from issue no.04 - 2008


“But Christian values are not the faith”

The risen Jesus and the apostle Thomas

The risen Jesus and the apostle Thomas

“But Christian values are not the faith”. Corriere della Sera of 5 April published an article appeared under the title ‘But Christian values are not the faith’, a review of a new edition of the book by R. H. Benson, ‘The master of the world’. The review used the occasion to interview Rémi Brague, Professor of Philosophy at the Sorbonne, and Don Carlo Nanni, lecturer in the Philosophy of Education at the Pontifical Salesian University, on the so-called Christian values, an expression that, according to Brague, has only recently entered Catholic parlance. For Don Nanni “the word ‘values’ may almost fall into disuse”, in so far as those “imply something to be done, something external to man, imply a duty more than a mode of being... Man lives by a gift, not by a duty. To escape from the linguistic trap of ‘values’, it would be better to speak of ‘assets’”. Brague, after indicating that “values ask us to make sacrifices to them. They are deities, idols”, asserts: “values are distinct, but not concrete, they are, as G. K. Chesterton said, the “derangement of the Christian virtues”, they swirl above the grossly material, and therefore, paradoxically, they can easily conceal sordid interests”. For the French philosopher: “We must strive with incessant effort toward value, the good is already present, it makes being. Value is disposed for us, comes from the individual or a social Super Ego, we must submit ourselves, the good is given to us, it is that we have need of, enough to make use of it”. For Brague, finally, the very insistence on Catholic values generates cultural relativism: “We speak about ‘our’ values, the ‘Christian values’; on this basis we suppose that there are ‘Buddhist’, ‘Islamic values’... while in Christianity there is nothing that is exclusively good for Christians”.


“Bishops seduced by Fascism”

Assembly of the Fascist clergy

Assembly of the Fascist clergy

Under the title “Bishops seduced by Fascism”, on 8 March Alberto Melloni reviewed in the Corriere della Sera an essay by Lucia Ceci – that is to appear in the Rivista storica – in which an unpublished note written by Monsignor Domenico Tardini between 23 September of 1935 (Mussolini was to announce the war on Ethiopia the following 2 October) and December of the same year will be published. Tardini was at that time Undersecretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs and therefore one of the most important collaborators of Pope Pius XI. Melloni summarizes the memorial as follows: “While important Italian cardinals offered support to the military campaign and L’Osservatore Romano remained in a position of prudent legitimization of the war, Tardini assesses and judges the consequences on the clergy, that in his eyes represent ‘the greatest disaster’. The Vatican diplomat grants that it also had to be respectful of the regime, but observes that ‘this time it is turbulent, fanatical, militarist instead. If only the bishops were an exception. Not at all. More verbose, more excited, more... unbalanced than anyone’. Ready to offer gold to the fatherland with suspicious zeal ‘they speak of civilization, religion, of the mission of Italy in Africa... And while Italy is preparing to machine-gun, to shell thousands and thousands of Ethiopians, guilty of defending their own home... More serious and dangerous states of confusion, of lack of direction, of unbalance could hardly occur within the ranks of the clergy’... Tardini was aware that ‘the Italian Church is accused of being in league with Fascism. And with the Italian Church, the Holy See. The Holy See has never passed – I believe – a more difficult period than this’, in which it risks ‘seriously compromising for a century the moral prestige’ accumulated”.

Alfonso López Trujillo

Alfonso López Trujillo

Sacred College
The deaths of Cardinals Corripio Ahumada and López Trujillo

On April 10 the 89 year-old Mexican Cardinal Ernesto Corripio Ahumada, Archbishop of Mexico from 1977 to 1994, created cardinal in 1979, died. On 19 April then the Columbian Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, cardinal from 1983 and President of the Pontifical Council for the Family since 1990, died. He would have been 73 years old in November.
At the end of April therefore the Sacred College counted 195 cardinals, of whom 118 are electors.

Promotions for De Paolis and Daneels. Episcopate for Arrieta

On 12 April Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, a Scalabrinian, 73 years old in November, Secretary of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signet since the end of 2003, was promoted President of the Prefecture of the Economic Transactions of the Holy See, where he takes the place of Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani who is now 77.
Also on 12 April the 67 year-old Belgian Frans Daneels, a Premostratensian, was nominated archbishop and new Secretary of the Apostolic Signet. Until his new appointment he was promoter of justice in the same ministry.
On 12 April, also, the 57 year-old Spaniard Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa, of the Opus Dei clergy, Secretary of the Papal Council for Legislative Texts since February 2007, was elevated to Episcopal dignity with the titular See of Civitate.

Le Figaro/1
The Pope is well, but there are those who speak about succession

“Recently, in particular during the journey to the United States, the Pope appears tired, for weeks he has reduced his engagements and in the Vatican there is concern for his health”. Thus Le Figaro in an article of 25 April with the title: ‘The Pope’s health is already feeding rumors about the succession’. The French daily paper recalls how, on his return from America, Benedict XVI took a day of rest and how, the following day, he did not hold the Wednesday general audience, drawing attention, moreover, to the reduction of other engagements in the recent past. The denial of the Director of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi was sharp: “Benedict XVI is well and it is paradoxical that doubts are engendered about his health precisely on his return from the most demanding journey of his Pontificate, during which the program was not curtailed”.

Le Figaro/2
Cardinal Scola and shared values

On 25 April, the daily paper Le Figaro published a speech of the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Angelo Scola, of which we report the core: “Against the background of the pluralist society of today we pose this pressing question: is a shared morality possible in a situation in which men and women of different ethnic groups, cultures and religions live together? According to the more influential reflections regarding pluralist civil society and the State, we think of Habermas, Rawls and Böckenförde, the idea that the philosophical vision of a particular ethic tradition, that of the Christian vision or of another religion, be offered to all in terms of a public proposal is widely shared. On this basis, the members of pluralist civil society are called to engage in a continuous exchange of views, so that their confrontation generates guidelines and proposals for the common good”.

Middle East/1
Patten and the conspiracies against Palestine

“The attempts to destroy Hamas – politically and physically – have not worked and cannot work. The Americans and the Europeans have committed a grave error by conspiring in order to destroy the government of national unity Fatah-Hamas, created in large part thanks to Saudi diplomacy and other countries of the Arab League. I hope that Blair says this to his American friends”. Thus Chris Patten, former governor of Hong Kong, European Commissioner for External Affairs, as well as Chancellor of the University of Oxford, in a speech that appeared in la Repubblica of 3 April.

Middle East/2
Carter, Hamas and the recognition of Israel

“Hamas is ready for an implicit recognition of Israel, provided that the Jewish State returns to the borders of 1967: this is the proposal wrested by Jimmy Carter on his diplomatic journey in search of peace in the Middle East. At the meeting in Damascus with the former US president, the Palestinian leader Khaled Meshal did not speak explicitly about recognition but he said that Hamas is ready to accept ‘a Palestinian State within the borders preceding 1967, with Jerusalem as capital and without settlements, but without recognizing Israel’”. Thus news of the most important stage of the recent journey of the former president of the United States Jimmy Carter, after previous meetings with other Palestinian leaders and the President of Israel Shimon Peres, was reported in la Repubblica of 22 April.

The Ambassador of Honduras new Dean of the Diplomatic Corps

On 5 April the Pope received in a leave-taking audience Professor Giovanni Galassi, Ambassador of the Republic of San Marino from 1987 and since 1998 Dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. The new Dean is Alejandro Emilio Valladares Lanza, Ambassador of Honduras since 1991 and formerly vice-dean. The representative of the Principality of Monaco, Jean-Claude Michel, in office since 1999, takes over that post.

Padilla Nuncio to Korea and Mongolia

On 12 April the Philippine Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla was nominated nuncio to Korea. He was nuncio to Costa Rica since 2003 and formerly, from 1998 to 2003, nuncio to Nigeria, papal representative in Sri Lanka from 1994 to 1998 and nuncio to Panama from 1991 to 1994. On 26 April Padilla also became apostolic nuncio to Mongolia.

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