from issue no.02/03 - 2010


The Exorcist, the devil and the Church

Father Amorth, IMemorie di un esorcista. La mia vita in lotta contro Satana/I 
(Memoirs of an exorcist. My life fighting against Satan), Piemme, Milan 2010, 224 pp.,  euro 15.00

Father Amorth, IMemorie di un esorcista. La mia vita in lotta contro Satana/I (Memoirs of an exorcist. My life fighting against Satan), Piemme, Milan 2010, 224 pp., euro 15.00

“The Pope fully believes in the practice of deliverance from evil. Because the devil dwells in the Vatican. I am close to people who confirm it. Of course it is difficult to find evidence. And anyway, the consequences are there to see. Cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, bishops linked to the devil. When it comes to the ‘smoke of Satan’ in the sacred rooms it is all true. Even these recent stories of violence and pedophilia.” The words are those of Father Amorth, the most famous exorcist of the Church of Rome, given in an interview to Marco Ansaldo of la Repubblica on 10 March and headed I, an exorcist, and the devil in the Church.

Nancy Pelosi [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Nancy Pelosi [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Health care reform and St Joseph

“Today is the feast of St Joseph the Worker, which is especially important to Italian Americans, and today we remember and pray to St Joseph so he may do good to the workers of America, and this is exactly what the law on health care reform will do”. So said Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, in a press conference on 19 March. The mention of St Joseph by the Democrat Congresswoman appeared in La Stampa on 22 March.

The nuns and Catholic hospitals approve the health care reform

On the eve of the vote which ratified the adoption of health care reform in the United States, American nuns came out in favor of the law proposed by Barack Obama. On 19 March Corriere della Sera wrote: “In a letter to Congress, Network, a group that includes all 50 female religious orders and congregations of America, urged the passage of the bill in favor of the right to life... The stance of the US nuns follows the line of the Catholic Health Association, which comprises 600 hospitals and 1,400 Catholic nursing homes”.

Crociata: it is God who comes to meet us

“It is a good time for us to rediscover with renewed wonder that it is God who comes to meet us, irrespective of who we are and what we may have committed. Stooping down to us He grasps us in our relentless fall into a bottomless void”. So said Monsignor Mariano Crociata, Secretary General of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, in his homily for Ash Wednesday Mass to the priests, nuns and lay employees of the General Secretariat, reported in summary in Avvenire on 18 February. “Our initiative,” the bishop concluded, “lies entirely in the capacity He gives us to respond, to embrace and back His all”.

Father Lombardi against Christian fundamentalism as well

In early March, Nigeria was the scene of massacres that affected several Christian communities. Referring to these tragic events, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Press Office of the Holy See and Vatican Radio reiterated what had been stated earlier by the local bishops, that the fighting was of “a social, not religious nature”. In an interview published in Corriere della Sera on 9 March he went into more detail: “There is also a Christian fundamentalism of groups or sects engaged in intense proselytism, which may be provoking the reaction of opposing and violent fundamentalisms. It happens that Christians and Catholics in particular find themselves in difficulty because they are being lumped together. The Church, however, has always had an open and respectful attitude to dialogue. The key is to create the conditions for coexistence in peace”.

Sacred College
Maida, Williams and Herranz reach eighty

In March, three cardinals reached eighty. On 18 March the American Adam Joseph Maida, Archbishop of Detroit from 1990 to 2009. On the 20th the New Zealander Thomas Stafford Williams, Archbishop of Wellington from 1979 to 2005. On the 31st the Spaniard Julián Herranz, of the clergy of Opus Dei, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. In late March then the Sacred College of Cardinals numbered 182 of whom 108 would be voters in a possible conclave.

The US military do not want an attack on Iran

Iran? “The regime is having problems. Difficult to predict how long it can last. The Revolutionary Guard would like to change that dynamic. It’s plausible that the Pasdaran are trying to push Israel into attacking. This would allow them to unite the population in defense of the country”. So said the American Joseph Cirincione, one of the leading international experts on nuclear disarmament, in an interview in La Stampa of 2 March. And, when asked about the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran without a green light from the US, he replied: “It’s possible but very unlikely. The US military don’t want to start a third war in the Middle East. The Chief of Staff, Admiral Mullen said a few days ago that an attack would have ‘unwanted consequences’”.

International Commission on Medjugorje

On 17 March the Vatican press office released the news that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has established an International Commission of Inquiry on the “phenomena” at Medjugorje, to be chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. The Commission, “composed of cardinals, bishops, experts and consultants” will work “in confidence” and submit the outcome of their “study” to the same department.

Enrico Dal Covolo preached the spiritual exercises

From 21 to 27 February spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia were held in the Vatican. This year Benedict XVI called on Don Enrico Dal Covolo, postulator general of the Salesians, to preach. He offered meditations on the theme “Lessons” of God and the Church on the priestly vocation. After the retreat the Pope, addressing “dear Don Enrico,” thanked him “wholeheartedly” for “the passionate and very personal way in which he has led us in the path to Christ, in the path of renewal of our priesthood”.

Di Cerbo bishop of Alife-Caiazzo

On 6 March, Monsignor Valentino Di Cerbo, 67 in September, office head of the Italian section of the Secretariat of State since 2002, was appointed bishop of Alife-Caiazzo in Campania. Di Cerbo, originally from Frasso Telesino (Benevento), was ordained priest in 1968 and posted in the diocese of Rome.

New posts for nuncios

On 17 February Archbishop Alessandro D’Errico, Apostolic Nuncio to Bosnia-Herzegovina since 2005, was also made papal representative to Montenegro. On 20 February the Tanzanian Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, appointed nuncio to São Tomé and Principe on 6 February last, has also been made papal representative in Angola. On 13 March, the Irish Archbishop Eugene Martin Nugent, appointed nuncio to Madagascar on 13 February, was also made papal representative in Mauritius and the Seychelles. On 27 March the Croatian Archbishop Petar Rajic, who was appointed nuncio to Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar last December, was also made papal representative in Yemen and the UAE.


Benedict XVI against pedophilia

“Let the little children come to me” (IMt/I 19, 14)

“Let the little children come to me” (IMt/I 19, 14)

On 19 March, the solemnity of St Joseph Patron of the universal Church, Pope Benedict XVI signed the Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, that confronts the crimes of pedophilia within the Church. We report some passages.
To the victims of abuse and their families: “You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, He still bears the wounds of His own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church. I know some of you find it difficult even to enter the doors of a church after all that has occurred. Yet Christ’s own wounds, transformed by His redemptive sufferings, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope. I believe deeply in the healing power of his self-sacrificing love – even in the darkest and most hopeless situations – to bring liberation and the promise of a new beginning”.
To priests and religious who have abused children: “You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders in which Christ makes Himself present in us and in our actions. Together with the immense harm done to victims, great damage has been done to the Church and to the public perception of the priesthood and religious life. I urge you to examine your conscience, take responsibility for the sins you have committed, and humbly express your sorrow... Christ’s redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil. At the same time, God’s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing”.
To the priests and religious of Ireland: “All of us are suffering as a result of the sins of our confreres who betrayed a sacred trust or failed to deal justly and responsibly with allegations of abuse. In view of the outrage and indignation which this has provoked, not only among the lay faithful but among yourselves and your religious communities, many of you feel personally discouraged, even abandoned. I am also aware that in some people’s eyes you are tainted by association, and viewed as if you were somehow responsible for the misdeeds of others. At this painful time, I want to acknowledge the dedication of your priestly and religious lives and apostolates, and I invite you to reaffirm your faith in Christ, your love of His Church and your confidence in the Gospel’s promise of redemption, forgiveness and interior renewal. In this way, you will demonstrate for all to see that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (cf. Rm 5, 20)”.


Bagnasco: the mysterious and gratuitous “divine going before”

Angelo Bagnasco [© Romano Siciliani]

Angelo Bagnasco [© Romano Siciliani]

“‘I beg you in the name of Christ, be reconciled to God’ (2 Cor 5, 20): there is nothing routine or to be taken for granted seasonally in the Lenten offering. First and foremost there is no agitation on our part but rather God’s initiative, there is a mysterious and gratuitous ‘divine going before’: allowing ourselves to be reached, to surrender to His love and call remains our task. Only God, in fact can attract us.” Such were the opening words of the speech of Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, to the Permanent Council of the Italian Bishops’ Conference on 22 March. In his speech, referring to the polemics against the Pope as a result of the scandal of pedophile priests, the bishop expressed, on behalf of the Italian bishops, their closeness to the Pope in these words: “The more there are those who vainly try to sully his limpid and lovable character, the more the people of God look to him with emotion and pride. Not least for that reason, we renew our closeness even more strongly and gratefully, our deep affection and our full and concrete communion”. The Cardinal finished his speech thus: “I conclude by recalling a Catholic layman, Vittorio Bachelet, who around thirty years ago – on 12 February 1980 – was treacherously, but also deceptively, killed on the steps of his University. He said: ‘In this phase of transition, at this turning point in civilization to which the Second Vatican Council has responded in whose fruitful wake we have worked and pledge to work, spiritual strength is especially required, strength that, in the poverty of human resources, witnesses its fidelity to Christ in a charity open and free to all our brothers making itself transparent to His countenance. But this’, he added, ‘is not possible without giving one’s life as did Father Maximilian Kolbe in the concentration camp, but as each of us can and must do every day so that a brother, so that our brothers may have a little more of life’ (Vittorio Bachelet, Discourses 1964-1973)”.


Psychoanalysis and Hitler

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler

“A picture, ten centimeters by twenty, almost a postcard. The signature ‘A. Hitler 1910’. And written on the back in pencil, in Italian: ‘Sigmund Freud clinic’ ”. These were the opening words of an article in Corriere della Sera on 14 February entitled The Hitler watercolor up for auction. “It was in Freud’s study”. The article goes on to explain how the painting had been “brought to Italy by a young American soldier, just after the war, who claimed to have taken it from Freud’s clinic”. In the article, despite all the due doubts in the case, various theories are put forward about how Freud might have come into possession of the painting. It concludes: “Of course, nothing so far has suggested that the two ‘knew’ each other. It’s also possible... that the watercolor was bought by a secretary or a Freud unaware of who the painter was. Perhaps – provided the signature is not the work of a forger or a joke by some prankster who amused himself by linking the two destinies on front and back – we shall never know if Freud has studied the picture “clinically”. But it’s also weird to think that he may have passed umpteen times in front of it without noticing anything”.

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