from issue no.03 - 2011


Obama visits the grave of Romero

Barack Obama visits the grave of Romero <BR>[© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Barack Obama visits the grave of Romero
[© Associated Press/LaPresse]

On 23 March the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, during a visit to San Salvador, wished to pay tribute to Bishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero, who was killed on 24 March 1980 while celebrating mass. The visit, scheduled for the 31st anniversary of the prelate’s assassination, was brought forward due to the early departure of the U.S. President.


Peace is made with enemies

The Italian translation of Amos Oz’s book, Feltrinelli, Torino 2005, 627 pp., € 13.00

The Italian translation of Amos Oz’s book, Feltrinelli, Torino 2005, 627 pp., € 13.00

Controversy was stirred in the Jewish world by the the conciliatory gesture of Amos Oz, who gave a gift of a copy of one of his latest literary works, A Tale of Love and Darkness, to the Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, imprisoned in an Israeli jail. Called to give an account of his action, in an interview with Elena Loewenthal in La Stampa on 30 March, the Israeli writer stated: “I wanted Marwan Barghouti to read A Tale of Love and Darkness because I know that this book has helped many Arabs to understand Israel. And because I’m certain that some day we will speak with him. By ‘we’ I mean the State of Israel. Some day Israel will find itself talking to Barghouti even if he was the instigator of the second Intifada and has on his conscience a large number of suicide attacks and many more victims than of those terrorist attacks. My novel is a deeply personal and familial story, but also and perhaps especially it is the epic story of Zionism from the inside, with its reasons and its roots ...”. Then, at the end of the interview, he referred to his motives for the act: “I did it in full consciousness. Armed with a certainty which is good to remember: one makes peace with enemies. With friends one doesn’t make peace, with enemies yes. Is that perhaps not true?”.


Benedict XVI praying <BR>[© Osservatore Romano]

Benedict XVI praying
[© Osservatore Romano]


St Alphonsus: “Who prays is saved”
Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis of Wednesday 30 March to St Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori, the Neapolitan saint-author, as the Pope recalled, of the popular Christmas song Tu scendi dalle stelle [You come down from the stars]. “In his day, there was a very strict and widespread interpretation of moral life because of the Jansenist mentality which, instead of fostering trust and hope in God’s mercy, fomented fear and presented a grim and severe face of God, very remote from the face revealed to us by Jesus. Especially in his main work entitled Moral Theology, St Alphonsus proposed a balanced and convincing synthesis of the requirements of God’s law, engraved on our hearts, fully revealed by Christ and interpreted authoritatively by the Church, and of the dynamics of the conscience and of human freedom, which precisely in adherence to truth and goodness permit the person’s development and fulfilment. Alphonsus recommended to pastors of souls and confessors that they be faithful to the Catholic moral doctrine, assuming at the same time a charitable, understanding and gentle attitude so that penitents might feel accompanied, supported and encouraged on their journey of faith and of Christian life. St Alphonsus never tired of repeating that priests are a visible sign of the infinite mercy of God who forgives and enlightens the mind and heart of the sinner so that he may convert and change his life. In our epoch, in which there are clear signs of the loss of the moral conscience and – it must be recognized – of a certain lack of esteem for the sacrament of Confession, St Alphonsus’ teaching is still very relevant...”.
In his speech, the Pope then recalled the insistence of the saint on prayer, explaining: “With regard to prayer he writes: ‘God does not deny anyone the grace of prayer, with which one obtains help to overcome every form of concupiscence and every temptation. And I say, and I will always repeat as long as I live, that the whole of our salvation lies in prayer’. Hence his famous axiom: ‘Who prays is saved’ (Del gran mezzo della preghiera e opuscoli affini. Opere ascetiche II, Rome 1962, p. 171). In this regard, an exhortation of my Predecessor, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II comes to mind: ‘our Christian communities must become genuine ‘schools of prayer’… Among the forms of prayer fervently recommended by St Alphonsus stands out the visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or as we would call it today, “adoration”, brief or extended, personal or as a community, before the Eucharist. ‘Certainly’, St Alphonsus writes, ‘amongst all devotions, after that of receiving the sacraments, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament takes the first place, is the most pleasing to God, and the most useful to ourselves… Oh, what a beautiful delight to be before an altar with faith… to represent our needs to Him, as a friend does to a friend in whom he places all his trust!’ (Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary for each day of the month, Introduction)”.

St Lawrence of Brindisi and the “sweet yoke” of Jesus
In the catechesis of Wednesday 23 March dedicated to St Lawrence of Brindisi, Pope Benedict XVI said: “In speaking to priests and seminarians in the Cathedral of Brindisi, St Lawrence’s birthplace, I recalled that ‘the time he spends in prayer is the most important time in a priest’s life, in which divine grace acts with greater effectiveness, making his ministry fruitful. The first service to render to the community is prayer. And, therefore, time for prayer must be given true priority in our life ...’”.
In concluding his catechesis, Benedict XVI recalled the great devotion of St Lawrence to the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit sweetens the yoke of the divine law and lightens its weight, so that we may observe God’s commandments with the greatest of ease and even with pleasure”.

The convent of Lecceto, Siena

The convent of Lecceto, Siena

The meditations on the Stations of the Cross written and illustrated by Augustinian nuns
On 25 March the Vatican Press Office released the news that the texts of the meditations for the Stations of the Via Crucis on Good Friday this year were composed, at the request of the Pope, by Mother Maria Rita Piccione, superior of the Federation of Augustinian nuns, who live in the monastery of the Santi Quattro Coronati, in Rome. The images that illustrated the different stations were drawings by Sister Elena Manganelli, she too an Augustinian nun from the convent of Lecceto (Siena).
Antonio Cañizares Llovera in the Apostolic Vicariate of Kuwait <BR>[© Congregation of Divine Worship]

Antonio Cañizares Llovera in the Apostolic Vicariate of Kuwait
[© Congregation of Divine Worship]

Cañizares and the Virgin Mary, now also Our Lady of Arabia
“‘I proclaim Our Lady of Arabia patron of the two Apostolic Vicariates of the Gulf’. With this solemn declaration, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on 16 January 2011, proclaimed in the Cathedral of Kuwait, the Blessed Virgin Mary Our Lady of Arabia, the patroness of all the Gulf countries, namely Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Oman. This “new” title of the Virgin Mary has touched the hearts of the people. Now next to the glorious titles such as “Our Lady of Lourdes”, “Our Lady of Fatima”, and many others, we may humbly add, “Our Lady of Arabia”. Here in Kuwait, the Madonna did not make appearances as at Lourdes and Fatima and elsewhere, but she has always been present here and managed to bring Jesus even before the arrival of Islam. In fact, on the island of Failaka, which belongs to Kuwait, there are the remains of a church, probably Nestorian, of the fifth century. As well as other important archaeological remains of churches of that time that are also found in other Gulf countries. To her, with great veneration, we have decided to dedicate the entire Gulf so that she may both precede and accompany our ministry”. This is the beginning of an article in L’Osservatore Romano on 11 March signed by the Apostolic Vicar of Kuwait, the Combonian Camillo Ballin. The article concluded with a quote from the homily of Cardinal Cañizares last January: “May the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Arabia, help us to follow Jesus, to remain faithful and steadfast in the faith and always look to Jesus, source of our faith”.
Tettamanzi, St John Chrysostom and the Gospel of the good Christian
“We could say it this way: belief in some way involves the seizure of an ideal, or a God, who ends up being put at one’s own service. Those who are motivated by faith, however, surrender themselves to others, abandon the idea of control over reality.” The words are those of Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi in an interview published in la Repubblica on 14 March. Responding afterwards to a question about what it means to believe in God, the prelate said: “It means not so much making reference to an absolute and transcendent being, but to a being that has a name, a face and a heart. It means believing in someone who listens to me, accompanies me, provokes me, consoles me. It constrains me to behave differently. Faith, in short, more than a concept is a meeting, a communion. And this applies not only to the Catholic or Christian”. Finally, to explain what constitutes Christian witness, he recalled the teaching of St John Chrysostom, “who sustains that there is no need to proclaim the Gospel. If faith is alive in the most humble and simple gestures of the good Christian, he himself becomes the Gospel: a living Gospel”.

Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil

Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil

Sacred College
The death of Cardinal Vithayathil. Mahony’s resignation
On 1 April the 84 year-old Redemptorist Indian Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabarese since 1999, died. On that day the Sacred College was composed of 200 cardinals, of which 116 are voters. On 1 March meanwhile, the Pope accepted the resignation from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (USA), presented by Cardinal Roger Michael Mahony, who had turned 75 two days before. He is succeeded by 59 year-old Archbishop José Horacio Gómez, of the Opus Dei clergy, who had been coadjutor of the same archdiocese since April 2010.

North Africa/1
Egypt and the sowers of discord between Christians and Muslims
In la Repubblica on 8 March an article apeared which details how during the recent uprising in Egypt, the revolutionaries got into the corridors of power, collected files with confidential information, then placed on the net, documenting various crimes perpetrated by the past regime. This is the conclusion of the article: “Particularly serious are the accusations about the tensions created deliberately between Christians and Muslims, followed by raids among the Islamists... And the leaking of the documents also makes the investigation against Mubarak’s minister, the all powerful Habib al-Adly, more credible. On 7 February the Public Prosecutor of Cairo included him in the register of those suspected of having organized the attack at Christmas against the Coptic Church of Alexandria”.
North Africa/2
The Nazis, smart bombs and preventive wars
In an article in the Corriere della Sera on 21 March Armando Torno, taking his cue from the ongoing Libyan war, questioned the blurred boundaries between just and unjust conflicts. “In the first Gulf conflict,” he wrote, “the concept of ‘smart bombs’ was spread and in 2002 President George W. Bush spoke of ‘preventive war’, but these terms were not new: Joseph Goebbels used them in 1940 and 1941 for the bombing of London – ‘only’ where there were stockpiles – and the attack on Russia, launched to prevent Stalin’s offensive.” Further down one reads, among the subtle arguments for or against war: “Titus Livius glimpsed its nature: ‘Bellum se ipse alet’ or ‘War feeds on itself’ (Ab urbe condita XXXIV, 9); perhaps this is why right and wrong are sometimes confused”.
The Lebanese Patriarch Béchara Raï <BR>[© Associated Press/LaPresse]

The Lebanese Patriarch Béchara Raï
[© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Eastern Catholic Churches
Raï new Maronite Patriarch and Shevchuk new major Archbishop of Kiev
On 25 March the Pope granted the Ecclesiastica Communio requested of him by Béchara Boutros Raï, canonically elected Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites on 15 March at the Synod of the Bishops of the Maronite Church, which met in Bkerké in Lebanon. Raï, 71 years old, of the Maronite Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patriarchal Vicar since 1986, was transferred in 1990 to the eparchy of Jbeil (Byblos). Also on 25 March the Pope granted the confirmation requested of him by Sviatoslav Shev­chuk, who on 23 March had been canonically elected Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Haly in the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, which met in Lviv. Shev­chuk, 41 years old, was auxiliary of the Eparchy of Santa María del Patrocinio in Buenos Aires, Argentina, of which he was apostolic administrator of the sede vacante from 2010.

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