club, let Turkey in. Such was the heading of an article published in La Stampa of 30 June, dedicated to the visit of George W. Bush to Turkey, in which the speech given by the President of the United States at the University of Galatasaray was reported. Thus Bush is quoted in La Stampa as saying: «The entry of Ankara will prove that Europe is not the exclusive club of a single religion and will make the theory of the conflict of civilizations appear as a myth left behind by history». A declaration to which Jacques Chirac replied «We are allies of America, not servants».

European elections
The Pope and the Radicals’ propaganda

In the course of the electoral campaign for the European elections many Italians were sent a pamphlet by the Radical Party which contained a large photo of Emma Bonino and Marco Pannella in conversation with Pope Wojtyla. An unfortunate piece of propaganda, especially when one recalls that in the recent past, the Radicals set up a campaign in the European Parliament to expel the Holy See from its role of observer at the United Nations.

Barcelona divided Tarragona to Opus Dei

On 15 June the division of the archdiocese of Barce­lona into three parts with the creation of the new dioceses of Terassa and Sant Feliu de Llobregat was announced. At the same time, Barcelona, until now immediately subject to the Holy See, became a metropolitan archdiocese having the two newly created dioceses as suffragans. Also on 15 June the resignation from the Catalan archdiocese of Cardinal Ricardo María Carles Gordó, 78 years old next September, was accepted. Nominated new archbishop of Barcelona was 67 year old Lluís Martínez Sistach, a native of the city, auxiliary bishop of Barcelona in 1987, then bishop of Tortosa in 1991 and since 1997 archbishop of Tarragona. At the head of this latter archdiocese, 60 year old Jaume Pujol Balcells, a priest of the clergy of Opus Dei, was nominated. He is the first bishop on Iberian territory belonging to the clergy of OBRA founded by Saint Josémaria Escrivá de Balaguer.

New ambassador in Spain

On 18 June the new Spanish ambassador to the Holy See presented his letters of credential. He is 59 year old Jorge Dezcallar de Mazzaredo, a professional diplomat, formerly ambassador to Morocco and for the last four years director of the Higher Center of Information for Defense with the rank of minister. In his speech to the new ambassador the Pope, among other things, confirmed the right to «be born and to grow up in a house in which stability reigns and the words father and mother can be said with joy and without duplicity». «The true “social conquests”», the Pope then said, «are those which promote and safeguard the life of each one and, at the same time, the common good of society».
On 21 June John Paul II then received in audience the new Spanish premier, the Socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Holy See: attention to the unacknowledged knightly Orders

It is the practice that Vatican diplomats accredited in the Vatican «refrain from joining knightly Orders which are not connected with the Vatican, even if they are dedicated to saints or have religious titles». This was confirmed in a recent circular of the First section of the Secretariat of State sent to all the diplomatic missions accredited to the Vatican about «the traditions which should be observed in relation to the use and the acceptance of decorations». The circular states that there are only two knightly Orders rcognized by the Holy See: the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Knightly Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. And points out that traditionally «important members of government, during their presence in Rome for pontifical audiences, do not accept honors from orders not recognized by the Holy See»: The circular, in French, bears the date of 27 April last.


The Jewish community and the Judaeo-Christian roots

Amos Luzzatto

Amos Luzzatto

«The Italian Jewish community has never overall considered reference to religious roots required in the UN Charter. “And yet one needs to ackowledge them all, the Islamic ones also”, says the president of the Union of Jewish Communities, Amos Luzzato. Leone Passerman, president of the Community of Rome, agrees: “It would be mistaken, now that there is a risk of a clash between civilizations and while the entry of Turkey into the EU draws closer”. And the religious authority is also in agreement: “The underlining of roots is not our fight”, declares the head Rabbi of Rome Riccardo Di Segni». From the Corriere della Sera of 19 June.

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