from issue no.11 - 2007


February 11 1858

The Grotto of Lourdes

The Grotto of Lourdes

A hundred and fifty years after the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes, Benedict XVI has declared a special plenary indulgence. This is the text of the Apostolic Penitentiary: «On the occasion of the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Grotto of Massabielle, near Lourdes, plenary indulgence is granted daily to the faithful who, from the day of 8 December 2007 until the day of 8 December 2008, devoutly and according to the pre-established conditions, visit the Grotto of Massabielle, and, from 2 to 11 February 2008, visit, in whatsoever sanctuary, oratory, grotto, or fitting place, the blessed image of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes solemnly exposed to public veneration».


Zaccheus, the encounter with Jesus and the Christian ethic

IChrist speaks with Zaccheus in the tree/I, Brandenburg Evangelarium

IChrist speaks with Zaccheus in the tree/I, Brandenburg Evangelarium

On 27 November Barbara Spinelli wrote an interesting piece of investigative reporting in La Stampa under the heading: “The great winter of the Church”. In the text the journalist consulted a Roman priest who confided: «“My polestar is the figure of Zaccheus, in Luke 19, 1-10: the rich tax collector who climbs a sycamore tree just to see what this Jesus, about whom so much is being talked about, looks like. It is only when Jesus acknowledges him, approaches him, visits him in his house, that Zaccheus understands that the encounter will generate a new way of acting, an ethic...”. It is the encounter that generates the Christian ethic and not vice versa, the priest told me: the encounter of Jesus with the least significant, the poor man or the rich tax-collector». A previous passage is also interesting: «The very word values is scabby, and what the jurist Gustavo Zagrebelsky says makes one think: values lie in front of us, they can lead to justifying any means whatever so as to reach them. Better “principles”: that lie behind us, at the origin of our acting, and that determine, give it direction and limit it».

The Basilica dedicated to Saint Cromatius, Aquileia (UD)

The Basilica dedicated to Saint Cromatius, Aquileia (UD)

Saint Cromatius, the victory of the Lord and Advent

We report the conclusion of the catechesis of Pope Benedict XVI of Wednesday 5 December, dedicated to Saint Cromatius Bishop of Aquileia: «We take up finally, at the conclusion of these reflections, an exhortation of Cromatius, still perfectly valid today: “We pray the Lord with all our heart and with all our faith” the Bishop of Aquileia recommends in one of his Sermons, “we pray Him to deliver us from every incursion of enemies, from every fear of the foe. May He not regard our merits, but His mercy, He Who also in the past deigned to free the children of Israel not because of their merits, but through His mercy. May He protect us with His accustomed merciful love, and do for us what the saintly Moses told the children of Israel: ‘The Lord will fight in your defense, and you will be silent’. And it is He Who fights, it is He who brings victory... And so that he continues to do so, we must pray as much as possible. He Himself in fact says through the mouth of the prophet: ‘Invoke Me in the day of tribulation; I will free you, and you will give Me glory’” (Sermo XVI: Writers of Saint Ambrosian sphere 3/1, pp. 100-102). Therefore, right at the beginning of the time of Advent, Saint Cromatius reminds us that Advent is a time of prayer, in which it is necessary to enter into contact with God. God knows us, knows me, knows everyone of us, loves me, does not abandon me. Let’s go ahead in this confidence in the liturgical period just begun».

Reale: Christianity is the encounter with a Person

«Philosophy is the search for truth. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. The way: the Christian being also does not exhaust itself in the moment, it is a continuous quest because it means the encounter with a Person. The greatest error is to make of Christianity a systematic ethical doctrine». Thus the philosopher Giovanni Reale in an interview that appeared in the Corriere della Sera of 1 December, commenting on the Encyclical Spe salvi of Benedict XVI.

Brague: in the Encyclical two or three extraordinary pearls

«He too has also read the Spe salvi, and says that he found “two or three extraordinary pearls” there». «He» is Professor Rémi Brague, scholar and teacher of Medieval Philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, interviewed on 14 December last in the daily Il Foglio; the «pearls» that he discovered in the encyclical of Benedict XVI are «the letter of Saint Augustine to Proba and the quotation from Bernard of Clairvaux, “God is impassible, but he knows compassion”. But the aspect that struck him most», one reads further on in the article, «is the idea that technology could be a source of salvation, and not only an improvement of the human condition, and he was especially struck by the burning actuality of hope, that did not exist before the encounter with Christ, as Saint Paul explains in the Epistle to the Ephesians».
Also interesting, in the continuation of the interview, is Brague’s reference to “values”: «To speak of values is already a symptom of crisis. The way in which for about the past ten years the topic has invaded Catholic discourse disconcerts me. It means that it is we who set the values, it is we who consider something a value. And instead it has to do with a good, that is such for everyone. You cannot speak about Christian values, as if they were valueless for non-Christians. Rather it is better to speak of the good».

Gian Enrico Rusconi: the forgotten original sin

We quote a passage from an article in the la Repubblica of 7 December by Gian Enrico Rusconi: «The ethical-religious approach today dominant [among ecclesiastics, ed] conserves nebulous (or simply unstated) references to the great theological dogmas of original sin, of redemption, of salvation that are (have been) historically all one with the moral doctrine of the Church. Today these theological topics have nearly become incommunicable to a religiously de-culturized public. The thousands of years old doctrine of “nature fallen through sin”, that theologically supported traditional moral teaching, is tacitly declared obsolete without cogent explanation».

Sacred College
The death of Cardinal Stickler

On 12 December Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler, archivist and librarian emeritus of the Holy Roman Church, died in Rome. At 97 years old Stickler, a Salesian, was the oldest member of the Sacred College. After his death there are 200 cardinals, of whom 120 are electors. The oldest now is the German Benedictine, 96 year-old Paul Augustin Mayer.

Middle East/1
Olmert: either two States or apartheid

«If the solution “two peoples for two-States” were to run aground, the day will come in which we will find ourselves in the middle of a South African style war for equality of rights and at that point Israel will disappear». Thus the Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert, in an interview in the daily paper Haaretz , released after the Annapolis summit, at which Syria and Saudi Arabia participated, along with Israel and Palestine, in the attempt to find a solution to the problems of the Middle East. The interview was reprinted in Italy by La Stampa on 30 November.

Middle East/2
Elie Wiesel, the peace with Germany and with Palestine

«To the Palestinians I say: Israel keeps its promises, the peace with Egypt that has guaranteed the common borders demonstrates this. To the Israelis: if you have made peace with Germany, you can also make it with your Palestinian cousins». Thus Elie Wiesel, Nobel prizewinner and Auschwitz survivor, in the Corriere della Sera of 28 November.

Yevtushenko, Russia and the American bases

«American military bases are springing up like mushrooms in the former USSR satellite countries, and even in those that one time formed part of the Soviet Union. The garden of our house is infested by American arms and there is talk of even more being deployed. At the end of the day Russia, at present, does not have military bases in any country of the world, but must take into account those of other people’s lodged around the corner. And there is even more: the Western countries continue to lecture Moscow, every summit meeting is an occasion to emphasize that Russia is not democratic enough. But then, from what pulpit does the sermon come. You tell me the name of a country that is a true example of democracy, a model to which I as a citizen of the world can happily go. Let everyone acknowledge their own faults to start with. In these conditions, I allow myself a poetic licence: if Andrej Sakharov were today the President of Russia, not even he would be able to ignore such a context». Thus the great poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko in an interview that appeared in the la Repubblica of 3 December, on the recent elections in Russia.

For the guru of the neoconservatives the option of attack on Iran has run out

«Regardless of what one thinks about the National Intelligence Estimate’s (NIE) conclusion, that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003 – and there is much to question in the report– its practical effects are indisputable. The Bush administration cannot take military action against Iran during its remaining time in office, or credibly threaten to do so, unless it is in response to an extremely provocative Iranian action. A military strike against suspected Iranian nuclear facilities was always fraught with risk. For the Bush administration, that option is gone». This the beginning of an article that appeared in the Corriere della Sera of 8 December, with the heading: Trattare con Teheran? Meglio farlo subito [Negotiating with Tehran? Better to do so immediately], by Robert Kagan, prominent exponent of the US neoconservatives.

Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Pontifical Council of Social Communications nominated

On 30 November Monsignor Paul Tighe, of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Dublin, until now director of the “Diocesan Office for Public Affairs”, was nominated Secretary of the Pontifical Council of Social Communications. The same day Monsignor Giuseppe Antonio Scotti, until now assigned to the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State was nominated Assistant Secretary of the same Department.

Reinhard Marx nominated Archbishop of Munich

On 30 November Monsignor Reinhard Marx, until now Bishop of Trier, was nominated Metropolitan Archbishop of Munich and Freising, in Germany. Marx, 54 years old, originally from the Archdiocese of Paderborn was ordained priest in 1979. From 1979 to 1981 he was assistant parish priest in Arolsen and from 1981 to 1986 ecclesiastical assistant of the “Kommende” Social Institute in Dortmund. From 1986 he continued his studies at the University of Bochum, obtaining a Doctorate in Theology. In 1989 he was nominated Director of the “Kommende”. He was also University Professor of the Social Doctrine of the Church in the Theological Faculty of Paderborn. In 1996 he was elected Auxiliary Bishop of Paderborn and in December 2001 was nominated Bishop of Trier. He is President of the Commission for Public and Social Issues and Vice President of the Commission for the Church in the World for the German Episcopal Conference. He is also delegate to the Commission of the Episcopates of the EuropeanCommunity (COMECE), President of the German Commission Iustitia et Pax and Grand Prior of the German Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. He is also a member of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace.

Eijk nominated Archbishop of Utrecht

On 11 December 54 year-old Willem Jacobus Eijk, Bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden since 1999, was appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht. Eijk, ordained priest in 1985 for the diocese of Roermond, gained a doctorate in Medicine at the University of Leiden and one in Moral Philosophy at the Saint Thomas Aquinas Pontifical University in Rome. In 1990 he gained a licenciate in Moral Theology at the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for studies on marriage and the family in Rome. From 1990 he taught Moral Theology at the major seminaries of Rolduc and of ’s-Hertogenbosch. From 1994 to 1995 he was Rector of the Institute “Mater Ecclesiae Domesticae” for studies on the family in Rolduc. From 1996 to 1999 he was lecturer and then professor of Moral Theology in the Theological Faculty of Lucerne. From 1997 to 1999 he was a member of the International Theological Commission. He is consultant of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Monsengwo Pasinya nominated Archbishop of Kinshasa

On 6 December 68 year-old Monsignor Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya was nominated Archbishop of Kinshasa. Ordained priest in 1963, nominated auxiliary bishop of Kisangani in 1980, Monsengwo Pasinya became its archbishop in 1988. Since 2004 he has been President of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Vatican City
Professor Paolucci nominated Director of Museums

On 4 December 68 year-old Professor Antonio Paolucci, from Rimini, was nominated Director of the Vatican Museums. Having graduated in Art History under Roberto Longhi and doing post-graduate studies under Francesco Arcangeli, Paolucci entered the management career of the Cultural Heritage of the Italian State at 29 years old. He was Superintendent in Venice, in Verona, Curator of Semi-precious Stones, Superintendent of the Florentine Museum Foundation and Director General of the Cultural Heritage for Tuscany. From January 1995 to May 1996 he held the post of Minister of Cultural Heritage in the government headed by Lamberto Dini. After the earthquake of 1997 he directed, as governmental commissioner, the the restoration of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Currently he is President of the Scholarly Committee for the art exhibitions in the Scuderie of the Quirinal. He is vice president of the Upper Council of the Cultural Heritage and consultant to the mayor for the city museums of Florence.
On 4 December Paolucci’s predecessor as Head of the Vatican Museums, Francisco Buranelli, was nominated Secretary of the Papal Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and Inspector of the Papal Commission of Sacred Archaeology.

New nuncios to Nicaragua, Chile and Romania

On 28 November 61 year-old Polish Archbishop Henryk Józef Nowacki, apostolic nuncio to Slovakia since 2001, was nominated apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua.
On 6 December 55 year-old Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, from Puglia, was nominated nuncio to Chile. Pinto, was apostolic nuncio to Senegal from December 2001. Previously he had been part of the particular secretariat of the then Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano.
On 10 December 64 year-old Spanish Archbishop Francisco-Javier Lozano, was nominated nuncio to Romania and Moldova. From 2003 he was apostolic nuncio to Croatia. Previously he was pontifical representative in Tanzania (1994-1999), in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1999-2001) and head of the Information Office of the First Section of the Secretariat of State (2001-2003).

New representative of the PLO and new ambassadors to the Holy See non-resident in Rome

On 10 December the Pope received in audience Shawqi Jabriel Armali, new Director of the Office of Representation to the Holy See of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
On 13 December the Pope received the credentials of seven ambassadors to the Holy See who do not reside in Rome. They are the representatives of the following countries: Thailand (Chaiyong Satjipanon, 54 years old, resident in Berne), Seychelles (Alain Butler Payette, 50 years old, resident in the homeland), Namibia (Peter Hitjitevi Katjavivi, 66 years old, resident in Berlin), Gambia (Elizabeth Ya Eli Harding, 51 years old, resident in London), Surinam (Urmila Joella-Sewnundun, 39 years old, resident in The Hague), Singapore (Barry Desker, 60 years old, resident in Paris), Kuwait (Suhail Khalil Shuhaiber, 63 years old, resident in Berne).

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