from issue no.05 - 2007

30Days in brief

Benedict XVI concluding the month of May in front of the Grotto of Lourdes, in the Vatican gardens, 31 May 2007

Benedict XVI concluding the month of May in front of the Grotto of Lourdes, in the Vatican gardens, 31 May 2007

The Mother follows the Divine Son

At the close of the month of May, Thursday 31, Feast of the Visitation, the Pope participated in the recital of the Holy Rosary within the Vatican gardens. In front of the Grotto of the Madonna of Lourdes he said: «Jesus had just begun to form himself in the womb of Mary, but His Spirit has already filled up her heart, so that the Mother already began to follow the Divine Son: on the path that from Galilee led to Judea it was Jesus Himself who “urged” Mary, instilling in her the generous impulse to help her neighbor in need, the courage not to give priority to her own legitimate requirements, the difficulties, worries, dangers for her own life». Further on, speaking about Christian charity as a theological virtue, he added: «Every gesture of genuine love, even the smallest, contains in itself a spark of the infinite mystery of God: the look of attention toward a brother, the coming close to him, the sharing of his need, the caring for his wounds, the responsibility for his future, everything becomes theological when it is animated by the Spirit of Christ».

The Indios, the crimes and the wonderful work of grace

During the general audience of 23 May, the Pope recalled his recent journey to Brazil. This is a passage from his speech: «Certainly, the memory of a glorious past cannot ignore the shadows that accompanied the work of evangelization of the Latin American continent: it is not possible in fact to forget the suffering and the injustices inflicted by the colonizers on the indigenous populations, their fundamental human rights often trampled on. But the necessary mention of such unjustifiable crimes should not prevent our noting with gratitude the wonderful work carried out by divine grace among those populations during the course of the centuries».

Rome is the concrete name of Catholicity

On 27 May, at the Regina Coeli of the Feast of Pentecost, the Pope said to the people assembled in Saint Peter’s Square: «The Church, moreover, is of its nature missionary, and since the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit has not ceased to urge it onto the roads of the world, as far as the uttermost confines of the earth and until the end of time. This truth which we can verify in every age and as is already anticipated in the book of the Acts, where the passage of the Gospel from the Jews to the pagans is described, from Jerusalem to Rome. Rome stands for the world of the pagans, and therefore of all the people who are outside the ancient people of God. In effect the Acts conclude with the arrival of the Gospel to Rome. It can then be said that Rome is the concrete name of Catholicity and missionary spirit».

Bartholomew I, the Pope and Russia

In the Corriere della Sera of 2 June, Antonio Ferrari summarizes a conversation of his with the Ecumenic Patriarch Bartholomew I. Thus in the article: «With Moscow, there are problems for everyone. When I ask if he thinks a visit by the Pope to Russia possible, within a reasonably short times, the Ecumenic Patriarch is evasive: “I don’t know. Perhaps a meeting in another city would be easier “».

Sacred College
The eightieth birthdays of Cardinals Paskai, Macharski andVithayathil

On 8 May the Hungarian Franciscan Cardinal László Paskai, Archbishop Emeritus of Esztergom-Budapest became eighty; on the 20th the Pole Franciszek Macharski, Archbishop Emeritus of Cracow; and on the 29th the Indian Redemptorist Varkey Vithayathil, Senior Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabaresians. At the end of May therefore the Sacred College numbered 184 cardinals, of whom 105 are electors.

New Secretaries to the Congregations for the Saints and for the Clergy

On 5 May Monsignor Michele Di Ruberto, 73 in August, was nominated Archbishop and Secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. He succeeds Polish Archbishop, 67 year-old Edward Nowak, who on the same day was in his turn nominated Councilor of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher and Canon of the Vatican Basilica. Di Ruberto, undersecretary of the same department since 1992, comes originally from the diocese of Lucera (FG). Ordained priest in 1957, in 1962 he graduated in Canon Law from the Lateran, and in 1974 he also received a degree in Jurisprudence at the University of Naples.
On 7 May Bishop Mauro Piacenza was promoted archbishop and Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy. The prelate, 63 years-old in September, from Genoa, was ordained priest in 1969. Nominated in 1986 Canon of the Cathedral of Genoa by Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, at that time Archbishop of Genoa, four years afterwards, in 1990, he entered the service of the Holy See, carrying out his ministry in the Congregation for the Clergy, of which he was nominated office-head in 1997 and undersecretary in 2000. In 2003 John Paul II nominated him bishop, entrusting him with the post of President of the Papal Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, in practice “Minister of the Cultural Heritage” of the Holy See. In August 2004 he was also nominated President of the Papal Commission of Sacred Archaeology. Monsignor Piacenza maintains ad interim the two posts held in recent years.
On 8 May the American Olivetan Benedictine, 54 year-old Michael John Zielinski, was nominated vice-president of the Papal Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and vice-president of the Papal Commission of Sacred Archaeology. A priest since 1977, formerly Prior of the monastic community of the Abbey of San Miniato al Monte in Florence, Zielinski was Abbot of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Pecos, in the United States, from December 2003.
Moreover on 1 June the 61 year-old Canadian Archbishop J. Michael Miller, of the Congregation of the priests of San Basilio, from Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education was nominated coadjutor of the Archbishop of Vancouver in his native land.

A new Columbian vice-president of the Commission for Latin America

On 31 May the Columbian Archbishop José Octavio Ruiz Arenas, 63 in December, was nominated vice-president of the Papal Commission for Latin America. He takes the place of Mexican Archbishop Luis Robles Díaz, who died prematurely on 7 April last. Ruiz Arenas, ordained in 1969, worked as an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1985 to 1996, when he was nominated auxiliary bishop of Bogotá. Since 2002 he has been bishop of Villavicencio which became an archdiocese in 2004.

Bush and de-Christianization

Reportage in three installments by Sergio Romano about the drama of the Christians who have fled Iraq and are taking refuge in Syria. The last installment, published in Corriere della Sera of 19 May, concluded in this way: «In Iraq, on the eve of the war, the Christians (especiallly Chaldean, but also Assyrians, Orthodox and Armenian) represented three per cent of the population. At the end of this interminable “period of troubled times” a large part of the community will have scattered throughout the region and the world. And the histories of the Middle East, within a century, will speak of an evangelical president, accustomed to begin his morning meetings with a prayer to the Lord, as responsible for the de-Christianization of Iraq».

Ciampi: never again a 1992

Heated debate, in the month of May, on the possibility that another period of graft and corruption similar to that known as Tangentopoli could return in Italy. On 28 May, the President Emeritus of the Italian Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi was consulted in La Repubblica. The article in the Roman daily newspaper concluded as follows: «Ciampi particularly liked the old quip that Gianni Agnelli made to him, recalled in these columns four days ago by Ezio Mauro: “If you fail, there’s only a cardinal or a general afterwards...”. According to the President Emeritus, that time is ended. And it must never return again».

The USA and the stiffening of the Iranian regime

«Washington’s strategy in support of the cause of democracy in Iran has had a boomerang effect. It has made it more arduous, for the more moderate factions within the hierarchy of Iranian power, to demand a compromise with the West, and has brought nothing except the oppression and detention of intellectuals, reformers and champions of Iranian human rights who not only hope for better USA-Iran relations, but also support a process of reforms for the country of the Ayatollahs». Thus a passage of an article of 1 June in Corriere della Sera by the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Iranian Shirin Ebadi, and by Professor Mohammad Sahimi.

Putin, Sarkozy and America

In Corriere della Sera of 3 June a long interview with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin appeared. Among the various arguments touched on, were relations with France after the presidential victory of Nicolas Sarkozy, considered more pro-American than the previous Chirac. The Russian President’s answer was: «Look, we also feel ourselves to be friends of America [...]. As for Sarkozy, whom I shall meet within a few days, he has said he is a friend of America, while holding even jealously on to the right to dissent from America. There, I think in exactly the same way».

Middle East
The Israeli intelligence services and the Palestinian extremists

«The Israeli intelligence services seem to have been behind the dramatic hijacking on 27 June 1976 of an Air France airliner with 229 passengers on board (83 of whom were Israelis) by a squad of Palestinian terrorists who diverted it to Entebbe. The Shin Bet supported the operation organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), so as to discredit in the West the Palestine Liberation Organization of Yasser Arafat and prevent an approach between the latter and Washington. The detail – surprising since it was the Israeli special forces that intervened in Entebbe on 4 July to free the hostages by force – emerged yesterday from top secret British government documents now released». Thus in Corriere della Sera of 2 June.

New bishops to Verona and Volterra. Young auxiliary in Palermo

On 8 May 60 year-old Giuseppe Zenti, was nominated bishop of Verona. Originally from San Martino Buon Albergo (VR), a priest since 1971, in 2002 he became vicar general of Verona and from 2003 was bishop of Vittorio Veneto.
Also on 8 May Monsignor Alberto Silvani, 61 in September, originally from the province of Massa Carrara, was nominated bishop of Volterra. A priest since 1970, up to now he was canonical dean of the Co-Cathedral of Pontremoli and parish priest of the parish of Saint Peter Apostle in Avenza.
On 28 May 45 year-old Monsignor Carmelo Cuttitta, was nominated auxiliary bishop in Palermo. Originally from Godrano, province and archdiocese of Palermo, ordained priest in 1987, he was private secretary to the late lamented Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo from 1990 to 1996, when he became parish priest of the parish of San Giuseppe Cottolengo. Monsignor Cuttitta is the youngest member of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.

Diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the United Arab Emirates established

On 31 May a joint communiqué was issued in which the establishing of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the United Arab Emirates was announced.

New ambassadors from East Timor, Pakistan, Iceland, Estonia, Burundi and Sudan

On 21 May the first ambassador from East Timor accredited to the Holy See presented his credentials. He is 61 year-old Justino Maria Aparício Guterres, national director of Advanced Education at the East Timor Ministry of Education and Culture since 2002.
On 1 June then another five ambassadors who will not however reside permanently in the City presented their letters of credential. They are the representatives of Pakistan (Mrs. Ayesha Riyaz, resident in Switzerland), Iceland (Stefán Lárus Stefánsson, resident in Strasburg), Estonia (Jüri Seilenthal, resident in his homeland), Burundi (Domitille Barancira, resident in Berlin), and Sudan (Ahmed Hamid Elfaki Hamid, resident in Paris).

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