from issue no.03 - 2009


The Pope, Medvedev and St Nicholas

Giorgio Napolitano handing over the keys of the Russian church of San Nicola in Bari to Dimitrij Medvedev BR[© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Giorgio Napolitano handing over the keys of the Russian church of San Nicola in Bari to Dimitrij Medvedev BR[© Associated Press/LaPresse]

On 1 March, the Russian church of San Nicola in Bari was handed over to the Orthodox Patriarchate. At the ceremony, which was attended by the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano, the President of the Russian Federation, Dimitrij Medvedev spoke. Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi read a telegram sent by Benedict XVI, in which the Pope, in addition to renewing “heartfelt congratulations” to the new Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill I, said: “How can we not recognize that this beautiful church awakens in us the longing for full unity and keeps alive in us the commitment to work for unity among all Christ’s disciples?”.


“Everything started in 1979”

John Paul II during the trip to Poland in June 1979

John Paul II during the trip to Poland in June 1979

Did the economic and political crisis we are experiencing start in the “crucial” year of 1979? That was the question set out in a letter addressed to the section of the Corriere della Sera edited by Sergio Romano, and published 9 March. In reply, Romano, after touching on the unpredictability of history, wrote: “It can happen, however, that the rivers cross each other, become tributaries of each other, or flow together into the same delta ... The success of Margaret Thatcher and the election of Ronald Reagan to the White House the following year helped to make the ‘marketplace’ the winning ideology of the years in which the Soviet Union tried in vain to reform its communism. The Iranian revolution created a theocratic state and islamized all the national conflicts of the Middle East, from Palestine to Lebanon, from Algeria to Afghanistan. The Afghan war wore out the Soviet system and accelerated its end, but also created Osama bin Laden and a particularly radical form of religious Islamism. The election to the papacy of the Archbishop of Krakow strengthened Polish national sentiment and further weakened the USSR in the crucial stage of its crisis. And in the vacuum left by the Soviet Union a reckless and buccaneering version of the free market made its triumphal entry. In that sense, it’s possible to say with some exaggeration that ‘everything begins in 1979’”.


Let Israel learn to negotiate with the enemy

Children in Gaza [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Children in Gaza [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

In La Stampa on 28 March, Arrigo Levi published an article on the new Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu. In stressing that the key point for the survival or otherwise of the coalition will be the way it deals with the Palestinian issue, he concludes: “But here also a terrain rich in possibilities and tough choices opens up for America and Europe (as well as for Israel). To open or not to open a window of negotiations with Hamas also? There are those who deem it possible and indeed necessary (it is with the enemies that one negotiates, said Dayan), with topics that must be realistically assessed”. Title of the article: Let Israel learn to negotiate with the enemy.

Barack Obama [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Barack Obama [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Obama and the new beginning with Iran

“But let us remember the words that were written by the poet Saadi [one of the major Persian poets, ed.] so many years ago: “The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence”. With the coming of the new season, we are reminded of this precious humanity that we all share. And we can once again call upon this spirit as we seek the promise of a new beginning”. Thus ends the message that the U.S. President Barack Obama sent to Iran, in what la Repubblica of 21 March indicates as a “historic opening to Iran”.

Hillary Clinton and the new beginning with Russia

“The hour for realism has sounded, the time to explore a fresh start with Russia has come”. So the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her debut in the NATO arena, as reported by the Corriere della Sera on 6 March.

Di Segni and the Popes in the Synagogue

“The Pope will go to the synagogue in Rome in the Fall, the second pope after John Paul II. ‘At least the third’, smiles the Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni. ‘The first was a certain Peter ...’”. Thus in the Corriere della Sera of 13 March.

Messori, Ratzinger and the bet on the truth of the Gospel

In an article published on 23 March in Corriere della Sera, Vittorio Messori recalled the genesis of his book, born of a dialogue with the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: “As title for the book that was to grow out of that conversation, we were in agreement on the word ‘relationship’, but it was the Cardinal Prefect himself who suggested ‘on faith’ rather than ‘on the Church’. He confirmed the obvious, but too often forgotten truth: the prius is the faith, while the ecclesiastical institution, moral teaching, social commitment are only derivatives, effects, unfounded consequences – if not absurd – if beforehand they didn’t have the bet on the truth of the Gospel. And it is precisely this bet that ‘is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel’ [the quote is taken from the letter that Pope Ratzinger recently sent to the bishops, ed.].

Sacred College
Cardinal Scheid’s resignation

On 27 February, Benedict XVI accepted the resignation from the pastoral guidance of the archdiocese of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, presented by Cardinal Eusébio Oscar Scheid, a Dehonian, 76 years old in December. In his place he appointed 59 year-old Cistercian Orani João Tempesta, Archbishop of Belém do Pará since 2004. Tempesta made his religious profession in 1969 and was ordained priest in 1974. Before being promoted to Belém do Pará, he was the bishop of São José do Rio Preto from 1997 to 2004. In 2007 he participated as a delegate at the Fifth General Conference of CELAM in Aparecida. He is currently chairman of the National Commission on Culture, Education and Social Communications and actual member of the Permanent Council, the Pastoral Council and the Economic Council of the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil.

Spiritual exercises preached by Cardinal Arinze

From 1 to 7 March, in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace the spiritual exercises for the Pope and the Roman Curia were held, with the participation of Benedict XVI. The meditations were given this year by Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship, on the subject “The priest meets Jesus and follows him”.

Vegliò president of the Council for Migrants

On 28 February the Pope accepted the resignation, made on grounds of age, by Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, 76 years old in November, from the office of President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral of Migrants and Travelers, and has nominated 71 year-old Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò, Secretary of the Congregation for Oriental Churches since 2001, to succeed him in that position.

Tessarollo Bishop of Chioggia

On 28 March 63 year-old Adriano Tessarollo, a native of Tezze sul Brenta, in the province and diocese of Vicenza, was appointed Bishop of Chioggia. A priest since 1971, Tessarollo from 2007 was archpriest of St Peter the Apostle in Schio.

New Nuncios to the Baltic Countries and Africa

On 14 March, the Pope appointed Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi from Lombardy, 61 years old in June, Apostolic Nuncio to Cuba since 2004, Apostolic Nuncio to Lithuania and Estonia. On 25 March Bonazzi was appointed nuncio to Latvia also.
On 18 March Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop and Apostolic Nuncio to the Republic of Congo and Gabon 48 year-old Polish Monsignor Jan Pawlowski Romeo. Ordained priest in 1985, a graduate in canon law, Pawlowski entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1991, and has subsequently served in the pontifical representations in the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Thailand, Brazil, France and, ultimately, in the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.

Italiano Español Français Deutsch Português