from issue no.01/02 - 2011


The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc

We publish some excerpts from the catechesis of Pope Benedict XVI on St Joan of Arc given at the General Audience of Wednesday 26 January 2011.


The Old Market Square in Rouen where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake

The Old Market Square in Rouen where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake

‘Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I would like to talk to you about Joan of Arc, a young Saint who lived at the end of the Middle Ages who died at the age of 19, in 1431. This French Saint, mentioned several times in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is particularly close to St Catherine of Siena, Patroness of Italy and of Europe …
The Name of Jesus, invoked by our Saint until the very last moments of her earthly life was like the continuous breathing of her soul, like the beating of her heart, the centre of her whole life. The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc which so fascinated the poet Charles Péguy was this total love for Jesus and for her neighbour in Jesus and for Jesus …
With the vow of virginity, Joan consecrated her whole being exclusively to the one Love of Jesus: “it was the promise that she made to Our Lord to preserve the virginity of her body and her mind well”. Virginity of soul is the state of grace, a supreme value, for her more precious than life. It is a gift of God which is to be received and preserved with humility and trust. One of the best known texts of the first Trial concerns precisely this: “Asked if she knew that she was in God’s grace, she replied: ‘If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there’” (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2005).
Our Saint lived prayer in the form of a continuous dialogue with the Lord who also illuminated her dialogue with the judges and gave her peace and security. She asked him with trust: “Sweetest God, in honour of your holy Passion, I ask you, if you love me, to show me how I must answer these men of the Church”. Joan saw Jesus as the “King of Heaven and of the earth”. She therefore had painted on her standard the image of “Our Lord holding the world”. …
I like to recall that St Joan of Arc had a profound influence on a young Saint of the modern age: Thérèse of the Child Jesus. In the context of a completely different life, spent in the cloister, the Carmelite of Lisieux felt very close to Joan, living in the heart of the Church and participating in Christ’s suffering for the world’s salvation. The Church has brought them together as Patronesses of France, after the Virgin Mary. St Thérèse expressed her desire to die, like Joan, with the Name of Jesus on her lips, and she was motivated by the same great love for Jesus and her neighbour, lived in consecrated virginity’.


Arrigo Levi and the illusions of Israel

Demonstrators in Tahrir Square, Cairo <BR>[© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Demonstrators in Tahrir Square, Cairo
[© Associated Press/LaPresse]

In La Stampa on 2 February, Arrigo Levi wrote an editorial entitled: The illusions of Israel are finished. We publish the concluding part: “Israel, or rather the Israel of the alliance between the political and the religious right led by Netanyahu, might also think that the substantial diplomatic inaction, and the continuation of the expansion in the occupied territories, constitutes a comfortable and non-risky policy toward a Palestinian world divided and without substantial support from the Arab and Islamic world: on the condition, let it be well understood, of not looking too far forward in time, and always under the illusion that an ever weaker Palestine will end up having to make do with a peace imposed on any terms. If the revelations of Al Jazeera are true, the defeatist attitude of the Palestinian negotiators could justify these illusions. But the alliance with Egypt was the necessary prerequisite of this policy, in truth unjust to the Palestinian people, and myopic on the part of a State of Israel that will find the ultimate guarantee of its historical future only in the emergence of a Palestinian State affording due recognition to the good reasons of the Palestinian people. If the Jews continued to say for two thousand years, ‘next year in Jerusalem’, why ever should the Palestinians, backed by a large Arab and Islamic world, quickly forget the dream of a homeland? So, what can Israel do? In many quarters the start of the Egyptian revolution led many observers to wonder whether the loss of its ‘pillar of peace’ that was based in Cairo may not have the surprising effect of pushing Israel, for fear of its own further isolation, to relaunch the suspended negotiations with the Palestinians, demonstrating the necessary willingness to make concessions, essential for an agreement, on the cessation of new settlements as well as the acceptance of a Palestinian capital in the areas of Arab population of greater Jerusalem. (Moreover, in the historical Jerusalem, inside the ancient walls, there are neither the Parliament nor the Presidency nor the essential organs of government even of the State of Israel). But for now this is just a wish. Even the instinctive opportunism of an able politician like Netanyahu does not seem to be up to such a policy shift. The hope that the Egyptian Revolution will lead to the emergence of a secular democratic Egypt is perhaps even less audacious than the hope that the announcement, which however comes from Cairo, of a new era of instability and unpredictability of the whole Arab-Islamic world (we don’t know if and where the revolutionary wave will stop, after Tunisia and Egypt) could push this Israeli government to a surprise initiative that would lead right now to the success of the negotiations with the Palestinians. The less optimistic observers fear the opposite effect of a further shutting in of itself by Israel behind the illusory safety of the protective wall on the borders of the State”.


The remembrance of Cardinal Tettamanzi in Milan

“Dear friends, we celebrate the memory of Don Giussani’s dies natalis, the day that is of his definitive and eternal encounter with Christ, the apex of that meeting that was the secret, the passion, the strength and the joy of his every day... Don Giussani was fascinated and conquered by this meeting and did nothing else in his life than to be the humble and daring ‘minister’ of this meeting, in his turn charming and winning to Christ the people and the realities that he found along his path. As the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said six years ago in this same Cathedral: ‘Already as a boy he created a community with other young people called Studium Christi: their plan was to talk about nothing else except Christ, because everything else seemed like a waste of time’”. This is the beginning of the homily of the Mass Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi celebrated in the Cathedral on 28 February, in memory of Don Luigi Giussani, whom the Archbishop recalled as “our brother and father”. So in the final part of the homily: “The word of Paul: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Gal 2, 20) was thus commented on by Pope Benedict XVI in his speech at the Congress of Verona: “Hence, the essential identity of my life is changed through Baptism, and I continue to exist only in this changed state... Thus, we become ‘one in Christ’ (Gal 3, 28), a unique new subject, and our ‘I’ is freed from its isolation. ‘I, but no longer I’: this is the formula of Christian existence… the formula of the Christian ‘novelty’ called to transform the world" (19 October 2006). This is what Don Giussani writes in the book Si può vivere così? [Is it possible to live this way?], revealing the secret of the religious life lived in communion with Jesus, the secret lies in living with Him, “How does one bear witness to Him? By living with him: one who reads the Gospel every day, one who receives communion every day, one who says ‘Come, Lord!’, one who looks at some of his comrades for whom this has become more habitual, can begin to feel what it means to live with Him. To live with Him can be said in another way: to live like Him’”.


The remembrance of Cardinal De Paolis in Rome

“In the Church [after the Council, ed.] new attempts were made that were not always felicitous. Above all, two equally pernicious currents were being outlined: the traditionalists and progressives... In the acceptance of the tradition of the Church, Don Giussani did not find himself a prisoner of models from the past. Instead, he realized that in this way, rather than wasting one’s efforts in search of new ways of doctrine which he did not feel the need of, he could avail himself of the rich heritage of doctrine, philosophy and theology of the Church to deepen the personal encounter of people with Christ and so re-present the original message with new strength and vigor, dialoguing securely with the culture of the time and giving a definite answer to the deepest needs of man”. So said Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, president of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See, in his homily during the mass celebrated in memory of Don Luigi Giussani on 22 February in Rome. This is the cardinal’s conclusion: “In the book Si può vivere così? [Is it possible to live this way?], Don Giussani reveals the secret of the religious life in the life lived in communion with Jesus. Wherein lies the secret? He replies: ‘By living with Him. How does one bear witness to Him? By living with Him: one who reads the Gospel every day, one who receives communion every day, one who says ‘Come, Lord!’, one who looks at some of his comrades for whom this has become more habitual, can begin to feel what it means to live with Him. To live with Him can be said in another way: to live like Him’. Here is the old experience, but always new, that Don Giussani has left us. Let’s guard it jealously. It is the secret of full Christian existence”.


The unity of Christians dwells in prayer

In the usual Wednesday audience, on 19 January, Pope Benedict XVI said: “The path that leads to the visible unity of all Christians dwells in prayer, because, fundamentally, it is not we who ‘build’ unity but God who ‘builds’ it, it comes from Him, from the Trinitarian Mystery, from the unity of the Father with the Son in the dialogue of love, which is the Holy Spirit; and our ecumenical commitment must be open to divine action, it must become a daily invocation for God’s help. The Church is His and not ours”.

Benedict XVI <BR>[© Romano Siciliani]

Benedict XVI
[© Romano Siciliani]

The child and the Pope

“It was a second, in yesterday’s audience, just after the Pope’s catechesis was finished: the boy who slipped away from his father and leapt over the first rows, the policeman who held back seeing Monsignor Georg Gänswein making a sign and smiling to let him through and the boy, a Brazilian, running and taking a look behind, climbed the steps to greet Pope Benedict XVI, touched by that little one who knelt to kiss his ring.” Thus in Corriere della Sera on 3 February.

Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir [© Reuters/Contrasto]

Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir [© Reuters/Contrasto]

Resignations and appointments
The resignations of Agnelo, Husar, Sterzinsky and Sfeir. Ouellet’s successor appointed to Quebec

On 12 January, the Pope accepted the resignation from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of São Salvador da Bahia in Brazil, presented by Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, and in his place appointed Archbishop Murilo Sebastião Ramos Krieger, a 68 year-old member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Metropolitan of Florianópolis since 2002. On 10 February, the Pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, 78 years old on February 26, from the office of Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych in the Ukraine. On 24 February, the Pope accepted the resignation from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Berlin, Germany, presented by Cardinal Georg Maximilian Sterzinsky. On 26 February he accepted the resignation from the office of Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites presented by Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, aged 91.
On 22 February, the Pope appointed as Archbishop of Quebec in Canada 54 year-old Bishop Cyprien Gérald Lacroix, from the Institut Séculier Pie X, who since 2009 had been an auxiliary in the same see as Cardinal Marc Ouellet, called last year to lead the Congregation for Bishops.

Cardinal Nicora at the head of the Authority of Financial Information

On 19 January the Pope appointed as president of the Authority of Financial Information, constituted on 30 December, Cardinal Attilio Nicora, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. The Pope also appointed members of the executive council of the AIF: Professor Claudio Bianchi, lawyer Marcello Condemi, Professor Giuseppe Dalla Torre, Dr Cesare Testa.

New Prefect for the religious; vice-chamberlain; secretary for migrants; under-secretary to “Cor Unum” and promoter of the Saints

On January 4 the Pope accepted the resignation presented by Cardinal Franc Rodé from the post of Prefect of the Congregation for Religious and called in 64 year-old Bishop João Braz de Aviz, close to the Focolarini Movement and Archbishop of Brasilia since 2004, to succeed him wtih the same responsibility.
On 22 January, the Pope appointed as vice-chamberlain of Holy Roman Church for a three-year term, the 76 year-old Spanish Archbishop Santos Abril y Castelló, former Apostolic Nuncio to Slovenia.
On 22 February the Pope appointed the 59 year-old Indian Joseph Kalathiparambil, Bishop of Calicut since 2002, as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants.
On 5 January the Pope appointed as undersecretary of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” Monsignor Tejado Segundo Muñoz, of Rome diocese, and an official of the same department.
On 9 February the Pope appointed promoter of the faith of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints Father Luigi Borriello, a Discalced Carmelite, until now a consultant of the same department.

Mariano Crociata <BR>[© Romano Siciliani]

Mariano Crociata
[© Romano Siciliani]

Crociata and Christian sectarianism

“In an age of the crisis of identities, of expressiveness and authenticity, one can live a fluid ecclesial belonging, intermittent and weak, or one can face the same situation with the exactly reversed choice: that consistent with assuming a belonging to your own Church group, to your own movement, your own ‘experience’ as if they were the only possible mode of belonging in order to be Church.” They are “two sides of the same coin ... The very fact that our language knows the possibility of faith without belonging or belonging without faith, is already an indication that Church belonging lives with its own singularity. It has to do with faith; and faith, if it can not be resolved completely in a visible and external belonging, can not either be conceived as a purely interior and invisible fact, if it wants to keep itself as faith in Jesus Christ ‘come in the flesh’”. These are some considerations of Monsignor Mariano Crociata, secretary general of the Italian Bishops Conference, at the opening of the theological Week, sponsored by the Diocese of Messina on 8 February last, and reported in L’Osservatore Romano the following day. Summarizing the intervention of the bishop, the Vatican newspaper article concludes: “Church belonging, finally, ‘can never be sectarian’, but it is instead ‘structurally open’. Consequently, ‘no given mode can ever claim to exhaust Church belonging’. All the more, ‘with cases of exclusion, not only toward those who are not Christian, but even to those who, Christians like us, live their Church belonging in ways different from ours’”.

Middle East
The Palestinian flag flies in the US

“For the first time, the Palestinian flag flies from the seat of the PNA mission in Washington (with the go-ahead of Obama). A symbolic gesture: the Authority is pushing for the recognition of the Palestinian State with or without peace. In Russia’s view they are entitled to the State. And several countries in South America have recognized Palestine”. Thus in Corriere della Sera on 20 January.

United States
Giffords: the Jews, the compromise and the miracles

The attack against the leader of the Democratic Party, Gabrielle Giffords, on 8 January in Tucson, Arizona caused considerable heartbreak. In the attack, which cost the lives of six people including a child, Giffords was seriously wounded in the head. In tracing the profile of the woman, the Corriere della Sera reported on 9 January the last election slogan that had taken hold of the voters. “If you want something done, your best bet is to ask a Jewish woman to do it. Jewish women — by our tradition and by the way we were raised — have an ability to cut through all the reasons why something should, shouldn’t or can’t be done and pull people together to be successful”. Her condition, over time, has improved.

Riccardi: “The idea of revolution died with ’89 and with Wojtyla”

In Corriere della Sera on 4 February an interview with Andrea Riccardi appeared on the uprisings in the Maghreb. According to the founder of the Sant’Egidio Community, the West should “make its contribution to the ‘demochristianization’ of the Islamists, following Erdogan’s Turkish model. This is not the Arab revolution. The idea of revolution, which lasted two centuries, died with ’89 and with Wojtyla”.

Werner Arber <BR>[© Romano Siciliani]

Werner Arber
[© Romano Siciliani]

Academy of the Sciences
For the first time a Protestant is president

On 15 January the Pope appointed president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the 82 year-old Swiss Protestant Werner Arber, professor emeritus of microbiology at the University of Basel, Nobel Prize winner for Physiology and Medicine, along with Hamilton O. Smith and Daniel Nathans in 1978.

Changes in nunciatures and two new nuncios

On 5 January the Pope appointed as Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the organizations and agencies of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, IFAD and WFP) the 72 year-old Archbishop Luigi Travaglino, former nuncio to Africa and Nicaragua and since 2001 at the disposition of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.
On 8 January Benedict XVI appointed the titular Archbishop of Sutri Monsignor Antonio Guido Filipazzi nunciature counselor, while at the same time entrusting him with the office of apostolic nuncio. Filipazzi, 48 years old in October, a native of Melzo (Milan) thus became the youngest Italian bishop. Ordained a priest in 1987 and based in Ventimiglia, in 1992 he entered the Holy See’s diplomatic service and successively served in the pontifical representations in Sri Lanka, Austria, Germany and, most recently, in the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.
Also on 8 January the Pope appointed 51 year-old Venezuelan Monsignor Edgar Peña Parra, until now nunciature counselor in Mexico, titular archbishop of Telepte while entrusting him at the same time with the office of apostolic nuncio. On 2 February Monsignor Parra was appointed nuncio to Pakistan.
On 13 January the Pope appointed 58 year-old Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Indonesia since 2006, as apostolic nuncio to Singapore, apostolic delegate to Malaysia and Brunei, and non-resident papal representative for Vietnam. Girelli remains nuncio to East Timor, a posting he was given also in 2006.
On 10 February Benedict XVI appointed 67 year-old Polish Archbishop Juliusz Janusz, apostolic nuncio in Hungary since 2003, as Apostolic Nuncio to Slovenia, with the responsibility of apostolic delegate in Kosovo. On the occasion the Holy See Press Office specified that “the appointment of an apostolic delegate is one of the functions of organization of the Catholic Church and, therefore, assumes a purely intra-ecclesial character, while remaining completely separate from considerations of legal and territorial situations or any other matter concerning the Holy See’s diplomatic activity”.
On 19 February the Pope appointed apostolic nuncio to the Russian Federation the 59 year-old Slovenian Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, apostolic nuncio to Ukraine since 2004.
On 22 February Benedict XVI appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Greece, the 67 year-old American Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines since 2007. Archbishop Luigi Gatti, 65 year-old papal representative in Athens since 2009, is now nuncio at the disposition of the second section of the Secretariat of State.

New Austrian Ambassador to the Holy See

On 3 February the Pope received the credentials of the new Austrian ambassador to the Holy See. He is 58 year-old Alfons M. Kloss, formerly ambassador to Italy from 2001 to 2007, and for the last four years diplomatic counselor of the President of the Italian Republic.

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