from issue no.04 - 2003

Those who pray are saved even in prison

Dear Director,
I am chaplain in the District prison of Pescara and I come to you to ask if it is possible to have copies of Those who pray are saved for the imprisoned brethren.
The request came to me from them, in that some of them, coming from other institutions, are in possession of it.
Trusting in your generosity and helpfulness I send my best wishes to you and thank you for this means of prayer which I hope you will want to donate to brothers who live in hardship and trust in the Lord. I bless you from my heart.

A thank you for What counts is Wonder

Dear Director,
May a respectful greeting reach you from Ho. It is a great joy for me to write to you again and to all the editorial staff to express my heartfelt gratitude for this great and providential magazine: 30Days in the Church and in the World.
Your instructive theological and philosophical analyses through interviews with important personalities and articles about famous figures of the past are truly remarkable.
The main reason why I write to you is to say “thank you” for the lovely book enclosed with the October issue: What counts is the Wonder (Ciò che conta è lo stupore).
May Almighty God bless you and your generous enterprise.
Yours in Christ.

The Sharon government and the visa war

Dear Director,
I write to you in regard to the article by Gianni Valente entitled The visa war published in 30Days in March 2003.
First of all I would like to make clear that the new government of the State of Israel, which took office after the elections of 28 January, has undertaken to resolve the question of the issuing of visas to ecclesiastics. The bureaucratic difficulties with such residency permits have no connection with the positions of the Israeli government on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, within which no one “is trying to settle debts with local ecclesial realities politically unpopular with the actual Israeli leadership”. The bureaucratic process was slowed by serious problems of security which the State of Israel has had to face daily for the past two and a half years in these parts.
Fortunately just today the Ministry of the Interior for the State of Israel decided to return to the usual procedure whereby visas are granted to ecclesiastics belonging to the churches present on Israeli territory, after a check (more or less thorough, according to the case) on that membership by the Minister for Religious Affairs.
In the article mention was made of the fact that, up until some time ago, “the Ministry of the Interior was in the hands of a member of the SHAS”, which is described as an “extremist and xenophobic” party. In my opinion such terminology is not appropriate.
As regards the mention of the episode of 17 January last, in which Monsignor Sabbah was involved, I wish it to be clear that it was the Patriarch himself, in this isolated case, who decided not to depart. Monsignor Sabbah travels a lot, in fact in recent days he has been to Italy. At present airport controls are very strict throughout the world, and with even greater reason it has also to be the case in Israel, given the high risk of terrorist attacks. Diplomats also submit themselves to them.
There is no connection between the episode which involved Patriarch Sabbah and the theological positions of the Eastern churches whose doctrinal teaching can, at times, seem incompatible with the spirit of the declaration Nostra aetate; it being understood that everyone has the right to freely express their own political ideas.
The final part of the article raises the question of the financial negotiations between the Holy See and the State of Israel. An argument so complex that it should perhaps be dealt with separately. The parties involved in reaching an accord have by now arrived at the phase in which the adoption of decisions on the part of the highest government officials is necessary. The early elections caused the interruption of the business of the commission because in a democratic state, such as Israel, it was not possible to carry on business without first proceeding to the formation of the new government.

We take note that on the date of 2 April, the new government of Israel decided to shortly restore the procedure customary in the granting of entrance and residence visas requested by ecclesiastics. Putting an end to the anomalous situation, documented in our article, that had arisen in the last year.

The reasons of force or the force of reason

Dear Director,
We have at our disposal intercontinental missiles, sophisticated arms, “intelligent bombs”, nuclear devices, chemical and biological weapons and how much else besides, but from the psychological and moral points of view the prime reasons for this present war are the same as those which motivated the crimes and conflicts of the first inhabitants and of the first peoples of the earth, as well as of the cave men who, having nothing other than rocks and clubs, or the jaw bone of an ass (look at Cain, the first murderer and fratricide in history) to massacre and kill their rivals, and in order to overcome, thought it better to trust to the reasons of force rather than in the force of reason.
Did the history of mankind stop therefore at the mentality, at the criteria for justice and treatment in force in the Stone Age? Have thousands of years of history, of furious hatred, of wars, of violence, served no purpose? Have they failed to make us understand that violence summons violence and that vendettas summon vendettas without end? Have they failed to convince us – even on the merely human, rational level – that one cannot cure evil by more evil?
Once it was said that history was magister vitae, now this aphorism has become a laughable and sarcastic boutade ....
Why continue to presume to seek solutions with murderous weapons, instead of with the arguments of reason and of moral force with which we are still in some way endowed? Is what the British philosopher claimed true therefore: “Homo homini lupus”?
Meetings and international assemblies are promoted, courts to settle differences and to avoid injustices and bloodshed and mourning: but war continues to be waged, the resolution of the problems of justice and freedom entrusted to the brute, blind force of arms. What purpose then do the United Nations and international tribunals serve which were indeed created by the almost unanimous consent of nations and according to a democratic criterion of civil and responsible confrontation and dialogue by the parties?
“Errare humanum est”. And it’s true. But it’s also true that “to persevere is diabolical”. And in fact the “Prince of this world” – Lucifer – is at the beginning of every division in heaven and on earth.
There has been insistent discussion in recent times of the need for a revision of the international order: from the United Nations to the courts of justice above the national States: but the first indispensable requirement is the “conversion of hearts” and the “disarming of conscience”, in particular of those who claim to be Christian. Saint Josemaria Escriva said that peace was the outcome of the war fought and won against our passions and personal sins.
I conclude with the Easter wish that the risen Jesus may help us to say “no” to “the children of wrath” and to contribute with firmness and determination to building the kingdom of God which is “the kingdom of justice, love and peace”.

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