from issue no.05 - 2010


Prayers and esteem for the Church and for the noble Chinese people

Matteo Ricci

Matteo Ricci

“Father Ricci went to China not to bring science and Western culture, but to bring the Gospel, to make God known. He writes: ‘For over twenty years every morning and every night I prayed in tears to Heaven. I know the Lord of Heaven has compassion for living creatures and forgives them... . The truth about the Lord of Heaven is already in the hearts of men. But humans do not understand it immediately, and, moreover, are not inclined to reflect on similar issues’ (Il vero significato del “Signore del Cielo”, [The true meaning of the “Lord of Heaven”], Rome 2006, pp. 69-70). And it was indeed while bringing the Gospel, that Father Ricci found in his interlocutors the demand for a wider confrontation, so that the meeting motivated by faith also became a dialogue between cultures; a disinterested dialogue, free from economic or political ambition for power, lived in friendship, which makes the work of Father Ricci and his disciples one of the highest and happiest points in the relationship between China and the West”. With these words, Benedict XVI recalled the figure of Father Matteo Ricci, on the fourth centenary of his death. He concluded: “Like Father Matteo Ricci, today I too express my profound esteem for the noble Chinese people and their ancient culture, convinced that their renewed encounter with Christianity will bring abundant fruits of good, as it then encouraged peaceful coexistence between peoples. Thank you”. The Pope’s speech was published in L’Osservatore Romano of May 30 with the title Prayers and esteem for the Church and for the noble Chinese people.


The assassination of Bishop Luigi Padovese

Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, celebrates 
the funeral rites of Bishop Padovese, in the Cathedral, 14 June 2010 BR[© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, celebrates the funeral rites of Bishop Padovese, in the Cathedral, 14 June 2010 BR[© Associated Press/LaPresse]

“I am profoundly distressed by the death of Bishop Padovese, who has greatly contributed to the preparation of the Synod; his collaboration would have been invaluable in this Synod. Let us commend his soul to the goodness of the Lord. However, this shadow has nothing to do with the themes and reality of our journey since we must not attribute this event to Turkey or to the Turks. It is something about which we have little information. It was certainly not a political or religious assassination but a personal matter. We are still awaiting a full explanation, but do not let us now confuse this tragic situation with the dialogue with Islam.” These are the words of Benedict XVI in comment on the assassination of Monsignor Luigi Padovese, killed in Iskenderun, Turkey, on 3 June, delivered on 4 June in the meeting with reporters during the flight to Cyprus.


The impotence of the Cross and omnipotence of God

Benedict XVI and Sheikh Nazim in Cyprus [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Benedict XVI and Sheikh Nazim in Cyprus [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

During the recent visit to Cyprus, Benedict XVI announced the instrumentum laboris of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops which will meet in Rome next October. “There is a revelatory point in the document”, said Giancarlo Zizola in la Repubblica on 7 June, “where an explicit criticism (novel in this form) is made of Christian fundamentalist groups that ‘go so far as to justify, basing themselves on Sacred Scripture, the political injustice imposed on the Palestinians’. The invective of Urs von Balthasar, a friend of Ratzinger, against groups of ‘Christian Mamelukes, ready to swing their swords to conquer the world’, with the risk of ‘making the Church suspect and hateful both to Christians and non-Christians’, comes back to mind. ‘Who does such things’, said the theologian and cardinal, ‘has no exact idea of the impotence of the Cross or of the omnipotence of God’”.


Appeal for peace by the Jewish Diaspora

Bernard-Henri Lévy [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Bernard-Henri Lévy [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

“Israel faces existential threats. Far from underestimating the threats from its external enemies, we know that the danger also lies in the occupation and the continuing pursuit of settlements in the West Bank and in the Arab districts of East Jerusalem. These policies are morally and politically wrong and feed the unacceptable delegitimization process that Israel currently faces abroad”. These are the words of the ‘Call for reason’ that the promoters of ‘JCall’ (‘European Jewish call for reason’) sent out on 3 May last. Among them, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Alain Finkielkraut and Daniel Cohn-Bendit. The ‘JCall’ petition (inspired by the American Association ‘JStreet’, founded in 2008 to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians), deemed it “is essential therefore that the European Union, along with the United States, put pressure on both parties and help them achieve a reasonable and rapid solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict. History confers on Europe a particular responsibility in this region of the world”. The Appeal, which underlines the fundamental importance for the future of Israel of “achieving peace with the Palestinian people on the basis of the Two States Solution”, invokes “our commitment to Israel as Jews of the Diaspora”. “Systematic support of Israeli government policy”, one reads among other things, “is dangerous and does not serve the true interests of the State of Israel”, whose survival “as a Jewish and democratic State”... “depends on the creation of a viable and sovereign Palestinian State”.

“Hegel is the Christocentric thinker par excellence”

“Hegel is the Christocentric thinker par excellence”

Cardinal Cottier and the religion of the Shoah

Il Foglio of 3 April published an article in which Cardinal Georges Cottier delineates a criticism of the ‘religion of the Shoah’ by Emil Fackenheim. “Fackenheim’s thought is a prominent expression of the ‘religion of the Shoah’ named and analyzed by Alain Besançon. The tragedy of the Holocaust, which struck the Jewish people and injured its memory in an indelible manner is unique, to the point that comparison with other tragedies is rejected as a blasphemy... The ‘religion of the Shoah’ makes the experience of the silence of God lived by so many innocent victims a metaphysical category. The relation to God becomes extraneous to the definition of the uniqueness of the event. There remains only the ‘fidelity of the Jewish people to itself’. If the Shoah, as Fackenheim interprets it is at the center of history, this means that it replaces Christ. But how, if God is absent from it, can this event have a redemptive value? Either there is no redemption or the redemption becomes the self-redemption of man, from which God has been expelled. We are in the logic of atheistic humanism. According to Fackenheim, we read, ‘Hegel is the Christocentric thinker par excellence’. But Hegel represents in fact a Christological gnosis, in which faith in Christ cannot itself be recognized.

A secular defense of the Pope

On 14 April, Piero Ostellino wrote the editorial in the Corriere della Sera under the title A secular defense of the Pope. It concluded: “A glaring paradox is also manifesting itself. It is precisely the current pontiff who is the object of the harshest attacks, who undoubtedly has the merit of having carried out a work of transparency within the Church, a phenomenon for too long passed over in silence, and of having tried to define and distinguish the areas of the civil courts, recognizing their prerogatives in the matter of prosecution of the crime of pedophilia, according to civil law, and those properly belonging to the Church, claiming autonomy in the condemnation of sin and the redemption of sinners, according to canon law and its own preaching (called Christian charity). Despite this, today Benedict XVI is at risk of passing as the Pope who covered up the pedophilia of priests. The distinction between sin and crime is an integral part of our culture and our civilization, which we cannot renounce. It sanctions the difference, and the distance, between the liberal-democratic State, founded on laws and individual rights, and the theocratic State: an oppressive order that, as tragically shown by the totalitarianisms also of the recent past, is not only identified in the union of throne and altar, but also and above all, in the rationalist illusion and voluntaristic attempt in trying to change, by coercive means, the nature of man. Faced with the unsettling spectacle we are witnessing, the large number of onlookers who remain silent in apparent indifference is, in the end, mind-boggling. As if our very liberal democracy was not indebted to the Christian message in which the sacredness and inviolability of the person are placed at the center”.

“Public importance” and the cost of communicative charisma

“This Pope, snubbed a bit by all, despite the words of curial deference that surround him, is perhaps finding an unexpected position. In a very difficult moment for the Church in Europe, which goes unnoticed only in our superficial country. Perhaps the position is unpopular because it indicates dimensions of spirituality that are not usual for a Church that goes in for its “public importance”, with the claim of an exclusive monopoly on morality. A Church that still harks back to the great charisma of communication, without taking into account what it cost”. This is a passage from the editorial of La Stampa on 21 June, written by Gian Enrico Rusconi.

Sacred College
The death of Cardinals Špidlík, Mayer and Poggi

On 16 April, the Moravian Jesuit Cardinal Tomáš Špidlík, ninety years old in December, died. On 30 April, the German Benedictine Cardinal Paul Augustin Mayer, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship, also died: he would have been 99 years old in May. On 4 May, the Italian Cardinal Luigi Poggi, archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church, 92 years old in November, died. On 24 June the Sacred College was composed of 179 members of whom 108 would be voters in a possible conclave.

A new secretary and two new undersecretaries in the Pontifical Councils. Corbellini to the Disciplinary Commission

On 6 May the Italian Scalabrinian Father Gabriele Ferdinando Bentoglio was appointed undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. He was attorney general and secretary general of his own religious Congregation.
On 14 June the fifty year-old Brazilian Monsignor José Aparecido Gonçalves de Almeida, was appointed undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts; he was an official in the department from 1994.
On 22 June the Italian Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, 46 years old in October, was appointed secretary of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”. Ordained a priest in 1989 for the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, he entered the department in 1996 and, from June 2004, was undersecretary there.
On 11 May, then, 63 year-old Bishop Giorgio Corbellini, president of the Office of work of the Apostolic See, was also appointed president of the Disciplinary Commission of the Roman Curia.

For a Middle East without nuclear weapons

“USA, China, France, Russia and Great Britain, the five permanent members of UN Security Council with veto power, declared themselves in favor of the proposal to create an area free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. In a statement issued by UN Headquarters, where the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was underway, the representatives of the five States said they wanted to “follow up on the resolution of the NPT in 1995” to achieve a Middle East region “free of nuclear weapons” and weapons of “mass destruction”. The declaration, which took place at the request of Egypt, is an implicit form of pressure on Israel which, though never officially acknowledging it, is the only Middle East power equipped with nuclear warheads”. Thus on Corriere della Sera on 7 May.

Rapprochement between Poland and Russia

“On 7 April I was in Katyn with Prime Minister Tusk, and I was deeply impressed by Putin’s speech. For the first time he said very clearly that totalitarianism was guilty of that massacre. Without the truth being recognized by both nations there can be no Polish-Russian reconciliation... I want to emphasize that the truth about Katyn and why those Polish leaders were going there is widespread throughout Russia. It could not have happened without Putin and Medvedev knowing. It is a fact of great political importance, concerning Russia itself and its stance towards Europe and European culture... Something new and good is happening before our eyes”. Such was the comment by Polish statesman Tadeusz Mazowiecki on the tragedy of Katyn, in an interview that appeared in la Repubblica of 14 April under the title From the second tragedy of Katyn the thaw between Moscow and Warsaw.

Italiano Español Français Deutsch Português