from issue no.12 - 2004


The Eucharist: Jesus You make Yourself ours

Montini during the Corpus Christi procession in Milan

Montini during the Corpus Christi procession in Milan

Father Leonardo Sapienza has published a lively little volume bringing together some thoughts of Giovanni Battista Montini on the Eucharist (Leonardo Sapienza, Paolo VI e l’eucaristia, (Paul VI and the Eucharist), Vatican Bookshop Publications, Vatican City 2004,euro 3). We publish what Montini, then archbishop of Milan, said on the occasion of the feast of Corpus Christi in 1961: «Jesus you make yourself ours. You draw us to yourself present, present in a mysterious form. You are present, as the singular pilgrim of Emmaus, who reaches, approaches, accompanies, teaches and comforts the disconsolate wayfarers on the evening of lost hopes. You are present in the silence and in the passivity of sacramental signs, almost as if you wanted at the same time both to veil and unveil everything of Yourself, in a way that only believers can understand, and only those who love can truly receive. You draw us to yourself, O patient One; patient in the oblation of yourself for the salvation of others, for the nourishment of others; patient in the figuration of the body separate from the blood; patient to the extreme extent of pain, of dishonor, of abandonment, of anguish and even of death. Thus in the measure of sorrow the degree of guilt and of love becomes evident, of human guilt and of your love».


Christmas: a new Being blossomed in that place

Madonna with Child Giulio Cesare Hall, Capitol, Rome

Madonna with Child Giulio Cesare Hall, Capitol, Rome

For Christmas, the news feature “Copertina” of TG2 hosted an interview with Don Luigi Giussani on 24 December, in which the Milan priest said : «a new Being is coming into the world, the world of the true God. In the whole profile of the world, a new Being blossomed in that place. Everything comes from Him, but here the novelty of a life predominates… Here it is the inkling of something new that warms the heart, and tends to make everything concrete. And that is why it arouses great devotion. As divine grace, at the appointed time, the Son of God became a child in human history, he took upon Himself the rules and the formulae of an existence. In the recollection and in memory of that Fact, the witness of the Son of God emerges more and more powerful, and the impotence of evil becomes the figure dominating the whole of history. And the people of Yahweh rises up to invest the world. Thus, for every day in life, the Christian people will have in its hands the gamble of God’s power in time , and Our Lady’s prayer that is to be realized in every situation».


Mary of Nazareth welcomes the Son of God into history

The Immaculate Conception, French holy picture from the mid 19th century

The Immaculate Conception, French holy picture from the mid 19th century

“Mary of Nazareth welcomes the Son of God into history”: such was title of the XXI International Marian Mariological Congress which took place in Rome from 4 to 8 December last. The International Pontifical Marian Academy (IPMA) which in 1950 took over the organization of an event whose origin goes back to 1900, when it was celebrated in Lyons for the first time, took care of preparations. This year, on the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Pius IX, the IPMA chose the Lateran University as the venue, entrusting the presidency to Cardinal Paul Poupard. The conference began with a mass said by Bernard Francis Law in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, of which the American cardinal is archpriest. Many speakers participated, among them Monsignor Rino Fisichella, Rector of the Lateran, Father Vincenzo Battaglia OFM, President of IPMA, Monsignor Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem, and the famous French mariologist René Laurentin. Cardinal Poupard, in the opening talk, invited his listeners to «contemplate the great Mystery of Love of the Trinity, which communicates itself to us in the face of Christ, a face to love and to receive into our daily life, so that it may enlighten and save it through the splendor of its beauty». Speaking then of Mary, he observed that her reception of the Good News was «a total, obedient and loving acceptance, which is above all a gift from God».

Cardinals/1 Kasper and the undivided faith of the East and West
Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, led a Vatican delegation to the Cathedral of Saint George, in Constantinople, on the occasion of the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle. The visit came two days after the Pope had consigned the relics of Saints Gregory of Nazianzen and John Chrysostom to the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. Speaking of the two bishop-saints of Constantinople, the German cardinal said: «Two witnesses and two masters of our common faith, belonging to the first millennium, a faith to which East and West remained faithful in the second millennium and which we are called by the Lord Jesus Christ to bear witness to together in the third millennium». The words of Cardinal Kasper were reported by Avvenire on 1 December.

Cardinals/2 Tettamanzi: the Ambrosian Church and Tradition
The traditional speech given by the archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, on the eve of the feast of Saint Ambrose, stirred great interest, and La Padania reported the following excerpt from it on 7 December:«We must retrieve a past which has its roots in a Milan, that by now, unfortunately, exists ever less, but which can, also through the Ambrosian Church, attempt to return to relive its traditional values».

Cardinals/3 Pompedda: but Europe is not Christian anymore
«The European Constitution corresponds in many ways to the Christian vision». These were the words Cardinal Mario Francesco Pompedda, Prefect Emeritus of the Apostolic Signet, said in an interview published in Corriere della Sera on 17 December. The interview states: «Christianity must go back to being a message, in the realization that today it is no longer understood in the public world, not because other elements have united in a plot against it: as I see it we must avoid the double risk of a facile triumphalism on the one hand and, on the other, of the assumption of a defeatist attitude in the face of a secularization seen fatalistically as victorious… The presupposition that Europe is still substantially and largely Christian is not realistic. This is evident in countries such as France, once the firstborn of the Church, which today numbers a great number of unbaptized people. But also in countries such as Italy we must have the courage to look at the everyday experience of people, more than at the statistics on baptisms».

Saints and Blesseds
Decrees promulgated on the miracles attributed to the intercession of von Galen and Charles de Foucauld

On 20 December in the presence of the Pope some decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints were promulgated, among them those relating to the miracles attributed to the intercession of the venerable servants of God Clemens August von Galen, the “Lion of Münster”, and Charles de Foucald, the French priest who spent fifteen years in the Algerian desert before being assassinated in 1916. Le Figaro noted the fact that, even though Charles de Foucauld was killed by Muslims who were fighting against the French presence in the Sahara, he would nevertheless not be beatified as a martyr.

Zapatero «Better respect than tolerance»

In the insert La Domenica, edited by the staff of La Repubblica, on 19 December, a long reportage on the conflict - between the Catholic hierarchy and the new socialist government - that is inflaming Spain appeared, over the signature of Concita De Gregorio. In the article, the journalist recounts a meeting with the Spanish premier. «Zapatero picks out of his library a text by Fernando de los Rios, father of humanist socialism, the anti Ortega y Gasset, minister of the government in exile, and reads: “To be secularists does not mean being tolerant, which presupposes a superiority, but being respectful of the convictions of others”».

Sharon «2005 will be the year of great opportunities»

So said Israeli premier Ariel Sharon in the course of the annual academic Conference of Herzliya, during which he also spoke of a «historical development in relations with the Palestinians, an opportunity for peace». The words of the Israeli premier were reported in Corriere della Sera of 17 December.

Culture/1 Magris: Del Noce and Dante’s Monarchy
On the first page of Corriere della Sera on 13 December an article by Claudio Magris appeared, from which we take the following passage: «Augusto Del Noce – rigorously orthodox and traditionalist Catholic philosopher, fierce and fascinated critic of Marxism and ingenious interpreter of atheism and nihilistic modernism – often talked of the ostracism to which Dante’s Monarchy was subject for centuries, excluding it from political debate and attempting to cancel it almost from memory. This non-metaphorical pyre was lit, originally, by the desire of the Church to suffocate Dante’s theory of the two suns or, to be precise, the equal dignity of spiritual and political power, both equally legitimate in their specific spheres of jurisdiction – a theory dangerous therefore to Catholic fundamentalism, which wanted the State subordinated to the Church… In the medieval modes and forms of his epoch, that text of Dante’s, which Del Noce considered almost a samizdat, was a manifesto of secularism».

Culture/2 Brague: transcendence is not created
«Far from me the idea whereby we might create for ourselves the transcendence we need. By definition a created transcendence, or a horizontal transcendence, is not transcendence». Thus the French philosopher Rémi Brague in an interview given to La Repubblica on 23 December.

Culture/3 Depardieu: God, Augustine and psychiatry
«I discovered God when I began reciting The Confessions of Saint Augustine in all the churches of France. Soon I will take them through Europe. If you don’t look towards heaven, man is nothing. The person who says this to you is somebody who in twenty-eight years of analysis has buried two psychiatrists. Who is Freud compared to God?» These are words of the French actor Gérard Depardieu, in an interview given to Il Giornale on 19 December.

Italy/1 Ruini and the balance sheet of twenty years
On the online news items of L’Espresso, edited by Sandro Magister, the most significant passages of the article by Cardinal Camillo Ruini published in Vita e Pensiero (a magazine of the Catholic University of Milan) of January 2005, were reported. As well as re-proposing customary subjects, such as the «new anthropological question», the cardinal outlined an assessment of relations between Catholics and politics since the Loreto convention in 1985. A twenty-year assessment which sets out from the «ambitious» objective, proposed at Loreto, of restoring «a guiding role and a driving efficacy» to the Christian faith in Italy. An objective re-launched with force after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. A project that also coincides with the goal of the political unity of Catholics, about which Magister explained that Ruini had «defended this unity to the end» considering it however «no longer re-proposable since 1994. In that year Ruini launched the “cultural project given a Christian bearing” to the directorate of the IEC (Italian Episcopal Conference) at Montecassino». It was in this climate that the ecclesial convention took place in Palermo in 1995. There, according to Ruini, the Pope himself dictated the new stance of Catholics in politics, in a formula often restated by the president of the IEC: «The Church should not and does not intend to involve itself in any choice of political or party affiliation». An assessment in which Ruini also dwelt on the resistance of some ecclesial circles, which Magister identifies as those of «progressive Catholicism». The balance sheet, according to the cardinal, can only be considered positive, given the respect encountered by ecclesiastical institutions, confirmed by the «very high percentage of students who take advantage of the teaching of the Catholic religion and of the taxpayers who make their 8 in a thousand lire [voluntary contribution] to the Church». Magister glosses: «The entire article should be read. It provides good ammunition both for the few who appreciate Cardinal Ruini, as well as for the many who oppose or ignore him».

Diplomacy/1 New nuncios to Great Britain and Australia
On 11 December the 67 year-old Spanish archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz was nominated nuncio to Great Britain. A priest since 1964, Sainz Muñoz entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 1970 and served in Senegal, the Scandinavian countries and, since 1973, in the Secretariat of State. In 1988 he was promoted archbishop and pro-nuncio to Cuba. In 1992 he was nominated nuncio to Zaire and from 1999 was nuncio to the European Community in Brussels.
On 18 December Archbishop Ambrose B. De Paoli was nominated apostolic nuncio to Australia. De Paoli, a 70 year-old American, priest since 1960, was nuncio in Japan from 1997 and was previously so in Sri Lanka and South Africa.
On 15 December Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago and in other small countries of the Antilles, was also nominated nuncio to Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Surinam. On 20 December Gullickson was also nominated nuncio to Grenada.

Diplomacy/2 New ambassadors from Lithuania, Peru and Croatia to the Holy See
On 6 December the new ambassador of Lithuania to the Holy See presented his letters of credentials. He is 56 year-old Algirdas Saudargas, formerly professor of mathematics, then Foreign Minister (1990-1992 and 1996-2000), president of the Lithuanian Christian Democrats (1995-1999), parliamentarian (1992-2004). Among other things, the Pope said to him: «In the cultural and social debate that is currently taking place in your country, I know that the need to underline the Christian roots is emerging, from which the lived experience of the people has drawn lifeblood throughout the centuries». For his part the ambassador recalled that «the most courageous and most effective resistance to the totalitarian regime was grouped around The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, which was the most authoritative underground periodical publication».
On 7 December it was the turn of the new representative of Peru. He is 72 year-old Pablo Moral Van, career diplomat, formerly ambassador to the Soviet Union, Hungary and, in the past two years, to Italy. Among other things, the Pope said to him: «to satisfy the basic necessities of the most disinherited and excluded must be considered a fundamental priority, since the changes accelerated by the international economy have placed many of them in an almost desperate situation». In reply the Peruvian diplomat recalled the roles played by Brother Bartolomeo de Las Casas and Father Francisco de Vitoria in the defense of the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
On 11 December it was the turn of the new Croatian ambassador. He is Emilio Marin, born in Spalato 53 years ago, professor of Roman archeology in his native city, as well as lecturer at Oxford and the Sorbonne, and corresponding member of the Pontifical Roman Academy of Archeology. In his speech the Pope underlined how the Croatians «strong in their own spiritual identity, will be able to bring to the consortium of European peoples the contribution of their experience». For his part, Marin thanked the Pope «for his own personal commitment and also for the support of the Holy See for the Republic of Croatia on the way toward independence, recognition, development and complete insertion into the European family …».

Diplomacy/3 New, non-resident, ambassadors of Malawi, Thailand, Luxembourg, Kenya and Norway

On 16 December the ambassadors to the Holy See of five countries, who will not reside in the City, presented their letters of credentials. They are the representatives of Malawi (Gilton Bazilio Chiwaula, also ambassador to Berlin, where he resides), of Thailand (Pradap Pibulsonggram, Switzerland), of Luxembourg (Georges Santer, also Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry), of Kenya (Raychelle Awuor Omamo, France) and of Norway (Lars Petter Forberg, Switzerland).

Books/1 De Civitate Dei
translated into Korean

The Korean publishing house, Benedictine Press in Waugwan, has recently published De Civitate Dei in the local language, with the Latin text on the facing page. It is the first time that this text of the bishop of Hippo has been translated into Korean. The book is the work of Professor Youm Bosco Seong, ambassador to the Holy See since 2003, who has also translated other such works of the Doctor of the Church, as De doctrina christiana 1988, De vera religione 1988 and De libero arbitrio 1998. The translation received an enthusiastic review in L’Osservatore Romano on 15 December, written by Monsignor Waldemar Turek, an official of the Secretariat of State and member of the executive council of Fondazione Latinitas.


Problems between the Turkish authorities and the Patriarchate

Bartholomew 1

Bartholomew 1

«As everybody knows the church of the Presentation of the Madonna was also struck in the barbarous attack on the British Consulate in Istanbul a year ago, suffering significant damage which has made it unusable. But today we find ourselves victims not only of the terrorists, but also of the authorities of this country, because of the unjustifiable delay in granting the permit necessary for the church’s reconstruction. We have asked neither for compensation nor for privileged treatment. We have only asked, and we demand it in full legality as peaceful citizens of this country, a country that wants to be received into the EU, what is a right for all of its citizens». Thus on 21 November, the Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, Bartholomew I, Ecumenic Patriarch of Constantinople, addressed his faithful. The news was reported by Sandro Magister on the online news items of L’Espresso, which, afterwards, referred other points of disagreement between the Orthodox community and the government: «At the beginning of December, without any plausible explanation, the Turkish authorities forbade the Greek Orthodox bishop of Miron from celebrating mass, as is done every year on 6 December, in the ruins of the venerated church of Saint Nicholas Miron, in Asia Minor. Further, in those same days, the Turkish supreme court denied the Patriarchate the ownership to an orphanage on the Islands of Princes, after having already imposed a veto, two months earlier, on the restitution to the same Patriarchate of the theological seminary of Halki, confiscated and closed more than thirty years ago: the restitution vainly promised, last Spring, by Prime Minister Erdogan».

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