from issue no.03 - 2006


The last interview of Giorgio Rumi

Giorgio Rumi

Giorgio Rumi

Pope Ratzinger’s decision to remove the papal tiara from the pontifical coat of arms? “The tiara has been there since the time of the Crusades. And now it’s gone, as if to indicate a greater closeness to the bishops: we are truly at the first pope of the new millennium, indicative signs of a plan or a hope exist”. Politics and the papacy? “Rather than our Italo-centric perspective, the small kitchen with the polemics about the audience with the EPP. They haven’t yet understood that the last pope to have relations with Italian politics was Montini, and it finished with that Apocalypse that was Moro’s funeral”. Pope Wojtyla? “They chose him for his courage, his gifts, not because he was the pioneer genius who brought the Wall down: the cardinals don’t reason like that. Certainly, it was known, as Stalin said: it’s easier to make a horse become a communist than a Pole. But Wojtyla must be considered overall, the destruction of the Russian ogre did not prevent him from reasoning about the victory of capitalism and the problems from which Communism was born, and an anti-communist like me is saying it! Quite otherwise than Western Christendom, he was not a CIA agent and for him Christendom was still all to make». These are some of the brief comments from a long interview granted by Professor Giorgio Rumi to Corriere della Sera on 17 March. Professor of Contemporary History at Milan University and a prominent figure in Catholic culture, Rumi died on 30 March. The family announced the news two days after his death.


When Philip appreciated Hitler

The front page of the newspaper The Guardian
on the English lagers from 1945 to 1948

The front page of the newspaper The Guardian on the English lagers from 1945 to 1948

When Philip appreciated Hitler. Such was the title of an article in La Repubblica of 7 March that began with this statement from Philip Duke of Edinburgh, consort of Queen Elizabeth: «Hitler’s ascent to power? “His attempt to restore power and prestige to Germany attracted us”. Antisemitism? “We had inhibitions with regard to the Jews, there was jealousy of their success”». These confidences of the English prince have been collected in the book The Royals and the Reich which is coming out in England. The volume goes back over the vicissitudes of Philip of Edinburgh’s family and of his four sisters, one of whom was married to «the head of the Gestapo». The Daily Mail leaked the contents of the book.


Benedict XVI places the cardinal’s biretta on Stanislaus Dziwisz

Benedict XVI places the cardinal’s biretta on Stanislaus Dziwisz

Holy See
New presidents of two Pontifical Councils

On 11 March Benedict XVI accepted the resignation as president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants presented, “because of age limits”, by the Japanese cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, who was 76 two days before. In place of Cardinal Hamao the Salernian cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, 74 years old in November, president of «Iustitia et pax» since 2002, was nominated.
Also on 11 March Benedict XVI, «for the purpose of encouraging a more intense dialogue between men of culture and the exponents of the different religions, combined for now the presidency of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious dialogue and that of the Pontifical Council for Culture». The French cardinal Paul Poupard, 76 years-old at the end of August, at the head of the Vatican “Ministry of Culture” since 1988, was called to replace the English archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald, nominated nuncio to Egypt on 15 February last.

Sacred College
Celebration of the Legionaries for the new Cardinal Dziwisz

«A great celebration this evening in Rome for the new cardinal Stanislaus Dziwisz who met about four hundred people who in the course of these last two decades had had to do with Pope Wojytla for a great variety of reasons. Ecclesiastics of every rank, medics of the dead Pope, beginning with Professor Renato Buzzonetti and a large group of doctors from the Gemelli Hospital, men of the bodyguard, led by the head of Vatican surveillance, Camillo Cibin, but also simple faithful friends of the many years passed in Rome and some journalists, participated in the celebration at the University of the Legionaries of Christ. Happy, and at times moved, Cardinal Dziwisz thanked everyone and in particular remembered Pope Wojtyla who, he said, «I am sure is also watching us this evening from the window of Heaven and rejoicing with us». The new cardinal recalled how those present had followed «the Holy Father John Paul II to the most various parts of the world, according to diverse fields of activity and different professional activities, in the Vatican, in Castel Gandolfo and also in the Gemelli». «I thank God», the cardinal concluded, «for all the wonders He granted me to share in during the years spent next to Pope Wojtyla». The choir of the Legionaries of Christ animated the evening with multi-ethnic songs and Italian regional songs. The executions of O sole mio, Romagna mia and Funicolì funiculà were particularly applauded, but a jazz version of Emanuel, one of the hymns of the World Youth Days, also had great success» (ANSA News Agency of 24 March).

The neocons, the Church and Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the desert

Gustavo Zagrebelski, in La Repubblica of 8 March, dedicated a detailed article to the so-called «paladins of Western identity», politicians and intellectuals who, according to the author, put their hope of success in presenting themselves as defenders of threatened Western values. The article concludes as follows: «The Catholic Church is directly involved. It is offered the occasion for revenge on a constitutive aspect of the “modern world”, democracy: a revenge that a part of it has always perhaps wanted and awaited. Our identity procurers are the new political theologians. They, for the lack of churches of another kind - strong and global ideologies, philosophies of history, messianic promises – are turning to what appears to them the current depository of identity values useful for their battle, the Catholic Church, and offering it an alliance. It is the great temptation of our times, one of the three Satanic temptations of Jesus of Nazareth in the desert. This discussion about identity must continue, in terms, precisely, of the relation between the Catholic Church and demo­cracy».

The fascination of the Church and neocon ideology

The Corriere della Sera of 16 March gave ample coverage to an interesting discussion by several people on neo-conservative ideology. We report what was affirmed by the philosopher Giulio Giorello: «Some politicians would like to exploit the fascination of Catholicism to make of it the foundation for a neo-conservative identity ideology, as Bush did with certain Protestant currents in the United States. I think that the sincere believers will be the first to reject this operation. And that the Church, in its millenary wisdom, will keep far distant».

Death squads in Iraq also

«“Death squads among the security forces”. A grudging admission made by a functionary of the Ministry of the Interior of Baghdad. A declaration extracted less from an internal investigation than from the evidence of dozens and dozens of corpses, often with unequivocal signs of torture, that are found every day in the capital». So said L’Avvenire of 15 March.

New nuncios to Pakistan and Papua New Guinea

On 30 March 58 year-old Filipino Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana was nominated nuncio to Pakistan. He was pontifical representative in Papua New Guinea and the Salomon Islands from 2002.
On 1 April the new nuncio to Papua New Guinea and the Salomon Islands was nominated. He is Filipino Francisco Montecillo Padilla, 53 years old in September, who was raised to archiepiscopal dignity at the same time. Monsignor Montecillo Padilla, ordained priest in 1976, entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1985 and worked in the pontifical representations of San Domingo, Venezuela, Austria, India, Japan and, finally, Australia.
The United States archbishop, 55 year-old Charles Daniel Balvo, nuncio to New Zealand and other countries of Oceania since 2005, was nominated pontifical representative in the Cook Islands on 25 March and in Samoa on 1 April.

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