from issue no.02/03 - 2008


The visible glory of humility

Saint Francis, Chapel of Saint Gregory, Benedictine Sacro Speco of Subiaco (RM)

Saint Francis, Chapel of Saint Gregory, Benedictine Sacro Speco of Subiaco (RM)

“To those who asked him in what way the violence of Evil could be defeated, Francis of Assisi one day replied: ‘Why attack the darkness? Enough to kindle a light and the darkness flees in fear’. It is the ‘aggression of darkness’ that must be done away with, in all fields. Of aggressions, crusades and counter crusades, we have had more than enough”. So opens an article in la Repubblica of 27 February, which continues: “But his genius extended the horizon of knowledge, and included the values of things, and widened the faculty of knowledge, annexing the heart to it. The Canticle of the Sun goes well beyond the feeling of brotherhood with all of nature. Today we can read in it a happy and trusting admiration of what the visible announces. But not for the visibility of public life, the public square, the polis. But the Invisibile is not translated into this visibility: believing so was the immense error that brought theocracy into the world, and the neo-Guelph ideology to Italy. And that in the past century nourished the truly atheist-devout forms of theopolitics: a decisionist nihilism that reduces everything to brutal or refined relationships of power, and that indeed finished by reducing the categories of politics to a barbaric simplification, veined with a mafia thread: friend-enemy. The visible that Francis glorified is other, that of the humble life of every creature”.


The neocon heirs of '68

Anglo-American strafing of Baghdad, 19 March of five years ago

Anglo-American strafing of Baghdad, 19 March of five years ago

On 29 February la Repubblica published an article by the Bulgarian philosopher and essayist Tzvetan Todorov, who, after finishing his studies in a country where ‘real Socialism’ prevailed, moved to France in 1963. Here is a passage from the article: “The political programs of the parties can be divided into two large groups. The first promise salvation. Profane substitutes of the religions, they consider that the world, this miserable world, is malign in totality and it is necessary therefore to tear it down and replace it with another, in which everything is supposed to proceed wonderfully. The others are content to propose various levels of adaptation and accommodation: the surrounding world is certainly not perfect – they admit – things need to be adjusted here and there, but nevertheless some compromise with its ambitious hopes must be accepted.
The political speeches of ’68 clearly pertained to the first category: fortunately there was no fledgling Lenin among those potential revolutionaries. In any case, at some years’ distance the plan of radical and violent transformation of society has re-arisen in another guise, in the context of a doctrine wrongly called ‘neo-conservatism’, when it is instead a matter of ‘neo-revolution’. Only that, this time, it wasn’t to one’s own country one wanted to ensure salvation, but to a foreign country. Sometimes this doctrine is defined as ‘the right of intervention’: it is decided, therefore, that with the aim of bringing salvation to others, in this case democracy and the market economy, it is lawful, indeed praiseworthy, to invade them militarily and impose a new regime on them”.

Chiara Lubich

Chiara Lubich

In memory of Chiara Lubich

On Tuesday 18 March the funeral of Chiara Lubich, the foundress of the Focolare Movement, who died during the night of 13 and 14 March, was celebrated. The funeral ceremonies were presided over by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. We publish a passage of the prelate’s homily from L’Osservatore Romano: “But how to live Love? After the Last Supper, in the emotional leave-taking from the apostles, Jesus prays so that ‘all may be one’. It is therefore the prayer of Christ to sustain the path of His friends in every age... The twentieth century is studded with shining stars of this divine love... It has also been the century in which the new ecclesial movements were born, and Chiara Lubich finds a place in this constellation with a charism that is entirely her own and that distinguishes her character and her apostolic action. The foundress of the Focolare Movement, in silent and humble style, did not create institutions of assistance and human support, but dedicated herself to igniting the fire of the love of God in hearts”.

The tragic death of Monsignor Rahho

“Informed of the tragic death of Monsignor Paulos Faraj Rahho, Archbishop of Mosul of the Chaldees, following his dramatic kidnapping on 29 February, I wish to send to you, the Chaldean Church and the entire Christian community the expression of my particular closeness reaffirming the most decisive disapproval of an act of inhuman violence that offends the dignity of the human being and seriously damages the cause of fraternal coexistence of the beloved Iraqi people. While I assure fervent prayers of intercession for the zealous pastor kidnapped precisely at the ending of the celebration of the Via Crucis, I invoke from the Lord His mercy so that this tragic event may serve to construct a future of peace in the martyred land of Iraq”. This the text of the telegram sent by the Pope (published in L’Osservatore Romano of 14 March) for the death of Iraqi Bishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, and addressed to Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldees.

The death of Pope Luciani’s brother

On Monday 10 March Edoardo Luciani, Berto, brother of Pope John Paul I, died. In the telegram sent to the bishop of Belluno-Feltre to commemorate the death, the Holy Father, after recalling “the recent cordial meeting in Lorenzago di Cadore”, writes: “Remembering the lofty human and Christian virtues, particularly the exemplary dedication to the family, the generous service to the Church and the intense civil commitment, I raise fervent prayers so that the deceased may share with the Risen Lord, along with his tenderly loved consort and Pontiff brother, joy and peace without end”.

Sacred College
The deaths of Cardinals Dery and Suarez Rivera

On 6 March the African Cardinal Peter Poreku Dery, Archbishop emeritus of Tamale, in Ghana, created cardinal by Benedict XVI in 2006, died. He would have been ninety years old in May.
On 22 March the Mexican Cardinal Adolfo Antonio Suarez Rivera, Archbishop of Monterrey from 1983 to 2003, created cardinal by John Paul II in 1994, died.
On 25 March therefore the Sacred College consists of 197 cardinals, of whom 119 are electors.

Qatar’s first church

“Yesterday Qatar’s first church was inaugurated. And some thousands of faithful participated at the first mass, celebrated by the Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias, envoy of the Holy See, who thanked ‘God and Qatar for this great gift’”. Thus La Stampa of Monday 17 March. The church of the Rosary was built on lands donated by the Emir of Qatar, Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani.

Undersecretary to the Congregation for the Religious

On 28 February the Cistercian Father Sebastiano Paciolla was nominated undersecretary of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life. Paciolla, who up to now was promoter of justice in the Court of the Roman Rota, will work side by side with the other undersecretary of the department, Sister Enrica Rosanna.

Nominations to the Commission “Ecclesia Dei”

On 13 March the Pope nominated Monsignor Camille Perl vice-president of the Papal Commission “Ecclesia Dei” of which he was secretary. On the same date the Pope nominated Monsignor Mario Marini secretary of the same ministry, of which he was assistant secretary.

Nominations to the Institute for the Works of Religion

L’Osservatore Romano of 24 February 2008 published on the front page, but not under the official column ‘Our news’, the news that Benedict XVI has renewed the cardinals’ Commission of Vigilance of the Institute for the Works of Religion. Cardinals Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State and Chamberlain, and Attilio Nicora, president of the APSA were confirmed in the assignment. Nominated ex novo instead were Cardinals Jean-Louis Tauran (French, president of the Papal Council for Inter-religious Dialogue), Telesphore Placidus Toppo (Archbishop of Ranchi, in India) and Odilo Pedro Scherer (Archbishop of São Paulo, in Brazil). Subsequently, a note that appeared in bulletin nos. 1-3 of the Variations of the Papal Yearbook 2008 published by the Secretariat of State, informed that Cardinal Bertone was designated president of the aforesaid Commission. It has already happened in the past, with Cardinal Jean Villot, that the Secretary of State was Chamberlain and the president of the Commission of Vigilance of the IRW at the same time.

New nuncios to Croatia, Ireland, Bolivia, Ghana and Slovakia

On 14 February the Sardinian Archbishop Roberto Cassari, 65 years old in August, was nominated nuncio to Croatia. A priest since 1969, Cassari has been bishop since 1999, and from 2004 he was nuncio to the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger.
On 22 February 65 year-old Sicilian Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, was nominated nuncio to Ireland. A priest since 1966, in the diplomatic service of the Holy See since 1972, Leanza was formerly nuncio to Haiti, to Zambia and Malawi, to Bosnia, Slovenia and Macedonia, and, ultimately, to Bulgaria.
Also on 22 February 51 year-old Monsignor Luciano Suriani, from the Abruzzi, was elected archbishop and nominated apostolic nuncio to Bolivia. A priest since 1981, Suriani has been in the diplomatic service since 1990 and worked in the papal representations in the Ivory Coast, in Switzerland, in the second section of the Secretariat of State, and, ultimately, in the nunciature in Italy.
On 1 March 52 year-old Monsignor Leon Kalenga Badikebele, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was elected archbishop and nominated nuncio to Ghana. A priest since 1982, in the diplomatic service since 1990, Monsignor Kalenga has worked in the nunciatures of Haiti, Guatemala, Zambia, Brazil, Egypt, Zimbabwe, and, lastly, Japan.
On 15 March the 66 year-old Piedmontese Archbishop Mario Giordana was nominated nuncio to Slovakia. A priest since 1967, in the diplomatic service since 1976, Giordana has been archbishop since 2004 when he was nominated nuncio to Haiti.

New ambassadors of Serbia, USA, Bolivia and Greece to the Holy See

On 21 February the Pope received the credentials of the new ambassador of Serbia to the Holy See. He is 68 year-old Professor Vladeta Jankovic, formerly Ambassador of Belgrade to Great Britain from 2001 to 2006.
On 29 February the new Ambassador of the United States presented her credentials. She is the 69 year-old University Professor Mary Ann Glendon, until recently full Professor of Law at Harvard Law School in Cambridge (Massachusetts) and president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
On 14 March the new ambassador of Bolivia presented his credentials. He is 59 year-old Carlos Federico de la Riva Guerra, until recently president of the directorate of the “Centro de investigación y promoción del Campesinado” (CIPCA) and director general of the Jesuit College of San Calixto in La Paz.
On 15 March the new ambassador of Greece presented his credentials. He is 58 year-old Miltiadis Hiskakis, career diplomat, formerly consul general to Naples from 1992 to 1997, and for the last two years director general of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Agreement between Holy See and Andorra

On 17 March, in the Vatican, an agreement was signed between the Holy See and the Principality of Andorra. A communiqué issued by the Press Office of the Holy See states that: “In 1993, the Principality was furnished with a Constitution that keeps in force the system of the Co-Principality, going back to 1278, to the time of the pontificate of Martin IV that confirmed the ‘paretage’ (agreement or pact). The Co-princes – who are the Bishop of Urgell and the President of the French Republic – act in combined and indivisible way as the Head of State”. “The agreement signed between the Holy See and the Principality of Andorra”, the Vatican note continues, “consists of a preamble and of sixteen articles, grouped in six sections, regarding the following matters: the bishop of Urgell, the legal charter of the Catholic Church in Andorra, canonical marriage, the instruction of religion in school, the economic system of the Catholic Church in Andorra. It closes with some final dispositions”.


The poetry of faith and the pushers of sense

Rowan Williams, 
ILa dodicesima notte/I, 
Ancora, Milan 2008, 160 pp., euro 13,00

Rowan Williams, ILa dodicesima notte/I, Ancora, Milan 2008, 160 pp., euro 13,00

The Ancora publishing house has translated and published in Italian a collection of poems by the Anglican Primate Rowan Williams, under the title La dodicesima notte [The Twelfth Night]. In reviewing the volume, Alberto Melloni, in the Corriere della Sera of 17 March, writes: “By a paradoxical metamorphosis of the meaning the word ‘tradition’ in the common language of the Christian experience is abused in order to indicate static heritages, hoary museum pieces, arrogant self-witness: forgetting that in the act of faith communication is not artifice, but substance... It is not therefore due to fashion that in the last century a ‘theology’ of literary experience developed in which, as Jean-Pierre Jossua has taught us, the focus is on a word deliberately extraneous to the religious universe, but capable of carving in the stone of existence the cavity in which faith reads the mystery of God not as peddler of meaning, but as acceptance of every distance. And it is no accident that, also in this period, almost as if wanting to escape the opportunist vulgarity of ‘religious’ speech, the word of faith flees, trying to reach that poetic register that through the centuries has garbed such harrying carnalities as those of Saint John of the Cross or embroidered the musical perfection of Ephraim the Syrian”.


Pinochet, supercapitalism and the last thirty years

Augusto Pinochet

Augusto Pinochet

“The free market is no longer the harbinger of democracy. It was exalted by Milton Friedman in support of Pinochet. Adam Smith foresaw instead, the need for the State to control the market. According to a thesis of Robert Reich, contained in his new book Supercapitalism, before the end of the ’Seventies a democratic capitalism existed. Afterwards supercapitalism began, a period in which unbridled competition, though lowering prices, weakened democracy, the rights of freedom, job security, safeguarding of the environment. All the laws were bent to the will of the large corporations and the big banks, that singly registered turnovers greater than those of entire nations”. Thus Guido Rossi in la Repubblica of 18 March.

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