from issue no.04 - 2007


Benedict XVI and Abu Mazen

Abu Mazen and Benedict XVI

Abu Mazen and Benedict XVI

On 24 April Benedict XVI received the Palestinian President Abu Mazen, on his second visit to the Vatican, after an earlier one in December 2005. Abu Mazen was received with the ceremonial reserved for Heads of State.


Boris Eltsin

The funeral of Boris Eltsin

The funeral of Boris Eltsin

On 25 April, in Moscow, the funeral of the former Russian president Boris Eltsin took place. President Vladimir Putin and politicians from all over the world attended the funeral liturgy. Among them were former USA presidents George Bush senior and Bill Clinton. Representing Italy was our Director Giulio Andreotti.

Muammar Gheddafi

Muammar Gheddafi

The USA, Gheddafi and Darfur

In the atmosphere of the tragedy of Darfur, the tormented region of the Sudan where the clashes between the government and rebels continue to mow down victims among civilians, «an unprecedented initiative of American diplomacy is to be recorded. John Negroponte, formerly Bush’s envoy to Baghdad and now number two in the State Department, visited Libya yesterday and praised “the efforts” of Colonel Gheddafi “to bring an end to the conflicts in the Darfur region”». Thus in L’Unità of 19 April.

Saint Irenaeus and Gnosticism

«The second-century Church was threatened by what is known as Gnosticism, a doctrine which asserted that the faith taught in the Church was only a symbolism for the simple, who were not in a position to understand difficult things; whereas the initiated, the intellectuals – Gnostics as they were called – claimed to understand what lay behind the symbols, and so constructed an elitist, intellectualist Christianity». Thus Benedict XVI in the course of the Wednesday audience of 28 March, devoted to the figure of Saint Irenaeus.

Di Segni and the Pope’s eightieth birthday

«For Judaism eighty can be the age at which one begins a new life». This the wish that the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, sent to Pope Ratzinger on his eightieth birthday and published in La Stampa of 17 April.

Sacred College/1
Cardinal Bertone: new Chamberlain of Holy Roman Church

On 4 April the Pope named Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, his Secretary of State since September 2006, Chamberlain of Holy Roman Church. Bertone takes the place of Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo who was eighty four days previously (cf. following news item). In the past it has happened only three times that a cardinal has assumed this “double assignment”. It was the case with Cardinal Pietro Gasparri between 1916 and 1930 under the pontificates of Benedict XV and Pius XI, with Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli from 1935 to 1939 under Pius XI, and with Cardinal Jean Villot from 1970 to 1979 under Paul VI, John Paul I and in the first months of the pontificate of John Paul II.

Sacred College/2
The eightieth birthday of Martínez Somalo. The resignation of Simonis

On 31 March the Spanish Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo was eighty. On 14 April the resignation of Cardinal Adrianus Johannes Simonis – who was 75 years old on 26 November 2006 – as Archbishop of Utrecht in Holland was accepted. The name of his successor has not been announced.
At the end of April the College of Cardinals therefore counted 184 cardinals of whom 108 are electors.
In May three cardinals will be eighty: on the 8th the Franciscan Hungarian Laszlo Paskai, Emeritus Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest; on the 20th the Pole Franciszek Macharski, Emeritus Archbishop of Cracow; and on the 29th the Indian Redemptorist Varkey Vithayathil, Senior Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabaresians.

Middle East
Not a foggy mystery, but a dispute about borders

«This conflict has assumed the lineaments of a hundred-years war. The Palestinian-Israeli dispute has intentionally been made into a foggy mystery, that only God, in His wisdom, can resolve. Instead it is only a dispute about borders: history is full of examples. They are resolved with relative simplicity: by negotiation or recourse to the judgment of a Court». Thus Prince Saud al-Faisal, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, in an interview that appeared in La Repubblica of 24 April.

The Iranian proposals and the USA closures

«In the din of the war drums, prelude to a possible raid on Tehran to put an end to nuclear experiments, a dissonant chorus is raised. It is directed by Nicholas Krtistof, editorialist of the New York Times. Convinced proponent of dialogue with Iran as outlet from the impasse in which the relationships between the two countries moulder, Krtistof intends to unmask the “shameful failure” of American diplomacy. To do so, the secret documents of the Grand Bargain, the Great Agreement proposed by the Iranian emissaries between 2001 and 2002 and “killed off” before it could get going by the hawks in the Bush Administration are paraded on his blog». Thus in an article that appeared in La Repubblica of 1 May, in which the Iranian proposals for «normalization of relationships» are reported: from the assurance of «full transparency» about the construction of nuclear centers for civilian purposes, to the proposals to collaborate with the USA in Iraq and Afghanistan; from the commitment to encourage the inclusion ot Hezbollah in normal Lebanese political life, to support for the Saudi plan to encourage peace between Israel and Palestine. «It ended as we all know», the reporter concludes: «At a meeting arranged in Geneva for the start of the talks, the Iranian ambassador to the UN Javad Zarif waited in vain: the Americans did not show up».

New bishops in Sulmona, Alexandria and Isernia

On 3 April 52 year-old Monsignor Angelo Spina, was nominated bishop of Sulmona-Valva. Originally from Colle D’Anchise (CB), priest since 1980, Spina was episcopal vicar of the shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows of Castelpetroso (in the diocese of Campobasso-Boiano) and parish priest of the co-cathedral of Boiano.
On 4 April Monsignor Giuseppe Versaldi, 64 years old in July, was nominated bishop of Alexandria. Originally from the province of Villarboit (VC), priest since 1967, Versaldi was vicar general of the archdiocese of Vercelli from 1994.
On 5 April Monsignor Salvatore Visco, 59 years old in July, was nominated bishop of Isernia-Venafro. Originally from Naples, ordained priest in 1973, Visco was vicar general of the diocese of Pozzuoli from 1994.

New ambassador of the Ukraine to the Holy See

On 30 March the new ambassador of the Ukraine presented his credentials. He is 50 year-old Tetiana Izhevska, till now Ukrainian representative to the Committee for Equal Opportunities of the European Council since 2003.

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