from issue no.10 - 2011


Christianity is contained in three words: “Jesus is risen”

<I>The Incredulity of Saint Thomas</I>, Caravaggio

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio

On 17 October the Corriere della Sera published large excerpts from a talk by Vittorio Messori at the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. These were his opening words: “We must return to the awareness that what we believe in, from which everything else derives, is encapsulated (as St Paul teaches us) in three sole words: ‘Jesus is risen’. From which it results: ‘Therefore, Jesus is the Messiah foretold by the prophets and awaited by Israel’. This is what the first Christians called the kérygma, that is the cry of the herald who – through streets and squares – announced urgent news to the people. I think the re-evangelization of the West, asked of us by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, is nothing other than this: not complex doctrines, but a re-beginning from the kérygma, from the basis on which everything rests. A return to proclaiming a simple yet scandalous Iesùs estì kyrios, Jesus is the Lord”.
Then, recalling the times of Vatican II, Messori continued: “We debated the organization of the ecclesial institution, the role of the pope, the bishops, the priests, lay people, women, of the liturgy. No one spoke of faith and even less of its reasons, it was taken as a given, settled, while the argument went on about what ethical, political, social, economic, cultural commitment should be for the Catholic. But these were nothing more than consequences of a first cause, the ‘yes’ to the truth of the Creed, that no one bothered to examine and verify”.
Messori concluded: “There is no impact made on society or culture by proposing the evangelical perspective, unless the problem of Christ and the truth of his gospel is first addressed. The problems which Catholics must now confront are rooted in something often unacknowledged and yet crucial: the falling off of faith, the reduction of Jesus to a moral teacher, the New Testament to an obscure pastiche of Judaism and paganism, of miracle to myth, of eschatological hope to secular commitment. Well before all institutional reform and any moral or social preaching, we must once again find the Creed, the one we recite at Mass, in its full sense”.


“As lambs among wolves.” The sword of St Paul

St Paul

St Paul

“In the Gospel passage we have heard Jesus sends 72 disciples out into the great harvest, which is the world, inviting them to pray the Lord of the Harvests that there be no lack of laborers in his harvest (cf. Lk 10, 1-3); but he does not send them with powerful means, but “as lambs among wolves’ (v. 3), without bag, baggage or sandals (cf. v. 4). In one of his homilies St John Chrysostom comments: ‘For so long as we are sheep, we conquer: though ten thousand wolves prowl around, we overcome and prevail. But if we become wolves, we are worsted, for we shall be without the help of our Shepherd’ (Homily 33, 1: PG 57, 389). Christians must never yield to the temptation to become wolves among wolves; it is not with might, with force, with violence that Christ’s kingdom of peace grows, but with the gift of self, with love taken to the extreme, even towards enemies. Jesus does not conquer the world with the force of arms, but with the force of the Cross, which is the true guarantee of victory. The consequence of this for those who want to be disciples of the Lord, his envoys, is to be prepared for the passion and martyrdom, to lose their own life for him, so that goodness, love and peace may triumph in the world. This is the prerequisite needed to be able to say, upon entering into any situation: ‘Peace be to this house’ (Lk 10, 5).
In front of St Peter’s Basilica, these are two large statues, one of Saint Peter and the other of Saint Paul. They are easily told apart: St Peter holds in his hand the keys, St Paul holds in his hands a sword. Those unfamiliar with the history of the latter might think that this was a great warlord who led powerful armies and subdued peoples and nations by the sword, winning fame and wealth for himself by the blood of others. Whereas the exact opposite is the case: the sword he holds is the instrument by which Paul was put to death, with which he was martyred and that shed his blood. His battle was not one of violence, of war, but that of martyrdom for Christ. His only weapon was the message: ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified’ (1Cor 2, 2). And his preaching was not based on ‘plausible words of wisdom, but on the manifestation of the Spirit and its power’ (v. 4)”… “This same logic holds true for us also, if we want to be bearers of the kingdom of peace proclaimed by the Prophet Zachariah and fulfilled by Christ: we must be willing to pay in person, to suffer misunderstanding, rejection, persecution in the first person. It is not the sword of the conqueror that builds peace, but the sword of the sufferer, of those who give up their own life”. Thus Pope Benedict XVI during the general audience on Wednesday, 26 October 2011.



Membra Christi et corpus sumus omnes simul; non qui hoc loco tantum sumus, sed et per universam terram; nec qui tantum hoc tempore, sed quid dicam? Ex Abel iusto usque in finem saeculi / All together we are limbs and body of Christ, not just us who are here in this place, but all of us throughout the earth. And not only us who live in this time, but what to say? From the righteous Abel to the end of the world”, Augustine, Sermones 341, 9, 11; cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 2.


Wuerl Relator-General

Cardinal Donald William Wuerl [© Getty Images]

Cardinal Donald William Wuerl [© Getty Images]

In view of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held from 7 to 28 October 2012 on the topic ‘The new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith’, the Pope, on 22 October, appointed 71 year-old Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington since 2006, Relator-General, and 64 year-old Pierre-Marie Joseph Carré, Archbishop of Montpellier, France, as Special Secretary.


New nuncios to the Czech Republic, Peru, USA and the West Indies

Carlo Maria Viganò <BR>[© Romano Siciliani]

Carlo Maria Viganò
[© Romano Siciliani]

On 15 September the Pope appointed the 68 year-old Sicilian Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza as new Nuncio to the Czech Republic; he was nuncio to Ireland from 2008.
On 15 October then he appointed 61 year-old American Archbishop James Patrick Green as new apostolic nuncio to Peru; he was nuncio to South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho from 2006 and also first nuncio to Botswana from 2009.
On 19 October 70 year-old Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò was appointed apostolic nuncio to the United States; from July 2009 he was secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City.
On 29 October 54 year-old Archbishop Nicola Girasoli was appointed as apostolic nuncio to Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Dominica, Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Santa Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Co-operative Republic of Guyana and, finally, apostolic delegate to the West Indies; from 2006 he was papal representative in Zambia and Malawi.


Paul VI pronouncing the <I>Creed of the People of God</I>, Sunday 30 June 1968, at the closing of the Year of Faith

Paul VI pronouncing the Creed of the People of God, Sunday 30 June 1968, at the closing of the Year of Faith


Year of Faith 2012-2013


In his homily at the Mass celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica on Sunday 16 October, Benedict XVI announced the launching of a Year of Faith, which will begin on 11 October 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening day of Vatican II, and will end on 24 November 2013, the Feast of Christ the King of the Universe. On 17 October the motu proprio Porta fidei was released with which the Pope formalized and explained his decision.




Three new saints


On 23 October Benedict XVI canonized Bishop Guido Maria Conforti, the priest Luigi Guanella and the Spanish religious Bonifacia Rodríguez de Castro. “Three new saints”, he said in his homily, “who allowed themselves to be transformed by the divine love, that imbued their entire existence”.



Directed towards the crypt, to venerate the tomb of Saint Francis, Benedict XVI crosses the lower Basilica of Saint Francis with some leaders and representatives of Churches, Ecclesial Communities and of world religions, at the Assisi meeting, 27 October 2011 [© Osservatore Romano]

Directed towards the crypt, to venerate the tomb of Saint Francis, Benedict XVI crosses the lower Basilica of Saint Francis with some leaders and representatives of Churches, Ecclesial Communities and of world religions, at the Assisi meeting, 27 October 2011 [© Osservatore Romano]


“God is not theproperty of those who believe”


“God is not the ‘property’ of those who believe. Benedict XVI spoke among the three hundred representatives of various world religions whom he invited to Assisi, twenty-five years after the first meeting decided by Wojtyla”. These are the opening words of an article by Gian Guido Vecchi, published in the Corriere della Sera on 28 October, dedicated to the ‘Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world’ which was held in Assisi on 27 October. The article continued: “Benedict XVI sang the praise of thinking agnostics, of those who ‘seek the truth’ and by their example rid ‘militant atheists’ of their ‘false certainty’ but who at the same time ‘call into question’ believers themselves: so that they ‘do not consider God their property’. If people who seek the truth ‘do not find God’, it depends ‘also on believers’ who have ‘a reduced or even distorted image of God’. So agnostics play an important part against the ‘decadence of man and of humanism’”. Vecchi concludes: “As announced, there was no shared moment of prayer. Yet it was something to see them when, all of them, finally descended into the crypt below the Basilica to pay homage at the tomb of St Francis”. The article was titled: The Pope praises agnostics: “A help for believers”.




Tettamanzi: the book of life is Jesus


“‘The book of life’, says St. Bernard, ‘is Jesus, blessed is he to whom it is given to read this book’: for him it will be great joy and peace”. This is the conclusion of an article by Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi in Corriere della Sera on 2 November on the occasion of the publication of the new Ambrosian Evangeliary.




Martini and movements


“Movements can give much to the Church, as one sees in the ecumenical movement and the biblical movement. But when the dynamics of power and profit prevail in them Grace may get lost and the Church, instead of being enriched with new spiritual energy experiences debilitating bleeding”. So wrote Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini in the Corriere della Sera on Sunday 30 October in response to a reader of the monthly column the cardinal writes for the Milan newspaper.



Sacred College/1

Law’s eightieth birthday


On 4 November U.S. Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, turned eighty years old. On that date, the College of Cardinals was composed of 193 cardinals, of whom 112 are voters.



Sacred College/2

The resignation of Rosales


On 13 October the Pope accepted the resignation of 79 year-old Cardinal Gaudencio Borbon Rosales as Archbishop of Manila, Philippines. In his place he appointed 54 year-old Luis Antonio Tagle, Bishop of Imus since 2001.



Baptism in Moscow [© National Geographic/Getty Images]

Baptism in Moscow [© National Geographic/Getty Images]


The gifts of the Spirit or a vacuous roll of drums


“A ‘political Church’ does not help the world. The reduction of the Church of Christ over the last centuries has led to the estrangement of masses of people from it... If Christians do not bother to obtain the true gifts of the Spirit, and first and foremost holiness, their preaching is reduced to a vacuous roll of drums”. This is a passage from the speech by Sergej Capnin, editor of the Patriarchate of Moscow’s magazine, at a conference organized by the Russian Christian Foundation at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, and published in L’Osservatore Romano on 4 November.




Medvedev and the miracle of faith


“If we talk about what has happened in the last twenty years, in terms of my experience as Orthodox Christian, it is a miracle. Frankly I could not have imagined 15-20 years ago that the recovery, the re-discovery of faith by such a large number of citizens would be so fast”. The words are those of Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, in a speech at a conference attended by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and other authoritative representatives of the Orthodox Church. The Russian president’s words were reported by the Vatican correspondent Marco Tosatti in his blog, St Peter’s and surroundings, 7 November.



Faithful at a parish Sunday Mass [© Romano Siciliani]

Faithful at a parish Sunday Mass [© Romano Siciliani]


According to the majority of Catholics a Catholic party would be detrimental


On 23 October in Corriere della Sera the well-known pollster Renato Mannhei­mer analyzed the opinion held by Italian Catholics on the founding of a new Catholic party. These are his conclusions: “Only a little over a quarter (26%) of practicing Catholics (which, in our classification, are people who go to Mass at least twice a month) is in favor of a strengthening in Italy of the political presence of believers. Indeed 44% consider the option harmful or in any case inappropriate. And among the ‘sporadic’ (those who attend religious services once a month or less) those in favor of a more organized commitment of Catholics are fewer still (22%)”.



Middle East/1

The attack on Iran would result in a century of disasters


Israel is ready to bomb Iran. Rumors leaked to the press have been confirmed by Israeli President Shimon Peres who, on various public occasions, has confirmed the existence of a military plan to prevent Iran developing atomic power. An article in the Corriere della Sera on 5 November declares that the possibility of a raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities is ‘splitting the Israeli government’, and went on: “A total of three former heads of the Intelligence services – Efraim Levy, Yuval Diskin and Meir Dagan... – advise openly against it: Iran is not yet a threat, Ahmadinejad is not Saddam and not even Assad, this time a surprise bombing ‘would cause a century of disasters’”.



Gilad Shalit [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Gilad Shalit [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Middle East/2

Segev: Shalit and the historic talks with Hamas


“The great historical novelty is that Hamas and Israel have made a deal. And the day after the world didn’t fall apart. They made a pact with the devil and the sun rose all the same. The two sides have seen that reasoning around a table is possible. This small step can bring a little rationality and something different, in the future. It won’t happen tomorrow. But the day after tomorrow, who knows”. So said Israeli historian Tom Segev in an interview with the Corriere della Sera the day after the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.



Middle East/3

UNESCO recognizes the Palestinian State


“Let’s come to an agreement. If the Palestinians take up arms, everyone howls that violence is an obstacle to peace. If the Palestinians try to exert diplomatic pressure, as they did yesterday, everyone howls that these ‘unilateral’ initiatives are an obstacle to peace. We would therefore like to know – especially from Israel, the United States, and Italy – exactly what the Palestinians should do, apart from quietly fading away among the clouds, as in Miracle in Milan. Yesterday Palestine was admitted to UNESCO. An old story – every year the Palestinians regularly ask to be admitted – a new result: 107 for, 14 against, with 52 abstentions. The approval came, thanks particularly to the consent of the new front that is leading global development, the BRIC countries, the African and Arab countries and some important European countries such as France and Belgium”. Thus Lucia Annunziata in La Stampa on 1 November.



Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda Islamist party [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda Islamist party [© Associated Press/LaPresse]


The Islamic party like Moro’s Christian Democrats


“Ennahda can be compared to the Christian Democrats at the time of Aldo Moro. And there is not only one Islam, as there was not only one communism. We cannot put radical extremists and moderate Muslims on the same plane. It would be like considering Pol Pot and Berlinguer in the same way”. So declared Moncef Marzouki, leader of the CPR (Congress for the Republic), quoted in Corriere della Sera on 27 October, commenting on the Tunisian elections held in late October, won by the party of Islamic inspiration Ennahda, whose leader is Rachid Ghannouchi.




New ambassadors to the Holy See


On 9 September Benedict XVI received the credentials of Britain’s new ambassador to the Holy See. He is 45 year-old Nigel Marcus Baker, a career diplomat, Head of Mission in Bolivia for the last four years.

On 21 October it was the turn of the new representative of the Netherlands, 62 year-old Joseph Weterings, a career diplomat, formerly ambassador to Libya and Zimbabwe.

On 31 October then it was the new representative of Brazil, 68 year-old Almir Franco de Sá Barbuda, a career diplomat, Ambassador to Belgium in the last few years and then consul general in Washington.

On 4 November the new Ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire, 63 year-old Joseph Tebah-Klah was received, a career diplomat, who between 2003 and 2006 was counselor and chargé d’affaires ad interim in the embassy to the Holy See.

On 7 November then it was the turn of the new Ambassador of Germany, 62 year-old Reinhard Schwep­pe, a career diplomat, former head of mission in Warsaw and most recently representative at the UN in Geneva.

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