from issue no.12 - 2008


“Three light tents”

ITransfiguration/I, Beato Angelico, Museum of San Marco, Florence

ITransfiguration/I, Beato Angelico, Museum of San Marco, Florence

“I have here in front of me, perused with trepidation, then with perplexity and now with disenchantment the ‘New IEC version’ of the Bible, which was to reveal to the Italian people, the treasures of the wisdom of the Old and New Testament”: that, in brief, is the impression that the reading of the new translation of the Holy Bible, published in October, left on Professor Carlo Ossola. Ossola dedicated an article in the Sunday insert of Il Sole-24Ore of December 28 to the publication, published by the Italian Episcopal Conference and the Union of Italian Catholic publishers and booksellers (UELCI), entitled Tent, do not make a hut of yourself, in which, among other things, one reads: “The many vernacularizations of sacred Scripture have, fortunately, created in memory and in the liturgy a consolidated substratum difficult to impinge on: so we can say that in the more narrative sections the biblical text seems to flow as always, presenting us with the history of a people on its journey to the Promised Land and to salvation. Unfortunately, the trouble begins where you alter the wisdom of the Septuagint (the Greek text) or the Vulgate (the Latin text), which had calibrated with balance and awareness of theology and history the difficult articulation of Divine Revelation”. Ossola takes as an example “the Transfiguration (Mt 17, 1-9, Mk 9, 2-8; Lk 9, 28-36), the glory of Jesus, the admiring wonder of the apostles. The conclusion, in all three texts – as they are translated today – is thus summarized in the words of Peter: ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three huts, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah’. Three huts? All previous versions said: “Let us make three tents” (Greek: skhnàw treîw; Latin tria tabernacula, that is precisely “three tents”). Three light tents, for people journeying and on the move, desert and prayer tents (tabernacula). Now, perhaps as a tribute to Hebrew roots, they become well-constructed ‘huts’. If also in the distant origins the Hebrew terminology was such, where did the historical consciousness of the Christian Tradition, which for two thousand years has been nourished by the Greek of the Septuagint and Jerome’s Vulgate end up?... Such translation comes into shameful conflict with the very theological heart not only of Christianity, but even of the Old Testament, where we read, also in the new translation (the translators have obviously not spoken to each other, have not made use of the computer for the concordances, even though easy now, creating tremendous cacophonies of sense): “That very night the word of God came to Nathan as follows: ‘Go and tell my servant David: “Yahweh says this: You must not build me a temple for me to live in. I have not lived in a house from the day I brought Israel out (but it really is: led Israel out of Egypt) until today, I have kept travelling from tent to tent and from shelter to shelter’” 1Chronicles 17, 3-6)”.

(1977-2007): the collapse of churchgoers in Italy

On 22 December an investigation into spirituality in Umbria appeared in la Repubblica, in which, the subtitle reports “a boom in visits to monasteries, of devotional retreats, of confessions”.
Among the interviewees, the Bishop of Foligno, Gualtiero Sigismondi, who said among other things: “The trouble is that too many initiatives conceal the absence of initiative: before standing on our feet, we have to get on our knees”.
“The boom of confessions is astonishing, many people are asking to be heard”, says the Bishop of Terni, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, in his turn.
The report is accompanied by statistics. la Repubblica writes that the churchgoers in Italy in 1977 were 48%, while in 2007 they were 9.5%. Of the latter 85% are over 65 years of age.

The Veneto, Friuli, Venezia Giulia areas, young people and the Church

“Among young people the image of the Christian God is disappearing, the dogma that Christ is the son of God is shaky, distance from the Church as institution is increasing. This is the result of a sharp-edged investigation into the world of youth conducted by Alessandro Castagnaro, president of the socio-religious Triveneto Observatory, and blessed by the Bishop of Trieste, Monsignor Eugenio Ravignani”. Such is the beginning of an article published by Marco Politi in la Repubblica on 31 December in which, figures at hand, the growing dechristianization of young people in Trieste, Venice and Pordenone is detailed. Thus the article concludes: “But also within the Church, bishops must ask themselves many questions. In Venice, for example, the Patriarch is one of the most intellectually brilliant personalities of the Italian Church, and yet the Church’s message does not seem capable of penetrating deeply into the world of youth”.

New consultors to the Congregation for the Clergy

On 30 December, the Holy Father appointed fourteen new Consultors to the Congregation for the Clergy. Five are Italians: Monsignor Giuseppe Sciacca, a Sicilian from the diocese of Acireale, prelate auditor of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota; Don Valerio Michele Andriano, of the archdiocese of Turin; Don Davide Cito, from Milan, of the personal Prelature of Opus Dei, a professor of criminal law at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce in Rome; Don Enrico dal Covolo, a Salesian, professor in the Faculty of Christian and Classical Literature at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome; Don Alberto Franzini, of the Diocese of Cremona.

Zenari nuncio in Syria

On 30 December, the Pope appointed 63 year-old Venetian Archbishop Mario Zenari who was the papal representative in Sri Lanka from 2004, apostolic nuncio to Syria.

First resident ambassador of the Seychelles

On 19 December Benedict XVI received the credentials of the Italian Luigi Graziano Triboldi, new ambassador – and the first to reside in Rome – of the Republic of the Seychelles to the Holy See.

Eleven new non-resident ambassadors

On 18 December the Pope received the credentials of eleven new non-resident ambassadors to Rome. They are the representatives of Malawi, Sweden, Sierra Leone, Iceland, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Belize, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, Bahrain, Fiji Islands.

Holy See-France agreement on educational qualifications

On 18 December 2008, in Paris, at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the Holy See and the French Republic signed an agreement on mutual recognition of degrees and diplomas of higher education. Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, signed for France. For the Holy See Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, signed. The ceremony took place in the treaty signing Hall of the Quai d’Orsay. The document consists of an Agreement and an Additional Protocol. L’Accord sur la reconnaissance des grades et diplômes dans l’enseignement supérieur consists of six articles, which define the object of the agreement, its sphere of application, its coming into force, the modalities of its enactment and the resolution of eventual disputes, as well as its duration. The Additional Protocol, for its part, sets out in detail the principles set forth in the Agreement, about the periods of study, degrees and diplomas, the continuation of studies in the same degree at a similar level or in a degree at a higher level.


Apparuit gratia

The holy picture chosen by the Pope for Christmas, with a sentence of Saint Paul’s from the Epistle to Titus 2, 11:
“The grace of God appeared for the salvation of all men”


Hamas, the 1967 borders and the war

A Palestinian girl at the Beituniya check point near Ramallah [© Reuters/Contrasto]

A Palestinian girl at the Beituniya check point near Ramallah [© Reuters/Contrasto]

“Gilad Shalit, the young Franco-Israeli hostage kidnapped by Hamas more than two years ago, is being treated well. Hamas and not the Palestinian Authority, represents the people. What Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has failed to achieve through negotiation, Hamas will get by force. Its claims have changed: Hamas is ready for an agreement with Israel on the basis of the borders of 4 June 1967. This is what, in essence, Khaled Meshaal, head of the Palestinian Islamic Movement, said to me in Damascus. It was midnight on 26 December 2008, the eve of the Israeli bombings of Gaza in response to the launching of missiles on Israel”. This is the beginning of an article by the Polish Jew Marek Halter, that appeared in la Repubblica of 30 December. Halter points out that “speaking of the 1967 borders, for a man who only a few months ago recommended the outright destruction of the Jewish State, represents a step forward”.

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