Columns
from issue no.11 - 2008


TERRORISM

India, the attack and the sacred games of the Utopians


Armed response to the terrorists in MumbaiBR [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Armed response to the terrorists in MumbaiBR [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

La Stampa of 3 December printed an interview with the Indian writer Vikram Chandra on the attack on the city of Mumbai in late November. The reporter asked for clarification about the fierce antagonism between Hindus and Muslims in India. Chandra responded: “This antagonism, these prejudices are precisely what the attack aimed to exacerbate. Extremists of any affiliation need atrocities. In Sacred Games [the writer’s most recent work, ed.], the leader of a Hindu sect tries to cause a terrible disaster in Mumbai and throw the blame on Muslim extremists. The purpose? Irreversible escalation between India and Pakistan... The attack in Mumbai had exactly the same purpose: to polarize, to cause another cycle of grief and vengeance. Those provoking the conflict gain reputation, influence and power from it. In their world view, all this suffering leads to Utopia, a vision of paradise here and in the beyond”.




LITURGY

From prayer to player


Jesus and Peter

Jesus and Peter

“The liturgical texts translated after the Council document the transformation of some cardinal concepts of Catholic doctrine. The disappearance or decrease in prayer formulas of classical terms indicating the supernatural and the meaning of Christian revelation, first of all that of grace, has favored both the secularization of the rite and of Catholic mentality. Hence few today believe that the liturgical texts serve the priest to talk to God; they evoke a script of which the priest is the director or leading actor, the vogue word of ‘modern’ liturgists”. So Paolo Isotta, in Corriere della Sera of 3 December.





Alexei II [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Alexei II [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Pope/1
Benedict XVI’s emotion on the death of Alexei II

“I have learned with deep emotion the sad news of the death of His Holiness Alexei II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, and with brotherly affection I wish to convey to the Holy Synod and all the members of the Russian Orthodox Church my most sincere condolences, assuring my spiritual closeness in this moment of great sadness”. With these words the telegram sent by the Holy Father Benedict XVI on the occasion of the death of His Holiness Alexei II begins. This is the conclusion of the message: “At the painful time of his departure, while his mortal body is entrusted to the earth pending the resurrection, may the memory of this servant of the Gospel of Christ be of support to those who are now in pain and an encouragement to those who gather the inheritance in guiding the venerable Russian Orthodox Church”.


Pope/2
Benedict XVI and De Gasperi

“A wise and balanced guide for Italy in the difficult years of post-war reconstruction and, at the same time, an outstanding statesman capable of looking to Europe with a broad Christian vision”. Such was the eulogy that Benedict XVI gave to the Christian Democrat statesman Alcide De Gasperi in the homily of the mass on the first Sunday of Advent, 30 November last. The mass was celebrated in the Basilica of Saint Laurence Outside the Walls, on the occasion of the 1750th anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint Laurence the Deacon.


Roman Curia/1
Cardinal Cañizares new Prefect of Divine Worship

On 9 December, the Pope accepted the resignation presented by the Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, on grounds of age (he was 75 years old on 1 November 2008), from the post of Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and called the 63 year-old Spanish Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Archbishop of Toledo since 2002, to succeed him in the same position.


Roman Curia/2
Monsignor Di Felice protonotary “participant”

On 2 December, the Pope included in the College of the seven apostolic Protonotaries “de numero participantium” (the “notaries” of the Holy See) 74 year-old Monsignor Francesco Di Felice, from Abruzzo, Liberian canon since 2006 and previously undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family.


Sacred College
Death of Cardinal Dulles

On 12 December the U.S. Cardinal Avery Dulles, a Jesuit theologian, created cardinal by John Paul II in 2001, died at 90 years of age. On that date then the Sacred College was composed of 191 members of whom 116 voters in an eventual conclave. Nine Jesuit cardinals remain, only two of whom are voters.


Culture
The admiration of Citati for Pope Wojtyla

“I had and I have great admiration for Pope John Paul II. He was not a pope like the others: a pope primarily represents the tradition of the Church, and speaks it forth. Certainly John Paul II venerated Christian tradition very much. But he was also a man: as a pope is not. He ate, skied, talked, prayed, embraced, smiled, spoke, wept, as no pope has ever done. At the same time, he was or considered himself to be a reincarnation of Christ, as his whole existence demonstrates, the attack, the bullets sent in the crown of Our Lady of Fatima, the insight into designs and miracles, and his death – an imitation of the events of Golgotha. For these two reasons the faithful were so fascinated by his figure”. Thus Pietro Citati in la Repubblica of 15 December.


Italy
Golser bishop of Bolzano-Bressanone

On 5 December, the Pope appointed 65 year-old Monsignor Karl Golser, of the diocesan clergy, Bishop of Bolzano-Bressanone. Ordained in 1968 in Rome, Golser received a master’s degree in Moral Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1973 and in Philosophy from the University of Rome in 1979. In his ministry in the diocese he held the following positions: from 1982 to 1991 parish priest of Sarnes; from 1982 until now professor at the Bressanone Theological Academic Studio; from 1991 until now, Canon Penitentiary; from 2001 to 2007 Dean and Vice Dean of the Academic Studio; from 2006 to now president of the Italian Theological Association for the Study of morality. From 1977 to 1982 he was an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Diplomacy/1
New nuncios to Bolivia and Mozambique

On 21 November, the Pope appointed 54 year-old Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to Panama since 2005, as apostolic nuncio to Bolivia. He takes the place of Archbishop Luciano Suriani who, appointed last February, had to leave the country for health reasons.
On 12 December, the Pope appointed 55 year-old Archbishop Antonio Arcari, from Lombardy, apostolic nuncio to Honduras since 2003, as pontifical representative in Mozambique.


Diplomacy/2
New Argentine ambassador

On 5 December, the Pope received the credentials of the new Argentine ambassador to the Holy See. He is 55 year-old lawyer Juan Pablo Cafiero, a former Deputy and Minister in the National Parliament, and in recent months Adviser to the Government of the Province of Buenos Aires for Political Reform and Dialogue.




BENEDICT XVI

Original sin and the beauty of Mary


The Grotto of Lourdes

The Grotto of Lourdes

On the occasion of the feastday of the Immaculate Conception, Monday 8 December, the Holy Father, introduced the recitation of the Angelus with these brief words: “The mystery of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which we are solemnly celebrating today, reminds us of two fundamental truths of our faith: original sin first of all, and then the victory over it through Christ’s grace, a victory that shines in a sublime way in Mary Most Holy. The existence of what the Church calls “original sin” is unfortunately glaringly obvious, if we merely look around us and first of all within ourselves. The experience of evil is in fact so consistent that it imposes itself and raises in us the question: where does it come from? Especially for a believer, this question is even more profound: if God, Who is absolute Goodness, created all things where does evil come from? The first pages of the Bible (Gen 1-3) respond precisely to this fundamental question which challenges every human generation with the narrative of Creation and of the fall of our first parents: God created all things so that they might exist and in particular He created the human being in His own image; He did not make death, but death entered the world through the envy of the devil (cf. Wis 1, 13-14; 2, 23-24), who, rebelling against God, deceived men and women and induced them to rebel as well. This is the drama of the freedom which God accepts to the very end for love, but promises that a woman’s son will crush the head of the ancient serpent (Gen 3, 15)”. Then he added in conclusion: “Dear friends, in Mary Immaculate, we contemplate the reflection of the Beauty that saves the world: the beauty of God resplendent in the Face of Christ. In Mary this beauty is totally pure, humble, free from all pride and presumption. Thus the Virgin showed herself to Saint Bernadette, 150 years ago, in Lourdes, and thus she is venerated at numerous shrines”.


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