from issue no.01 - 2007


Christianity and Jesus

Jesus and the adulteress, Rembrandt, National Gallery, London

Jesus and the adulteress, Rembrandt, National Gallery, London

In the cultural pages of the Corriere della Sera of 27 January, Alberto Melloni reviewed a new translation of the Gospels (I Vangeli edited by G. Gaeta, Einaudi). Melloni writes: «I know I am forcing it, but not too much, if I say that fundamentally there is today a lot of Christianity that doesn’t much need Jesus and in any case doesn’t much need his historicity as the Gospels narrative delivers it. A Christianity satisfied with its refound power, of the homage rendered to it by those who see it as the necessary custodian of “natural” principles and galvanized by those who criticize it on this terrain with superficial arguments». Farther on: «There is in fact a way of announcing Christian salvation that makes it unrecognizable: the sort that begins by listing the moral miseries and the disappointments of life, and runs aground there, almost that salvation can speak only to a mankind ready to deny itself. And there is a way of heeding salvation that, instead, fixes on Jesus: the man who walks and of whom the disciples mostly see the shoulders (Pasolini understood this!) and of whom the poor see the face that kisses, the hand that consoles: this is the way of the Gospels over which the believer and the scholar stoop, the commentator and the preacher, the solitary and the community». And it concludes like this: «[...] I believe that among the merits of these 1,200 pages is [...] that of not having dared expunge it [the story of the adulteress: some manuscripts do not give it, ed.]: if that spurious story were lost Christians could not exist, because no other could tell them “neither will I condemn you” and “from now on sin no more”».


China and the “triumph” of 1989

Nanjing Road in Shanghai

Nanjing Road in Shanghai

Monday 22 January the Corriere della Sera published an article under the title: The Asian Century and the decline of the West. Among the rest it said: «A hundred years ago the West governed the world, no longer today: the advance of China has had more weight than the “triumph” of 1989».

Józef Glemp

Józef Glemp

The resignation of the new archbishop of Warsaw

On 6 January the resignation of 68 year-old Stanislaw Wojciech Wielgus as archbishop of Warsaw was accepted. Wielgus was bishop of Plock from 1999. The Archbishop Emeritus, Cardinal Józef Glemp, Primate of Poland has been nominated Apostolic administrator of the diocese while new arrangements are made.

Sacred College
The deaths of Cardinals Etsou and Javierre Ortas. The eightieth birthday of Suárez Rivera

On 6 January the African cardinal 76 year-old Frédéric Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi, archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) since 1990, died. On 1 February then the Salesian cardinal, the 86 year-old Spaniard Antonio María Javierre Ortas, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, also died.
On January 9 the Mexican cardinal Adolfo Antonio Suárez Rivera, archbishop of Monterrey from 1983 to 2003, was eighty years old.
At the beginning of February then the Sacred College remained composed of 184 cardinals, of whom 110 electors.
On February 15 Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a Jesuit, archbishop of Milan from 1980 to 2002, was also eighty years old.

The resignation of Cardinal Wetter

On 2 February the Pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal Friedrich Wetter as archbishop of Munich and Freising. Wetter, 79 years old, took over the leadership of the Bavarian Metropolitan See in 1982 from the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Middle East/1
«The Jewish principles of justice and compassion»

The appeal of a hundred and thirty Jewish English intellectuals that appeared on the website of The Guardian on February 5, and reported again in Corriere della Sera of the same day, in which the signatories assert the freedom to criticize the State of Israel, raised an outcry. The appeal, in which the fight against anti-semitism is also described as «vital», expresses a fear that the fight could be «weakened if criticism of the Israeli government is automatically labeled anti-semitic». And again, hinting at the drama of the Palestinians, it states that «support for an occupying power is contrary to the Jewish principles of justice and compassion».

Middle East/2
The disastrous consequences of an attack on Iran

«To attack Teheran militarily would have disastrous consequences». This the appeal launched, in the columns of the British Sunday Times of February 4, by Robert Gard, Josph Hoar and Jack Shanahan, three retired American generals. The appeal was taken up by La Repubblica of Monday 5 February.

Middle East/3
The small Amos and his grandmother

In the Corriere della Sera of 14 February, Amos Oz applauded the decision of the mayor of Jerusalem to block the construction of a bridge next to the open space of the Mosques, source of clashes between Arabs and Jews. And, broadening the discussion on the religious conflicts, he came out with this anecdote: «When I was little my grandmother explained to me the difference between Jews and Christians in simple words. The Christians, she said, believe that the Messiah has already come and that he will return one day. The Jews instead believe that he must still arrive and that he will do so soon. These two ways of seeing have caused much shedding of blood, persecution, discrimination and hatred. And for what? my grandmother wondered, and suggested: instead of shedding blood it would be better to simply wait and see what happens. If the Messiah comes and says: “Hello, it’s lovely to see you again”, the Jews will have to admit to having made a mistake. But if he says: “Lovely to know you”, the Christians will have to ask pardon of the Jews. And this is the only solution for the open space of the Mosques and of the Weeping Wall: live and let live».

Bertello nuncio in Italy

On 11 January the new nuncio to Italy was nominated. He is the 64 year-old Piedmontese Joseph Bertello, pontifical representative in Mexico since 2000. In the diplomatic service since 1971, Bertello has worked in Sudan, Turkey, Venezuela and at the UN Center in Geneva. From 1987 to 1991 he was pontifical representative in Ghana, Togo and Benin, then between 1991 and 1994 in Rwanda (a country he had to leave because of the terrible upheaval of the ethnic war between Tutsi and Hutu). From 1995 to 2000 he was representative at the UN Center Geneva.

Boccardi nuncio to Sudan and Eritrea, Mottola to Montenegro

On 16 January Leo Boccardi was nominated archbishop and apostolic nuncio to Sudan. Born in San Martino in Pensilis (Campobasso) in 1953, he was ordained priest for the diocese of Larino in 1979. Graduated in Theology he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1987. Afterwards he served successively in the pontifical representations in Uganda, Papua New Guinea, Belgium, and in the department for the Relations with States of the Secretariat of State. From 2001 he was permanent representative of the Holy See to the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAAE), to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and to the Preparatory Commission of the Treaty on the global banning of nuclear experiments (CTBTO), as well as permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Organization for Industrial Development (UNUDI) and to the office of the United Nations in Vienna. On January 30 the new archbishop Boccardi was also nominated nuncio to Eritrea.
On 25 January Archbishop Angelo Mottola was nominated nuncio to Montenegro. From 1999 he was pontifical representative in Iran. Though not originally in the diplomatic service, 72 year-old Mottola, born in Aversa (Caserta), from 1986 to 1999 held the office of delegate of the administration of Propaganda Fide, and before that (from 1963) he was official, along with having administrative duties, of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.
Meanwhile on 22 January Monsignor Michael W. Banach was nominated pontifical representative to the above mentioned bodies attached to the UN office in Vienna. Born in Worcester (USA) in 1962, he was ordained priest in 1988. Having graduated in Canon Law he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1994 and served in the pontifical representations in Bolivia and in Nigeria and, finally, in the department for the Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.
On January 30 the American archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo, nuncio to New Zealand and to other small States of Oceania since 2005, was nominated pontifical representative in Nauru also.

New ambassadors from Turkey, Romania, Montenegro, Colombia and Costa Rica to the Holy See

On 19 January the new representative of Turkey to the Holy See, Muammer Dogan Akdur, sixty year-old career diplomat, ambassador to Venezuela for the past two years, delivered his credentials.
On 20 January it was the turn of the new ambassador of Romania, 36 year-old Marius Gabriel Lazurca, formerly university teacher of Religious Anthropology and of Comparative Literature, director of the “Terza Europa” Foundation in Timisoara and director of the regional cultural Center “Arad”.
On 22 January then came the first ambassador of Montenegro (the new State with which the Holy See established diplomatic relations on 16 December last), Antun Sbutega, a 57 year-old Catholic, formerly dean of the of the Economics Department of the University of Podgorica from 1987 to 1997. Having emigrated with the family to Italy, between 1994 and 2006 he worked in the Pontifical Missionary Works of Saint Peter Apostle, of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
On 9 February the new ambassador of Colombia, 73 year-old Juan Gómez Martínez, formerly university teacher, journalist and politician presented his credentials. For the last four years he was senator of the Republic of Colombia.
Finally on 10 February it was the turn of the new representative of Costa Rica, 60 year-old Luis Paris Chaverri, who from 1970 to 1972 worked as attaché at the embassy of Costa Rica in Italy.

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