from issue no.08 - 2008


That very “British” pact with the Nazis

Adolf Hitler [© AP/LaPresse]

Adolf Hitler [© AP/LaPresse]

“The world divided in half: a free hand for the troops of the Third Reich in Europe in exchange for the inviolability of the colonial possessions of the British Empire. Such was the agreement aimed at in extremis by James Lonsdales-Bryans – British Fascist sympathizer and do-it-yourself diplomat – a few months after the outbreak of the Second World War to safeguard the interests of the Crown. All with the approval of the then Foreign Minister, Lord Halifax. This is the surprising scenario described by some files emerged from the British National Archives thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, the law that guarantees access to ministerial documents once declared top-secret”. So begins an article published on 2 September in La Stampa under the title “That very ‘British’ pact with the Nazis”. In reality, however, it is not clear whether the pact proposed by Bryans – referred to the German Ambassador in Rome, pending contact with the German Foreign Ministry or the Führer himself – was agreed upon with the British Foreign Minister or not. In this regard, the author of the article wonders whether Bryans was a “crazy splinter” or a “diplomat equipped with limitless power”.

The Grotto of Lourdes [© Afp/Grazia Neri]

The Grotto of Lourdes [© Afp/Grazia Neri]

Tauran: good news from Lourdes

On 10 September Avvenire published an interview with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. Tauran, asked about the health of the Church in France, replied: “Certainly religious practice is very low and the shortage of priests is dramatic. Contrary to what happens in Italy, Christianity still has no bearing on public life, does not inspire public debate. But there are small signs of hope. Such as a slight upturn in vocations, which to tell the truth is more robust among the traditionalists. Then this summer some good news came from Lourdes”. And he goes on to explain: “On the occasion of the jubilee of the apparitions there was a large influx of pilgrims. Many young people, many families with many children. A really moving testimony of faith, which was also noticed by the secular media which reported the phenomenon with curiosity and respect. Without a sense of superiority and facile irony as was the case in the past. That, believe me, is a small miracle for France”.

The Christian “littleness” of Paul VI

“Paul VI had the Christian sense of ‘littleness’. ‘Unless you make yourselves little ...’ (Mt 18, 3). He would never have liked to hear himself called ‘great’, so profound in him was his perception of the primacy of Christ: ‘Christ is everything for us’, he wrote in the first letter to the Ambrosian Church, repeating Saint Ambrose. ‘I do not feel myself superior but brother, inferior to everybody because I bear the weight of all’, he confided to his friend Jean Guitton. He made himself, therefore, evangelically like a child. He loved little ones (think of where and with whom, over the years and also as Pope, he preferred to celebrate Christmas Eve) and with the simplicity of the child he had the gift of joy, in which he lived habitually... He died in joy. Archbishop Macchi testified: ‘With a slight smile on his lips, he made a simple gesture with his hand’. He died having become a child, saying Pater, Father!” This unusual portrait of Pope Montini appeared in Avvenire on 6 August – the anniversary of his death – written by the Bishop of Albano, Marcello Semeraro, for whom the key to the pontificate of Paul VI lay in littleness. The Pope who called himself “the last and littlest Vicar of Christ”.

The nationalist underground in Turkey and Don Santoro

The Corriere della Sera of September 3 reported a disclosure that appeared in the newspaper Sabah, to which the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, Nobel prize-winner for literature in 2006, had revealed that the Turkish nationalist underground intended to kill him. The clandestine organization – wrote the Corriere della Sera – “made headlines in July when 86 people, including important names in the army, publishing and business, found themselves accused. The plan of the group, whose trial will begin on 20 September, was to seize power with a coup d’etat in 2009 after creating a climate of tension through targeted assassinations. It is suspected that some, such as that of the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and of the Italian priest Andrea Santoro, have already been carried out. Others (even more sensational) are alleged to have been planned”. Don Andrea Santoro, fidei donum priest of the diocese of Rome who arrived in Turkey in 2000, was killed in Trabzon (ancient Trebizond) on 5 February 2006.

Summer 2008 and the crisis of the unipolar world

“During the summer of 2008 a multipolar world has taken shape in which American hyperpower turns out to be inevitably weakened... Two empires, one in continual surge, and the other in clear recovery, affirmed themselves and set their needs on the table. China, ruled by a Communist dynasty that practices its own style of capitalism (as Mao, founder and unifier of the empire, applied his own Marxism), has shrugged off criticism from Western democrats of its lack of observance of human rights. And has recently shown its triumphant efficiency by hosting the Olympics. The other empire, resurrected from the Soviet ruins and reinvigorated by profits from the gas and oil that are essential to Europeans, deployed its tanks taking advantage of the imprudence of little Georgia, and thumbing its nose at the reactions from America.” An article in la Repubblica of 20 August by Bernardo Valli aimed at demonstrating the collapse of the thesis of the political scientist Francis Fukuyama according to which the world of the twenty-first century would be unipolar and dominated by the American hyperpower.

Sacred College
The death of Cardinal Innocenti

On 6 September 93 year-old Cardinal Antonio Innocenti, from Tuscany, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy and President Emeritus of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, died. He was created cardinal by John Paul II in 1985. On 10 September then the Sacred College was composed of 193 cardinals of whom 116 are voters. The Italian cardinals are 41, of whom 20 are voters.

The African Monsengwo new special secretary. Pell new president delegate

On 23 August 69 year-old Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa, was appointed new special secretary of the Synod of Bishops on the theme “The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church” celebrated in the Vatican from October 5-26. He replaces Wilhelm Emil Egger, the Bishop of Bolzano-Bressanone who died suddenly on 16 August aged 68.
On 9 September Australian Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, was appointed president delegate of the Synod in place of Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, “unable to participate”. The other two president delegate are Cardinals William Joseph Levada, United States, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Odilo Pedro Scherer, Brazil, Archbishop of São Paulo.

New commander of the Swiss Guard

On 19 August the 34th commander of the Papal Swiss Guard was nominated. He is 36 year-old Daniel Rudolf Anrig, originally from the canton of St. Gallen, who was halberdier in the Vatican from 1992 to 1994 and who from 2006, as captain in the Swiss army, held the post of commander general of the police Corps of the Canton of Glarus.

Betori to Florence, Pappalardo to Syracuse

On 8 September 61 year-old Giuseppe Betori, an Umbrian from Foligno, was appointed Archbishop of Florence. Ordained a priest in 1970, from 2001 he was bishop and Secretary General of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.
On 12 September 63 year-old Salvatore Pappalardo, Bishop of Nicosia since 1998, was promoted Archbishop of Syracuse.

New nuncios to Albania, Central African Republic and Guinea

On 26 July the 67 year-old Spanish Archbishop Ramiro Moliner Inglés, was appointed nuncio to Albania. From 2004 he was nuncio to Ethiopia and Djibouti and apostolic legate to Somalia. Before that he was nuncio to Guatemala (1997-2004), and Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands (1993-1997).
On 2 August Monsignor Jude Thaddeus Okolo, a Nigerian, was appointed archbishop and apostolic nuncio to the Central African Republic and Chad. Okolo, 52 years old, a priest since 1983, entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 1990. He served in the pontifical representations in Sri Lanka, Haiti, Antilles, Switzerland, Czech Republic and, most recently, Australia.
On 8 September 52 year-old Monsignor Martin Krebs, a German from Essen, was appointed archbishop and nuncio to Guinea and Mali. A priest since 1983, Krebs entered the pontifical diplomatic service in 1991 and has served in Burundi, Japan, Austria, the Czech Republic, the European Community and, most recently, the United States.
Also on 26 July 61 year-old Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the representative of the Holy See to the Russian Federation since 2002, was appointed apostolic nuncio to Uzbekistan. Formerly the nuncio resident in Kazakhstan held this responsibility also.


Kissinger, policy and the military

Dmitri Medvedev and Henry Kissinger [© AP/LaPresse]

Dmitri Medvedev and Henry Kissinger [© AP/LaPresse]

“What happened in the Caucasus will have various implications, economic, energy and above all political. The Georgian affair has shown that international security is not the exclusive preserve of military policy”. So former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, said in reply to a question about the war in Georgia. In the same interview, published in La Stampa of 5 September, when asked about what will be the challenge to America in such an uncertain context, he replied: “Having the ability to spread democracy on a global scale, directed that is to the whole international community. To take on the political destiny of each individual country is a task that, in the third millennium, risks being beyond our [the United States] capabilities”.

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