from issue no.10 - 2008

Children in Gaza [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Children in Gaza [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Middle East/1
The children of Gaza

“Seven out of ten of the children of Gaza are suffering from serious deficiencies in iron, vitamins A and D. There is a lack of cereals, oil, fruit, vegetables, sugar. And the food stocks, says the International Red Cross in its latest report, forty-six pages of harsh denunciation, are ‘grievously insufficient to ensure appropriate nutrition in the future’. There is a humanitarian emergency in the Strip, adds the British Oxfam, and intervention is necessary now because ‘a million and a half people cannot resist long like this and there is a danger of catastrophe. Nobody works, the boats haven’t gone out to fish for months. The UN says that stocks are by now exhausted”. So began an article in Corriere della Sera of 16 November, describing the humanitarian disaster looming over Gaza in the grip of the embargo.

Middle East/2
Defeating Hitler

In Corriere della Sera of 30 October a review of the book Sconfiggere Hitler (Defeating Hitler) by Avraham Burg, Neri Pozza publications, appeared. We quote: “The incessant and pervasive cult of the Shoah has changed the political culture of the State of Israel. It has become the public justification of the police toughness with which Israel administers the occupied territories. It has militarized Israeli society. It has generated a brutal and fanatical extreme right that paradoxically reminds the author of Nazism. It has created the belief, now widely rooted in sectors of Judaism, particularly in America and Israel, that the Shoah was an unparalleled event and cannot be examined historically like other tragic happenings in world history... But the most serious of the effects caused by the cult of the Shoah, according to the author, is of the moral order. Dominated by the memory of genocide, Judaism seems to have given up its own specific humanism, its own specific universal mission, its own specific sensitivity to the poor and oppressed, the extraordinary moral values of its religious and philosophical thought”. Avraham Burg is an authoritative sokesman for the Peace Now movement. A member of the Labour party, he was president of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) from 1999 to 2003.

Two Jesuits assassinated

“Two Jesuit priests, the Russian Otto Messmer and Ecuadorian Victor Betancourt, were found murdered Tuesday night in an apartment of the Society of Jesus in Petrovka Street in central Moscow... According to the Jesuits and the Russian bishops, the two priests were also killed at different times: the death of Father Betancourt must have happened on 25 October, because the next day, Sunday, he did not appear to celebrate Mass and failed to inform anyone previously. Father Messmer, instead, having returned from abroad on the evening of the 27th, must have been killed, according to his fellow brothers, on Monday itself. From la Repubblica of 30 October.

Communist Korea welcomes the first Catholic priest

“The Asian press agency UCA and Asia News report a novel opening by the Communist regime in Pyongyang. For the first time in over sixty years a Catholic priest will be allowed to live in North Korea. He is Father Paul Kim Kwon-soon, of the Order of the Friars Minor, who will move to the North Korean capital at the end of November to carry out his pastoral work among the workers of a factory built as a joint venture between the two Koreas”. So wrote the La Stampa journalist Marco Tosatti, in his online column, on 3 November last.

Preventive strategies and 11 September

On 8 November, in the letters column, Corriere della Sera published an interesting reflection by Sergio Romano on the U.S. response to the attacks of 11 September 2001. In his contribution Romano mentions how, at the beginning, the war in Afghanistan seemed to be “justified”. In the months following, however, “we understood that the Afghan war, for the neo-con advisers of the White House, was only the prologue to a play in at least two acts. In the first act America would conquer Iraq and replace the regime of Saddam Hussein with Iraqi emigrants who had settled in Washington in the previous years. In the second act, after the successful first operation, it would set Iran with its back to the wall and take the steps necessary to provoke the regime change in the country of Ayatollahs. Some neo-cons even conceived of a third act to be played out in the great Chinese arena as soon as the United States had become the dominant power in the Middle East and the whole of Western Asia. To many observers it was clear that this strategy was no longer a realistic and proportionate response to the 11 September attacks. It was the execution of a plan that Bush advisers had already conceived some years beforehand and that 11 September had suddenly made possible”.

Sacred College
The resignation of Cardinal Jaworski

On 21 October the resignation of Cardinal Marian Jaworski, 82 years old in August, as Archbishop of Lviv (Leopolis) of the Latins was accepted. He is succeeded by 47 year-old Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, coadjutor since July 2007, and previously second private secretary to John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Diplomatic relations between Botswana and the Holy See

On 4 November, the Vatican Press Office announced that the Holy See had established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Botswana. The Holy See, therefore, now has full diplomatic relations with 177 countries, as well as the Russian Federation and the PLO with which there are diplomatic relations of a special nature. Throughout the world there remain sixteen states with which the Holy See does not exchange ambassadors. In nine of these countries there is no Vatican envoy: Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Bhutan, China, North Korea, Maldives, Oman, Tuvalu and Viet Nam. In the remaining seven countries there are only apostolic delegates (papal representatives to the local Catholic communities but not to governments): three in Africa (Comoros, Mauritania and Somalia) and four in Asia (Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar).

New nuncios to Ethiopia and Portugal

On 24 October the 66 year-old Syro-Malabar Indian Archbishop George Panikulam, pontifical representative in Mozambique since 2003, was appointed apostolic nuncio to Ethiopia and apostolic delegate in Somalia. A priest since 1967, Panikulam entered the diplomatic service in 1979 and served in Canada, Venezuela, Germany, Brazil and the UN headquarters in New York. In 1999 he was elected archbishop and appointed nuncio to Honduras, where he remained until 2003.
On 8 November 64 year-old Archbishop Rino Passigato, originally from Bovolone (Verona), was appointed apostolic nuncio to Portugal. Since 1999, he was papal representative in Peru. A priest since 1968, Passigato was previously nuncio to Burundi (1991-1996) and Bolivia (1996-1999).

New ambassadors to the Holy See

On 27 October the new Philippine ambassador to the Holy See delivered her letter of credentials. She is 70 year-old Cristina Castañer-Ponce Enrile, a businesswoman.
On 30 October it was the turn of the new representative of Canada. She is 56 year-old Anne Leahy, career diplomat, former federal coordinator of the World Youth Day celebration in Toronto in 2002, previously ambassador to Cameroon, Poland, Russia and the African Great Lakes region.
On 6 November came the new ambassador of Egypt: 46 year-old Lamia Aly Hamada Mekhemar, career diplomat, formerly third secretary at the Rome Embassy to the Quirinal and former cabinet chief of the President’s consort.
On 7 November, then, the new Ambassador of Lithuania, 51 year-old Vytautas Alisauskas, teacher, former representative of the Conference of Lithuanian Bishops in the Council of public radio and television, presented his credentials.
Then on 8 November it was the turn of the new ambassador of China (Taiwan): 61 year-old Wang Larry Yu-yuan, career diplomat, former representative in Argentina and the Netherlands.
On 13 November it was the turn of the new ambassador of San Marino: 64 year-old Sante Carducci, former member of the Great Council, general of the Republic and a chief physician of the State Hospital.
On 17 November the new ambassador of Lebanon presented his credentials: 56 year-old Georges Chakib El Khoury, until now Director of Information of the army.


The Resurrection of Jesus

IThe Incredulity of Thomas/I, Caravaggio

IThe Incredulity of Thomas/I, Caravaggio

“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also in vain ... and you are still in your sins’ (1Cor 15, 14.17). With these strong words from the First Letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul makes clear the decisive importance he attributes to the Resurrection of Jesus. In this event, in fact, lies the solution to the problem posed by the drama of the Cross. The Cross alone could not explain the Christian faith, indeed it would remain a tragedy, an indication of the absurdity of being. The Paschal mystery consists in the fact that the Crucified man ‘was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1Cor 15, 4)”. This is the beginning of the catechesis given by the Holy Father on Wednesday 5 November.


Obama and Niebuhr

Barack Obama with his daughters and wife MichelleBR  [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Barack Obama with his daughters and wife MichelleBR [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

In La Stampa of 9 November Barbara Spinelli spoke of her hope that the new U.S. President, Barack Obama, would rediscover “the realism of Reinhold Niebuhr”, a Protestant theologian (1892-1971). “Niebuhr was a Christian, enemy of political messianism: after years of fundamentalist intoxication, America and Europe need this detoxification”.

Italiano Español Français Deutsch Português