from issue no.01/02 - 2005


«Strong in my frailty»

Giovanni Battista Montini in Milan, in  January 1955

Giovanni Battista Montini in Milan, in January 1955

Such was the heading of an article in Avvenire of 6 January, in which a summary of the speech given by Giovanni Battista Montini when he took possession of the diocese of Milan, on the feast of the Epiphany in 1955, appeared. These are the first words that Montini addressed to his new congregation: «I have no other right to your trust than the mandate of the Church which brings me among you, and on that solely, from which my frailty and my weakness gain support and refuge, shall I set forth. I am apostle and bishop. Pastor and father, teacher and minister of the Gospel: my function among you is nothing more, may the judgment that your mercy reserves for me be no different».


The questions of man and the answers of God

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, wrote an article on the tragedy that occurred in Southeast Asia, printed as an editorial in the English Sunday paper The Sunday Telegraph. Il Corriere della Sera on 3 January reported the following summary of it: «“In these days many are asking the question: ‘How can I believe in a God who permits suffering on such a scale?”, the head of the Church of England, the spiritual leader of seventy million souls, wrote: “It would be surprising and even wrong if one didn’t ask this question”. But faith is stronger than tragedy. The archbishop then added: “The extraordinary fact is that faith survives these tests, not because it offers comfort or explanations, but because believers cannot deny what was shown or given to them”».


The Church and the artificial insemination law

Cardinal Camillo Ruini

Cardinal Camillo Ruini

The positions of Catholics regarding the referendum to repeal part of the law on artificial insemination are varied. Among the different statements, that of the president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, printed, besides, by Corriere della Sera of 17 January, is to be noted. The cardinal’s words inviting Catholics to «makes use of all the possibilities available» were interpreted as an invitation to abstention. In Corriere della Sera again, on 1 February, an interview with Cardinal Mario Pompedda was printed in which the prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signet stated: «I think that where a choice about values is concerned a clear pronouncement is more appropriate. “Let your speaking be yes, yes, or no, no”, as one could paraphrase from the Gospel».

The year of the Eucharist
Indulgences for particular acts of worshiptowards the Most Holy Sacrament

On 14 January the decree Miraculorum maximum of the Apostolic Penitentiary through which the Pope decided to enrich through indulgences some determined acts of worship and devotion towards the Most Holy Sacrament, was made public.
«1. The plenary indulgence is granted to all and to the individual faithful, on the usual conditions (sacramental confession, eucharistic communion and prayers for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, with a mind totally detached from any leaning to sin whatsoever, every time they participate with attention and piety in a sacred function or a pious exercise carried out in honor of the Most Holy Sacrament, solemnly exposed or kept in the tabernacle.
2. Further the plenary indulgence is conceded, on the conditions recorded above, to the clergy, to members of the institutions of consecrated life and the societies of apostolic life and to the other faithful bound by law to the recital of the Liturgy of the Hours, as well as those who are accustomed to recite the divine office through pure devotion, every time, at the end of the day, that they recite Vespers and Compline before the Lord present in the tabernacle, either communally or privately.
3. The faithful prevented by sickness or other just causes from visiting the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist in a church or an oratory, can obtain the plenary indulgence in their own home or wherever they find themselves by reason of their impediment if, with the total disapproval of all sin, and with the intention of observing the three usual requirements, as soon as is possible, perform the visit spiritually in the desire of their heart, in the spirit of faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the altar, and recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a pious invocation to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament (e.g. “May the Most Holy Sacrament be praised and thanked at every moment”). If they are incapable even of doing this, they can obtain the plenary indulgence if they unite themselves by interior desire with those who carry out in the ordinary manner the works prescribed for the indulgence and offer to the merciful God the infirmities and discomforts of their life, they too having the intention to fulfill the three usual requirements as soon as possible».

Church/1 Cottier, AIDS and prophylactics
«In particular situations, I am thinking of places where many drugs circulate, where there is great human promiscuity and where this promiscuity is associated with great destitution, as for example in certain areas of Africa or of Asia, where the people are prisoners of this condition, yes in this case the use of the condom can be considered legitimate. For two reasons. The first is that in the conditions that I have just described, in the face of imminent risk of contagion, it is difficult to embark on the normal way of combating the pandemic [an epidemic on a vast scale], that is to say education in the sacredness of the human body. The second regards the nature itself of this terrible sickness. The virus is transmitted through a sexual act and thus along with life the risk is that of transmitting death. And it is at this point that the commandment “do not kill” is valid. The defense of life must be respected above all». This is the text of an interview with Cardinal Georges Cottier, theologian of the Pontifical Household, released to the agency Apcom on 30 January.

Church/2 Herranz and communion to remarried divorcees

On the occasion of the presentation of the instruction Dignitatis connubi, on 8 February, Cardinal Julián Herranz, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, is reported as stating: «Remarried divorcees are not excommunicated, they are fully in the Church. Receiving communion or not, is also related to the public scandal that their situation can provoke within a specific Christian community. Where there is no such scandal, these Christians can receive communion». The words of the cardinal were reported by La Repubblica the day after the presentation, in an article signed by Orazio La Rocca.

Church/3 Tettamanzi and the decalogue for administrators in Lombardy

«“Today it is more necessary than ever, for the different political forces, to compete in justice and honesty”. The quotation comes from a speech that Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, addressed to public administrators, among them Gabriele Albertini, Roberto Formigoni and the center-left candidate Riccardo Sarfatti. Tettamanzi offered them a decalogue: “Prefer justce above all else, always respect the law, do not set the law in opposition to justice, choose the best and not so-called friends, place the common good before individual well-being, promote the values of the community and not one’s own personal ones, do not ever accept money, favors, adulation or gifts from anyone, do not use public property for personal purposes, do not increase fees beyond the necessary and, finally, if you must grant preference, grant it to the weak, the poor”». From La Stampa of 5 February.

Church/4 Paglia, miracles and wonder
«I believe that faith and also reason are today called to confront each other about the sense of mystery. A faith that sidelines mystery, a reason that does not consider mystery as impending on human life, threaten to push people towards relativism or fundamentalism or miraculism. Instead we need true miracles that restore hope, that block fear, that strengthen people so that they may take charge of their own destiny, attempting to marvel before the creation […] There is a need to marvel at the mystery of life, at the mystery of good and evil, at the mystery of death, at the mystery itself of what mankind is. All of this cannot be faced with the fits of scientism or dogmatic anathemas. There is a need to marvel and to come to an agreement to face these great expanses of life with responsibility». The words are those of the bishop of Terni, Vincenzo Paglia, in an interview – granted to Marco Politi, for La Repubblica of 28 January – that had its starting point in a book-interview with the bishop who is connected with the Community of Saint Egidio (Essere cristiani, Mondadori, €16.50).

Sacred College The deaths of Schotte and Bafile

On 11 December Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini, archbishop of Turin from 1989 to 1999, was eighty years old. On 10 January the 77 year-old Belgian Jan Pieter Schotte, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops until last year, died. On 3 February Cardinal Corrado Bafile also died. At 101, he was the oldest of the cardinals.
It is also to be noted that according to the new Pontifical Annual for 2005 – presented to the Pope on 31 January and in the bookshops at the end of February - the Polish cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, archbishop emeritus of Wroclaw, turns out to have been born in 1923, whereas in the preceding Annuals the date given was that of 1928.
In the light of these changes, therefore, the number of cardinal electors of the Sacred College decreases to 119 (of whom twenty are Italians) out of a total of 183.
In the course of 2005 six cardinals will reach eighty: Alexandre do Nascimento, emeritus of Luanda, Angola, on 1 March; Antonio José González Zumárraga, emeritus of Quito, Ecuador, on 18 March; Marco Cé, emeritus of Venice, on 8 July; Francisco Álvarez Martínez, emeritus of Toledo, Spain, on 14 July; Armand Gaétan Razafindratandra, archbishop of Antananarivo, Madagascar, on 7 August; José Freire Falcão, emeritus of Brasilia, Brazil, on 23 October.

Nominations/1 Paris: Monsignor Vingt-Trois succeeds Cardinal Lustiger

On 11 February the nomination of the new archbishop of Paris was made public. In place of the resigning Jean-Marie Lustiger, 79 years old in September, André Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Tours since 1999, was nominated. It is a nomination that marks no break. Monsignor Vingt-Trois in fact, who will be 63 years-old in September, worked in the Parisian parish of Sainte Jeanne de Chantal at the end of the ’sixties, where Lustiger himself was parish priest. Not only. When Lustiger became archbishop of the French capital in January 1981, Monsignor Vingt-Trois immediately became vicar-general. Auxiliary bishop of Paris in 1988, he was promoted to Tours eleven years later.

Comastri coadjutor of the archpriest in Saint Peter’s Basilica
On 5 February Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, archpriest of the patriarchal Basilica of Saint Peter’s, 76 years old in June, was nominated president of ULSA, the Vatican organization that takes care of relations with the dependents of the Holy See. At the same time he was given a coadjutor in the person of Archbishop Angelo Comastri, who also assumes the responsibilities of vicar general to His Holiness for Vatican City and of president of the Fabric of Saint Peter’s, both of which positions were held until now by Cardinal Marchisano. Comastri, 62 years old in September, a Tuscan, has been priest since 1967, and from 1996 was archbishop prelate of Loreto; formerly, from 1990 to 1994, he led the diocese of Massa Marittima-Piombino. In Lent two years ago Comastri preached the spiritual exercises to the Roman Curia.

Nominations/3 The Polish Hoser assistant secretary to Propaganda Fide. New undersecretary to the Family

On 22 January Polish Pallotine Father Henryk Hoser was nominated archbishop, assistant secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and president of the Pontifical Missionary Works. The new assistant secretary was born in Warsaw in 1942. In 1969 he entered the society of the Catholic apostolate founded by Saint Vincent Pallotti and in 1974 was ordained a priest. From 1975 to 1995 he was a missionary in Rwanda, where he held various posts in the pastoral sphere: assistant parish priest, parish priest, promoter of the family apostolate, organizer of apostolic training sessions for the laity, promoter of the apostolate of the press. In 1994, in the absence of the apostolic nuncio to Kigali, the Holy See nominated him apostolic visitor to that country, an office he held for more than two years, until the nomination of the new pontifical representative. From 1996 to 2003 he was regional superior of the Pallotines and member of the Missionary Council of the Conference of the chief superiors in France. During these years, by appointment of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, he carried out some apostolic visits to the major seminaries in the mission territories. Since 2004 he he has been rector of the Pallotine Missionary Procurator’s Office in Brussels, Belgium, and has been engaged in pastoral work in the sphere of the European Community.
Then on 28 January, 53 year-old French Monsignor Jean Laffitte, a member of the Emmanuel Community, was nominated undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Professor at the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for the Family, he has been consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2003.

Italy Castellini archbishop of Lucca. Cantoni bishop of Crema

On 22 January 62 year-old Benvenuto Italo Castellani was nominated archbishop of Lucca, where he has been coadjutor since May 2003.
On 25 January 55 year-old Oscar Cantoni from the diocese of Como, a priest since 1975, was nominated bishop of Crema. From 2003 he was episcopal vicar for the clergy in his diocese of origin.

Diplomacy/1 New nuncios in Kenya and in Greece. New observer to Tourism

On 14 January the French archbishop 60 year-old Alain Paul Lebeaupin was nominated new nuncio to Kenya. A priest since 1975, Lebeaupin entered the diplomatic service in 1979 and carried out his mission in the UN Center in New York, in the Dominican Republic, in Mozambique and in the Secretariat of State. From 1996 to 1998 he was in Brussels as chargé d’affaires at the European Community. Archbishop since 1998, he was nuncio in Ecuador from that date.
On 25 January the 71 year-old Irish archbishop Patrick Coveney, was nominated new nuncio to Greece. He substitutes the Lebanese Paul Fouad Tabet who had reached the 75 years age-limit. Coveney, a priest since 1959 and archbishop since 1985, was nuncio to New Zealand and to other countries of Oceania since 1996. Formerly he was pontifical representative in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, in Ethiopia and in Eritrea.
On 31 January 62 year-old monsignor Giovanni Francesco Bugnaro, a Padovan by birth and priest of the archdiocese of Milan since 1982, was nominated permanent observer to the World Organization for Tourism. Since 2002 he was office head in the Congregation for Eastern Churches, where he worked from 1995.

Diplomacy/2 New ambassadors of Cuba and the Netherlands to the Holy See

On 8 January the Pope received the letters of credential of the new Cuban ambassador to the Holy See. He is 69 year old Raul Roa Kouri, a career diplomat, formerly representative of Havana in Czechoslovakia (1961-1963), in Brazil (1963-1964), to the UN Center in New York (1978-1984) and in France (1994-1998). In his speech the Pope, among other things, spoke of his wish for the end of the US embargo («the Holy See deeply desires that the obstacles that impede free communication and interchange between the Cuban nation and part of the international community can be overcome as soon as possible»); he recognized that «Cuba is distinguished by a spirit of solidarity evinced by the sending of personnel and material goods when confronted with the basic necessities of various peoples sufffering natural calamities, conflicts and poverty»; he asked, in practice, that «in an ambience of genuine religious liberty» the sending of other priests, religious and nuns to the Pearl of the Caribbean be allowed. For his part Roa Kouri recalled, along with other things, his predecessor Luis Amado Blanco, who «with balance and wisdom was dean of the diplomatic corps during the pontificate of Paul VI».
Then on 22 January it was the turn of the new representative of the Netherlands. She is 60 year-old Monique Patricia Antoinette Frank, career diplomat, formerly ambassador to Bucharest, to Hanoi and, ultimately, Kiev. In his speech the Pope said «… Dutch society, marked by the phenomenon of secularization, is engaged in a new legislative policy concerning the beginning and the end of human life. The Holy See has not been remiss in making known its clear position and in inviting the Catholics of the Netherlands always to testify their attachment to the absolute respect of the human person from conception to natural death». The ambassador, on her part, recalled her preceding missions in Romania and the Ukraine, «where thanks to your action and your beneficial visits positive movements are in full development on the ecumenical plane».

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