from issue no.03 - 2005


«Giussani, faithful servant, pray for us also»

«I join in the mourning and prayer of the whole archdiocese and of all his friends, entrusting to the divine mercy the faithful servant who, with untiring love and enthusiasm, all his life proclaimed the mystery of the Word made flesh. May the Lord now receive him, through the intercession of Mary, in the eternity of his light from which he may pray also for us who, through the shadows and the images, make our way toward the celestial Jerusalem, where there will be neither mourning nor weeping, but only reciprocal and joyous recognition of those who have loved Jesus and awaited with joy his manifestation. Having to leave for Israel soon, I promise a special remembrance of the dear departed at the sepulcher of Him who arose for our justification». This, the telegram that the archbishop emeritus of Milan, Cardinal Maria Martini, sent on the death of Don Luigi Giussani. The text was read by the archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, who on 24 February said the priest’s funeral mass in the cathedral.


Magris: «Squares sometimes packed and churches emptier every day »

A confessor reads the paper while waiting for penitents

A confessor reads the paper while waiting for penitents

Against idolatry is the title of the latest book by Moni Ovadia, musician, actor, director and singer, who recently made a foray into literature also. The work originated, he explained in an interview given to Corriere della Sera on 10 March, from the fact of being «hurt by the drift toward idolatry perverting all three great monotheistic religions» that reduce the Scriptures to «instruments of power». In reviewing the book in the Milan daily, Claudio Magris noted: «It may be that these expressions of aggressive religious fundamentalism, that you denounce, are a fighting response to the disquieting sensation of an eclipse of religion, of a growing, inexorable and often vulgar triumph of secularization: squares sometimes packed and churches emptier every day».


Scalfaro and the unjust war

A street in Falluja destroyed by American bombings

A street in Falluja destroyed by American bombings

Following the death of Nicola Calipari, former president of the Italian Republic Oscar Luigi Scalfaro gave an interview to L’Espresso of 17 March of which we give a brief excerpt: «Preamble: I have never denied throughout my life the value of the alliance with the United States. I have always considered it a pivotal point, today as yesterday. But precisely because we are friends it needs to be said with force that it was a mistaken and unclean war. If this stance isn’t taken with the US, one enters a category that I wouldn’t like to mention. One must look ahead, naturally. But on the condition that it remains written, and for the millennia to come, that it was an unjust war, for reasons that turned out to be lying. And it’s all the more grave when one thinks that the United States has demolished men of the first order out of a lack of respect for truth».

Pope/1 «Our help is in the name of the Lord»

«Our help is in the name of the Lord. May Almighty God bless you». After fifteen days of silence, following the operation on his throat, these were the first words pronounced by the Pope and heard by the faithful. The brief message was contained in a video put out on 11 March by the Vatican Television Center, in which the Holy Father is seen imparting his blessing at the end of a mass celebrated in the Gemelli hospital. According to Luigi Accattoli, in the comment written for Corriere della Sera the following day, the tube surgically implanted in the Pope’s throat is a definitive graft. Accattoli concludes his article as follows: «He will be able to speak to his collaborators and visitors, but he will not be able to make speeches, because it will prove fatiguing for him to send the breath to the vocal cords. Will the communicator pope know how to adapt to the life of an invalid with few words? If he does adapt, he could still live for a long time. If instead he claims the right to take risks, which have always characterized him, he will be a pope at risk, day by day. We’ll know soon – already by Holy Week – which path he will choose».

Pope/2 Angelo Scola to conduct the Synod in October

On 12 March the pontifical nominations for the next Synod of bishops which will take place in the Vatican from 2 to 29 October 2005, on the subject “The Eucharist: source and culmination of the life and mission of the Church”, were made known.
Cardinals Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Juan Sandoval Íñigueza, Archbishop of Guadalajara (Mexico), Telesphore Placidus Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi (India) were nominated delegate presidents. Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice, general spokesman. Special secretary, Monsignor Roland Minnerath, Archbishop of Dijon (France).

Church Surprise in Madrid

«The church possesses a great capacity for surprising. Cardinal Rouco Varela, the rock-like archbishop of Madrid, special favorite of the Pope, was the great favorite to succeed himself in the presidency of the Episcopal Conference […]. The surprise was great when it was announced that the new president of the Episcopal Conference was the bishop of Bilbao Ricardo Blázquez. And a double surprise because it was expected, in the improbable case that the “conservative” Rouco Varela should not be elected for the third time, that it would be an archbishop and not a simple bishop. It became known afterwards that the forecasts were not confirmed only by a hair: according to the rules the archbishop of Madrid needed two thirds of the votes, 52 votes, to be reconfirmed. He received 51 on the first ballot». So Corriere della Sera of 9 March described the assembly of bishops in which the new president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference was elected. Ricardo Blázquez is originally from Villanueva del Campillo, diocese of Avila, and studied theology at the Gregorian. Consecrated bishop in 1988, he was auxiliary of Santiago de Campostela until 1992, the year in which he was entrusted with the diocese of Palencia. He came to Bilbao in 1995. In 2002, when the government, then headed by José Aznar, was preparing to criminalize the Basque party Harri Batasuna, the declared political arm of ETA, he, along with other bishops, signed a pastoral letter in which, though condemning terrorist violence unreservedly, the different political forces were invited to dialogue. As soon as he was elected, the prelate gave a press conference in which he confirmed the position of the Church on abortion, euthanasia, embryos and religious instruction. Reporting his statement, ANSA on 9 March, concluded: «Blázquez admitted that the actual relations between Church and government are going through a period of “perturbation and confusion” in Spain, and it is therefore necessary to manifest “the truth with amiability”».

Sacred College The eightieth birthday of Cardinal do Nascimento

On 1 March the African cardinal Alexandre do Nascimento, archbishop of Luanda in Angola from 1986 to 2001, was 80 years old. On that date the numbers of cardinal electors in an eventual conclave went down to 118 (out of a total of 183), of whom 11 are African.
On 18 March the Latin American Cardinal Antonio José González Zumárraga, archbishop of Quito in Ecuador from 1985 to 2003, will also be eighty years old.

Sacred College/2 Cardinal Medina Estévez proto-deacon

On 24 February during the course of the ordinary public Consistory for the vote on five causes for canonization, the nomination as cardinal proto-deacon of 78 year-old Chilean, Jorge Arturo Medina Estévez, formerly Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, was confirmed. The cardinal proto-deacon is the member of the Sacred College who has the responsibility for announcing the name of the new pope to the people.

Bertone Medjugorje and fanaticism

The statements of the archbishop of Genoa, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, made in the course of a television transmission, in which he expressed some perplexity about Medjugorje, have raised controversy. Corriere della Sera of 24 February reported the protests following the cardinal’s statements, but also his position, in this way: «In reality Bertone knows what he is saying: Ratzinger’s right-hand man, professor of canon and ecclesiastical law, representative of the Pope in Fatima at the funeral of Sister Lucia, he followed all the preliminary investigations of the apparitions in Herzegovina and knows the story of the small effigy of the Virgin Mary that wept blood in Lazio. He does not deny the right to pray to the Virgin in these places, not at all, but “he deplores the excess of fanaticism, such as the leaflets distributed in various churches, in which the possibility of being present at an apparition of the Madonna, on 18 March, at a fixed time, is also promised”».

Nominations/1 New archbishop in Hanoi

On 19 February the nomination of the new archbishop of Hanoi in Vietnam, to replace the eighty-six year-old cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, was announced. The new prelate of the Vietnamese capital is 53 year-old Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, bishop of Lang Son and Cao Bang since June 1999 and apostolic administrator sede plena of Hanoi since April 2003.

Nominations/2 Boccardo Secretary of the Governorship Danzi to Loreto

On 22 February Bishop Renato Boccardo was nominated new secretary general of the governorship of the State of Vatican City. Boccardo, a 52 year-old from Piedmont, priest of the diocese of Susa since 1977, entered the diplomatic service of the Vatican in 1982, serving in the nunciatures of Bolivia, Cameroon and France. In 1988 he became pontifical master of ceremonies and in 1992 office head of the youth section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. In February 2001 he became head of protocol with special duties in the Secretariat of State with the responsibility of organizing the pontifical journeys. In November 2003 he was elected bishop and nominated secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
Boccardo replaces Bishop Gianni Danzi who, on the same date, was nominated prelate and pontifical delegate of Loreto. Danzi, 65 years old, originally from the province of Varese and ordained priest in 1966 for the clergy of Lugano, was Secretary General of the Governorship since 1996.

Politicians/1 Ciampi thanks the missionaries

«A “thank you” to all the missionaries in the world for what they have done and for what they will do “for the Italian spirit and for the faith”». In these words Avvenire on 25 February summed up the meeting between the President of the Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, and the over two hundred participants at the «first international meeting of the missionaries of the world», whom the Head of the Italian State had invited to the Quirinal.

Politicians/2 Bertinotti and Paul VI

On the eve of the Rifondazione comunista Congress in Venice, the interview given to Panorama on March 3 by the Secretary of the Party, Fausto Bertinotti, in which he made clear he was not wholeheartedly atheistic, declaring that he was «in search», caused some surprise. Surprising also the statements reported by La Stampa on 2 March: «Bertinotti acknowledges an important role also to a Pope, “but not John XXIII who ought to be more interesting to a secularist”, rather Paul VI instead. “A much travailed Pope because of his dramatic wonderment about God in the modern age, that he expressed at the mass for Aldo Moro in that painful ‘protest’ of his: ‘Lord we prayed to you that you would save this brother of ours, why did you not hear us?’”».

Diplomacy/1 New nuncios in the European Communities, in Venezuela and Ecuador

On 24 February the 65 year-old French archbishop André Dupuy, was nominated apostolic nuncio to the European Communities in Brussels. Ordained priest in 1972, archbishop since 1993, he was nuncio in Venezuela from 2000.
Also on February 24, 64 year-old archbishop Giacinto Berloco, from Altamura in Puglia, was nominated new apostolic nuncio to Venezuela. Ordained priest in 1966, archbishop since 1990, he was nuncio in El Salvador and Belize from 1998.
On 26 February, 59 year-old archbishop Giacomo Guido Ottonello, originally from the diocese of Acqui, was nominated new nuncio to Ecuador. A priest since 1971, he was nuncio in Panama from 2000.

Diplomacy/2 New ambassadors from Austria, Greece, Georgia and Senegal to the Holy See

On 7 March Cardinal Angelo Sodano, on behalf of the Pope still in the Gemelli hospital, received the letters of credential of the new Austrian ambassador to the Holy See. He is 64 year-old Helmut Türk, career diplomat, former ambassador to Washington (1993-1999) and head of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic (1999-2004). In his message to the new ambassador the Pope hoped that the centuries old relations between Austria and the Holy See would also in the future be solid bases for a fruitful collaboration between State and Church.
On 7 March also the new Greek ambassador presented his letters of credential. He is 60 year-old Stavros Lykidis, career diplomat, formerly consul general in Naples (1984-1989) and ambassador to Kuwait from 2000.
In his message to the new ambassador the Pope hoped that Greece «may continue to play an important role within the European Union» and that the Catholic Church in Greece «may get the legal status that it lacks and that would be the sign of full recognition of its proper rights, as is already the case in the totality of the countries of the European Union». For his part the new ambassador affirmed in his greeting that the Greek government «believes profoundly that the Catholic Church in Greece is an important religious and cultural presence».
On 9 March the new Georgian ambassador then presented her letters of credential. She is Princess Khétévane Bagration de Moukhrani, born in France, 50 years-old, married to a prince of the Rome nobility. In his message to the new ambassador the Pope hoped for «a constructive dialogue so that adequate legal protection in the exercise of its proper mission be given to the Catholic community». The new ambassador on her part recalled that the establishing of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the newly independent Georgia went back to 1993 and that the new government, presided over by Mikhail Saakashvili, «desired, by nominating a resident ambassador, to underline the importance it gives to the role of the Holy See…».
On 10 March it was then the turn of the new ambassador from Senegal. He is 54 year-old Félix Oudiane, career diplomat, formerly first counselor in the representation to the Holy See between 1982 and 1985. In his message to the new ambassador the Pope recalled that «Senegal has a long tradition of peaceful coexistence among all the communities of which it is composed» and again asserted that «Africa has urgent need of peace and stability». On his part the new ambassador announced that in 2006 an international Conference on Islamic-Christian dialogue would be held in Dakar and «the abolition of the provisions of the Senegalese penal code on the death penalty».

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