from issue no.01 - 2004

That surprising affirmation: «The Word became flesh and dwelt among us»

«On this first Sunday of the New Year, the second after Christmas, the liturgy re-proposes for our meditation, the stupendous page of the Prologue to the Gospel of John.
“In the beginning”, he writes, “was the Word …” (John 1,1). The Greek term is “Logos”, but in the mind of the apostle the reference is to “Wisdom”, which in the Old Testament is personified as the regulator of the Cosmos and history. “…And the Word was with God and the Word was God …All things were made through him” (John 1,1.3).
Then however comes the surprising affirmation: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1,14). John himself, who fixes the eyes of faith on the divine origin of Christ, insists with force on the reality of his Incarnation. He brings together two apparently incompatible terms :”Word” and “flesh”. Yes! Jesus is true God and true man. He is the Only Begotten Son of God, whom John and the other apostles have “seen”, “heard”, “touched” (cf. 1John 1,1-3). In his humanity dwells all the fullness of the divinity (cf. Col 2,9).
Most dear ones, guided by the evangelist John let us draw close to the mystery of the Child of Bethlehem, in whom God fully revealed his countenance. Let us remain in silence with the Virgin Mary in front of the eternal Word who made Himself a little child for us. To those who believe in His name, He, today as then, gives the “power to become children of God” (cf. John 1,12). And this is the mystery and gift of Christmas!».
With these words John Paul II introduced the Sunday Angelus on 4 January.

Happy New Year to the great peoples of the East

«To the great peoples of the East – especially the Chinese, the Vietnamese and the Koreans – who in the coming days will celebrate with joy the lunar New Year , I assure my closeness and wish them serenity and prosperity from my heart». Thus the Pope after having recited the Sunday Angelus on 18 January.

Etchegaray: Christmas and the wonder of the child

«Is Christmas the most important holiday?». «By far. No one had ever seen God, and in Bethlehem Mary, Joseph, some shepherds and wise men were the first to see Him in the guise of a fragile new born. Nothing more disturbing! I remember the words of the cosmonaut Armstrong: “The important thing is not that man has walked on the moon, but that God in Jesus walked on the earth”». «What has the world most need of on this Christmas eve?». «To refind the child’s heart that opens to life and marvels at everything». These are some passages from an interview granted by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray to La Stampa, published on 21 December.

Martini: The little event of Bethlehem and the Apocalypse

The church «intends to remember with gratitude the little event of Bethlehem which, for those who believe, changed the history of the world and enables us to look with confidence even on the difficult moments of life, in that they are illuminated and redeemed by the new sense given to human events by the presence of the Son of God. But let us not limit ourselves to a commemorative memory. We should proclaim confidence in the coming of Him who “will wipe away every tear from their eyes”, through whom “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor weeping nor pain any more” (Ap 21.4) and the hope is renewed with which “we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness shall dwell (2Pt 3.13). Because of this the cry of the first Christians, reported on the final page of Apocalypse, was “Come Lord Jesus”». This is an excerpt from an article that Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini wrote, on the occasion of Christmas, for la Repubblica of 24 December.

Martino: those unmindful of international law

«The Message underlines how one of the most important fruits of international law has been, after the tragedy of the Second World war, the institution of the United Nations Organization, called upon to “watch over global peace and security, to encourage the efforts of States to guarantee these fundamental goods of humanity” (no. 6), having as their pivot “the ban on a recourse to force” (no.6). The Holy Father reminds the forgetful that there are only two exceptions to that ban: the natural right to legitimate defense, to be exercised within the criteria of need and proportion, in the context of the United Nations; the system of collective security, “which assigns to the Security Council power and responsibility in the matter of maintaining peace, with power of decision and wide discretionary powers” (no.6)». This is one of the paragraphs read on 16 December by Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on the occasion of the presentation of the Pontifical Message for the 37th World Peace Day, celebrated on 1 January 2004.

Ruini: when I was young I played on the wing so as not to do damage ….

«I am particularly close» to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone «especially since he described me as a center forward; when I was young I was always placed on the wing, to do as little damage as possible …». These joking words were used by Cardinal Ruini in presenting the figure of the Archbishop of Genoa, invited to speak in the Basilica of Saint John, along with the writer Gaspare Barbiellini Amidei, on the subject: “From generation to generation, family and the transmission of values”. The meeting, which was held the evening of 20 January, is part of the series “Dialogues in the cathedral”. The Cardinal Vicar’s witty remark makes reference to the imaginary “team of the Church” launched jokingly by Cardinal Bertone when on 11 January, on the occasion of the Sampdoria-Juventus game, he acted as sports commentator for the local TV station Telenord (along with Gianni Vasino, for years a well-known face on 90° minuto (90th minute). On the occasion in fact the cardinal, requested by the journalists, outlined a “formation” of cardinals with Joseph Ratzinger as trainer, Angelo Sodano as play-maker, Dionigi Tettamanzi as half-back. And Camillo Ruini as center-forward…

Cardinal Tzadua dies, Korec eightieth birthday

On 11 December the 82 year old Ethiopian Cardinal Paulos Tzadua, Archbishop of Addis Ababa from 1977 to 1998, died.
On 22 January the Jesuit Slovakian cardinal Jan Korec, Bishop of Nitra since 1990, was eighty years old. At this moment then the Sacred College is composed of 192 cardinals, of whom 130 have the right to vote in an eventual conclave.
There are also three cardinals who will reach their eightieth birthday on February:on the 5th, the Indian Simon Lourdusamy, on the 21st, the Italian Silvano Piovanelli and on the 29th, the Pole Andrzej Deskur.

A letter by the Pope on the Marian doctrine of Saint Luigi Grignion de Montfort. Saint John of Avila the next Doctor of the Church?

On 13 January a letter written by John Paul II on the occasion of the 160th anniversary of the publication of the Trattato della vera devozione alla Santa Vergine (Treatise on the true devotion to the Holy Virgin) by Saint Luigi Maria Grignion de Montfort, was made public. «The doctrine of this saint», the Pope stressed, «has exercised a profound influence on the Marian devotion of many faithful and on my own life».
After this letter however it seems that the possibility that Saint Luigi Maria might be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church is coming to nothing, even though it was, even authoritatively, hoped for.
On the other hand Saint John of Avila, who lived between 1500 and 1569, friend of Saint Teresa of Avila, of Saint John of God and of Saint Francis Borgia, is in pole position to become a doctor of the Church. Saint John of Avila, who is considered one of the important theologians for the Council of Trent, was canonized in 1970, is patron saint of the Spanish secular clergy, and the cause for promoting him Doctor of the Church was backed by the Spanish episcopacy (CEE). According to representatives of the CEE cited by the Catholic news agency Aciprensa on 16 January, the cause introduced to declare John of Avila Doctor of the Church «is very close to definitive approval».

Karl of Hapsburg towards canonization. Isabella of Castile no

On 20 December the decrees regarding the miracles attributed to the intercession of four Blesseds, among them Gianna Beretta Molla, and of seven Servants of God, among them Karl I of Austria, as well as those for the recognition of the heroic virtues of seven Servants of God, were promulgated. It is predicted that in the course of 2004 Karl of Hapsburg may be beatified.
On the other hand the day on which Isabella of Castile, the most Catholic foundress of the Spanish monarchy, could ascend to the honors of the altar does not seem close. Despite the fact that this year the five hundredth anniversary of her death occurs. The Holy See in fact seems intent on moving with great prudence in the case of Isabella, for a double reason. To begin with, there no unanimity among the Spanish episcopate (the Basque and Catalan bishops do not seem in favor). And then the memory of the banishment of the Jews and the Moors from Spanish soil, carried out during Isabella’s reign, could create problems with the Jewish and Islamic world.

Don dal Covolo Postulator General
of the Salesians

On 10 December the nomination of Don Enrico dal Covolo as new Postulator General of the Salesians was announced. The Senior Rector, Don Pascual Chávez, nominated him to replace Don Pasquale Liberatore, who died suddenly at the end of October. Don dal Covolo, a 53 year old Venetian, has been priest since 1979. Since 1986 he has been a teacher in the Faculty of Christian and Classical Literature at the Pontifical Salesian University and in these years has also served as a consultor to the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Don dal Covolo was nominated for a limited period, with the task of carrying forward the causes underway and other eventual urgent matters in this sector, while remaining at the same time attached to the Salesian University. Among the causes which Don dal Covolo “inherits” from Don Liberatore there is that of Pope John Paul I. Don Enrico recalls with pleasure that his paternal uncle, Monsignor Antonio dal Covolo, was a companion in theological studies of Albino Luciani, who, above everything else, was a great friend of the family.

Honoris causa doctorate for Governor Fazio

The Governor of Bankitalia Antonio Fazio received a honoris causa doctorate in Moral Social Theology at the Pontifical Salesian University. The ceremony took place on 13 December. Cardinals Roger Etchegaray, Agostino Cacciavillan and Antonio María Javierre Ortas, as well as Cesare Geronzi, president of Capitalia were present. A motet from the 16th century, Estote fortes in bello et pugnate, was chosen as opening song:. Before giving his doctoral lecture on “Economy and moral sciences”, Fazio recalled the figure of the Salesian Don Domenico Villani, to whom – the Governor said – «I owe a great deal» as «spiritual and cultural counselor».

Parmalat crisis/1
The Bishop of Parma

«Today we cannot pretend that the Parmalat crisis does not exist or that it is outside of the Church». Words of Monsignor Silvio Cesare Boniceli, Bishop of Parma, during his sermon at a mass celebrated in Collecchio. The bishop’s homily was reported by la Repubblica of 19 January.

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Ruini to the CEI

In an article written by Leonardo Zega, printed on the front page of La Stampa of 20 January, some statements by authoritative exponents of the Church about the Parmalat affair were cited, especially the words of the Bishop of Parma and of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who underlined how «bitter surprises of this kind urge us forcefully to rediscover the value of ethics, not simply as a factor external to economic activities, but as an intrinsic condition of their healthy and constructive development». The article concludes: «The Italian Church has showed itself to be vigilant and attentive to an immoral phenomenon which weighs heavily on the life and morale of the citizens. Making amends also for some blameless “distraction”. There was a time when Cavalier Tanzi was cordially revered by all, clergy included. But who could have known when even the appointed controllers, Tanzi himself and his closest collaborators claim that they had never noticed anything?»

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Göering’s boat

«They say it belonged to Hermann Göering, and that after the war it was brought to the USA as spoils of war. They say its name, Te Vega, was inspired by the Swedish wife of the Nazi Field-Marshal. They also say that it’s unlucky». So La Repubblica on 7 January spoke of the boat acquired by Calisto Tanzi.

Caffarra Archbishop of Bologna in place of Biffi

On 16 December Carlo Caffarra was nominated Archbishop of Bologna in place of Cardinal Giacomo Biffi who was 75 on 13 June last. 65 year old Caffarra is originally from Busseto (the home of Giuessepe Verdi) and has been priest since 1961. An expert in the moral doctrine of marriage and in bioethical issues related to procreation, Paul VI called him in 1974 to join the International Theological Commission where he remained for two five-year terms. In 1981 Pope Wojtyla put him in charge of the newly created Pontifical Institute «John Paul II» for studies on marriage and the family, and in 1995 nominated him archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio, an office which he held until his nomination to Bologna. He is one of the rare ecclesiastics to have a website dedicated to him – - from which his fans publish his homilies and other speeches.
In commenting on his nomination it was noted that the archdiocese of Ferrara boasts at least forty upper seminarians, a notable number, especially when compared to the size of the diocese (276,000 faithful) : sufficient to think that Bologna (919,000 faithful) claims 34.

Menichelli Archbishop of Ancona , Pascarelle Coadjutor of Pozzuoli

On 8 January 64 year old Edoardo Menichelli was nominated Archbishop of Ancona-Osimo. Menichelli, who is originally from the province of Macerata, was Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto from 1994, and had formerly worked in the Roman Curia as official of the Apostolic Signet and of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, where, among other things, he was the Special Secretary of Cardinal Achille Silvestrini.
On 10 January 56 year old Gennaro Pascarella from Cervino (CE), was nominated co-adjutor bishop of Pozzuoli. Ordained priest in 1974, he was Bishop of Ariano Irpino-Lacedonia from 1998.

An auxiliary appointed to Monsignor Gremoli

On 20 December the 61 year old Swiss Capuchin Paul Hinder was nominated auxiliary bishop for the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia. He will join the titular of the vicariate, the 77 year old Tuscan Capuchin Giovanni Bernardo Grimoli, who has been in Abu Dhabi since 1975. Hinder, performing pastoral activity in his country of origin, was Vice-president of the Capuchin Friars International between 1993 and 2000 and has been Definitor General of his Order since 2001.

Holy See/1
De Paolis Secretary of the Signet Di Mauro delegate to APSA

On 30 December 68 year old Valasio de Paolis, of the Scalabrini Missionaries, originally from Sonnino (Latina), was nominated Secretary of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signet. He replaces Francesco Saverio Salerno, who was 75 years old on 27 August last. De Paolis, priest since 1961, with a doctorate in Canon Law from the Gregorian and master’s degree in Jurisprudence from the Sapienza in Rome, has been teaching at the Gregorian since 1971 and also at the Urbanian since 1987, where he has been Dean of the faculty of Canon Law since 1998. He is consultant to numerous departments of the Roman Curia.
On 2 January 52 year old Monsignor Vincenzo di Mauro was nominated delegate to the ordinary section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See. Di Mauro, priest since 1976, with a master’s degree in Literature, was office head in the Pontifical Council for the Laity from 1995 until 1998, when he became parish priest of Santa Maria del Caravaggio in Milan.

Holy See/2
Stiglitz nominated member of the Academy of Social Sciences

On 20 December 60 year old Joseph Stiglitz, Professor of Economics at Colombia University, was nominated ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Stiglitz was president of the economic advisers of US President Bill Clinton, as well as Vice-president of the World Bank from 1995 to 2000. In 2001 he received the Nobel Prize for economics.

Archbishop Courtney, Nuncio in Burundi, killed.Gallagher nominated in his place.

On 29 December the Irish Archbishop Michael Aidan Courtney, Nuncio in Burundi, was killed. He was returning to the capital Bujumbura when the jeep in which he was traveling was hit by bullets and he was mortally wounded. Courtney was Nuncio in the African country since 2000. Official acceptance by the Havana authorities of his nomination as Nuncio to Cuba reached the Vatican on the very day of his death.
It is the first time, at least in modern times, that a nuncio has been killed. In the past they may have been expelled or badly beaten, as was the case, for example, at the beginning of the ’nineties in Haiti with the then nuncio Giuseppe Leanza.
On 22 January the name of Courtney’s successor was announced. He is Paul Richard Gallagher, 50 years old the day after his nomination, born in Liverpool in Great Britain, who was at the same time elevated to archiepiscopal dignity. Priest since 1977, he entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 1984 and has worked in Tanzania, Uruguay, the Philippines, and in the Section of Relations with States in the Secretariat of State. From 2000 he was the permanent observer to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

Causero Nuncio to the Czech Republic, Moliner to Ethiopia and Gibuti

On 10 January Archbishop Diego Causero was nominated Apostolic Nuncio to the Czech Republic. Causero, a 64 year old from Friuli, has been priest since 1963 and entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 1973, working in Pontifical Representations in Nigeria, Spain, Syria, Australia, Geneva (UN), Albania. In 1993 he was promoted archbishop and apostolic nuncio to the Central African Republic and the Congo. From 1999 he was the pontifical representative in Syria. On 17 January the 63 year old Spanish archbishop Ramiro Moliner Inglés, was nominated Apostolic Nuncio to Ethiopia and Djibouti and apostolic delegate to Somalia. Joining the diplomatic service in 1973, he worked in the nunciatures of New Zealand, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Brazil, Uruguay, Sudan and Great Britain. In 1993 he was promoted archbishop and apostolic nuncio to Papua New Guinea and to the Solomon Isles. From 1997 he was pontifical representative in Guatemala. It should be noted that up to this nomination, the post of apostolic delegate to Somalia went along with that of nuncio to Sudan.

New ambassadors from Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, the Ivory Coast and Indonesia

On 9 December the new ambassador of Paraguay to the Holy See presented his credentials. He is 64 year old Marcos Martinez Mendieta, a member of the diplomatic service since 1967, formerly representative to the USA and Germany and since 2001 Vice-minister of Foreign Affairs.
On 15 December it was the turn of the new ambassador of the Dominican Republic, 63 year old Carlos Rafael Conrado Marion-Landais Castillo, a university teacher, and in charge of the elementary school construction program in his country since 1999.
On 10 January the new ambassadors from the Ivory coast and Indonesia presented their credentials. The new representative of the African country is 54 year old Kouamé Benjamin Konan, a career diplomat, First Counselor of the embassy in South Africa for the last four years. The Asian is 58 year old Bambang Prayitno, he too a career diplomat, Embassy Minister in Austria for the last three years.
It should be added that on 12 December four ambassadors to the Holy See who do not reside in the city presented their credentials. They are the new ambassadors of Denmark (Birger Dan Nielsen, 60 years old, resident in Switzerland), of Singapore (47 year old Walter Woon, Belgium), Qatar (Mohammed Jaham Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, 45 years old, France), and Estonia (Priit Kolbre, 47 years old, resident in his home country).

Balboni Acqua new ambassador from Italy

On 9 January the new ambassador from Italy to the Holy See presented his letters of credential. He is 63 year old Giuseppe Balboni Acqua, originally from Osimo in the Marche, a career diplomat, married with two children. From 1993 to 1997 he was Ambassador to Warsaw. In his speech the new ambassador said: «I have an indelible memory of that diplomatic mission, of the richness and Christian fervor of the Polish people, of the generous pastoral commitment of the numerous ecclesiastical authorities I had the opportunity to meet and of the great devotion to the common good of the national and local civil authorities».

Modification of the Italian-Holy See monetary convention

On 22 December there was an exchange of notes at the Foreign Office on the modification of the monetary convention between Italy - on behalf of the European Union - and the the Vatican State, signed in Rome in December 2000. The modification allows the Holy See to increase to a million the portion of Euros with its own imagery from the 670,000 fixed three years ago.

Pisanu and Paul VI’s letter to the Red Brigade

Paul VI with Aldo Moro

Paul VI with Aldo Moro

«Behind me, when I am sitting in the office on the Viminal, I have the framed letter of appeal by Paul VI to the members of the Red Brigade, the attempt to save the life of President Moro that unfortunately turned out unsuccessful. I look at it every day and I also looked at it this morning. With deep feeling.» This is the first comment, published in la Repubblica of 15 January, by Minister of the Interior Giuseppe Pisanu, on the arrest in Cairo of two historical Red Brigade fugitives, one of whom was Rita Algranati who, on 16 March 1978, took part in the ambush on Via Fani in which member of Parliament Aldo Moro was kidnapped and the men of his escort killed.

The activists of the Redemption

The arrest of a colonist by the Israeli police.

The arrest of a colonist by the Israeli police.

This is the name given in an article in la Repubblica of 23 December to members of the movement of religious colonists active in Israel since 1977, which has greatly influenced, and influences, the political choices of the state. We reprint an excerpt: «Children of the encounter between Zionism and Orthodox Judaism, the colonists nurture themselves on the “theology of the Land”. A political theology, hardly secular, which is founded on a particular religious belief. According to it, only possession of the entire Land of Israel… will allow the reunion of the whole people of Israel under the Torah of Israel. A fundamental condition for the coming of the Redemption which will bring an end to the exile of man from God and re-establish the original harmony of the Universe, the tikkun, broken by the cosmic catastrophe which gave birth to Evil. Contrary to Hebrew tradition, which entrusts times and ways of the Redemption to the divine will, the followers of the “theology of the Land”, advocate of messianic activism, maintain that men must exercise a role in accelerating the process of salvation. That is why they colonize the Land. The possession of Eretz Israel is conceived as the catalyst for an event destined to mark the destiny of the world. Those, Palestinian or Israeli, who oppose the whole expanse of Eretz Israel in the name of the formula “peace for territory” hinder not so much a political process but an event of divine nature».

The “neocon” and the political culture of “Old Europe”

John Paul II with José Maria Aznar, 23 January 2004

John Paul II with José Maria Aznar, 23 January 2004

Sunday 21 December. Commenting on the electoral result of the Catalan Generalitat (the Catalan Parliament, the presidency of which went to the Socialist Pasqual Maragall, thanks to the support of the independents of Esquerra republicana de Catalynua and the post-communists of Initiativa per Catalynua), an interesting analysis by Enric Juliana, deputy editor of the Vanguardia of Barcelona, appeared in La Stampa. We gives its conclusion: «And, just as is happening in many corners of the world after 11 September, two different ways of thinking are on the point of clashing head on in Spain: on the one hand, «neo-con» thinking, of which Aznar is an important spokesman, which feeds off polarization, does not avoid challenge and tends to consider any agreement as a sign of weakness; on the other hand, the political culture of “Old Europe” (Social Democrat and Christian Democrat), ready to negotiate, which looks to federalism and is opposed to head on clashes. The Catalan “shift”, much more than the terrible and barren Basque problem, is the key to a gripping situation not certain to lead to a happy ending».

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