from issue no.10 - 2010


In prayer at Capaci

Benedict XVI in Capaci BR[© Osservatore Romano]

Benedict XVI in Capaci BR[© Osservatore Romano]

On 3 October at the end of his pastoral visit to Palermo, Benedict XVI unexpectedly stopped for a brief prayer in Capaci, where, on 23 May 1992, the magistrate Giovanni Falcone, his wife and bodyguards were murdered.


The murders of the devil and our Muslim brothers

Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch
of Babylon of the Chaldeans (Baghdad), celebrates the Eucharist according to the Chaldean rite in Aramaic (the language of Jesus) in the Basilica of San Lorenzo Outside the Walls, Rome, Saturday 16 October 2010 BR[© Paolo Galosi]

Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans (Baghdad), celebrates the Eucharist according to the Chaldean rite in Aramaic (the language of Jesus) in the Basilica of San Lorenzo Outside the Walls, Rome, Saturday 16 October 2010 BR[© Paolo Galosi]

“The victims were struck by the hand of the devil, but are not afraid of death, or threats. We are children of this country and we will continue to stand with our Muslim brothers”. So Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans (Baghdad), in the funeral oration given for the many faithful assassinated, including three priests, in the attack on Sunday 31 October on the Syro-Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad. The Patriarch’s phrase was reported in la Repubblica on 3 November.

The fresco of the church of San Pietro on Mount Pedale, near Civate (Lecco), which depicts Chapter 12 of the Apocalypse

The fresco of the church of San Pietro on Mount Pedale, near Civate (Lecco), which depicts Chapter 12 of the Apocalypse

The good earth and the faith of simple people

On 11 October, in his speech at the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, the Pope commented, inter alia, on Chapter 12 of the Apocalypse of John. Thus Benedict XVI: “These ideologies that dominate, that impose themselves forcefully, are divinities. And in the pain of the Saints, in the suffering of believers, of the Mother Church which we are a part of, these divinities must fall. What is said in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians must be done: the domination, the powers fall and become subjects of the one Lord Jesus Christ. Concerning this battle in which we find ourselves, of this taking power away from divinities, of this fall of false gods, that fall because they are not deities, but powers that can destroy the world, chapter 12 of Revelations mentions these, even if with a mysterious image, for which, I believe, there are many different and beautiful interpretations. It has been said that the dragon places a large river of water before the fleeing woman to overcome her. And it would seem inevitable that the woman will drown in this river. But the good earth absorbs this river and it cannot do harm. I think that the river is easily interpreted: these are the currents that dominate all and wish to make faith in the Church disappear, the Church that seems no longer to have a place in the face of the force of these currents that impose themselves as the only rationality, as the only way to live. And the earth that absorbs these currents is the faith of simple people, that does not allow itself to be overwhelmed by these rivers and that saves the Mother and saves the Son. This is why the Psalm says – the first Psalm of the midday prayer – the faith of the simple at heart is the true wisdom (cf. Ps 118, 130). This true wisdom of simple faith, that does not allow itself to be swamped by the waters, is the force of the Church”.

St Charles Borromeo, the charity that attracts and “putting your stakes” on the Gospel

Lumen caritatis. The light of charity of St Charles Borromeo has illumined the whole Church and, by renewing the miracles of the love of Christ, our Supreme and Eternal Pastor, has brought new life and new youthfulness to God’s flock, which was going through sorrowful and difficult times. For this reason I join with all my heart in the joy of the Ambrogian Archdiocese in commemorating the fourth centenary of the Canonization of this great Pastor on 1 November 1610”. This was the opening of the message sent by Benedict XVI to the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, on the fourth centenary of the canonization of St Charles Borromeo. The letter reads as follows: “During St Charles’ episcopate, the whole of his vast diocese felt infected with a current of holiness that spread to the entire people. How did this Bishop, so demanding and strict, manage to fascinate and to win over the Christian people? The answer is easy: St Charles enlightened the people and enticed them with the ardour of his love. “Deus caritas est”, and where there is a living experience of love the profound Face of God who attracts us and makes us his own is revealed... However it is impossible to understand the charity of St Charles Borromeo without knowing his relationship of passionate love with the Lord Jesus. He contemplated this love in the holy mysteries of the Eucharist and of the Cross, venerated in very close union with the mystery of the Church. The Eucharist and the Crucified One immersed St Charles in Christ’s love and this transfigured and kindled fervour in his entire life, filled his nights spent in prayer, motivated his every action, inspired the solemn Liturgies he celebrated with the people and touched his heart so deeply that he was often moved to tears”. And, in the final part: “Dear young people, let yourselves be renewed by this appeal that I have very much at heart: God wants you to be holy, for he knows you in your depths and loves you with a love that exceeds all human understanding. God knows what is in your hearts and is waiting to see the marvellous gift he has planted within you blossom and bear fruit. Like St Charles, you too can make your youth an offering to Christ and to your brethren. Like him you can decide, in this season of life, ‘to put your stakes’ on God and on the Gospel. Dear young people, you are not only the hope of the Church; you are already part of her present! And if you dare to believe in holiness you will be the greatest treasure of your Ambrogian Church which is founded on Saints”.

Pannella, the war in Iraq unleashed to impede the peace

The sentencing to death of Tareq Aziz, Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister, sparked controversy in the world. Particularly harsh was the reaction of the Radical leader Marco Pannella, for whom the war in Iraq allegedly “broke out to prevent Saddam’s exile and peace”. Pannella’s words were reported by il Fatto Quotidiano of 27 October.

Cardinal Martini: Vatican Council II and Tradition

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, in the Corriere della Sera on 31 October, in response to a question about the Second Vatican Council, wrote: “The distinction between continuity and discontinuity of tradition is appropriate. Supporters of a strict interpretation, who are suspicious of anything new, do not keep in mind that there may be newness in the Church. It is a living organism that is born small, but over time develops like a human body that grows so as to appear as something new. This vision of the history of the Church was supported since the fifth century by St Vincent of Lerins. He says that there will certainly be in the Church, over the years, advances that are also very considerable. They must not be feared. Only when an organism turns into another is it necessary to speak of changes and reject them forcefully”.

Raúl Castro and the Havana Seminary

“On Wednesday 3 November the Archbishop of San Cristóbal de la Habana, Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, inaugurated the new Catholic seminary in San Carlos y San Ambrosio, in the presence of the President of the Republic of Cuba, Raúl Castro, the president of the Cuban Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Dionisio Guillermo García Ibáñez, and numerous political, civil and ecclesiastical authorities”. So L’Osservatore Romano of 5 November. On the occasion, Pope Benedict XVI sent a message of congratulations.

New Prefect of the Clergy and new president of “Cor Unum”

On 7 October, the Pope appointed the new prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. He is 66 year-old Genoese Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, who from 2007 was secretary of that department. He replaces Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, 76 years old in August. Piacenza is one of the new cardinals in the consistory of 20 November.
Also on 7 October the Pope appointed the president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”. He is the 65 year-old African Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of Propaganda Fide since 2001 and formerly the Metropolitan of Conakry in Guinea. He replaces Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, 76 years old in September. Sarah is also among the new cardinals of the 20 November consistory.

The Council for the New Evangelization is established

On 12 October the motu proprio, Ubicumque et semper, was released by which the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization was established, to whose presidency Archbishop Rino Fisichella was appointed last 30 June.

Sacred College
Resignation of the cardinals of Guatemala, Turin and Cebu

On 2 October the resignation of Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruño, who became 78 years old in March, as Archbishop of Guatemala, a post he held since 2001, was accepted. In his place Oscar Julio Vian Morales, 63 years old, Salesian, archbishop of Los Altos since 2007 and previously Apostolic Vicar of El Petén, was appointed.
On 11 October the resignation of Cardinal Severino Poletto, who became 77 years old in March, as Archbishop of Turin, a position he had held since 1999, was accepted. He is replaced by 66 year-old Cesare Nosiglia, a native of Rossiglione, in the province of Genoa and the diocese of Acqui, formerly vicegerent of Rome and since 2003 archbishop-bishop of Vicenza.
On 15 October the resignation of Philippine Cardinal Ricardo J. Vidal, who turned 79 in February, as Archbishop of Cebu, a position he held since 1982, was accepted. He is replaced by 60 year-old Jose Palma Serofia, Metropolitan of Palo since 2006 and previously Bishop of Calbayog and from 1997 to 1999 auxiliary of Cebu itself.


The protection of the holy places of all monotheistic religions

Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, at the site of the October 31 attack [© Associated Press]

Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, at the site of the October 31 attack [© Associated Press]

“The Muslim Brotherhood wants to remind everyone, especially Muslims, that the protection of holy places of all the monotheistic religions is the mission of the majority of Muslims”. With these words, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have taken a stand against the massacre of Christians that took place in a Syro-Catholic church in Baghdad, on 31 October last. Abdel Fattah – an Egyptian parliamentarian, member of the group – told the online newspaper “We are ready to take on Al Qaida to defend the churches in Egypt. Religious diversity is part of the history of our country and to protect the places of worship of Christians for us is equivalent to defending our country”.


Yehoshua, the commemoration of Rabin and Israel’s fragile democracy

Benjamin Netanyahu commemorates Yitzhak Rabin
in Jerusalem on 30 October 2010 [© Associated Press]

Benjamin Netanyahu commemorates Yitzhak Rabin in Jerusalem on 30 October 2010 [© Associated Press]

“We live in an era of conservative political tendencies, both in the United States as in many European countries. Fears about national identity (either because of the arrival of immigrants and foreign workers, or because of the process of globalization), become stronger and the obvious reaction is a turn toward conservative and nationalist principles. Because of this the change in recent years in the manner of celebrating the anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, which occurred on 4 November 1995, is welcome. From a day dedicated to the memory of the deceased personality and a strong condemnation of the assassination and its promoter (accompanied by the demand of the Left for an examination of conscience by the religious and nationalist Right about the smear campaign against Rabin before the assassination), it has become a day of study aimed at strengthening the democratic consciousness of the whole country. And this is a fair and healthy development. Now that even the Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the leader of the opposition Tzipi Livni – strenuous opponents of Rabin in the ‘nineties – proclaim themselves to the Knesset to be exponents of the political thinking of the statesman who took the first step towards the recognition of the Palestinian people, it makes no sense to stir up past differences and it is best to dedicate this anniversary to consolidating the democratic consciousness in Israel, something that it really needs”. These remarks of Avraham Yehoshua appeared in La Stampa on 30 October under the title ‘Israel’s fragile democracy’. The Israeli writer continues: “It is particularly the religious nationalists, present in large numbers in the settlements in the West Bank and in the army, and the ultra-orthodox conservatives (with their ‘yeshivas’ – Talmudic schools – and their communities) that pose a threat to Israeli democracy. In their view, the State Government should submit to the rules of the Halachà (the set of rules of Jewish law) and directives of the rabbis, rather than the decisions of Parliament and the Supreme Court... For two thousand years, in the Diaspora, Jews were not subject to the power of their brethren but to that of the Gentiles, nor did they have a supreme religious authority, as the Pope for Catholics. Find yourself a teacher and distance yourself from doubt, is written in the Mishnah. That is, Jews spread around the world were used to choosing the religious authority to which they listened. The Israeli political system based on the rules of democracy born in the twentieth century is therefore a radical innovation for the Jews, and the possibility that parliamentary laws voted by the majority (which also includes Israeli Arabs) can impose themselves on the Torah or the directives of the rabbis is still seen by observers as something revolutionary”.

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