Columns
from issue no.11 - 2003


PUTIN

For the unity of Christians


Vladimir Putin during the Christmas celebration of 2002

Vladimir Putin during the Christmas celebration of 2002

“The objective is not so much to assure the visit of the Pope, as to favor the unity of Christians: an important fact for our integration into Europe”. These are the words reported by Corriere della Sera on 4 November in an interview with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin.




MIDDLE EAST

Paolo Mieli: “No more Palestinian civilian victims”


The first assistance to a Palestinian youth seriously injured during the Israeli raid on Gaza of 20 October 2003 in which eleven Palestinians were killed

The first assistance to a Palestinian youth seriously injured during the Israeli raid on Gaza of 20 October 2003 in which eleven Palestinians were killed

In the Corriere della Sera of 25 October, in the letters’column edited by him, Paolo Mieli expressed his upset at the Palestinian civilians, victims of the latest raid of the Israeli army. We publish an excerpt: “It is not the first time that Israel does not pay attention to that which “appears”. Some years ago, the newspaper Ha’aretz, not receiving denials, therewith published the news that the Israeli general staff – at the moment that the armored cars displaying the star of David invaded areas densely populated by Palestinians – “had studied in depth”the problems the Wehrmacht had in the occupation of the Warsaw ghetto (May 1943). The reaction of the pacifist Uri Averny was immediate, who asked polemically: “What has become of my country if the image of its army is not any more constituted by Jewish combatants of the Warsaw ghetto, but instead by the Nazi combatants who occupy it?”. In February 2002 something similar was repeated. An Israeli official decided to imprint a number on the arms of supposed Palestinian terrorists arrested after a military operation in the refugee camp of Tulkarem in Cisjordan. “A mistake, a small mistake”, Colonel Gal Hirsch, in charge of the office operations of the general staff of the Israeli army, justified it. But the leader of the Shinui Party, the survivor of the Yosef Lapid Shoah, wanted to meet the Chief of Staff, General Shaul Mofaz, and revealing his forearm with the numbers tattooed by the SS, said to him: “Is it ever possible that an army formed of Jewish soldiers should act in this way?”. Then, in August of that year, an appeal against terrorism launched by Marek Edelman, hero of the revolt in the Warsaw ghetto, caused a sensation. The fact that Edelman (justly defined in the manifesto by Tommaso di Francesco as the “guarantor of the historic memory of three million Polish Jews exterminated by the Nazis”) addressed himself to “all the soldiers of the Palestinian Organization combatants calling them ‘partisans’ rather than ‘terrorists’ caused a sensation”. Mieli concludes: “It is true that in all war every death is (or should be) a tragedy also for those who kill. But, were it possible, those Palestinian civilian victims are an even greater tragedy. For everyone”.




The death of the postulator of the cause of the beatification of John Paul I

A letter of Don Liberatore to 30Days: “The most singular gift of Luciani was simplicity”


The book on Pope Luciani

The book on Pope Luciani

In the night between 30 and 31 October the unexpected death of don Pasquale Liberatore, 71 years old, a Salesian, Postulator General for the causes of the saints of the Congregation and of the Salesian family, occurred. Along with the many processes for future saints and blesseds of the Salesian Congregation, don Pasquale Liberatore was involved, at the behest of the Bishop of Belluno, Monsignor Vincenzo Savio, in the cause of beatification of Pope Luciani. A responsibility which he had received officially from the diocese of Belluno-Feltre on the occasion of the solemn opening of the process of canonization of Luciani. Following we publish in its entirety the letter which don Liberatore sent in September last to Stefania Falasca at 30Days.


Very Dear Stefania,
Today I received the book on Pope Luciani which you kindly sent to me. My curiosity was so aroused that I interrupted my work and dedicated myself immediately and totally to the reading of it.
And now – today itself – having finished the reading, I felt the need to turn first of all to you, author of the work, not only to thank you for the gift made to me but especially to congratulate you for the wonderful work done.
The finest fruit that the reader will gain, in my opinion, having reached the last page, is a convincing and documented demonstration of that which was the most singular gift of Pope Luciani: simplicity. You have achieved this goal, choosing the most efficacious path, which is that of going back to the roots and willingly lingering over them, gathering and underlining all the particulars.
One sees clearly that this specific gift of Albino Luciani was an inheritance received from his family: to hear his brother and sister narrate with such naturalness and simplicity the story of the family, is moving and explains with evidence from what source the future Pope Luciani drew his simple style and robust faith, beyond the roles fulfilled.
I repeatedly underlined the text, impelled by interest in the contents. There were not a few unpublished details for me (as that of the alms on p.45!) notwithstanding that I thought I had read everything that had been published about Pope Luciani.
The iconographic aspect is also very inspired. It is placed throughout the narrative with both abundance and discretion at the same time, helping and integrating the reading without disturbing it.
I repeat therefore my liveliest congratulations (which I request be extended to Massimo Quattrucci also) for this successful work, truly worthy of the XXV anniversary of the election and death: the year in which we also want to begin with the diocesan investigation.
Very cordially.

Roma, 20 September 2003

Father Pasquale Liberatore
Postulator of the cause of beatification





Pope
On the threshold of wonder

Barbara Spinelli wrote an editorial for La Stampa of October 12 with this title, and dedicated it to the 25 years of the pontificate of Pope Wojtyla. “It is all to do with living on the threshold”. This, according to Spinelli, is the synthesis of the pontificate, a synthesis which the journalist draws, among other things, from an attentive reading of the last poetic composition of Karol Wojtyla, Roman Triptych. We publish ample excerpts from the editorial in question.
“We are on the threshold of the Book, the Pope again says, in the same way as we linger, “passing from wonder to wonder”, in front of the frescos of the Sistine Chapel which represent the Divine Judgement: “Michelangelo should teach it to people”. This capacity to be full of wonder must be recovered, which is at the basis of faith as it is of reason. […] We are all shaken and disturbed by the image of his physical fragility [of the Pope, ed], of his becoming ever more impotent, taciturn, still. But if we look at him having in mind the idea of threshold, then his death is transfigured, becoming a prelude to a type of victory over death. His is a disposition to leave the world but also to linger on the extreme peripheries, balanced between being and non being, between not wondering anymore and the wondering that is never interrupted. It is an invocation of salvation and a contemplation, a hastening and an unlimited being patient. With these movements, apparently contradictory, we can prepare for death: his living, surviving, suffering is almost an oxymoron, and it is his last sparkling teaching. Perhaps it is a blessing that he did not receive the Nobel prize for peace. That his lingering on the edge of being should be so solitary, the threshold of spectacular external acknowledgements. He resembles us even more, in this his solitude. He makes us see the secret forces of impotence: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong (Paul, Letter to the Corinthians [2Cor 12,10, ed]). […] From the times of Plato, philosophy is born of the attitude of wonderment. With not contenting oneself with the mere, indifferent “existing and passing of time”. To live always and ever more on the threshold of wonder, as in the verses of John Paul II”.


Martini
Mother Teresa: a marvelous story accessible to all

“There was in her a togetherness of sweeteness and of strength, of spirituality and of concreteness, of humility and of consciousness of her own dignity and mission that made her appear to me as something whose roots didn’t seem to be of this world. So Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini recalled, in La Repubblica of 18 October, the figure of Mother Teresa. The Cardinal’s interview concluded with these words: “But all of this has a simple,common origin. A marvelous story, but one which can be repeated, because part of a reality accessible to all and which requires only a constant fidelity to the Spirit of God.


Tonini
Prayer is videre videri

“Prayer is the never ending wonder of finding oneself in the world and discovering that this life is always a gift. Saint Augustine said that prayer is videre videri, feeling oneself being constantly looked at. Not like the slaves of the Big Brother of Orwell, but as sheep that the Good Shepherd guards and defends”. Thus Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, in Avvenire, on 23 October.


Press/1
Buds of peace in the Middle East

“This draft is offered gratis to the government. If Sharon uses it, I promise we will not denounce him for plagiarism. But our hopes are based on public opinion”. With these words the writer Amos Oz, in Unità on 14 October, anticipated the signing of the “Peace pact”, which will be initialled at the beginning of November in Geneva, by prominent exponents of the Palestinian National Authority, among whom is the former Minister of Information Yasser Abed Rabbo, and exponents of the Israeli left, among them the former President of the Knesset Avraham Burg, the former Minister of Justice Yossi Beilin and the former Labour leader Amram Mitzna.
Parallel to the agreement in Geneva, another peace initiative is budding in the Middle East: a hundred thousand Israelis and sixty thousand Palestinians have signed a document, called “The voice of the people”, promoted by Ami Ayalon, former head of the Shin Bet ( the Israeli security secret service) and by Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al Quds University, two personages who also took part in the Oslo agreements signed by Israelis and Palestinians. The news was given in La Stampa on 3 November.


Press/2
Swastikas on the monument to Rabin

La Stampa on 1 November reported the news of the profanation of the monument to the Israeli Premier, killed eight years ago. The profanation took place on the very vigil of the anniversary of the death of the statesman. The article in La Stampa ends in this fashion: “Just yesterday, an ex director of the security services warned in an interview with the daily Maariv [a daily of the Israeli left, ed] that in Israel “the potential for new political crimes is immense: there are thousands of militants” ready to take up arms. The mother of Amir, Rabin’s assassin, herself, declared that she did not see any reason for scandal in the profanation of the monument”.


Exhibitions
Ambrose and Augustine, the fatal encounter

This is the title of an article which appeared in the cultural pages of the Corriere della Sera on 15 October, in which the exhibition entitled “Ambrose and Augustine. The springs of Europe”, was presented. The exhibition (open from 7 November to 2 May) is being held in the premises of the diocesan Museum and Palazzo delle Stelline in Milan. This is the beginning of the article in question: “On the night of Easter 387 A.D., in Milan, Bishop Ambrose baptized Aurelio Augustine, the intellectual originally from Tagaste (present day Souk Arhas in Algeria), who will later become the Bishop of Hippo and influence European culture with his thought, as moreover the works of Ambrose will also leave an imprint on the Church-political power relationships in the sign of reciprocal autonomy.


The Chaldean Church
The election of the new Patriarch In Rome

On 29 October the Vatican Press Office announced that the Pope had convoked for the days of 2 and 3 December next, in Rome, the Synod of the Bishops of the Chaldean Church for the election of the new Patriarch of Babylon to replace Raphaël Bidawid, who died on 7 July last. The Synod - which comprises about twenty bishops – met in Baghdad from August 20 to September 2 last, without however any of the candidates reaching the two thirds of the votes necessary for election. The intervention of Rome in an election of an Eastern Catholic Patriarch came into effect in virtue of the second subsection of canon 72 of the code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, which states: “If the election is not concluded within fifteen days to be calculated from the opening of the Synod of the Bishops of the Patriarchal Church, the matter devolves to the Roman Pontiff”.


Appointments /1
Moretti Vicegerent, Parmeggiani Prelate Secretary

On 17 October 54 year old Bishop Luigi Moretti, from Rieti, was nominated Vicegerent of the diocese of Rome in place of Cesare Nosiglia, nominated Bishop of Vicenza in October. Moretti, a priest since 1974, began to work in the Vicariate of Rome in 1983, of which he became the Prelate Secretary in 1993. In 1998 he was also nominated Auxiliary Bishop for the historic center.
On the same day 42 year old Monsignor Mauro Parmeggiani, from Reggio, was nominated the new Prelate Secretary. A priest since 1985, from the following year – and up until now – he was the special secretary of Camillo Ruini, then Auxiliary Bishop of Reggio Emilia-Guastella, afterwards Secretary General of the CIE and then Vicar General of Rome and president of the CIE.
The new secretary of Cardinal Ruini will be don Nicola Filippi, a 35 year old Roman priest, for eight and a half years parochial vicar in Santa Chiara in the Vigna Clara district.


Nominations/2
Piacenza new Vatican “Minister of Cultural Heritage”

On 13 October 59 year old Monsignor Mauro Piacenza, from Genoa, was nominated President of the Pontifical Commission for the cultural heritage of the Church. The new “Minister of Cultural Heritage” of the Holy See, ordained priest in 1969, nominated Canon of the Chapter of Genoa Cathedral by Cardinal Giuseppe Siri in 1986, served his mission in the Congregation for the Clergy since 1990, of which he was nominated Department Head in 1997 and Under Secretary in 2000. The episcopal consecration of Monsignor Piacenza is planned for 15 November in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Genoa.


Nominations/3
Opus Dei Bishop in Chile

On 10 October Juan Ignacio González Errázuriz, 47 year old priest of the Opus Dei Prelature, was nominated bishop of San Bernardo in Chile. Originally from Santiago, he was ordained priest in 1993. González Errázuriz is the third Opus Dei bishop in Chile. In Latin America the bishops of the personal prelature founded by Josémaria Escrivá de Balaguer are about fifteen, concentrated especially in Peru.


Diplomacy
Social Security Agreement between the Holy See and Italy

On 15 October the exchange of the instruments of ratification of the Social Security Agreement between Italy and the Holy See which was signed in the Vatican on 16 June 2000 took place in the Farnesina.


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