Columns
from issue no.04 - 2009


THEOLOGY

The relevance of gnosis and the particular story of Jesus


IThe Risen Jesus and the disciples/I

IThe Risen Jesus and the disciples/I

“Today, in the wake of Gnosticism, many conceptions of salvation that deny or reduce the action of salvation of the living God in history run through our culture: little concerned with the ‘history of Jesus of Nazareth’ they tend to relegate the event of the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus to simple eloquence of love”. Thus Enzo Bianchi in a piece that appeared in La Stampa on 3 May.




BENEDICT XVI

The consecration is a prayer


The Pope in Saint John Lateran during the mass in ICoena Domini/I BR[© Osservatore Romano]

The Pope in Saint John Lateran during the mass in ICoena Domini/I BR[© Osservatore Romano]

During the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, on 9 April, Pope Benedict XVI, commenting on the Roman Canon, said: “The first thing to strike us is that the account of institution is not an independent phrase, but starts with a relative pronoun: qui pridie. This ‘qui’ connects the entire narrative to the preceding section of the prayer, ‘let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord’”. In this way, the institution narrative is linked to the preceding prayer, to the entire Canon, and it too becomes a prayer. It is by no means merely an interpolated narrative, nor is it a case of an authoritative self-standing text that actually interrupts the prayer. It is a prayer. And only in the course of the prayer is the priestly act of consecration accomplished, which becomes transformation, transubstantiation of our gifts of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ”.
The collection of the Mass was for the “support of the Catholic community in Gaza”.




CHURCH

L’Osservatore Romano and Obama’s surprises


Obama with his family [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Obama with his family [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

On 30 April L’Osservatore Romano, published an article analyzing the first hundred days of the new US presidency. We quote a passage: “Also on ethical issues – which have considerably concerned the Catholic episcopate since the election campaign – Obama does not seem to have confirmed the radical innovations that he had aired. The new guidelines regarding research on embryonic stem-cells do not in fact follow up on the change of course outlined months ago. They do not allow the creation of new embryos for research or therapeutic purposes, for cloning or reproductive purposes, and federal funds may only be used for experimentation with redundant embryos. In this way the grounds for criticism in the face of unacceptable forms of bio-engineering that run counter to the very human identity of the embryo have not disappeared, but the new regulation is less permissive. A certain surprise was also caused during these days by the presentation of a bill by the Democratic Party: the Pregnant Women Support Act, aimed at limiting the number of abortions in the United States through initiatives to help pregnant women. It is not a denial of the views so far expressed by Obama on the interruption of pregnancy, but the draft legislation could represent a shift in support of motherhood”.




MIDDLE EAST

“Hitler’s nephew in Israel”


Adolf Hitler [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Adolf Hitler [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

“I do not like to hear the Palestinians talked about with condescension. The Holocaust and the Third Reich moulded me. I am a pacifist and I think that democracy proves itself by respecting the rights of minorities”. So Hans Hitler (surname changed to Hiler, as the article specifies), nephew of the Führer, now a university professor in Israel, in an interview that appeared in la Repubblica of 23 April entitled: Hitler’s nephew in Israel: “I, a Jew, teach the Talmud”.





Dionigi Tettamanzi [© Romano Siciliani]

Dionigi Tettamanzi [© Romano Siciliani]

Sacred College/1
Tettamanzi – like Poletto – confirmed for two years

On 14 March, the Archbishop of Milan Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi was 75 years old, and therefore, according to the canonical norms in force, offered his resignation to the Pope. On 9 April, during the Chrism Mass, the auxiliary bishop and vicar general of Milan, Carlo Maria Redaelli, read a message sent by the Apostolic Nuncio to Italy, Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, to Tettamanzi which specifies: “The Holy Father Benedict XVI has accepted donec aliter provideatur [until otherwise provided, ed.] your resignation, further stating that Your Eminence may continue for two years in the governance of the archdiocese”.
When last year, on 18 March, Cardinal Severino Poletto of Turin turned 75, he also received a similar letter from the nuncio.


Sacred College/2
The death of Cardinal Betti

On 1 April the 87 year-old Franciscan, Cardinal Umberto Betti, created cardinal by Benedict XVI in 2007, died. In late April, the Sacred College was made up of 186 cardinals, 115 of whom are electors in a possible conclave.


Italy
The earthquake and the Rosary

“On that terrible night of 6 April, when I managed to survive, in the village there was only the moaning of those under the rubble calling for help and the voices of the living... When the tremor ended I went back home. I absolutely had to get one thing, my rosary. I was in danger but I couldn’t do otherwise. When I grasped it between my fingers, I thought that I was ready to help my fellow villagers”. Words of Gabriele De Cata, district doctor of Onna, a village completely destroyed by the earthquake that devastated L’Aquila and its surroundings, in an article published in Avvenire on 28 April.


Curia/1
Zimowski to Pastoral Health

On 18 April the Pope accepted the resignation submitted on grounds of age by Mexican Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, 76 years old in January, from the office of President of the Pontifical Council for Health Workers and in his place appointed the 60 year-old Pole Zygmunt Zimowski, bishop of Radom since 2002, at the same time raising him to the dignity of archbishop. Zimowski, ordained priest in 1973, began his service with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in February 1983, where he remained until his appointment to Radom.


Curia/2
Don Sodi president of the Academy of Theology

On 4 April, the Pope appointed Don Manlio Sodi, a Salesian, professor in the Theology Faculty of the Pontifical Salesian University and up until now regular member of the same Academy, as president of the Pontifical Academy of Theology.


Curia/3
Father Morerod Secretary of the International Theological Commission

On 22 April, the Pope appointed as Secretary General of the International Theological Commission and consultant of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Dominican Father Charles Morerod, dean of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas.


Appointments/1
New archbishops in Westminster and Toledo. New bishop in Hong Kong

On 3 April, the Pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who will be 77 years old in August, as Archbishop of Westminster, a post he held since 2000. In his place he appointed Vincent Nichols, 64 years old in November, Archbishop of Birmingham since 2000. Ordained priest in 1969, in 1983 Nichols was elected secretary general of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. In 1991 he was then appointed auxiliary of Westminster, a post he retained until the promotion to Birmingham.
On 15 April, the Pope accepted the resignation of the Salesian Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, 77 years old in January, as Bishop of Hong Kong, a post he held since 2002. He is succeeded by John Tong Hon, 70 years old in July, auxiliary since 1996 and coadjutor since 2008 of the same diocese.
On 16 April, the Pope named as Archbishop of Toledo the primate of Spain, Braulio Rodríguez Plaza, who was Archbishop of Valladolid from 2002. Ordained priest in 1972, Rodríguez Plaza was previously bishop of Osma Soria (1987-1995) and Salamanca (1995-2002).


Appointments/2
D’Ambrosio to Lecce, Paluzzi to Montevergine, Farina to Caserta

On 16 April, the Pope accepted the resignation of Cosmo Francesco Ruppi, 77 years old in June, as Archbishop of Lecce, a post he held since 1988. In his place he appointed Domenico Umberto D’Ambrosio, 68 years old in September, Archbishop of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, his diocese of origin, since 2003. Ordained priest in 1965, D’Ambrosio was Bishop of Termoli-Larino from 1989 to 1999, and Archbishop of Foggia-Bovino from 1999 to 2003.
On 18 April, the Pope appointed Abbot Ordinary of the territorial abbey of Montevergine the 73 year-old Benedictine Father Dom Beda (Umberto) Paluzzi, originally from Ferentino, prior- apostolic administrator of the same territorial abbey since 2006.
On 25 April, the Pope accepted the resignation of Raffaele Nogaro, 75 years old on 31 December last, as bishop of Caserta, a post he held since 1990. In his place he appointed 67 year-old Pietro Farina, Bishop of Alife-Caiazzo since 1999, a native of Maddaloni, in the diocese and province of Caserta. Ordained priest in 1966, Farina is a member of the Secular Institute of the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ, and was formerly vicar general of Caserta.


Diplomacy/1
Memorandum between the Holy See and the League of Arab States

On 23 April in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Secretariat of State and the League of Arab States. Signed for the Secretariat of State by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States, and, for the League of Arab States, by Amre Moussa, Secretary-General. There were present, among others, for the Holy See Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, and for the League of Arab States, Walid Al Gargani, Head of Mission of the Arab League to the Holy See. “The Agreement”, states a communiqué from the Vatican Press Office, “further strengthens the ties of cooperation existing between the Holy See and the League of Arab States, especially at the political and cultural level, to promote peace, security and regional and international stability. It further offers instruments for consultation between the two parties to deal also with initiatives of interreligious dialogue”. The Agreement came into force with the signing by both parties.
On April 24 then, Benedict XVI received Amre Moussa in audience.
“During the course of cordial talks”, we read in a subsequent release of the Vatican Press Office, “the importance of the Agreement was stressed, intended to foster ever increasing collaboration between the two sides to promote peace and justice in the world. Particular emphasis was given to the role of interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Finally there was an exchange of views on the international situation, especially in the Middle East, and on the need to find a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other conflicts that afflict the region”.


Diplomacy/2
New Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the Holy See

On 3 April, the Pope received the credentials of the new Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the Holy See. He is 59 year-old engineer Victor Manuel Céspedes Grimaldi, a columnist since 1969 in the main national newspapers on the activities of the Catholic Church and from 2000 to 2002 government co-ordinator for the development of a national agenda for development.


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