from issue no.12 - 2005


Dante and the “sight” of God

Benedict XVI signing the encyclical Deus caritas est, 
25 December 2005

Benedict XVI signing the encyclical Deus caritas est, 25 December 2005

On 23 January, participating in a meeting promoted in the Vatican by the Pontifical Council «Cor unum», the Holy Father alluded to the reasons that had prompted him to write the encyclical Deus caritas est. We quote a brief passage from his speech: «I wanted to try to express for our time and our existence something of that which Dante in his vision recapitulated in an audacious manner. He speaks of a “sight” that “became stronger” as he looked and that changed him inwardly (cf. Par. XXXIII, v.112-114). It has to do precisely with this: that faith becomes a vision-understanding that transforms us. It was my wish to give prominence to the centrality of the faith in God. In that God who assumed a human face and heart».


Rugova and the useless slaughter of the Balkans

Ibrahim Rugova and Slobodan Milosevic

Ibrahim Rugova and Slobodan Milosevic

On 24 January the Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova died. The following day, commenting on his death, an article in La Stampa recalled an episode from his recent political history: «NATO had begun the bombings of Kosovo and from Brussels its press attaché announced to the world: “Rugova and other Kosovar leaders have been eliminated by the Serbs”, the world waited with bated breath. At that very moment the former “Gandhi of the Balkans” was filmed by a Serbian television station while he shook Milosevic’s hand in Belgrade, confirming that the co-existence of Serbs and Kosovars might have continued».


Sacred College
The death of Taofínu’u, the eightieth birthday of Obando Bravo

On 19 January 82 year-old Cardinal Pius Taofínu’u, archbishop of Samoa-Apia from 1982 to 2002, created cardinal by Paul VI in 1973, died. At the end of January therefore the Sacred College is composed of 178 cardinals (ten of these created by Pope Montini), of whom 111 are electors (only one created by Paul VI).
On 2 February the Salesian Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo, archbishop of Managua in Nicaragua from 1970 until 1 April 2005, was eighty years old.

Fisichella confirmed rector of the Lateran

On 8 January the Pope confirmed Bishop Rino Fisichella as rector of the Pontifical Lateran University for a second four-year period. Fisichella, of the Roman clergy, 55 year-old auxiliary bishop of Rome since 1998, is also a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and that of the Causes of the Saints.
On 18 January also the Pope nominated 54 year-old Livio Melina, originally from Adria, director for the next four years of the Pontifical Institute “John Paul II” for studies on marriage and the family, and until now vice-director of the same Institute.

Laffitte vice-president of the Academy
for Life

On 24 January the 54 year-old French monsignor Jean Laffitte, of the Emmanuel Community, was nominated vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Since January of last year he has been undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Middle East
Israel, the creation of Hamas and the elections in Palestine

«As an Israeli, citizen of a State that created Hamas and even encouraged its growth in the ’eighties so as to balance the power of Fatah, and which has oppressed the Palestinians for four decades and brought them to the state of terrible desperation in which they find themselves today, I don’t think that I have the right to judge their choices, to condemn them because they have allowed themselves to be lured by the enticements of violence and fanaticism.» Thus the Israeli writer David Grossman, in an article in La Repubblica of 28 January, on the success of Hamas in the recent Palestinain elections. A comment that, like others, wavers between the hope that realism will soften the extremism of the Palestinian faction called to govern the Palestinian National authority and fear of new violence.

Al Zarqawi, an invented myth

This is the title of a review published in La Stampa on 15 January on the investigative book by Loretta Napoleoni: Al Zarqawi. Storia e mito di un proletario giordano [Al Zarqawi. History and myth of a Jordanian proletariat, tr.], printed by the publisher Marco Tropea. We quote a passage: «The most interesting– and disturbing – aspect that emerges from this book is that the figure of Al Zarqawi was created strategically by the US government on 5 March 2003, when the then Secretary of State, Colin Powell, spoke of him in his famous speech to the United Nations indicating him as the “Al Qaeda lieutenant in Iraq”: namely the missing link, the living proof that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden of a kind to justify the invasion of Iraq».

An assassin of the economy in the service of the United States

On 7 January in La Stampa the review of the autobiography by John Perkins appeared: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Minimum fax Publishers. In the review it states that the author, trained by the National Security Agency, «recounts how for forty years he worked for the American government with the explicit mission of ruining the countries of the Third World and making them dependent on Washington. Not only that: Perkins sustains that as part of a squad with other Americans he fomented extremism so to destabilize the governments of Islamic countries and hold them in thrall (all governments, friendly or hostile as might be) and that he funded Osama Bin Laden not only at the time of the Soviet invasion, but also when the anti-Western and terrorist drift of his movement was evident».

Apicella bishop of Velletri, Tuzia auxiliary of Rome

On 28 January Vincenzo Apicella, born in Naples 59 years ago, was nominated new bishop of Velletri-Segni. A student of the Almo Collegio Capranica, ordained priest in 1972 for the Roman clergy, Apicella was auxiliary bishop of Rome for the western sector from 1996.
On the 28 January also, 62 year-old Monsignor Benedetto Tuzia was nominated auxiliary bishop of Rome for the western sector. Tuzia, originally from Subiaco, ordained priest for the territorial abbey of Subiaco in 1969, has belonged to the diocesan clergy of Rome since 1980. He was parish priest of San Roberto Bellarmino in Rome from 2003.

New nuncios to the Holy Land, and to Zambia and Malawi

On 21 January Archbishop Antonio Franco was nominated apostolic nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine. 69 year-old Franco, originally from Puglianello (BN), a priest since 1960, entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 1972. He successively served in the pontifical representations in Bolivia, Iran, France and in the Permanent Mission of the UN in New York. Since 1988 he has worked in the second section of the Secretariat of State. Nominated archbishop and apostolic nuncio to the Ukraine in 1992, he was nuncio to the Philippines from 1999.
On 24 January Nicola Girasoli was nominated archbishop and nuncio to Zambia and Malawi. 49 year-old Girasoli, originally from Ruvo di Puglia (BA), a priest since 1980, entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1985. He worked in the nunciatures in Indonesia and in Australia and in the first section of the Secretariat of State: successively in the pontifical representations in Hungary, Belgium, the United States of America and, finally, in Argentina.

Secularization, nihilism and western society

Marked by two “collapses”, that of the Berlin Wall and that of the World Trade Center, the modern age is afflicted by the clash of civilizations. Massimo Borghesi in his last book, Secolarizzazione e Nichilismo [Secularization and Nihilism tr.], analyzes the factors at play in the conflict that has flared up in the last ten years, in an attempt to uncover its ideological-religious roots.

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