__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 1

Tracey Rowland HUMUS OF THE CHRISTIAN CULTURE Rino Fisichella THE NEW EVANGELIZATION: WHAT IS IT?

C H R I S T I A N A N T H R O P O L O G I C A L A N D C U LT U R A L R E V I E W/ N º 3 / Y E A R I

YEAR II Jean-Louis Bruguès VATICAN II AHEAD OF US

2012-1013

YEAR OF FAITH

"Credo Domine, adauge nobis fidem!" Hymn of the Year of Faith

3


HUMANITAS Christian Anthropological and Cultural Review HUMANITAS review came into being to provide the University with a source of reflection and study at the service of the academic community and the wider public in general. Its objective is to reflect the concerns and teachings of the Papal Magisterium (Decree of the Rector from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile 147/95, par. 2) EDITOR Jaime Antúnez Aldunate EDITORIAL COMMITTEE Hernán Corral Talciani Samuel Fernández Eyzaguirre Gabriel Guarda O.S.B. René Millar Carvacho Pedro Morandé Court Ricardo Riesco Jaramillo Francisco Rosende Ramírez Juan de Dios Vial Correa Juan de Dios Vial Larraín Arturo Yrarrázaval Covarrubias ASSISTANT EDITOR Bernardita M. Cubillos WEB CONTENT MANAGER Francisco Javier Tagle Montt COUNCIL OF CONSULTANTS AND COLLABORATORS Honorary President: H.E. Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago de Chile. Héctor Aguer, Anselmo Álvarez O.S.B., Carl Anderson, Andrés Arteaga, Francisca Alessandri, Antonio Amado, Felipe Bacarreza, Jean-Louis Bruguès O.P., Rocco Buttiglione, Massimo Borghesi, Carlos Francisco Cáceres, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, Stratford Caldecott, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, Jorge Cauas Lama, Guzmán Carriquiry, William E. Carroll, Alberto Caturelli, Cesare Cavalleri, Fernando Chomalí, Francisco Claro, Ricardo Couyoumdjian, Mario Correa Bascuñán, Francesco D’Agostino, Adriano Dell’Asta, Vittorio di Girolamo, Carmen Domínguez, Carlos José Errázuriz, Jesús Colina, Luis Fernando Figari, Alfredo García Quesada, Juan Ignacio González, Stanislaw Grygiel, Gonzalo Ibáñez Santa-María, Raúl Hasbun, Henri Hude, José Miguel Ibáñez, Raúl Irarrázabal, Lydia Jiménez, Paul Johnson, Jean Laffitte, Nikolaus Lobkowicz, Alfonso López Quintás, Alejandro Llano, Raúl Madrid, Javier Martínez Fernández, Patricia Matte Larraín, Carlos Ignacio Massini Correas, Mauro Matthei O.S.B., Cardinal Jorge Medina, Livio Melina, Augusto Merino, Dominic Milroy O.S.B., Antonio Moreno Casamitjana, Fernando Moreno Valencia, Rodrigo Moreno Jeria, José Miguel Oriol, Máximo Pacheco Gómez, Mario Paredes, Francisco Petrillo O.M.D., Bernardino Piñera, Aquilino Polaino-Lorente, Cardinal Paul Poupard, Javier Prades, Dominique Rey, Héctor Riesle, Florián Rodero L.C., Alejandro San Francisco, Romano Scalfi, Cardinal Angelo Scola, David L. Schindler, Josef Seifert, Gisela Silva Encina, Robert Spaemann, Paulina Taboada, William Thayer Arteaga, Olga Ulianova, Luis Vargas Saavedra, Miguel Ángel Velasco, Juan Velarde Fuertes, Aníbal Vial, Pilar Vigil, Richard Yeo O.S.B., Diego Yuuki S.J.

H 218


H U M A N I T A S

Humanitas Nº 3 2012 - Y EAR II

Biannual English Digital Version

Year of Faith 2012-2013 8 CREED OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD 9 VATICAN II AHEAD OF US Jean-Louis Bruguès 24 HUMUS OF THE CHRISTIAN CULTURE Tracey Rowland 36 THE NEW EVANGELIZATION: WHAT IS IT? Rino Fisichella 48 A model for times of crisis TIMELINESS OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI Fabrice Hadjadj 64 THE GOD OF JESUS CHRIST IN JOSEPH RATZINGER Javier Prades 76 THE HUMAN BRAIN: INSTRUMENT OF THE MIND Angelo Serra 92

VII World Meeting of Families 100 THE “PROPRIUM” OF THE FAMILY 102 AN IRREPLACEABLE PLACE OF EDUCATION Cardinal Angelo Scola 104 Art and Anthropology MORALITY AND LITERATURE IN MARITAIN Piero Viotto 114

Caritas in veritate 132 THE LOGOS OF CHARITY Samuel Fernández 135 THE DEVELOPMENT OF PEOPLE AND TECHNOLOGY Pedro Morandé 141 We highlight in NOTES SHAKESPEARE MORE “ROMAN” THAN “BRITISH” Elizabetta Sala 146 SECULARIZATION AND ITS MYTHOLOGY ACCORDING TO JOHN MILBANK Alessandra Gerolin 153

We highlight in BOOKS LIFE AND WORK OF FATHER ALEKSANDR MEN Gisela Silva Encina 204

Front cover:

Official Symbol of the Year of Faith 2012-1013. Byzantine-style mosaic of Christ Pantokrator in the Cefalù Cathedral, Sicily. Cover designed by M. Ximena Ulibarri.

Summary Editorial Notes The Pope in his own words The Church and the world Books About the authors

3 6 146 156 170 204 216


H U M A N I T A S

O N

T H E

I N T E R N E T

See the Digital Version of English and Spanish edition on our page www.humanitas.cl

HUMANITAS

Serving the encounter of faith and culture

HUMANITAS (ISSN 07172168) publishes articles by its regular, national and foreign collaborators as well as authors whose subject matter is in harmony with the goals of HUMANITAS. The total or partial reproduction of articles published by HUMANITAS requires authorization, with the exception of commentary or quotes. Design and Production: Diseño Corporativo UC Letters: HUMANITAS / Centro de Extensión de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile / Av. Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 390, 3rd floor / Santiago / Chile Tel: (56 - 2) 354 65 19 - Fax: (56 – 2) 354 37 55 – email: humanitas@uc.cl


HUMANITAS Summary n° 3 (October 2012- March 2013) Biannual English Digital Edition

Vatican II ahead of us, by Jean Louis Bruguès O.P. It is said that once interrogated about the historical importance of the French Revolution, Chairman Mao’s Prime Minister answered: “It is still too soon to say it.” When trying to evaluate the impact of the Second Vatican Council, there is the possibility of an excessively hasty judgment on its consequences. It is only possible to measure the impact of a council over the long term. The Church required many centuries to measure the depth of the reforms of the Trent or Nicene Councils which gave birth to the current Creed that sustains our faith today. What in proximity seemed detrimental vanished in a few years, while the distant generations harvested unexpected fruits from the events. Humanitas 2012, III, pp. 24-35 HUMUS OF THE CHRISTIAN CULTURE, by Tracy Rowland. John Paul II began his first encyclical Redemptor hominis with the words, “The Redeemer of Man, Jesus Christ, is the center of the universe and of history.” He thus showed a Church prepared to confront the Marxist ideology in power during those years, which proclaimed that world history was determined by class conflict. Today, when secularism has become an alternative religion in which popular sovereignty has replaced Christ’s and while a lost ego anxiously seeks a spiritual home and symbols for identity in the market, the Church offers an alternative to these adverse social conditions. In response, both Redemptor hominis’ theological anthropology and Sacramentum caritatis’ liturgical theology are documents that present approaches which enable cultural healing to reestablish Christ as the center and infrastructural principle of Western civilization and the entire world. The work that is reproduced here is situated in the context of the Congress by which the Pope John Paul II Institute in collaboration with the Knights of Columbus commemorated the thirty year anniversary of Redemptor hominis. It presented an anthropological reflection in the light of Christ which aims to offer the basis for a culture capable of forming the humus of the new evangelization. Humanitas 2012, III, pp. 36-47 THE NEW EVANGELIZATION, WHAT IS IT?, By Rino Fisichella. The strong accent placed by His Holiness Benedict XVI to undertake the task of a New Evangelization is “prophetic” in the circumstances of the current world, since it clearly projects the future in which the Church will have to fulfill his ministry: a reality submitted to great cultural transformations which determine the start of a new epoch of humanity. The Pope’s effort is aimed at giving motivation to a missionary spirit expressed in consonance with the force of reason, especially in those places where faith is weakened by the pressures of secularism. Modern man is strongly characterized by the zeal of his own autonomy and the responsibility of living on his own. Forgetting all relationship with transcendence, he drifts apart from speculative thought and limits himself instantly to the simple historical moment, believing in an illusory manner that truth is only what can be scientifically verified. He is precipitated into a sort of pragmatic empiricism that leads him to appreciate facts and not ideas. The current crisis is averted by being able to and knowing how to talk about God: today God is not denied, but instead unknown. The Pope’s call addresses this reality of man with the effort of healing. To remain confined in our churches would turn Pentecost in vain. Humanitas 2012, III, pp. 48-63 TIMELINESS OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, by Fabrice Hadjadj. In today’s speech it is common to hear constant references to the financial crisis, global warming, ecological destruction, as well as a general cultural crisis. Christian thinkers go further and describe the current situation as an anthropological crisis, which even questions the meaning of the human body, the elementary nature of parenthood and the conception that children emerge as a fruit of love and not from a manufacturing technique that aspires to constitute man as a perfect product in the market of men. Francis of Assisi, from his time, gives an answer for times of crisis. For a Christian, eternity occurs in the present time, in a love already manifested on earth and which consists in viewing one’s neighbor and all Creation in God. The Franciscans assume this vision facing the reality of nothingness or poverty, and advance toward it as the point in which God shows his creative power that can sprout and flourish in it. Saint Francis calls us to become one with the poor, and because of the misery and powerlessness of those very words, he looks for the possibility of rendering praise worthy of the Creator in union with the rest of creation, in order to properly honor God in a canticle that appeals to the end of times and welcomes the future of eternity. Humanitas 2012, III, pp. 64-75

H 3


THE GOD OF JESUS CHRIST IN JOSEPH RATZINGER, by Javier Prades. Since his earliest writings, Joseph Ratzinger was interested in the relationship between the God of faith and the God of philosophers. Exploring this relationship in several articles, he proposed the need to re-elaborate the link between belief and knowledge, between general reason and the religious experience. God cannot be reduced to a merely theoretical problem. Only true prayer, involving petition and adoration, can save the Christian and especially the theologian, from the danger of an empty and sterile erudition. Humanitas 2012, III, pp. 76-91 THE HUMAN BRAIN: INSTRUMENT OF THE MIND, by Angelo Serra. A particular and essential aspect of Homo sapiens today deserves special attention and interest: the relation between brain and mind. The brain is “the organ of thought,” an essential organ for man, which receives, registers and memorizes information. It is evident that there is a presence of energy of the mind built by intelligence, that thinks and reflects, and by will, that chooses and decides. Consciousness examines what the mind expresses to judge it good or bad. In view of the discovery of the human brain’s marvelous structures, which are gradually developed as an indispensable instrument to enable men to elaborate and express the product of their minds and to choose and execute their own decisions, the perception of joy over the special privilege granted to human beings cannot be absent. It is necessary to bear in mind that: “the brain is not the mind. The brain is the physiological infrastructure of the mind.” Mind and consciousness are the two essential characteristic factors that clearly separate the human species from the rest of the animal world. Actually, the mind and consciousness enigma, exclusive to the human species, is resolved at a level immensely superior to the strictly biological one, which nevertheless constitutes the indispensable basis. With fine sense, G. Buzsáki recognizes the greatness and personal importance of it with these simple and clear expressions: “The human brain is the most complicated machinery ever created by nature. (…) Hope resides in that new knowledge about the brain will offer us better knowledge of ourselves.” Humanitas 2012, III, pp. 92-99 VII world meeting of families. On the occasion of the Seventh World Meeting of Families which took place in Milan this past May 30 through June 3, the Archbishop of this Archdiocese founded by Saint Ambrose and developed by Saint Charles Borromeo, His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Scola, officiated as host thousands of families gathering from all over the world. He published in the local press a series of ten reflections with the aim of contributing to the preparation of the people of Lombardy for the great event. These ten brief reflections, written in a language fully accessible to the public, review in a clear and concise manner the themes recurrent to contemporary man’s mind whenever he thinks or hears talks about family,- a reality everyone is anchored in one way or another. Humanitas 2012, III, pp. 106-113 MORALITY AND LITERATURE IN MARITAIN, by Piero Viotto. Beauty is one of the names of the first Being. Ever since the Thomist aesthetics, what is beautiful, good and true has been linked as a unity at the transcendental level. It is in light of this fundament that one understands the unreachable intellectual labor carried out by Jacques and Raïsa Maritain. They exercised a severe criticism of the artistic and literary movements of a late and decadent romantic period which prevailed in the French culture of the first half of the twentieth century, maintaining at the same time, relations of friendship and familiarity with the exponents of these tendencies that they rejected. The text here analyzes the correspondence maintained between the French philosopher and Jean Cocteau, Maurice Sachs, Julian Green and some poets from Breton’s circle, among others, in which aesthetical observations are joined with theological considerations or arguments from saints and Church doctors. It is a ministry testimony aimed at movement toward unity between moral life and artistic creation. Humanitas 2012, III, pp. 114-131

H 4


ON THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF A GREAT ENCyclicAL. On June 29th the Catholic world celebrated a new anniversary since Benedict XVI signed Caritas in veritate, his third encyclical. This letter followed the same path than Paul VI’s Populorum progressio and John Paul II’s Sollicitudo rei socialis and became the most recent magisterial document related to the Church’s social doctrine. In the following pages we publish two reflections on this text that proposes a new vision of economy focused in the gratitude principle and the logic of gift. The authors Samuel Fernández and Pedro Morandé are respectively Deans of the Faculties of Theology and Social Sciences of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Humanitas 2012, III, pp. 132-145 NOTES Shakespeare more “Roman” than “British”, by Elizabetta Sala. Four Hundred years after writing The Tempest, his famous farewell to the theatre, William Shakespeare still fascinates the world due to many reasons as his sound realism, his poetic mastery, the universality of his genius or his technical perfection; but he is never wholly grasped and engraved within the scheme of a culture of an age. As all the literary men of his age, who wrote during a harsh dictatorial regime, even Shakespeare could not say all what he wanted to say. However, he did not give up. This means that the “mystery” multiplies its several layers which must be read between lines; this renders it all more interesting and complicated, but many pieces of the puzzle fall into place, and the Bard of Avon is paradoxically ever more “Roman” and ever less “British”. Secularization and its mythology according to John Milbank, by Alessandra Gerolin. According to the Anglican theologian and philosopher, John Milbank, the great lie which characterizes secularism consists in the fact that in personal, political and social lives, one permanently formulates judgments and makes decisions by reference to “values.” Therefore, if the latter do not come from a critical judgment and personal communitarian verification, in which there is only an expression of a “private” and therefore “subjective” preference, what would be the criteria by which to base judgments and make choices? These criteria –remarks Milbank– will reflect the logic imposed by the dominant power, which misleadingly defines itself as “neutral” despite the exercise of an absolute sovereignty over everything it relies upon. The only possibility of surpassing secular reason consists in recovering a real and informed experience of faith inside the Church. For this reason, theology always has to be based on the life of the Church, its tradition and thought, and its social and liturgical practice, thereby avoiding the risk of losing its own identity. Humanitas 2012, III, pp. 146-155 BOOKS “Son of Man: The Story of Christ and Christianity” by Aleksandr Men (Oakwood Publications); “Alexsandr Men, a witness for contemporary Russia a Man for our times” by Yves Hammant; (Oakwood Publications); “Le Concile Vatican II” by Cardinal Paul Poupard (Salvator); “Introduzione alla biopolitica: dodici voci fondamentali” by Francesco D’Agostino (Aracne); “Les Ancres dans le Ciel: l’infrastructure métaphysique by Rémi Brague » (Seuil, L’ordre philosophique); “El pensamiento de John Milbank : una introducción a la “Radical Orthodoxy” by John Milbank and Adrian Pabst (Editorial Nuevo Inicio); “Giovanni Paolo II. La biografia” by Andrea Riccardi (San Paolo Edizioni); “John Henry Newman: A Biography” by Ian Ker (Oxford University Press); “La Foi des démons ou l’athéisme dépassé” by Fabrice Hadjadj (Salvator); “Une énigme photografique” by Maurice Blondel (Co-édition Éreme - Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi). Humanitas 2012, II, pp. 204-215

H 5


A powerful time for the Church

Let us approach the year of faith F

orty-four years, heavy in history, will have transcurred between the closing of the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Paul VI and the Year of Faith initiated by Benedict XVI on October 11. Although distinguished by very different circumstances, 1968 and 2012 confront the Church by raising a great challenge to the deepening of faith. At the time when Paul VI closed the previous Year of Faith, no one expected that a whole generation would be named after that same year 1968, nor that when that same Pope would publish his encyclical letter Humanae vitae proclaiming his “no” to artificial contraceptives, it would stir a veritable earthquake in the western Church. What awaits us in this new Year of Faith, which will most certainly be crucial in the history of Benedict XVI’s pontificate? The present crisis of faith in which God appears to be the great unknown and Jesus a figure of the past, bears also dramatic expression of an anthropological sort. It is conveyed in man abandoned to himself, alone and confused, at the mercy of powers whose faces he does not even know, whilst he lacks a goal by which to orient his existence. The Pope has said: “Recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual ‘desertification’. In the Council’s time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us. This void has spread. But it is in starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us.” (Homily at the Holy Mass for the opening of the Year of Faith, 11 October 2012, see page 157) We are grateful that with the Year of Faith, two moments of extraordinary richness come our way which will strengthen our reflections: on the one hand, the commemoration of the opening, fifty years ago, of the Second Vatican Council, and on the other, the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “In order to take stock, read the documents of the Council, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and rediscover thus the beauty of being Christians, of being the Church which Jesus has built”, Benedict XVI said inviting us to prepare ourselves for what we are living . With regards to what we commemorate, the Pope has reminded us of the words of Blessed John XXIII on October 11, 1962, during the solemn opening of Vatican II: “What above all concerns the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian

H 6


EDITORIAL EDITORIAL

doctrine be safeguarded and taught more effectively.” Pope Roncalli, Benedict XVI adds, “asked the Fathers to examine in depth and to present this perennial doctrine in continuity with the 1,000-year-old Tradition of the Church: ‘to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion’, but in a new way, according ‘to that work which our era demands of us.’” (Address to the General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, 24 May 2012). Once again we find here the key to the Council – so important in so far as faith is concerned – which the present Pontiff has emphasized since the beginning of his ruling, pointing out in a very explicit way in his well known address to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2005 that the Council’s authorized indications must be read, applied, and made one’s own, not in the perspective of an unacceptable “hermeneutics of discontinuity” and rupture, but in the hermeneutics of continuity and reform. The negative signs which we must face and repair today are the decrease in sacramental practice and the sense of doubt which prevails over the teachings of the Church, not to mention the impoverished values regarding the Gospel, which bear no relation to the core of Christian faith. Clearly, it is about the dismissal of God to a subjective sphere. The present Pope says that those who have lived through the preparation for the Council – a period which Joseph Ratzinger knows well as theological adviser to Cardinal Frings – know that the Conciliar Assembly meant to respond to the question: “Church, what have you to say of yourself?” And, going further into this question, he then reminds us that the fathers were “led back to the heart of the answer: it was a matter of starting afresh from God, celebrated, professed and witnessed to.” He points out that it is not in vain that the first Constitution which was approved was that of the Sacred Liturgy: “divine worship orients human beings towards the future City and restores to God his primacy.” (Address to the General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, 24 May 2012) Let us conclude with Benedict XVI that “missionary action will not be relaunched without the renewal of the quality of our faith and our prayer: we will not be able to offer appropriate answers without a new reception of the gift of Grace; we will not know how to win people over to the Gospel except by being the first to return to a profound experience of God.” (Ibidem) Bearing this in mind, may we be prepared for what is, above all, a year of profound experience of God under the guidance of Peter’s successor, who now summons us: “This, then, is how we can picture the Year of Faith, a pilgrimage in the deserts of today’s world, taking with us only what is necessary: the Gospel and the faith of the Church, of which the Council documents are a luminous expression, as is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published twenty years ago”. (Homily at the Holy Mass for the opening of the Year of Faith, 11 October 2012, see page 157) Translated by Juana Subercaseaux.

H 7


H 8


Year of Faith 2012- 2013

Creed of the people of God On Sunday, June 30th, 1968, in Saint Peter’s Square, closing the “Year of Faith” in the nineteenth centenary of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the Servant of God, Pope Paul VI, proclaimed “urbi et orbi“ the following profession of faith, known as Creed of the people of God. Looking forward to Benedict XVI’s convocation to a new “Year of Faith” which will open next October 11th and that will last until November 24th, 2013, we invoke, in union with the Holy Father, this Creed, which in Nicaea’s spirit was proclaimed by his venerated antecessor.

HUMANITAS Nº 3 pp. 8 - 23

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas. Caravaggio, 1601.

H 9


Introductory words from Paul VI’s homily Venerable brothers and beloved sons: 1. With this solemn liturgy we end the celebration of the nineteenth centenary of the martyrdom of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and thus close the Year of Faith. We dedicated it to the commemoration of the holy apostles in order that we might give witness to our steadfast will to be faithful to the deposit of the faith1 which they transmitted to us, and that we might strengthen our desire to live by it in the historical circumstances in which the Church finds herself in her pilgrimage in the midst of the world. 2. We feel it our duty to give public thanks to all who responded to our invitation by bestowing on the Year of Faith a splendid completeness through the deepening of their personal adhesion to the word of God, through the renewal in various communities of the profession of faith, and through the testimony of a Christian life. To our brothers in the episcopate especially, and to all the faithful of the holy Catholic Church, we express our appreciation and we grant our blessing. 3. Likewise, we deem that we must fulfill the mandate entrusted by Christ to Peter, whose successor we are, the last in merit; namely, to confirm our brothers in the faith2. With the awareness, certainly, of our human weakness, yet with all the strength impressed on our spirit by such a command, we shall accordingly make a profession of faith, pronounce a creed which, without being strictly speaking a dogmatic definition, repeats in substance, with some developments called for by the spiritual condition of our time, the creed of Nicea, the creed of the immortal tradition of the holy Church of God. 4. In making this profession, we are aware of the disquiet which agitates certain modern quarters with regard to the faith. They do not escape the influence of a world being profoundly changed, in which so many certainties are being disputed or discussed. We see even Catholics allowing themselves to be seized by a kind of passion for change and novelty. The Church, most assuredly, has always the duty to carry on the effort to study more deeply and to present, in a manner ever better adapted to successive generations, the unfathomable mysteries of God, rich for all in fruits of salvation. But at the same time the greatest care must be taken, while fulfilling the indispensable duty of research, to do no injury to the teachings of Christian doctrine. For that would be to give rise, as is unfortunately seen in these days, to disturbance and perplexity in many faithful souls. 5. It is important in this respect to recall that, beyond scientifically verified phenomena, the intellect which God has given us reaches that which is, and not merely the subjective expression of the structures and development of consciousness; and, on the other hand, that the task of interpretation –of hermeneutics– is to try to understand and extricate, while respecting the word expressed, the sense conveyed by a text, and not to recreate, in some fashion, this sense in accordance with arbitrary hypotheses. 6. But above all, we place our unshakable confidence in the Holy Spirit, the soul of the Church, and in theological faith upon which rests the life of the Mystical Body. We know that souls await the word of the Vicar of Christ, and we respond to that ex1 Cf. 1 Tim. 6:20. 2 Cf. Lk. 22:32.

H 10

HUMANITAS Nº 2 pp. 16 - 31


Year of Faith 2012 - 2013 The Annunciation. Caravaggio, (ci. 1608). Nancy, Museum of Fine Arts.

pectation with the instructions which we regularly give. But today we are given an opportunity to make a more solemn utterance. 7. On this day which is chosen to close the Year of Faith, on this feast of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, we have wished to offer to the living God the homage of a profession of faith. And as once at Caesarea Philippi the apostle Peter spoke on behalf of the twelve to make a true confession, beyond human opinions, of Christ as Son of the living God, so today his humble successor, pastor of the Universal Church, raises his voice to give, on behalf of all the People of God, a firm witness to the divine Truth entrusted to the Church to be announced to all nations. We have wished our profession of faith to be to a high degree complete and explicit, in order that it may respond in a fitting way to the need of light felt by so many faithful souls, and by all those in the world, to whatever spiritual family they belong, who are in search of the Truth. To the glory of God most holy and of our Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in the aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, for the profit and edification of the Church, in the name of all the pastors and all the faithful, we now pronounce this profession of faith, in full spiritual communion with you all, beloved brothers and sons.

H 11


Profession of Faith

CREDO OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD 8. We believe in one only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, creator of things visible such as this world in which our transient life passes, of things invisible such as the pure spirits which are also called angels3, and creator in each man of his spiritual and immortal soul. 9. We believe that this only God is absolutely one in His infinitely holy essence as also in all His perfections, in His omnipotence, His infinite knowledge, His providence, His will and His love. He is He who is, as He revealed to Moses4; and He is love, as the apostle John teaches us5: so that these two names, being and love, express ineffably the same divine reality of Him who has wished to make Himself known to us, and who, “dwelling in light inaccessible,”6 is in Himself above every name, above every thing and above every created intellect. God alone can give us right and full knowledge of this reality by revealing Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in whose eternal life we are by grace called to share, here below in the obscurity of faith and after death in eternal light. The mutual bonds which eternally constitute the Three Persons, who are each one and the same divine being, are the blessed inmost life of God thrice holy, infinitely beyond all that we can conceive in human measure7. We give thanks, however, to the divine goodness that very many believers can testify with us before men to the unity of God, even though they know not the mystery of the most holy Trinity. 10. We believe then in the Father who eternally begets the Son; in the Son, the Word of God, who is eternally begotten; in the Holy Spirit, the uncreated Person who proceeds from the Father and the Son as their eternal love. Thus in the Three Divine Persons, coaeternae sibi et coaequales,8 the life and beatitude of God perfectly one superabound and are consummated in the supreme excellence and glory proper to uncreated being, and always “there should be venerated unity in the Trinity and Trinity in the unity.”9 11. We believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. He is the Eternal Word, born of the Father before time began, and one in substance with the Father, homoousios to Patri,10 and through Him all things were made. He was 3 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 3002. 4 Cf. Ex. 3:14. 5 Cf. 1 Jn. 4:8. 6 Cf. 1 Tim. 6:16. 7 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 804. 8 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 75. 9 Cf. ibid. 10 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 150.

H 12


12. He dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. He proclaimed and established the Kingdom of God and made us know in Himself the Father. He gave us His new commandment to love one another as He loved us. He taught us the way of the beatitudes of the Gospel: poverty in spirit, meekness, suffering borne with patience, thirst after justice, mercy, purity of heart, will for peace, persecution suffered for justice sake. Under Pontius Pilate He suffered–the Lamb of God bearing on Himself the sins of the world, and He died for us on the cross, saving us by His redeeming blood. He was buried, and, of His own power, rose on the third day, raising us by His resurrection to that sharing in the divine life which is the life of grace. He ascended to heaven, and He will come again, this time in glory, to judge the living and the dead: each according to his merits–those who have responded to the love and piety of God going to eternal life, those who have refused them to the end going to the fire that is not extinguished.

Year of Faith 2012 - 2013

incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was made man: equal therefore to the Father according to His divinity, and inferior to the Father according to His humanity11; and Himself one, not by some impossible confusion of His natures, but by the unity of His person12.

And His Kingdom will have no end. 11 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 76. 12 Cf. ibid.

The Taking of Christ. Caravaggio, 1602.

H 13


H 14

The Crowning with Thorns (detail). Caravaggio, (ci. 1602).


14. We believe that Mary is the Mother, who remained ever a Virgin, of the Incarnate Word, our God and Savior Jesus Christ13, and that by reason of this singular election, she was, in consideration of the merits of her Son, redeemed in a more eminent manner14, preserved from all stain of original sin15 and filled with the gift of grace more than all other creatures16.

Year of Faith 2012 - 2013

13. We believe in the Holy Spirit, who is Lord and Giver of life, who is adored and glorified together with the Father and the Son. He spoke to us by the prophets; He was sent by Christ after His resurrection and His ascension to the Father; He illuminates, vivifies, protects, and guides the Church; He purifies the Church’s members if they do not shun His grace. His action, which penetrates to the inmost of the soul, enables man to respond to the call of Jesus: Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect (Mt. 5:48).

15. Joined by a close and indissoluble bond to the Mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption17, the Blessed Virgin, the Immaculate, was at the end of her earthly life raised body and soul to heavenly glory18 and likened to her risen Son in anticipation of the future lot of all the just; and we believe that the Blessed Mother of God, the New Eve, Mother of the Church19, continues in heaven her maternal role with regard to Christ’s members, cooperating with the birth and growth of divine life in the souls of the redeemed20. 16. We believe that in Adam all have sinned, which means that the original offense committed by him caused human nature, common to all men, to fall to a state in which it bears the consequences of that offense, and which is not the state in which it was at first in our first parents–established as they were in holiness and justice, and in which man knew neither evil nor death. It is human nature so fallen, stripped of the grace that clothed it, injured in its own natural powers and subjected to the dominion of death, that is transmitted to all men, and it is in this sense that every man is born in sin. We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin is transmitted with human nature, “not by imitation, but by propagation” and that it is thus “proper to everyone.”21

13 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 251-252. 14 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 53. 15 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 2803. 16 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 53. 17 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 53, 58, 61. 18 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 3903. 19 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 53, 56, 61, 63; cf. Paul VI, Alloc. for the Closing of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council: A.A.S. LVI [1964] 1016; cf. Exhort. Apost. Signum Magnum, Introd. 20 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 62; cf. Paul VI, Exhort. Apost. Signum Magnum, p. 1, n. 1. 21 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 1513.

H 15


The Flagellation of Christ. Caravaggio, 1607.

17. We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ, by the sacrifice of the cross redeemed us from original sin and all the personal sins committed by each one of us, so that, in accordance with the word of the apostle, “where sin abounded, grace did more abound.”22 18. We believe in one Baptism instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Baptism should be administered even to little children who have not yet been able to be guilty of any personal sin, in order that, though born deprived of supernatural grace, they may be reborn “of water and the Holy Spirit” to the divine life in Christ Jesus23. 19. We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, built by Jesus Christ on that rock which is Peter. She is the Mystical Body of Christ; at the same time a visible society instituted with hierarchical organs, and a spiritual community; the Church on earth, the pilgrim People of God here below,

22 Cf. Rom. 5:20. 23 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 1514. 24. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 8, 5.

H 16


Year of Faith 2012 - 2013 The Entombment of Christ. Caravaggio, (ci. 1604). Vatican Pinacoteca.

and the Church filled with heavenly blessings; the germ and the first fruits of the Kingdom of God, through which the work and the sufferings of Redemption are continued throughout human history, and which looks for its perfect accomplishment beyond time in glory24. In the course of time, the Lord Jesus forms His Church by means of the sacraments emanating from His plenitude25. By these she makes her members participants in the Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, in the grace of the Holy Spirit who gives her life and movement26. She is therefore holy, though she has sinners in her bosom, because she herself has no other life but that of grace: it is by living by her life that her members are sanctified; it is by removing themselves from her life that they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for these offenses, of which she has the power to heal her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

24 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 8, 5. 25 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 7, 11. 26 Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 5, 6; cf. Lumen Gentium, 7, 12, 50.

H 17


20. Heiress of the divine promises and daughter of Abraham according to the Spirit, through that Israel whose scriptures she lovingly guards, and whose patriarchs and prophets she venerates; founded upon the apostles and handing on from century to century their ever-living word and their powers as pastors in the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him; perpetually assisted by the Holy Spirit, she has the charge of guarding, teaching, explaining and spreading the Truth which God revealed in a then veiled manner by the prophets, and fully by the Lord Jesus. We believe all that is contained in the word of God written or handed down, and that the Church proposes for belief as divinely revealed, whether by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal magisterium27. We believe in the infallibility enjoyed by the successor of Peter when he teaches ex cathedra as pastor and teacher of all the faithful28, and which is assured also to the episcopal body when it exercises with him the supreme magisterium29. 21. We believe that the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which He prayed is indefectibly one in faith, worship, and the bond of hierarchical communion. In the bosom of this Church, the rich variety of liturgical rites and the legitimate diversity of theological and spiritual heritages and special disciplines, far from injuring her unity, make it more manifest30. 22. Recognizing also the existence, outside the organism of the Church of Christ, of numerous elements of truth and sanctification which belong to her as her own and tend to Catholic unity31, and believing in the action of the Holy Spirit who stirs up in the heart of the disciples of Christ love of this unity32, we entertain the hope that the Christians who are not yet in the full communion of the one only Church will one day be reunited in one flock with one only shepherd. 23. We believe that the Church is necessary for salvation, because Christ, who is the sole mediator and way of salvation, renders Himself present for us in His body which is the Church33. But the divine design of salvation embraces all men; and those who without fault on their part do not know the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but seek God sincerely, and under the influence of grace endeavor to do His will as recognized through the promptings of their conscience, they, in a number known only to God, can obtain salvation34. 27 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 3011. 28 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 3074. 29 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 25. 30 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 23; cf. Orientalium Ecclesiarum 2, 3, 5, 6. 31 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 8. 32 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 15. 33 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 14. 34 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 16.

H 18


Year of Faith 2012 - 2013

24. We believe that the Mass, celebrated by the priest representing the person of Christ by virtue of the power received through the Sacrament of Orders, and offered by him in the name of Christ and the members of His Mystical Body, is the sacrifice of Calvary rendered sacramentally present on our altars. We believe that as the bread and wine consecrated by the Lord at the Last Supper were changed into His body and His blood which were to be offered for us on the cross, likewise the bread and wine consecrated by the priest are changed into the body and blood of Christ enthroned gloriously in heaven, and we believe that the mysterious presence of the Lord, under what continues to appear to our senses as before, is a true, real, and substantial presence35. 25. Christ cannot be thus present in this sacrament except by the change into His body of the reality itself of the bread and the change into His blood of the reality itself of the wine, leaving unchanged only the properties of the bread and wine which our senses perceive. This mysterious change is very appropriately called by the Church transubstantiation. Every theological explanation which seeks some understanding of this mystery must, in order to be in accord with Catholic faith, maintain that in the reality itself, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the Consecration, so that it is the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus that from then on are really before us under the sacramental species of bread and wine36, as the Lord willed it, in order to give Himself to us as food and to associate us with the unity of His Mystical Body37. 26. The unique and indivisible existence of the Lord glorious in heaven is not multiplied, but is rendered present by the sacrament in the many places on earth where Mass is celebrated. And this existence remains present, after the sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament which is, in the tabernacle, the living heart of each of our churches. And it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us. 27. We confess that the Kingdom of God begun here below in the Church of Christ is not of this world whose form is passing, and that its proper growth cannot be confounded with the progress of civilization, of science, or of human technology, but that it consists in an ever more profound knowledge of the unfathomable riches of Christ, an ever stronger hope in eternal blessings, an ever more ardent response to the love of God, and an ever more generous bestowal of grace and holiness among men. But it

35 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 1651. 36 Cf. Dz.-Sch. 1642, 1651-1654; Paul VI, Enc. Mysterium Fidei. 37 Cf. S. Th., 111, 73, 3.

H 19


Supper at Emmaus (detail). Caravaggio, 1606. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

H 20


H 21


is this same love which induces the Church to concern herself constantly about the true temporal welfare of men. Without ceasing to recall to her children that they have not here a lasting dwelling, she also urges them to contribute, each according to his vocation and his means, to the welfare of their earthly city, to promote justice, peace, and brotherhood among men, to give their aid freely to their brothers, especially to the poorest and most unfortunate. The deep solicitude of the Church, the Spouse of Christ, for the needs of men, for their joys and hopes, their griefs and efforts, is therefore nothing other than her great desire to be present to them, in order to illuminate them with the light of Christ and to gather them all in Him, their only Savior. This solicitude can never mean that the Church conform herself to the things of this world, or that she lessen the ardor of her expectation of her Lord and of the eternal Kingdom. 28. We believe in the life eternal. We believe that the souls of all those who die in the grace of Christ whether they must still be purified in purgatory, or whether from the moment they leave their bodies Jesus takes them to paradise as He did for the Good Thief are the People of God in the eternity beyond death, which will be finally conquered on the day of the Resurrection when these souls will be reunited with their bodies. 29. We believe that the multitude of those gathered around Jesus and Mary in paradise forms the Church of Heaven where in eternal beatitude they see God as He is38, and where they also, in different degrees, are associated with the holy angels in the divine rule exercised by Christ in glory, interceding for us and helping our weakness by their brotherly care.39 30. We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are attaining their purification, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion the merciful love of God and His saints is ever listening to our prayers, as Jesus told us: Ask and you will receive40. Thus it is with faith and in hope that we look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Blessed be God Thrice Holy. Amen.

38 Cf. 1 Jn. 3:2; Dz.-Sch. 1000. 39 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 49. 40 40. Cf. Lk. 10:9-10; Jn. 16:24.

H 22


The Virgin with the aid of her son tramples on the serpent (detail of “La Madone des Palefreniers�). Caravaggio, (ci. 1606). Galeria Borghese, Roma.

H 23


H 24


Vatican II ahead of us By Jean-Louis Bruguès O.P.

W

hen asked about what importance should be ascribed to the French Revolution in history, the Prime Minister Zhu Enlai is reported to have answered, “It is still too early to tell.” Should such prudence also be in order when it comes to assessing the repercussions of the Second Vatican Council? The impact of councils can only be evaluated if you adopt a very long term perspective. How long indeed did it take for the Church to fathom the scope of the reforms sought by the Council of Trent, or the import of the Fourth Lateran Council which in 1215 defined the Catholic faith against the heresies of the Cathars, or even that of the First Council of Nicaea, which gave birth to the Creed that still supports our faith some seventeen hundred years later? What seemed decisive at the time faded in only a matter of years, while later generations reaped unexpected fruits. Adopting such a perspective will obviously make it necessary for us to go beyond the passions of the day – after tomorrow, what will remain of the quarrels of the present time? Making such a choice somewhat forces us to lose sight of the relevance of this unique moment: in no way should we deny the decisive character of the event, not only for the Church, but also for the modern world. General de Gaulle –who knew something about history– once said he held the Second Vatican Council to have been the most important event in the XX century. But after all, that century is over now. The number of people who were direct witnesses, if not protagonists of the Council, is becoming smaller and smaller every day. Soon not one of them will remain. It would serve no purpose to try and maintain a so-called spirit of the Council beyond the generations: the spirit cannot survive if it is not embodied in writings and practices. Inevitably the day will come when the deepest reforms are themselves in need of reformation. “Everything, always, is to be reformed”, Montherlant’s Master of Santiago said with a sigh. Vatican II ahead of us, such is the conference theme I was given. May I thank Cardinal Vingt-Trois for enabling me to preach again from the pulpit of the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris where I preached the Lenten sermons for the past three years1, and for providing a conclusion to this 2010 series entitled Vatican II, a compass for our time. A compass gives direction. What future did the Council prepare and delineate for our Church, but also, in a certain way, for the society in which we live? HUMANITAS Nº 3 pp. 24 - 35

Hearing the word of God with reverence, to use the Constitution’s opening words, gives a taste for the Other, for God first, then for others made in God’s image, and finally for all of God’s work, for the entire creation.

* Conference addressed by the author at Notre Dame de Paris in March, 2010 as part of the program of conferences that are presented on the occasion of the Lent. That year the cycle was entitled: “Vatican II, une boussole pour notre temps” (Vatican II, a compass for our times).

1 From 1995 to 1997 (Translator’s note)

H 25


This concern for the most distant ones exposes Christian theology to the toughest of questions: what is the place of Christ in the salvific action of non-Christian religions? Could God have chosen other mediators than JesusChrist, as claimed today by the so-called pluralist school of thought?

H 26

I often happen to stop in order to admire a painting. With its broad grey, ochre, and beige brush strokes, the painting intends for us to enter into harmony. On the left, at the top, four characters, standing as if on a musical staff, have entered into conversation. Neither their eyes nor their mouths can be seen however. They form a choir, a quartet, with each of the heavily stylized faces looking in a different direction, perhaps facing a cardinal point. On the right, another character seems to be seated on a second staff placed underneath the first one; his darker clothes seem to suggest he has a central role. He is craning his neck towards the people overhanging him – he is listening, but not first and foremost with his senses, but with the deepest part of himself. There is in this composition a reminiscence of the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas: the other always overhangs us; we come into the world indebted, at the foot of that cliff. Ming Tong, the painter, simply entitled his work: Listening to others. Listening, one of the words most frequently used in the Bible. “Listen, Israel …” –thus began in the first Alliance any address of the Lord to his people. It seems to me that this painting was also talking about our last Council. Even better, the painting provides a key to interpret it: Vatican II’s intent was to place listening to others at the heart of the Church, of society, and ultimately of any human life. Listening in this way includes having a taste for the Other; caring for others; and finally perceiving oneself as other. “Strong trends” –to use the language of economists– should thus emerge, and they will probably shape our future. The others – but who are they? The other is first and foremost the Other, with a capital letter, as Levinas would again have said – or the Radically-Other, God. If the Council Fathers had been asked on December 8, 1965, the day the Council solemnly closed, which texts were likely to have the widest historic repercussions, it is unsure whether a majority would have answered, Dei Verbum. Forty years on, this Constitution looks like the Council’s musical overture, providing the Council with its dominant tone. Hearing the word of God with reverence, to use the Constitution’s opening words, gives a taste for the Other, for God first, then for others made in God’s image, and finally for all of God’s work, for the entire creation. God is speaking; how can we understand him? How can one interpret Scripture? The bishops’ Synod of 2008, devoted to The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, explored in more depth the essential methodological distinction already outlined in the Council’s Constitution. God is speaking within man’s reach – it is therefore normal for man to use every resource of


his scientific intelligence, thanks to academic exegesis, in order to listen to the texts. Because the text is first and foremost the word divine, what can be termed canonical exegesis, based on the living tradition of the entire Church, should be used. Faith is first and last. It is for faith to guide any exercise in discernment. Forty years after the Council, as individualism in interpretation has gained strength, we have to say this again – yes, the Divine intervenes in the history of man. No, the episodes related cannot be reduced to a mere literary or theological construct. Yes, the facts related are true facts through which God the creator realizes his beautiful plan of love to save all men. Yes, the Word really was made flesh, it is not a myth. Yes, Christ did share our human condition, it is not just a beautiful story written for children or for simple minds focusing on the marvelous. Many of us here might testify to this real passion spanning the past forty years or so. Books, journals, collections, training sessions – the people of God have developed a passion for Scripture. Bible-study groups have flourished everywhere, even in the poorest parishes. Scripture is the heart of theology, the Council reminded us – since then, Scripture has become familiar to a considerable number of the baptized. This trend –the first lasting trend I have identified– was encouraged by the liturgical reform which made it possible to hear a wider selection of biblical texts for Mass. Success often results in excesses. The excessive focus on the liturgy of the Word sometimes meant that the liturgy of the Eucharist became a kind of appendage. For that reason, in a matter of four short years, the Catholic Church developed an impressive body of texts on the Eucharist. On April 17, 2003, Pope John Paul II signed the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, which deals with the relationship between the Eucharist and the Church. A little later, he inaugurated the year devoted to the Eucharist with the Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine. Finally, after a Synod was held on the same subject, Benedict XVI published his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis on March 13, 2007. Such insistence must be understood as the manifestation of the will to remain faithful to the Council which had largely dealt with the Eucharist in its dogmatic Constitution on the Church and its Constitution on the Liturgy. What I have just said may seem to be in support of the now common opinion that Vatican II was essentially a Christocentric council. It could be argued that the council also tried to react against excessive Latin Christocentrism, in order to recover some of the traditional pneumatic wealth. Admittedly, there is

«General de Gaulle –who knew something about history– once said he held the Second Vatican Council to have been the most important event in the 20th century.»

The societies marked by cultural pluralism, such as the French one, will no longer be able to dispense with interreligious dialogue, which has become an essential element of social peace. Religions have become true partners in society, under the recently created concept of “laïcité positive”.

H 27


Christ founded one and unique Church; divisions among Christians were therefore a rejection of the Lord’s will and a scandal for the world. Four decades of ecumenical dialogue have dispelled many preconceived notions; bridges have been launched between points of view which originally were deemed irreconcilable.

2 Gaudium et Spes, §26 (Translator’s note)

H 28

no Council text devoted to the third person of the Trinity, but the Council paved the way for that in the future. After all, it is only in the Spirit that Christ can be reached in his very being. It is in the Spirit that the Christian assembly is established and confirmed as Christ’s sacrament. It is the Spirit who guides men on their march to the Kingdom of the Father; who helps the baptized interpret the signs of the times; who “directs the course of time and renews the face of the earth.”2 In the final analysis, it is the Spirit which is the compass that this series of conferences is about. Paul VI expressed the following wish: “The Christology and especially the ecclesiology of the Council must be followed by a new study and a new worship of the Holy Spirit, precisely as an indispensable complement to the teaching of the Council” (Audience of June 6, 1973). There is still a long way to go. I once visited a priest who was old and very ill. “With Christ –he told me– I have always been on an equal footing so to speak. This is why the daily mass lies at the heart of my spirituality. By following Christ, you cannot but turn to the Father. And my prayers often begin with this invocation, Father. But the Spirit? I wondered whether I ever really prayed to the Holy Spirit. For me, the Spirit is the Discreet One.” For a long time now I have been wondering whether indeed the Spirit may not be the Discreet One in the life of our Latin Church. How can you give people a taste for the Holy Spirit? My contention is that this is the second major trend initiated by our Council. John Paul II attempted to fill this gap with the magnificent encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem published in 1986, but it seemed to have fallen on deeply indifferent ears. It was then for the Spirit to manifest itself in its own way: in the decade that followed the Council, it produced a wealth of movements and communities in which, in the closest communion or sometimes even the sharing of a common life, priests, religious, and lay people undertook to bear witness to the charismas they had received and to rediscover the model of the very first Christian communities. There was talk then of a new spring for the Church. Since Vatican II, the recent magisterium of the Church has insisted on the universal way in which the Spirit is active in the world, for indeed the taste for the Holy Spirit, as we have attempted to describe it, naturally leads to caring for others. Who are the others? They are firstly the ones who are the most distant from us and whom we need to approach and appreciate. As far as the relations between Christianity and the religions that make no reference to Christ were concerned, the Council caused a kind of Copernican revolution. Two documents promulgated


A council will never have the power of a Joshua –it cannot stop History. It has become commonplace to admit that over the past forty years the acceleration in the pace of History has been unprecedented. The Council was barely beginning to guess the advent of globalization in the economy and culture (…) «Paul VI expressed the following wish: “The Christology and especially the ecclesiology of the Council must be followed by a new study and a new worship of the Holy Spirit, precisely as an indispensable complement to the teaching of the Council” (Audience of June 6, 1973).»

in 1965 illustrate this turning point: the declaration Nostra Aetate, dealing with relations between the Church and non-Christian religions, which, with the passage of time, has become one of the most decisive texts produced by the Council, and the declaration Dignitatis Humanae bearing on religious freedom. The Council was referring to two notions which were actually very traditional, namely that of the “semina Verbi” inspiring the action of men of good will beyond the diversity of confessions, and that of respect for conscience which cannot be forced by external constraint to adhere to any faith. The Council calls on universal brotherhood between men. Several far-reaching events began building this

H 29


(…) Vatican II has inculcated in Christians what I would call a principle of benevolence to the world as it is, and in this can be detected a fifth, long-term major trend. It is in that world, which is so concrete, so worldly and so dark sometimes, and not in the idealized world of utopias that, as Gaudium et Spes put it, the Spirit continues to write the fine history of salvation.

3 Or positive secularity – something closer to the US-style practice of the separation of Church and State than to French-style secularism (Translator’s note).

H 30

brotherhood: I am thinking of the famous meeting in Assisi on October 27, 1986, followed by other similar events. From the declarations made by Paul VI to Benedict XVI’s 2009 visit to the Holy Land, the teaching of the Church’s magisterium has been calling with outstanding continuity for a respectful and sincere dialogue between the faithful of the various religions. This concern for the most distant ones in which we have detected the third major trend, enriches mutual knowledge and purifies on various points the comprehension which the faithful used to have of their own beliefs. This concern however also exposes Christian theology to the toughest of questions: what is the place of Christ in the salvific action of non-Christian religions? Could God have chosen other mediators than Jesus-Christ, as claimed today by the so-called pluralist school of thought? Against this school, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith issued in 2000 the Dominus Jesus declaration in which we are reminded of the “unicity and salvific universality of Jesus-Christ and the Church.” The societies marked by cultural pluralism, such as the French society, will no longer be able to dispense with inter-religious dialogue, which has become an essential element of social peace. By resorting to inter-religious dialogue, has the government realized that it engaged in a revision of the usual modus operandi of French-style secularity, or “laïcité”? Religions have become true partners in society, under the recently created concept of “laïcité positive”3; it is no longer possible to confine them to the restricted domain of purely personal beliefs. Religious communities have thus gained the right to speak as such in the public square. The others are also the separated brethren. Concern for others thus consists in gradually bringing down the barriers which are a legacy of History and sin. Vatican II already said that restoring unity between all Christians was one of its chief preoccupations. Christ founded one and unique Church; divisions among Christians was therefore a rejection of the Lord’s will and a scandal for the world. Four decades of ecumenical dialogue have dispelled many preconceived notions; bridges have been launched between points of view which originally were deemed irreconcilable. An impressive number of documents have been adopted. I am thinking in particular of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification of 1999 which enabled Catholics and Lutherans to overcome crucially important conflicts dating back to the 16th century. This concern for communion has become a leitmotiv for Catholicism in the past forty years. John Paul II’s encyclical Ut Unum Sint published in 1995 was a reminder that the Council


saw in the ecumenical movement one of the works of the Holy Spirit arousing in the hearts of all Christ’s faithful an ardent desire for unity. There seems however to be a slackening in this fourth trend today: the enthusiasm of the beginning has given way to a more simple and measured approach. Some even talked of crisis; but, as Cardinal Walter Kasper explained, “A situation of crisis is a situation where the old methods have come to an end, but where space opens up for new opportunities.” Intercommunion in truth is not going to happen overnight; new obstacles have emerged, such as the ordination of women by the Anglicans. Ecumenism remains an ardent call to the conversion of hearts however. The others are also just anybody, any human being living in this world. The concern for others then blossoms into a concern for the world. A council will never have the power of a Joshua – it cannot stop History. It has become commonplace to admit that over the past forty years the acceleration in the pace of History has been unprecedented. The Council was barely beginning to guess the advent of globalization in the economy and culture; it could not anticipate the waning of ideologies, nor the fall of the Berlin Wall, nor the emergence of the theme of the clash of civilizations, nor the phenomenal advances in biology applied to the human body, nor indeed the causes of concern that grow every day with regard to the health of our planet. The Council was still talking about atheism when the major challenge to religions would tomorrow be indifference and the loss of interest for the quest for meaning. Nevertheless, we can hold that Vatican II has inculcated in Christians what I would call a principle of benevolence to the world as it is, and in this can be detected a fifth, long-term major trend. It is in that world, which is so concrete, so worldly, and so dark sometimes, and not in the idealized world of utopias that, as Gaudium et Spes put it, the Spirit continues to write the fine history of salvation. God loves this world – how could we not be full of solicitude for the world? This solicitude for the world has never failed since. Building on the Council’s Constitution, Christians have displayed an ethic of human rights which gave this world something like a renewed lease of grace. Soviet communism gave up the spirit it never had; dictatorships have given way under the pressure of the people. Most of the time, and I am thinking in particular of Latin America, the Church found herself among the forces of social renewal. There exists however the risk of turning those rights into mere empty rhetoric, when, as the encyclical Evangelium Vitae of 1995 reminded us, the most fundamental human right, the right to life, is being denied every day to thousands of innocent human

Secularization has fashioned societies which are completely unprecedented; Christians must therefore invent –the word is not too strong –a “new evangelization”, an evangelization of culture and through culture. It seems to me that the lifeblood of our Church has not yet taken the measure of this ardent obligation.

H 31


If one does not love the Church, where can you find the courage, and the pride, of claiming to be Christians in societies that no longer remember much the Christian origins of their culture?

H 32

«Benedict XVI’s intention is even bolder. It should be remembered that modernity was built on an act of faith in human reason. But, after Auschwitz, human reason has undergone decline. This plunges modernity into the bitterness of doubt and the temptation of nihilism. To save modernity from its own disenchantment, confidence in the use of human reason, in its capacity to attain some degree of truth must therefore be rebuilt. It is this momentous task of turning things around already outlined in the encyclical Fides et Ratio of 1998 which the current pontiff has chosen as the main thrust of his mission.»

beings at the very beginning of their lives. This solicitude for the modern world finally makes it necessary for the Church to completely revise her mission and mode of presence to the world. Secularization has fashioned societies which are completely unprecedented; Christians must therefore invent –the word is not too strong– a “new evangelization,” an evangelization of culture and through culture. It seems to me, alas, that the lifeblood of our Church has not yet taken the measure of this ardent obligation. Benedict XVI’s intention is even bolder. It should be remembered that modernity was built on an act of faith in human reason. But, after Auschwitz, human reason has undergone decline. This plunges modernity into the bitterness of doubt and the temptation of nihilism. To save modernity from its own disenchantment, confidence in the use of human reason, in its capacity to attain some degree of truth must therefore be rebuilt. It is this momentous task of turning things around already outlined in the encyclical Fides et Ratio of 1998 which the current pontiff has chosen as the main thrust of his mission. To the man who asked him what he should do to be happy, Jesus recommended that he love God with all his strength, and his neighbor as himself. The Council acted no differently, as it


spoke of the taste for the Other, for God, and of caring for one’s neighbor. Loving one’s neighbor as oneself, welcoming oneself as one would welcome another, to take up an image by Paul Ricoeur – we now need to bring up the last sort of love, the primordial love of the baptized for their Church. If one does not love the Church, indeed, why would one trust her? Why would one believe in the dogmas that she defines, why would one follow the morality that she teaches? If you do not love the Church, where can you find the courage, and the pride, of claiming to be Christians in societies that no longer remember much the Christian origins of their culture? –“Loving the Church as a mother,” as John XXIII said in a famous encyclical, he who was to convene a Council so that the Church would become aware of her mission of light, light for her own and light for the world, Lumen Gentium. You can only love what you understand. In the Constitution I have just mentioned by name and onto which I am now moving in this final stage, Vatican II endeavors to deepen our comprehension of the Church and to make that comprehension more “emotional” if I may say so. While for a long time the emphasis had been placed on the nature of the Church as a hierarchical society, the Council started off from the mystery of the Church which can only be understood through faith. It is in that mystery that the Church welcomes the communion uniting the persons of the Trinity and endeavors to convey this communion to its members, before it shines forth on the world. Each of the members of the new people, the people of God making his way with men, is encouraged to receive that divine communion and to live by it, since absolutely everyone is called to the same holiness. Insisting on the oneness of holiness has partly renewed the face of our Church; never before in its history of two millenniums had the laity been promoted to such a degree. Vatican II had already reminded the laity of their responsibility in the building of the human city; since then, the Church has tirelessly spoken in favor of Christians committing themselves to the great causes and decisive debates of our time. The concern for justice and the support given to the weakest is not optional for them. The Church tells the people in government that the Christian faith must shed one and the same light on the political decisions and the private life of those who claim to be Christians. In season and out of season the Church insists on the fact that nothing can replace the family, for she knows –and that knowledge spans millennia–that the health of a society begins in the cradle of the communion between persons, as John Paul II said in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio of 1981. Finally, the

While for a long time the emphasis had been placed on the nature of the Church as a hierarchical society, the Council started off from the mystery of the Church which can only be understood through faith. It is in that mystery that the Church welcomes the communion uniting the persons of the Trinity and endeavors to convey this communion to its members, before it shines forth on the world.

H 33


«The Catechism set out to make the Council’s major intuitions available to everyone. It might just as well be named the Catechism of the Second Vatican Council. The reforming work of the Council of Trent was only able to reach, and transform, Catholic mentalities through its catechism which remained in force for more than three centuries. The same will apply to Vatican II –if its catechism is eventually read! Who actually knows the Catechism?»

H 34

Church has made the laity the vanguard of its missionary effort. The call issued in the decree Ad Gentes was revived by two major documents, Paul VI’s 1975 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi and John Paul II’s 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio in which he wrote: “I see the dawning of a new missionary age, which will become a radiant day bearing an abundant harvest, if all Christians (...) respond with generosity and holiness to the calls and challenges of our time.” In some icons, the Church is portrayed in the form of an edifice whose dome’s tip reaches even into the Trinity. The image makes perceptible the notion that the communion of the divine persons must flow down to, and pervade, the entire Church, which is called upon to convert its ways and even its structures. Simply said, the various administrations of the Church, from the Roman Curia to the parish, must always subject themselves to the primacy of communion. Has the Early Fathers’ dream of a government by the communion of bishops crossed the minds of several Council Fathers? In any case, there is no denying that the demand for communion has taken the specific name of collegiality, a final major trend leading the bishops to gather in provincial, national, or even continental conferences to exchange their views and together take the decisions required by the mission of the local Churches. Above all, they regularly participate in what remains one of the crowning achievements of the Council – placed under the authority of Peter, the guarantor of communion within the Church universal, the Synod of Bishops endeavors to instill into the Church and the world what we have called, inspired by the painting we described at the beginning, the culture of listening to others. We can already see that regular dialogue, deliberation, and suggestions made to the Pope tend to guarantee a new balance between the Church universal and the particular Churches. Do the major trends we believe we have discerned –seven in total, the perfect figure– suffice to map out the avenues of the future? History sometimes mocks trying to predict possible futures, or “futuribles”; it alternates between the brightest and the darkest moments. Pope John Paul II died on April 2, 2005. His greatest work will assuredly remain the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This catechism sets out to make the Council’s major intuitions available to everyone. It might just as well be named the Catechism of the Second Vatican Council. The reforming work of the Council of Trent was only able to reach, and transform, Catholic mentalities through its catechism which remained in force for more than three centuries. The same will apply to Vatican II – if its catechism is eventually read! Who actually knows the


«Six days later, and so on April 8, the entire world had assembled on Saint Peter’s Square. Never before in history, in any international meeting, not even at the UN, had such an assembly of heads of State or heads of government been convened at the same time, all of them overwhelmed by the same emotion. They had admittedly come to pay tribute to the memory of a pontiff who had left his mark on his time; but it was also Mass they were participating in! For a moment, a fleeting moment, the Eucharist was celebrated on the world. A summit meeting of charity was being held!»

Catechism? Who talks about it? Which catechetical programs has it inspired? In France at least, this summary of the faith is largely ignored. In the most favorable scenario, people condescend to mention it as a reference among others, when it should be the reference for all other books… Could this be John Paul II’s major failure? But that failure would also be the Council’s failure. Six days later, and so on April 8, the entire world had assembled on Saint Peter’s Square. Never before in history, in any international meeting, not even at the UN, had such an assembly of heads of State or heads of government been convened at the same time, all of them overwhelmed by the same emotion. They had admittedly come to pay tribute to the memory of a pontiff who had left his mark on his time; but it was also Mass they were participating in! For a moment, a fleeting moment, the Eucharist was celebrated on the world. A summit meeting of charity was being held! And when I saw with my own eyes as the time of the kiss of peace had come the Syrian President shaking the hand of the Israeli President who in return gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder, I thought to myself that at long last something of the “Council of listening to others” had finally entered the world of men.

In season and out of season the Church insists on the fact that nothing can replace the family, for she knows –and that knowledge spans millennia- that the health of a society begins in the cradle of the communion between persons, as John Paul II said in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio.

Translated by Serge Auffret.

H 35


H 36

«Representation of the Creation. Bible miniature. París, S. XVI.»


By TRACeY ROWLAND

J

ohn Paul II began his first encyclical with the words “Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of Man, is the Center and Purpose of Human History”. In doing so he fired a shot across the bows of the then fashionable Marxism, for whom the history of the world was determined by the dynamics of class conflict. As the Saarland philosopher Peter Wust wrote in his 1931 work Crisis in the West, Christian self-knowledge meant the discovery for the first time of the complete extent of man’s metaphysical structure, and of the entire actual and potential range of his history1. The International Theological Commission under the chairmanship of Cardinal Ratzinger expressed the position thus: In the last time inaugurated at Pentecost, the risen Christ, Alpha and Omega, enters into the history of peoples: from that moment, the sense of history and thus of culture is unsealed and the Holy Spirit reveals it by actualizing and communicating it to all. The Church is the sacrament of this revelation and its communication. It recenters every culture into which Christ is received, placing it in the axis of the world which is coming, and restores the union broken by the Prince of the world. Culture in thus eschatologically situated; it tends towards it completion in Christ, but it cannot be saved except by associating itself with repudiation of evil.

New Evangelization

Humus of the Christian Culture

Milbank argues that the sovereignty of Christ was lost with the rise of modern philosophy which did not simply emancipate itself from theology but arose from within the space of “pure nature” – something he regards as “a fiction” created by theologians in the Baroque era.

Using the language of Trinitarian appropriations, the English Dominican, Aidan Nichols has addressed the subject of what it mean for a culture to be centered on Christ: First, a culture should be conscious of transcendence as its true origin and goal, and this we call culture’s tacit “paterological” dimensions, its implicit reference to the Father. Second, the forms which a culture employs should manifest integrity – wholeness and interconnectedness; clarity – transparency to meaning; and harmony – a due proportion in the ways that its constituent elements related to the culture as a whole. And since these qualities – integrity, clarity, and harmony – are appropriated in classical theology to the divine Son, the “Art” of God and splendor of the Father, we can call such qualities of the beautiful form the specifically Christological aspect of culture… and thirdly, then, in the Trinitarian taxis, the spiritually vital and health-giving character of the moral ethos of our culture yield up culture’s pneumatological dimension, its relation to the Holy Spirit.2

HUMANITAS Nº 3 pp. 36 - 47

1 WUST, Crisis in the West, Sheed and Ward, London 1931, 11. 2 A. Nichols, Christendom Awake: On Re-Energising the Church in culture, Gracewing, London 1999, 17.

H 37


«A starting place for this analysis is Alasdair MacIntyre’s judgment that the institutions of contemporary Western culture are a site of civil war between the proponents of tree rival versions of morality, justice and truth. These are broadly categorized as the classical-theistic synthesis, the eighteenth century Enlightenment philosophies and the 19th century Romantic reactions to the Enlightenment in its Nietzschean form»

H 38

In the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s Christological encyclical, I will narrow my analysis to the contemporary problems associated with what Nichols calls the Christological dimension. In particular I would like to address the question of why the Christological dimension is so weak within countries of the western world. A starting place for this analysis is Alasdair MacIntyre’s judgment that the institutions of contemporary Western culture are a site of civil war between the proponents of three rival versions of morality, justice, and truth. These are broadly categorized as the classical-theistic synthesis, the eighteenth century Enlightenment philosophies, and the 19th century Romantic reactions to the Enlightenment in its Nietzschean form. MacIntyre believes that each of these three dominant traditions come with their own lists of virtues and vices, their own notions of rationality and justice and their own approach to the relationship between faith and reason. In any given institution it is possible to find proponents of all three traditions, though in some institutions like courts and parliaments, one can find a dominance of Enlightenment types, while in institutions such as universities and the more artistically oriented professions, there is a dominance of the Romantic, Nietzschean types. MacIntyre observes that in cultures characterized by conflicts of values between and within institutions individuals are encouraged to fragment the self and wear different masks in different contexts in order to avoid social marginalization. The Czech intellectual Vaclav Havel has described this behavior as being like people on a football field who are playing for a number of different teams at once, each with a different uniform and not knowing to which team they ultimately belong. MacIntyre argues that the behavior of the Sartrean rebel, a popular sociological species in intellectual and artistic circles of the 1960s, was an attempt by the self to defend its integrity from the bureaucratic practices which divided it into its rôle-governed functions; while the contemporary post-modern celebration of difference is also, at least in part, a reaction against what Weber identified as the iron cage of instrumental reason. Far from being “value neutral” MacIntyre believes that bureaucratic practices are ideological, that is, specifically designed to serve a political end, in this case that of concealing the conflict between the three dominants traditions. Since liberalism operates so as to preclude appeals to what might be described loosely as “ultimate values” there is a social trend toward undermining the prudential judgment of professionals and circumscribing their actions with allegedly value neutral mandatory regula-


New Evangelization

tions. As a consequence, John Milbank has noted that professionals are “no longer trusted, but instead must be endlessly spied upon, and measured against a spatial checklist of routinized procedure, that is alien to all genuine inculcation of excellence.”3 Milbank also argues that in contemporary Western society, the sovereignty of Christ has been replaced by the sovereignty of the mob. In his presentation of this thesis he applies Giorgio Agamben’s account of the homo sacer in Roman jurisprudence to an analysis of the trial of Christ. After the succession of the plebs in Rome it was granted to them the right to pursue to the death someone whom they as a collective had condemned. Such an individual was declared homo sacer – a person cast out from the community. For Milbank, Christ was homo sacer some three times over. He is abandoned first by the Jewish leaders to the Roman governor, then by those representing the sovereignty of Rome to the sovereign-executive mob, then finally by the sovereignexecutive mob to the Roman soldiers. Milbank concludes that neither Jewish nor Roman law could be relied upon to condemn Christ, only a mob into which sovereign power and plebiscitory delegation had been collapsed could achieve this4. The “sovereignty of the mob” and its juxtaposition with the sovereignty of Christ is a recurring theme in Milbank’s analysis of contemporary Western culture. Following Jean-Yves Lacoste and Olivier Boulnois, Milbank argues that the sovereignty of Christ was lost with the rise of modern philosophy which did not simply emancipate itself from theology but arose from within the space of “pure nature” – something he regards as “a fiction” created by theologians in the Baroque era. Whereas in the pre-modern reading, the Incarnation of Christ and the hypostatic descent of the Holy Spirit inaugurated on earth a counter-polity exercising a counter-sovereignty, nourished by sovereign victimhood, in the theology of the Baroque era, particularly in the work of Suarez (1545- 1617), a dualism developed between nature and grace and the natural and the supernatural, with the natural eventually finding itself equated with the secular and the supernatural finding itself equated with the sacred. The Suarezian political theory was highly popular in midtwentieth century Catholic social thought, but its claims to a classically Thomist pedigree have been severely questioned, and it is now generally agreed that the notion of there being “two ends” to human nature, one natural, and one supernatural, and corresponding secular and sacred orders, is alien to classical Thomism. As the Thomist scholar, Fr. I. Th. Eschmann noted, “however independent Church and State are, [in the thought

Far from being “value neutral” MacIntyre believes that bureaucratic practices are ideological, that is, specifically designed to serve a political end, in this case that of concealing the conflict between the three dominants traditions.

3 J. MILBANK, Being Reconciled: Ontology and Pardon, Routledge, London 2003, 185. 4 Ibid, 91-93. 5 I. T. ESCHMANN, “St Thomas on the Two Powers”, in Medieval Studies 20 (1958) 177-205 at 180.

H 39


of St Thomas] they do not escape being parts of one res publica hominum sub Deo, principe universitatis.”5 Catholic scholars calling themselves “Whig Thomists”, an expression coined by Michael Novak, continue to foster the Suarezian dualism, and this fault line between those who follow Suarez and those who prefer a more pre-modern interpretation is pivotal for theological engagements with the phenomena of modern and post-modern culture. A new generation of Catholic political philosophers and theologians is emerging who prefer the Augustinian concept of the two cities, to the Suarezian concept of the two ends. As Williams T Cavanaugh has expressed the idea: «The Suarezian political theory was highly popular in mid-twentieth century Catholic social thought, but its claims to a classically Thomist pedigree have been severely questioned, and it is now generally agreed that the notion of there being “two ends” to human nature, one natural, and one supernatural, and corresponding secular and sacred orders, is alien to classical Thomism».

6 W. T. CAVANAUGH, “From One City to Two: Christian Reimagining of Political Space”, forthcoming, in The Journal of Political Theology. 7 CAVANAUGH, Theopolitical Imagination, T & T Clark, Edinburgh 2003, 5. 8 N. KLEIN, No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs, Verso, London 2002, 22.

H 40

Augustine does not map the two cities out in space, but rather projects them across time. The reason that Augustine is compelled to speak of two cities is not because there are some human pursuits that are properly terrestrial, and others that pertain to God, but simply because God saves in time. Salvation has a history, where climax is in the advent of Jesus Christ, but whose definitive closure remains in the future. Christ has triumphed over the principalities and powers but there remains resistance to Christ’s saving action. The two cities are not sacred and profane spheres of life. The two cities are the already and the not yet of the Kingdom of God6.

According to Cavanaugh’s reading of intellectual and social history, the modern state arose not by secularizing politics but by supplanting the imagination of the body of Christ with an heretical theology of salvation through the state7. While modernity represents salvation through the state, post-modernity is coming to represent salvation through globalization. When the sovereignty of Christ is replaced by the sovereignty of the mob, the consumption of the Body and Blood of Christ is replaced by the consumption of brands which serve as symbols of some desired personal or social attribute. According to Naomi Klein, the author of the 2002 best seller No Logo, brand-name multinational corporations sell images and lifestyle rather than simple commodities: “Branding is about ideas, attitudes, lifestyle, and values all embodied in the logo. The ‘transcendental logo’ replaces the corporeal world of commodities, of ‘earthbound products.’”8 For example, a pair of Dolce & Gabbana underpants will cost several times the money of the same garment without the embroidered D & G logo. The consumer does not buy the expensive designer label product because of superior quality fabric or tailoring, but because he believes that the logo will pseudo-sacramentally convey a desired social attribute such as the physical prowess


New Evangelization

of David Beckham who was paid millions of British pounds to be photographed wearing the product. The market power of brands and logo attest to a sublimated need in post-modernity for the sacramental that is, for signs and symbols which give definition to the individual self. De Maeseneer, in a fascinating essay comparing the reception of the stigmata by St. Francis of Assisi, with the mechanisms by which brand logos are engraved on the human memory, develops the thesis that brand-name multinational corporation have their own theo-programme9. Places like Eurodisney and the various Disney emporia are not only in the words of one of my French friends, “a cultural Chernobyl” but it is argued that they are a secular culture’s analogue for sacred spaces which hold out the promise of an escape from the mundane. Williams Cavanaugh believes that “the kenosis of God creates the possibility of a human subject very different from the consumer self. However he reaches the conclusion that the Trinitarian solution to the homeless ego in search of a symbol by which to define itself, is currently eclipsed by the market. The logos of designer brands have replaced the Eucharist as the source of the unity or disunity of the self”10. For Cavanaugh and Milbank, the current global neo-liberalism represents a rival sacrality to that of Christ: “Economic relations do not operate on value-neutral laws, but are rather carriers of specific convictions about the nature of the human person, its origins and its destiny. There is an implicit anthropology and an implicit theology in every economics,”11. In contrast to the ideology of global neo-liberalism, Cavanaugh believes that a Eucharistic theology “produces a catholicity which does not simply prescind from the local, but contains the universal Catholic within each local embodiment of the Body of Christ”12. As a consequence, “the consumer of the Eucharist is no longer the schizophrenic subject of global capitalism, awash in a sea of unrelated presents, but walks into a story with a past, present, and future.”13. Christianity rather than the ideology of neo-liberalism is the tradition in which the division between plain folk and aristocrat, universal and particular, parish and global community, can ultimately be reconciled. Within this tradition there is a most sacred place, but it exists beyond time in the eternity of the New Jerusalem; while in the period between the first Easter and the consummation of the world, the Eucharist unites the universal and the particular in a multitude of sacred places across the globe. This Eucharist theology and its linking of love and social life is powerfully expressed by Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis:

De Maeseneer, in a fascinating essay comparing the reception of the stigmata by St. Francis of Assisi, with the mechanisms by which brand logos are engraved on the human memory, develops the thesis that brandname multinational corporation have their own theo-programme.

9 Y. DE MAESENEER, “Saint Francis Versus McDonald’s? Contemporary Globalization Critique and Hans Urs Von Balthasar’s Theological Aesthetics”, in The Heythrop Journal XLIV, 1-14. 10 CAVANAUGH, “Balthasar, Globalisation and the Problem of the One and the Many”, in Communio 28, 324-347 at 342. 11 Ibid., 325. 12 ID., “The World in a Wafer: A Geography of the Eucharist as Resistance to Globalization”, In Modern Theology 15/2, 181 – 196 at 182. 13 Ibid., 192.

H 41


For Cavanaugh and Milbank, the current global neo-liberalism represents a rival sacrality to that of Christ: “Economic relations do not operate on valueneutral laws (…) 14 BENEDICT XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis 30.

H 42

Man is created for that true and eternal happiness which only God’s love can give. But our wounded freedom would go astray were it not already able to experience something of that future fulfillment. Moreover, to move forward in the right direction, we all need to be guided towards our final goal. That goal is Christ himself, the Lord who conquered sin and death, and who makes himself present to us is a special way in the Eucharistic celebration. Even though we remain “aliens and exiles” in this world (1 Pet 2:11), through faith we already share in the fullness of risen life. The Eucharist banquet, by disclosing its powerful eschatological dimension, comes to the aid of our freedom as we continue our journey14.


In this Exhortation Pope Benedict goes on to link the sacrament of charity, as he calls the Eucharist, with the love of man and woman united in marriage. The marriage bond is intrinsically linked to the Eucharistic unity of Christ, the Bridegroom, to His Bride, the Church. This vision of the Eucharist as both an affirmation of the freedom of the individual person, and a source of unity, has been poetically expressed by Gottfried Benn, a twentieth century German medical doctor and expressivist poet. In the poem Verlorenes Ich (The Lost Ego), he wrote:

(…) but are rather carriers of specific convictions about the nature of the human person, its origins and its destiny. There is an implicit anthropology and an implicit theology in every economics”

«According to Cavanaugh’s reading of the intellectual and social history, the modern state arose not by secularizing politics but by supplanting the imagination of the body of Christ with an heretical theology of salvation through the state. While modernity represents salvation through the state, post-modernity is coming to represent salvation through globalization.»

H 43


«Prescriptively, Balthasar notes that “the task of making the historical existence of Christ the norm of every individual existence is the work of the Holy Spirit and that everything in the sacramental order has to be embedded in the personal level, as mediation and encounter, as a gesture expressing personal intention, and hence it always communicates personal, historical graces, and creates personal, historical situations”».

Christianity rather than the ideology of neo-liberalism is the tradition in which the division between plain folk and aristocrat, universal and particular, parish and global community, can ultimately be reconciled. (…)

15 G. BENN, VerlorenesIch, in L. FORSTER (ed), The Penguin Book of German Verse, Penguin, Hamondsworth 1980, 427. Benn was the son of a Lutheran pastor who served as a physician in a German army brothel during World War I and afterwards set up practice as a venereal disease specialist during the Weimar Republic. He was for a short time a Nazi sympathizer in the year 1933-34 but he turned against the Nazis and was persecuted by them. 16 H. U. VON BALTHASAR, A Theology of History, Ignatius Press, San Francisco 1994, 82-83.

H 44

Oh, when they all bowed towards one center and even the thinkers only thought the god, when they branched out to the shepherds and the lamb, each time the blood from the chalice had made them clean and all flowed from the one wound, all broke the bread that each man ate – oh, distant compelling fulfilled hour, which once enfolded even the lost ego15.

If the above represents a pathology report on where the Christological dimension is weak it does not entirely answer the question of why. While one can say that secularism is an alternative religion and that the sovereignty of the mob has replaced the sovereignty of Christ, and that the lost ego is wandering around the marketplaces of the world in search of a spiritual home, fascinated by the signs and symbols of companies by which a self-identity might be constructed, these explanations still do not explain why the Church has been so pastorally ineffective for such social conditions to exist. Here it may be argued that the problem is fundamentally liturgical. In his account of the rise of secularism, von Balthasar begins with the period of the Renaissance in which there is a transformation from cultural achievement being a result of a life steeped in the liturgical consecration of religion, to a situation where cultural achievement as an end in itself takes priority. He suggest that this transition in the Renaissance mirrors a similar transition in the classical era from Aeschylus, for whom art was still a part of liturgical life, to Euripides for whom it had already become an end in itself. Prescriptively, Balthasar notes that the “task of making the historical existence of Christ the norm of every individual existence is the work of the Holy Spirit and that everything in the sacramental order has to be embedded in the personal level, as mediation and encounter, as a gesture expressing personal intention, and hence it always communicates personal, historical graces, and creates personal, historical situations.”16. The question is thus one of addressing how the sacramental is embedded in the personal. Here the work of Jean Borella is helpful. Borella argues that the sense of the supernatural is a sense of a


higher nature or a sense that the possibilities of existence do not limit themselves to what we ordinary experience. In order for this sense to be awakened in people, they need to have an experience of forms which by themselves refer to nothing of the mundane. While elements of the physical world are always involved –otherwise no experiences of it would be possible– they are set aside from the natural order to which they originally belonged and consecrated in order to render present realities of another order.17 As Louis Duprè emphasizes, the purpose of a ritual act is not to repeat the ordinary action which it symbolizes, but to bestow meaning upon it in a higher perspective. A reduction of ritual gestures to common activity would defeat the entire purpose of ritualization, which is to transform life, not to imitate it.18 While it is difficult to generalize across the entire Western world, certainly in the English speaking parts of it, the liturgical practices have been quite problematic since at least the 1970s. What Pope Benedict calls pastoral pragmatism or bringing God down to the level of the people, parish tea party liturgy and sacro-pop music has been a dominant part of any Catholic child’s experience of liturgy over the past 40 years. Until these problems are resolved the Christological dimensions of Western culture will continue to be weak because the sacramental order will not be sufficiently embedded in the personal. Not only will our youth not love the Eucharist but their intellects will not be very receptive to the work of the Holy Spirit because their memories will not include within them something like a Transfiguration moment. Their liturgical and sacramental experience will not have sufficiently liberated them from the mundane. Their choices will appear to be

New Evangelization

«Until these problems are resolved the Christological dimensions of Western culture will continue to be weak because the sacramental order will not be sufficiently embedded in the personal. Not only will our youth not love the Eucharist but their intellects will not be very receptive to the work of the Holy Spirit because their memories will not include within them something like a Transfiguration moment».

(…) Within this tradition there is a most sacred place, but it exist beyond time in the eternity of the New Jerusalem; while in the period between the first Easter and the consummation of the world, the Eucharist unites the universal and the particular in a multitude of sacred places across the globe.

17 J. BORELLA, The Sense of the Supernatural, T & T Clark, Edinburgh 1998, 59. 18 L. DUPRE, Symbols of the Sacred, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 2000, 12.

H 45


The notion that one only finds oneself though acts of love (the Gaudium et Spes 24 theme) is precisely that the Nietzschean rejects. For the Nietzschean, Gaudium et Spes 24 is the moral outlook of the slave.

H 46

ÂŤWhen the sovereignty of Christ is replaced by the sovereignty of the mob, the consumption of the Body and Blood of Christ is replaced by the consumption of brands which serve as symbols of some desired personal or social attributeÂť.

between following the mob and searching for a self-identity among the signs and symbols of the market, or pursuing the option of the Sartrean or Nietzschean rebel, which, while representing a kind of liberation from the mob, requires a foundational stance against love, that is, against the kind of human commitments that appear to place limit on the exercise of human freedom. The first option, following the mob, represents a variety of inauthenticity which the young Karol Wojtyla called servile conformism, while the second option represents a kind of inauthenticity described by Wojtyla as non-involvement – a Stoic withdrawal from community and public life on the grounds that it is all too banal or requires too much self-giving. The notion that one only finds oneself though acts of love (the Gaudium et Spes 24 theme) is precisely what the Nietzschean rejects. For the Nietzschean, Gaudium et Spes 24 is the moral outlook of the slave. The servile conformism to the object of desire of the mob is not a deliberate rejection of true love, it is just a case of not knowing where real love can be found. However the option of noninvolvement, of a Stoic withdrawal into the personal dreams or projects of the emotionally unattached self, does represents a conscious foreclosure against love. Thus, the solutions of the problems of the weakness of the Christological dimension seem to lie in the fields of sacramen-


New Evangelization

tality, especially the sacrament of the Eucharist, and in liturgy, which again is intimately related to the Eucharist. They also lie in taking a critical stance towards the trend to undermine the prudential judgment of professionals by circumscribing the exercises of their judgment with bureaucratic regulation, designed to prevent them from promoting their moral values. In the West, no less than in the formerly Communist countries, people need to learn to live in truth and resist having their integrity undermined by ideological regulations. Moreover the Church herself needs to resist being entangled by such regulations and the tendency to mimic modern corporate practices. The beatified John Henry Newman wrote that the Church is not a mere creed or philosophy but a counter kingdom before which all must bow down and lick the dust of her feet so that the world may become a fit object of love.19 The sovereignty of Christ is exercised through His Church and his personal contact with his subject is effected through her ministry of the sacraments, themselves embedded within liturgical rites. One can thus take the theological anthropology of Redemptor hominis and the liturgical theology of Sacramentum Caritatis and see the second as providing the cultural healing that needs to be undertaken for the first to be restored as the infrastructural principle of western civilization, and indeed the whole world. As the English philosopher Roger Scruton has concluded:

In the West, no less than in the formerly Communist countries, people need to learn to live in truth and resist having their integrity undermined by ideological regulations.

The high culture of Europe acquired the universality of the Church which had engendered it. At the same time the core experience of membership survived, to be constantly represented in the Mass – the “communion” which is also an enactment of community. It is in this experience that our common culture renewed itself, and the arts of our culture bears witness to it, either by honoring or by defiling the thought of God’s incarnation. 20

19 J. H. NEWMAN, Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day, first edition, 257 and 120; cited by Christopher Dawson in C. DAWSON, St Augustine and His Age, in ID., Enquires into Religion and Culture, Sheed& Ward, London 1933, 254. 20 R. SCRUTON, The philosopher on Dover Beach,Carcanet, Manchester 1990, 132.

H 47


«One immediately returns to the familiar scene of Paul in the streets of Athens (Acts 17: 16-34). It has not changed much since then. The streets of our city are full of new idols. The interest towards a very generic religious meaning would seem to take a sort of revenge. The religious expressions are multiplied and are often empty of rational density.» Saint Paul, Rembrandt drawing, Paris. National Library of France.

H 48


By Rino Fisichella

New Evangelization

The New Evangelization: what is it? J

esus of Nazareth wanted the Church to be the living continuation of his presence in the midst of the world. In the two thousand years that have passed since that command to go to the entire world announcing the Gospel and making disciples of all peoples of the world, the Church never abandoned this obligation so essential for its own life. This is a mission which is manifested especially in a time of crisis like the one we are going through. We are about to enter into a new era of a world still uncertain in its first steps, and that seems to hesitate because of a weakness of thought. For this reason, the role of Catholics acquires more importance because of the richness of the tradition that we knew how to build in the past. On September 21, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI established the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization on the liturgical feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. It was a truly “prophetic” intuition, because it addressed our present with the intention of giving a significant answer to the great challenges ahead of us; and at the same time, it forced us to see the future with clairvoyance, to comprehend in what manner the Church will have to perform its ministry in a world submitted to great cultural transformations which determine the beginning of a new epoch of humanity. With this prophetic thought, the Pope wanted to give strength again to the missionary spirit of the Church, especially in those places where faith seems to weaken by the pressure of secularism. At a time like the present, we are invited to be missionaries with the force of reason; to show that it and its conquests are not opposed to the contents of faith. This is because the search for truth is common, and it cannot be isolated in only one of its components, which is perhaps what our contemporaries expect. It would be useful, then, to start from the very concept “new evangelization,” from which we must study its meaning and produce a systematic comprehension and explanation (especially in the teaching of the last popes), in order for the concept not to appear as an abstract formula, and especially so that it is understood that in the recent past the Church would not have departed from what

HUMANITAS Nº 3 pp. 48 - 63

One could discuss at length the meaning of the expression “new evangelization.” To wonder if the adjective determines the term does not lack rationality, but nor is it exhaustive in terms of the issue. The fact that it is called “new” does not pretend to qualify the contents of the evangelization that remain the same, but describes the condition and form in which it is executed.

* Excerpt of the conference delivered by the author in the Pontifical Bolivarian University of Medellín.

H 49


«Hugo Grotius’ argument, “Etiamsi daremus non esse Deum,” came into the spotlight. Looking well, the interpretations went beyond the intention of the Dutch theorist of natural law. Actually, for the philosopher, what mattered was the foundation of natural law that conserved all its value in itself to the point of being capable of surviving without the demonstration of the existence of God. However, progressively, from the simple statement of a theoretical principle, secularization infiltrated institutions so far as to become, in our time, culture and mass behavior, so that we cannot perceive its objective limits.»

The summary of the beautiful news that the Church announces is the serving of man in order to comprehend the anxiety that drives him and to propose a way out that will bring him serenity and joy. Therefore, a new evangelization, because new is the context in which our contemporaries live, and is frequently attacked here and there by outdated theories and ideologies.

H 50

constitutes its essence. The Lord Jesus wanted his Church to vividly transmit his Gospel from generation to generation, regardless of any territorial or temporary frontier. One could discuss at length the meaning of the expression “new evangelization.” To wonder if the adjective determines the term does not lack rationality, but nor is it exhaustive in terms of the issue. The fact that it is called “new” does not pretend to qualify the contents of the evangelization that remain the same, but describes the condition and form in which it is executed. Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Letter Ubicumque et semper highlights that he considers it opportune “to offer appropriate responses so that the entire Church (…) may present herself to the contemporary world with a missionary impulse in order to promote the new evangelization.” One might insinuate that deciding for a new evangelization is equivalent to judging the Church’s previously developed pastoral action as failed through negligence or by the lack of credibility in its members. Even this consideration is not without plausibility, it just limited by its fragmentary nature to the sociological aspect without considering that the Church in the world gives examples of constant holiness and credible testimonies that are still today sealed with the sacrifice of life. In fact, the martyrdom of many Christians is no different from the martyrdom offered in the course of our multi secular history, and yet it is really new because it leads the often indifferent people of our time to reflect on the meaning of life and the gift of faith. When the search for the genuine meaning of existence disappears, when it


For this coming October, Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has focused on two events of great importance in order to achieve the main aim of his pontificate: the discovery of the joy of believing and the enthusiasm of transmitting the professed faith. The Year of Faith will begin on October 11, 2012, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, with the consideration that, during that same month, the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will have been convoked. The latter will address the issue of the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith. These two events point to each other and their importance and centrality, as regarded by this pontificate, and confirm at all times the clarity of the Pope’s interventions that currently seek to focus the entire Church’s attention.

New Evangelization

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS AND NEW EVANGELIZATION

Every Christian is called to realize that his faith is the result of an uninterrupted and intrepid evangelization guided by the Holy Spirit, who has made use of human instruments throughout history. In the press conference which announced the Instrumentum laboris of the Synod for the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian Faith (which will be held during October 7‑28, 2012), Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, General Secretary of the latter, said that “the Synod fathers will reflect on the transmission of the Christian faith, one of the great challenges of the Church which will be studied in depth in the context of the new evangelization. The Synod’s reflections will be enriched because of the link with the Year of Faith which will begin on October 11.” (For more information about the Year of Faith see the The Church and the World section of this issue, p. 176-177).

is replaced by paths that resemble a jungle of ephemeral proposals without comprehending the danger that this means, then it is fair to speak of new evangelization. It becomes a real challenge to take life seriously in order to turn it towards a complete and definitive direction that finds its true guarantee in Jesus of Nazareth. He, manifestation of the Father and his historical revelation, is the Gospel that we still today announce as an answer to the question that has always worried mankind. The summary of the beautiful news that the Church announces is the serving of man in order to comprehend the anxiety that drives him and to propose a way out that will bring him serenity and joy. Therefore, a new evangelization, because new is the context in which our contemporaries live, and is frequently attacked here and there by outdated theories and ideologies.

H 51


Secularization

One of the first data which emerges as a project of secularism is the spasmodic attempt to obtain complete autonomy. Modern man is strongly characterized by the zeal of his own autonomy and the responsibility of living on his own. Forgetting all relationship with transcendence, he has become allergic to all speculative thought and limits himself instantly to the simple historical moment, believing in an illusory manner that truth is only what can be scientifically verified.

1 Resistenza e Resa. Lettere dal carcere, Milano 1969, pages 278-279; on Bonhoeffer, one may always rely on the work of I. Mancini, Bonhoeffer, Firenze 1969; on this aspect, cf. pages 329-438.

H 52

On the horizon, there appears the great theme of secularization, which I would like to briefly describe by its most characteristic features. Already half a century has passed since the “manifesto” of modern secularization, proposed and modified on the initial ideas of D. Bonhoeffer, saw the light. The secular city by Professor Harvey Cox of the American Baptist Church and God does not exist by the Anglican Bishop of Woolwich, John A. T. Robinson, revealed to the greater public the basic ideas of a movement that had a wider horizon and much deeper roots than what we thought, by its influence on theology and at a church level. The program was concentrated around the expression that has become a technicality: to live and build a world etsi Deus non daretur. At that time, the challenge came upon very fertile terrain and quickly found such enthusiasm and receptivity that today, over the years, leads us to wonder with how much critical spirit it was received and accompanied. The Church had recently finished its second Vatican Council, and already on the horizon you could catch a glimpse of the symptoms of a crisis that would captivate many believers while the West was ending the great youthful revolution of 1968. In one word, many seemed to find the idea of secularization the key to give the world its autonomy, and to the Church the possibility of discovering the simplicity of her origins. Nevertheless, not all that glittered was gold. Hugo Grotius’ argument, “Etiamsi daremus non esse Deum,” came into the spotlight. Looking well, the interpretations went beyond the intention of the Dutch theorist of natural law. Actually, for the philosopher, what mattered was the foundation of natural law that conserved all its value in itself to the point of being capable of surviving without the demonstration of the existence of God. However, progressively, from the simple statement of a theoretical principle, secularization infiltrated institutions so far as to become, in our time, culture and mass behavior, so that we cannot perceive its objective limits. Like any phenomenon, secularization is also subject to ambiguity and to plurality of interpretations. It is difficult to determine the true role that Bonhoeffer played at this movement; though it is more complex to try to individuate the true meaning of his manifesto in the Letter: “So our coming of age forces us to a true recognition of our situation vis-à-vis God. God is teaching us that we must live as men who can get along very well without him. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us (Mark 15:34). The God who makes us live in this world without using him as a working hypothesis is the God before whom we are ever standing.”1 In relation to movements of thought that are supported on gener-


New Evangelization

ic and often utopian concepts, misunderstandings and extremisms do not take long to appear; in diverse ways, secularization degenerated into secularism, with its negative consequences especially on the horizon of the comprehension of personal existence. In fact, secularism expresses distance to the Christian religion, which does not have and cannot have any voice when talking about private, public, or social life. Personal existence is built disregarding religious horizons, which remain relegated to a mere private sector that must not influence the life of interpersonal, social, or civil relations. Furthermore, in the private realm, religion has a well-defined place; in fact it only partially and marginally intervenes in ethic judgments and behavior. At this point, to say that secularization is a religiously neutral phenomenon is a failure to grasp the consequences that have been manifested by these decades rooted in secularism. In any way that one wants to judge man’s autonomy, it is inseparable from its original link with the Creator, to cut the umbilical cord cannot mean anything else than to reject the one who begot us. In any case, a creature’s autonomy must have as a base the experience of gratitude. Without it, it is impossible to have a coherent comprehension of personal identity. In short, to reduce the process of secularization to a criticism of religious fanaticism or of intolerance means to lose sight of the movement’s universalization and the diverse faces by which it has manifested itself. After the enthusiasm that in the sixties spread to many, one must conclude that the process of secularization and secularism has identified God too hastily as a substitute function of life. However, in the contemporary horizon, in which the culture of death seems to surpass life itself, there is still pending the need to demonstrate the fundamental thesis of secularism by which this world has become “adult” and, consequently, has no more need of God. One of the first data which emerges as a project of secularism is the spasmodic attempt to obtain complete autonomy. Modern man is strongly characterized by the zeal of his own autonomy and the responsibility of living on his own. Forgetting all relationship with

Therefore, God loses his central place; the resulting consequence is that man himself also comes to lose his. The “eclipse” of the meaning of life causes man not to know how to position himself and to find his place in creation and society.

H 53


Instrumentum laboris for the Synod on the New Evangelization The biggest challenge that the Church faces today is secularization, and not only in Europe. It has been stated by episcopates, congregations, and movements worldwide, and consulted over by the Holy See, which has elaborated from their answers the work’s Instrument for the next Bishops’ Synod, in October, on the New Evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith.

What will the Church be like in fifty years? Will there be young faces or will only old people remain? Will Christianity be a decisive element of renewal, creativity, and hope for the society and culture? The answers to these questions depend on a decisive factor: the new evangelization. The last two Popes understood the importance of the new evangelization several years ago. John Paul II, whom coined the term “new evangelization,” dedicated a good part of his pontificate to it, and now Benedict XVI has made his compass out of this challenge. On June 19th, the Holy See published a document in which one can affirm how the new evangelization has now become the greatest concern for all Christians in the world and not only in old Europe. This is the Instrumentum laboris, that is to say, the working document, which expounds the themes that will have to face the world’s bishops, from October 7th to the 28th at the Vatican, under Benedict’s XVI chairmanship, to discuss the theme: The New Evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith. In less than ninety pages, the text gathers the responses into a sort of global survey, carried out by the Holy See to prepare that episcopal summit. No opinion survey conducts an investigation so geographically extensive. The Episcopal Conferences of the entire world, the Churches of the East and West, the organisms of the Roman Curia, the religious Congregations, and individuals (bishops, priests, members of consecrated life institutes, laymen, associations and ecclesial movements, among others) all took part in the response. A world without God? The responses are clear and convergent: the Catholic Church’s greatest current challenge is secularization; that is, the model or way of life of millions of people that live as if God did not exist. The clearest novelty of this document is that before, this challenge was limited mostly to the economically developed societies of the West. Now, it has been verified that secularization has penetrated every continent, in countries of ancient and recent Christianity. In a sense, this is another consequence of globalization. The document shows, from the local community’s response, how secularization has changed with respect to previous decades: “In recent years, secularization has not assumed the form of publicly or directly speaking out against God, religion, and Christianity, despite the fact that, in some instances, it can oftentimes have an anti-Christian, anti-religious, and anti-clerical tone, even in these times. Many responses indicate that the

H 54


rather subdued secularization tone has allowed this cultural form to invade people’s daily lives to the point that some have developed a mentality in which God is effectively absent, in whole or in part, and his very existence dependent on human consciousness.” The effects of this mentality, described in the document published by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, are evident in any parish: “A weakening of faith in Christian communities, a diminished regard for the authority of the Magisterium, an individualistic approach to belonging to the Church, a decline in religious practice, and a disengagement in transmitting the faith to new generations.” This phenomenon is explained easily if one comprehends the new world scenario, as the Synod’s working Document illustrates. The new scenario In the first place, the Instrumentum laboris refers to the basic cultural scenario. “The ‘death of God’ proclaimed by many intellectuals in recent decades has given way to an unproductive, hedonistic, and consumer mentality, which leads to a highly superficial manner in facing life and responsibility.” And the document adds: “The influence of secularization in daily life makes it increasingly difficult to affirm the existence of truth, which, realistically speaking, eliminates the question of God from a person’s examination of self. To respond to religious needs, people revert to individualistic forms of spirituality or forms of neo-paganism to the point of forcibly spreading a general climate of relativism.” Another element which characterizes the current scenario is “the phenomenon of the great migration which is causing an increasing number of people to leave their country of origin to live in urban settings, resulting in a meeting and mixing of cultures and contributing to the erosion of basic reference points to life, values, and the very bonds through which people build their identity and come to know the meaning of life.” The new political sector also explains the current situation, as considered in this document: “The division of the western world into two blocks ended with the fall of the communist ideology, leading to religious freedom and the possibility of reorganizing the churches of ancient origin. The emergence on the world stage of new economic, political, and religious actors from the Islamic and Asian worlds has created an entirely new and unknown situation, rich in potential, but fraught with dangers and new temptations for dominion and power.” And there is also the advance of secularization in the scientific research and technology sector. “Each day, we have the possibility of experiencing the benefits of these advances,” recognizes the text, “and are increasingly becoming dependent upon them. Inherent in the many positive aspects is the danger of excessive expectations and manipulation. Today, science and technology run the risk of becoming the new idols of the present. In a digitized and globalized world, science can easily become ‘our new religion.’ ” Finally, the document presents the new sector of communication, with all its positive aspects and limits, which is forging “the so-called culture which is short-lived, immediately gratifying, and based on mere appearance, or a society incapable of looking to either the past or the future.” On the one hand, these sectors permit the understanding of how the secularization process is taking place “leading to a weakened sense of the spiritual in many persons and an emptiness of heart.” However, on the other hand, it also states that “many regions of the world are showing signs of a significant religious revival.”

H 55


The answer Then, what must the Church do in order to face the enormous challenge posed by secularization? Actually, the answer to this question will have to be proposed, in detail, by the world’s bishops, during the Synod. However, the working document already presents the tracks that come from all the Episcopal Conferences. In fact, it states that every baptized, Christian family, parish, and community, needs a conversion: an evangelized individual must turn into an evangelist. Evangelization is not, as it may seem sometimes, missionary work in Africa. Evangelism becomes the challenge of every baptized person, whether married or single, and whether bishop, priest, or monk. “Present-day situations demand that the task of proclaiming and passing on the faith be incumbent on every Christian,” states the Synod’s preparatory document. The lay protagonists “The Church’s most compelling responsibility today is to re-awaken in all the baptized their baptismal identity so that each can be a true witness to the Gospel and render an account of one’s faith.” “The lay faithful, in particular, are called upon to show how the Christian faith is a valid response to the pressing problems of life in every age and culture, problems which necessarily affect every person, even the agnostic and unbeliever.” For this to take place, it determines that “this will be possible only by overcoming the separation of the Gospel from life and reconstructing, in the everyday activities at home, work or in society, the unity of a life which finds its inspiration in the Gospel and, in the same Gospel, the strength to realize it fully.” New evangelization In short, as the text concludes, “new evangelization does not mean a new Gospel, because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever (Heb 13:8). New evangelization means an adequate response to the signs of the times, to the needs of individuals and people of today and to the new sectors with their cultures through which we express our identity and the meaning of our lives. Consequently, new evangelization means fostering a culture deeply grounded in the Gospel and discovering the new man who is within us as a result of the Spirit whom has been given to us by Jesus Christ and the Father.” The Instrumentum laboris concludes assuring that “the celebration of the next Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops be for the Church like a new Upper Room, where the successors of the Apostles, gathered in prayer with the Mother of Christ, who has been invoked as the Star of the new evangelization, prepare the path of the new evangelization.” Jesús Colina Alpha and Omega

H 56


New Evangelization

transcendence, he has become allergic to all speculative thought and limits himself instantly to the simple historical moment, believing in an illusory manner that truth is only what can be scientifically verified. When losing the tie with the transcendent and rejecting all spiritual contemplation, he is precipitated into a sort of pragmatic empiricism that leads him to appreciate facts and not ideas. Without resistance, he rapidly changes his way of thinking and living and seems more and more a moving subject, always ready to experiment, eager to participate in any game even if it exceeds him, especially if he is carried away in that absolute unveiled narcissism which deceives him in regards to the essence of life. In short, the process of secularism has generated an explosion in the claim of individual freedoms that reach the sphere of sexual life, interpersonal and familiar relations, the use of leisure as well as of work, and also education, fatally reaching mass media and modifying the whole scope of life. As paradoxical as it seems, social claims are always carried out in the name of justice and of equality, but in the end there is always the desire to live more freely at the individual level; the injustices and social inequalities are more tolerated and supported than the prohibitions in the private sphere. In short, a completely new situation has been created in which old values –expressed mainly by Christianity– are being replaced. On a horizon like this, in which man comes to hold a central place, a criterion of all form of existence, God turns into a useless hypothesis and a competitor not only to avoid, but to eliminate if possible. The anthropological revolution is relatively easily activated as an accomplice of a weak theology and of a religiosity often based only on sentiment and incapable of showing the true horizon of faith. Therefore, God loses his central place; the resulting consequence is that man himself also comes to lose his. The “eclipse” of the meaning of life causes man not to know how to position himself and to find his place in creation and society. In some way, he falls into the Promethean temptation of illusory thinking that he is the lord of life and death, because he can decide the when and how. A culture that tends to idolize the body’s perfection, which discriminates interpersonal relations based on beauty and physical perfection, ends up forgetting what is essential. He thus falls into a kind of constant narcissism which prevents him from basing his life on permanent and solid values, to stay only at the level of the ephemeral. However, nobody denounces this situation as tragic because the authentic exercise of freedom no longer exists. In fact, when man loses his relationship with God, he consequently loses his reference to creation. He is no longer the center of creation, but only any part of the world. On the one hand man is exalted at the expense of God and against

The ambiguous conception of freedom, the strong subjectivity that no longer knows how to recognize the value of perennial truth, and above all, the eclipsing of the sense of God, have led men to forget the value of life and to the lack of fraternal interest at the point of proving, with horror, that a society that claims to be civilized and evolved is increasingly enclosed in the circle of death.

H 57


The enigma of personal existence is not resolved in the rejection of mystery, but rather in immersion into it (Gaudium et spes 22). This is the path to go through; all shortcuts run the risk of leading to loss in the jungle labyrinths, where it is impossible to see both the exit as well as the goal to be achieved.

God, and on the other hand, he is destroyed and turned into a simple fragment of nature. By destroying the harmony with nature to give place to the primacy of technique, he has found a power which has ravaged even nature. Another conflict that takes place is the loss of the sense of responsibility. This horizon is symbolically found in the question that God addresses to Cain: “Where is your brother Abel?” As paradoxical as it may seem, the secularism born at the shadow of full responsibility toward himself with the rejection of God’s authority, ends with the destruction of the intended aim. Today’s man, closed in on himself, in an exasperated individualism, has also lost sight of the other. A lucid expression of this situation is found in the Sartrean declaration, les autres son l’enfer. The ambiguous conception of freedom, the strong subjectivity that no longer knows how to recognize the value of perennial truth, and above all, the eclipsing of the sense of God, have led men to forget the value of life and to the lack of fraternal interest at the point of proving, with horror, that a society that claims to be civilized and evolved is increasingly enclosed in the circle of death. In short, a secularized culture that pretends to be autonomous from God ends losing the very meaning of life. Therefore, here is the great challenge that looks upon the future. Whoever wants the freedom to live as if God did not exist can do it, but must know what is waiting for him; must be aware that this choice is not a premise for freedom or autonomy. Limiting oneself to disposing of one’s own life will never satisfy freedom’s demand. To forcefully silence the desire for God which is rooted in one’s deepest inner life will never be able to achieve autonomy. The enigma of personal existence is not resolved in the rejection of mystery, but rather in immersion into it (Gaudium et spes 22). This is the path to go through; all shortcuts run the risk of leading to loss in the jungle labyrinths, where it is impossible to see both the exit as well as the goal to be achieved.

New evangelization “The whole matter lies in the pressing question: can one believe, being civilized, i.e. a European, i.e. believe absolutely in the divinity of the Son of God, Jesus Christ? (for all faith consists only of this)…” These are provocatively loaded words that come from one of the most significant writers of the nineteenth century, Fyodor Dostoevsky. To wonder if today’s man is still willing to believe in Jesus as the Son of God necessarily entails the related question: if today’s man still feels the need for salvation. Here is the whole problem for us believers, for our credibility in today’s world; but also the problem for those

H 58


New Evangelization «Another conflict that takes place is the loss of the sense of responsibility. This horizon is symbolically found in the question that God addresses to Cain: “Where is your brother Abel?”» Gustave Dore Engraving.

H 59


To wonder if today’s man is still willing to believe in Jesus as the Son of God necessarily entails the related question: if today’s man still feels the need for salvation.

H 60

who do not believe and want to give full meaning to their lives. I find no possibility other than this question, which compels an answer. Facing the possibility of Jesus Christ one cannot remain neutral; one must give an answer if one wants to give meaning to life. Here are concentrated the great issues which involve every one of us and the simple answer that the Church offers preaching, as if time had never passed, the same content of the first years of our existence as Christians: Jesus, crucified and resurrected. He has passed among us, announcing the Kingdom of God and doing good to those who aim towards Him. We know that we are in the midst of a deep crisis that has become a crisis about God. Schematically one could say: religion yes, but God no. In any event, this “no” must not be understood in the categorical sense of the great atheisms. Let me repeat that there are no more great atheisms. Today’s atheism can actually speak again of God without really understanding him. In synthesis, the current crisis is defined by being able and knowing how to talk of God; the subject cannot leave us indifferent after almost fifty years after the Second Vatican Council, which had as one of its main goals the task to talk about God to today’s man in a comprehensible manner. Then, the crisis that we live could be summarized in a still more synthetic way: today God is not denied, but unknown. Probably, on behalf of contemporary man, there is some validity in this manner of thinking about the problem over the name of “God.” In some sense, one could say that we have passed from the useless hypothesis to the good possibility offered to man. With this perspective, we should be able to shake the sometimes overly calm waters of two artificial lakes: the one of indifference, that frequently dominates the cultural context referring to this issue; and the one of the obvious, which demonstrates how much ignorance, often silly, exists in religious content. Indifference and ignorance, unfortunately, are at the basis of the still present religious common perspective, weakening not only the religious question always weaker, but especially weakening the free and conscious decision. One immediately returns to the familiar scene of Paul in the streets of Athens (Acts 17: 16-34). It has not changed much since then. The streets of our city are full of new idols. The interest towards a very generic religious meaning would seem to take a sort of revenge. The religious expressions are multiplied and are often empty of rational density. In some cases one follows the flood of emotions; in others, on the contrary, diverse forms of fundamentalism; neither indicates anything other than the absence of intellectual density. Finally, messiahs of impending doom appear again on the horizon, preaching the imminent end of the world. In this context, one must wonder about the new Pauls of


Tarsus, conscious of being bearers of a beautiful novelty that enters into the Areopagus of our small world with the conviction and the certainty of wanting to announce the “unknown God.” The term “God” is among the most used in the world’s language. However, there are many different and often contradictory meanings that are to the point of mutual opposition. We must ask ourselves if God exists and what it is, or who is God. These are inevitable questions that cannot remain unanswered. The God of whom we speak has not only made himself heard, but has become one of us. And with him comes to our lives the fundamental answer to the question about meaning: “For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin” (GS 22). There is no pretext on our part. He has experienced all our human conditions, especially the experience of pain, suffering, disease, and death. Therefore, the new evangelization requires the capability of knowing how to offer reason in our own faith, showing Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as the only savior of humanity. To the extent in which we are capable of this, we will be able to offer the contemporary world the answer that it expects or that we must arouse. As Benedict XVI said the day before he was elected Pope: “Above

New Evangelization

«“The whole matter lies in the pressing question: can one believe, being civilized, i.e. a European, i.e. believe absolutely in the divinity of the Son of God, Jesus Christ? (for all faith consists only of this)…” These are provocatively loaded words that come from one of the most significant writers of the nineteenth century, Fyodor Dostoevsky.»

Today’s atheism can actually speak again of God without really understanding him. In synthesis, the current crisis is defined by being able and knowing how to talk of God; the subject cannot leave us indifferent after almost fifty years after the Second Vatican Council, which had as one of its main goals the task to talk about God to today’s man in a comprehensible manner. Then, the crisis that we live could be summarized in a still more synthetic way: today God is not denied, but unknown.

H 61


«An image which the new dicastery tries to identify with is Antoni Gaudí’s Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family (Sagrada Familia). (…) The beauty of the Holy Family knows how to speak to today’s man, while at the same time preserving the fundamental features of ancient art.»

all, that of which we are in need at this moment in history are men who, through an enlightened and lived faith, render God credible in this world… We need men who have their gaze directed to God, to understand true humanity. We need men whose intellects are enlightened by the light of God, and whose hearts God opens, so that their intellects can speak to the intellects of others, and so that their hearts are able to open up to the hearts of others. Only through men who have been touched by God, can God come near to men.” Therefore, the new evangelization starts from the credibility of our life as believers and of our conviction that grace acts and transforms until the point of converting the heart. Today’s world has a deep need for love, because it unfortunately knows only its great failures. Here is probably the origin of the paradox that unfolds before our eyes and pushes the mind to reflect on the meaning of such an action.

H 62


An image which the new dicastery tries to identify with is Antoni Gaudí’s Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family (Sagrada Familia). Whoever observes it in its architectonical fullness will find yesterday’s and today’s voices. Everyone knows that it is a church; a holy place that cannot be confused with any other construction. Its spires are drawn upward, forcing us to look at the sky. Its pillars have no Ionic or Corinthian capitals, and yet they are expected, even when they permit themselves to go further to cover a space of arcs that makes you think of a forest invaded by mystery, without obliteration, emanating serenity. The beauty of the Holy Family knows how to speak to today’s man, while at the same time preserving the fundamental features of ancient art. Its presence may seem to contrast with the city made up of palaces and streets that, when travelled through, show us the modernity toward which we go. Both realities coexist and are not discordant; on the contrary, they seem made for each other: the church for the city and vice versa. It is evident, then, that the city without the church would be deprived of something substantial. It would reveal a void that cannot be filled with just any other construction, but instead with something more vital that drives one to look upwards without hurry in the silence of contemplation. To look at the future with the certainty of true hope is what frees is from a sort of romanticism that looks only to the past, and keeps us from falling into utopian horizon, tied to a hypothesis that lacks certainty. Faith commits us today, and therefore a lack of response would be ignorance or fear; and for us Christians neither one nor the other is allowed. To remain confined in our churches could give us some consolation, but would mean that Pentecost would be in vain. It is time to open the doors wide and return to the announcement of the resurrection of Christ to which we are witnesses. According to the words of Bishop Saint Ignatius at the dawn of Christianity: “We have not only to be called Christians, but to be Christians” (to the Magnesians, I, 1). If someone wants to recognize a Christian, he should be able to do it by his commitment to faith instead of intentions.

New Evangelization

The image of the new evangelization

Then, the new evangelization requires the capability of knowing how to offer reason in our own faith, showing Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as the only savior of humanity. To the extent in which we are capable of this, we will be able to offer the contemporary world the answer that it expects or that we must arouse.

Translated by David Billikopf.

H 63


A Model for Times of Crisis

Timeliness of Francis of Assisi By Fabrice Hadjadj

I When one is Christian, one knows that eternity is the cause of time, that eternity consists in seeing one’s neighbor and the whole of creation in God, so that eternity occurs here and now in a love that manifests itself on earth and in eternity (it is not a flight to the beyond). It is here that Francis is our man!

* Intervention of the author during the meeting held at Lourdes on the 8th centenary of the Order of Saint Francis.

H 64

n the introduction to my speech* – which I entitled “Francis of Assisi, Sanctity for Times of Crisis” – I am going to talk about the discourse taking place at present on crisis. It is a fashionable discourse. There is talk of the financial crisis; of climate warming, which is a serious ecological crisis; and of the cultural crisis. Christian thinkers say, that basically, we are to a great extent in a situation of anthropological crisis, as there is opposition even to the very structure of the human body (the elemental structure of paternity) to the point that it is now possible to imagine factory production of the human being as a pure product, without defects, with a view to a perfection in the human market. This discourse on crisis is quite peculiar for a Christian. Is it not a negative discourse on progress? Does it not correspond to the last sudden shock of a dying progressivism? If we believe that this crisis is an exception, this means that we still believe in a perfect society on earth or in progress that will lead us finally to an absolutely fraternal society. However, for its part, this is a discourse which has produced great totalitarianisms: the millennial Reich with a humanism limited to Aryans; Communism with the idea of producing an international, classless society; and Liberalism, which seeks to manage society by excluding ideology which, it believes, would make it possible to produce peace with the coexistence of individuals in a pluralist society. What we are left with, hence, is an horizon of progress where crisis appears to be something exceptional, from which it is necessary to emerge by retying together the broken ends. The problem, however, is that young people no longer believe in this. Our condition is always critical. The Church herself, through her proclamation, puts the world in crisis. When everything could be all right in an absolutely peaceable world, the discourse of the Church would generate a crisis in it and cause the unleashing of the forces of darkness. This is what occurs with Christ and his proclamation. It causes crisis because it impedes the world from shutting in on itself as totalitarianisms would have it and it obliges each one to decide, in advance, either for Paradise or hell. All individual life, no matter how small it is, is destined to this sort of absolute that leads it to a crisis, because it is, inevitably, a question of choosing eternal good or eternal doom.

HUMANITAS Nº 3 pp. 64 - 75


«He strips existence, taking away its dross and worldly plaques, to return to the source of being, to see one’s own existence spring from the bosom of God. It is through poverty that Francis resolves three great antinomies: between being and having, between fraternity and hierarchy, and between the cross and joy.» (Sculpture of Saint Francis by Pedro Mena. 1653, Cathedral of Toledo)

H 65


In this respect, Francis was always radical. However, within this general crisis of history – since the fall and considering our redemption – I would like to point out a particularity of the present time. It is very important to consider the special moment in which we find ourselves, a moment described by a philosopher as “time of the end” (which is not the same as the end of times!). Why? The explanation is linked to three proper names which are the names of cities: Kolyma – Auschwitz – Hiroshima.

It is said that God created from nothing. In Francis, when there is nothing, that is better. It is about having nothing in order to be better, to go to that nothingness from which God made himself Creator : by the side of this sense of nothing from which springs the divine power and that Francis calls poverty.

H 66

1. The Gulag, namely, the abyss of the political utopia – which believed in the liberation of the human race through a strong political power, able to produce equality – caused the massive destruction of individuals, as all those who opposed it were condemned by history so that, for their own good, it was necessary to eliminate them. Since then, we no longer believe that politics can lead to a happy society. 2. Auschwitz. Europe’s camps for the extermination of Jews, came not from a raging and bloody madness, but were the product of a cultural elite. Hitler and those around him had numerous literary works, not only anti-Semitic; they also had all of Wagner, whose “Tristan and Isolde” the Fuhrer saw many times. This great love story was to embrace the very spirit of Nazism, profoundly linked to the culture and with a certain form of aestheticism. To produce the “beautiful world” of the SS, the “ugliness” of all that was Jewish had to be eliminated. For a long time it was believed that culture and technology could save us. 3. Hiroshima. The possibility of total destruction. We no longer build anti-nuclear shelters in our gardens, as we no longer have that fear; however, that possibility is interiorized. We are aware that we are threatened. Today any adolescent is aware of the finite character of the human being, an awareness that is reinforced by the ecological question, even more so with Darwinian ideology, which presents the evolution of species with possibilities of disappearing to leave room for other species. We live in this nihilism. Note, moreover, how children’s stories are increasingly ecological. Men are the evil ones; animals understand themselves well without eating one another and they are under the threat of men. There is no longer historical memory in education. Prehistory is recalled, but no longer the kings who ruled France and Europe! And while our memory goes back to the pre-human, our projects are directed to the post-human. We believe we can get out of humanity, but from below of course. The human species is over. We no longer believe in posterity. This is the present context. Consequently, we live in urgency; we want quick


success. In politics, there is only mere management; in the arts there is the desire for instantaneous success, because we no longer believe in the long-term. We talk about future generations, but we do not know if they will exist. We are conscious of this today. It is the end of all earthly hopes. It is the fall of progressivism and this… is marvelous! Because it shows that there is an urgency to re-found everything, not by resting on the world, but by depending upon God’s promises, namely, by re-founding everything on theological hope, which does not allow us to believe that the world will create the conditions of possibility, but that these are given to us by eternity. Hence, we can have confidence in the earth from what heaven gives us. And in this sense there is, contemporaneously, a real hope. Perhaps the great danger today is fundamentalism. People will perceive, to such a great degree, the vanity of the world that they will try to escape to the beyond. When one is Christian, one knows that eternity is the cause of time, that eternity consists in seeing one’s neighbor and the whole of creation in God, so that eternity occurs here and now in a love that manifests itself on earth and in eternity (it is not a flight to the beyond). It is here that Francis is our man! What is the specific character of the Franciscan charisma? Does such a character exist or is Francis such an alter-Christus that he exceeds any specificity? I think there is a specificity. Francis is the Saint of crisis, not only because he enters the fire, converts wolves, and casts out the demons of Arezzo, but because he started from nothing and arrived … at nothing, which is even better! It is said that God created from nothing. In Francis, when there is nothing, that is better. It is about having nothing in order to be better, to go to that nothingness from which God made himself Creator and re-Creator; to go to that nothingness where the creative power springs and springs again in us. Therein lies the specific Franciscan character: by the side of this sense of nothing from which springs the divine power and that Francis calls poverty. This is the most persistent call in Saint Francis and Saint Clare. In the Dominicans, it is to preach; in the Benedictines, the opus Dei, the liturgy; in the Cistercians, work and penance; in the Carmelites, prayer; in the Jesuits, the evangelization from the highest of society, but in the Franciscans it is poverty that occupies the first place. In a letter to Brother Leo, Francis wrote: “To follow Christ’s footsteps and his poverty”. In an address transmitted to us by Saint Clare, he says: “I, little Brother Francis, want to follow the life and poverty of Our Lord Jesus Christ and his Most Holy Mother… and I beg you… to always live in this very holy life and in poverty…”

There is a danger in placing poverty as a banner, posing as being poor, boasting of a certain poverty. Francis abstained from denouncing the rich as evil. He was not about Liberation Theology nor was he a Marxist. In the second rule, he counsels the wearing of coarse habits… but also not to judge… and that each one judge himself and have contempt for himself.

H 67


«Francis was the first stigmatic in history. What the first Brothers would see in him, was the stigmatic, and not the Francis, the brother of creatures and very fashionable today, but instead the second crucified one.»

Francis is not a man about the personal development of a psychologizing type. It is not confidence in oneself that predominates in him, but resting in confidence in God, eventually in oneself, but through God, and not through one’s own natural strength. And it is in this that he espouses the crisis.

H 68

What poverty? There is a danger in placing poverty as a banner, posing as being poor, boasting of a certain poverty. Francis abstained from denouncing the rich as evil. He was not about Liberation Theology nor was he a Marxist. In the second rule, he counsels the wearing of coarse habits… but also not to judge… and that each one judge himself and have contempt for himself. Francis is not a man about the personal development of a psychologizing type. It is not confidence in oneself that predominates in him, but resting in confidence in God, eventually in oneself, but through God, and not through one’s own natural strength. And it is in this that he espouses the crisis. By engaging in permanent interior criticism Francis leaps over paths, a highway bandit -; he comes to help us by stripping us (see in The Little Flowers, the doorman in “perfect joy”: he is right when he says that he robs the alms of the poor). Francis is not a humanitarian, he does not help the


poor; he adopts poverty. If one is poor, he impoverishes one even more. Why? Because he knows that the Holy Spirit is the Father of the poor. He strips existence, taking away its dross and worldly plaques, to return to the source of being, to see one’s own existence spring from the bosom of God. It is through poverty that Francis resolves three great antinomies: between being and having, between fraternity and hierarchy, and between the cross and joy.

Between Being and Having In Francis, the experience of money is fundamental. He is a bourgeois, son of the rising class that practices usury. Recall the three Giotto frescoes (the gift of the cape, the dream of the palace of arms, and the call of Christ of San Damiano), three comical scenes that are cruel at the same time, because in the face of God’s call in favor of his neighbor, given the urgency of the world, and in relation to the heart itself of the Church, Francis gives an answer that is good, but which is outside his vocation: he responds with money–it is an incorrect answer. Thanks to money, nobility no longer counts: the knight is no longer armed in nobility, but in the new hierarchy of money! His alms are ambiguous: is it revenge after having lost the war against the nobility of Perugia? In fact, given the call “Be my soldier,” he buys arms! (fortunately, he soon falls ill). Then, when he hears “Repair my Church,” he does everything the wrong way round: he steals his father’s materials and his horse and offers his purse, always with the power of money. He realized that money could break the great traditional hierarchies; that money could become a means of a certain charity. Those answers are not in the evangelical radicalism of his vocation. In the long run, what would be the meaning of what Francis had done? In general terms, it would mean “to work more to give more”, which is always a temptation for Christian business leaders, who with difficulty return to their homes, and also pretend to no longer be able to observe Sunday because they have a target of alms that they must achieve: one must always give and hence one must always produce more… and the Shabbat came to an end. And Sunday rest came to an end! That is what money will demand: a logic in which one can give with money, enter into communication, a sort of equality through money, but in which one stays on the level of having, of production, and being is lost from view. This logic has two limitations: on one hand, one remains in the order of having and on the other, one remains within the limit of giving and not of receiving. In my book “La foi des demons” (“The Faith of Demons) [Note of the editor: Cf. Humanitas 60, page 827], I

Francis is not a humanitarian, he does not help the poor; he adopts poverty. If one is poor, he impoverishes one even more. Why? Because he knows that the Holy Spirit is the Father of the poor. (…)

H 69


(…) He strips existence, taking away its dross and worldly plaques, to return to the source of being, to see one’s own existence spring from the bosom of God. It is through poverty that Francis resolves three great antinomies: between being and having, between fraternity and hierarchy, and between the cross and joy.

H 70

explain that gift is what most attracts the devil, because he always wants to give, but from his own self, with his own strength, without having previously received by the grace of God. When one is a creature it is necessary, in the first place, to learn to receive; receptivity is fundamental. It is necessary to acknowledge that we are nothing by ourselves. We cannot give from our own self. (Saint John, chapter 8, says that the devil is a liar because he speaks of his own fund; he has forgotten the fundamental receptivity of the creature. He certainly knows better than us that nothing is by itself, but he would like to act with the minimum of communication with God and, consequently, especially without grace). If we want to give in the order of being, as we are not the first cause of being, we can only do so by having received previously from God. What we can give, believing that we are its first cause, is nothing. When it is a question of destroying, we are the first cause, we can do that alone. A logic of gift, which is disconnected from an initial receptivity, is a destructive logic. Man will want to transform everything with his own plans. And that is why he will decimate, put people in the Gulag or the gas chambers. Hence, Francis has nothing to give. In this he is faithful to the first mission of the Apostles after Pentecost: before the paralytic of the beautiful Door, Peter says: “I have nothing to give you… but in the name of Jesus…” Francis teaches us a far more fundamental art than giving, he teaches us the art of receiving: to receive in mendicancy, in hospitality, in gratitude. He is a profoundly sabbatical man. I am thinking here of that passage in The Little Flowers where Francis, in face of the crumbs he received, says that he is before a magnificent feast, and, on hearing this, Brother Leo replies: “But we mustn’t exaggerate!” It is important that there should be a Brother Leo; without him our Saint would seem like a sort of romantic who embellishes things. Francis’ answer is: “We have received it from the hand of God.” Pure Providence, and hence it is wonderful! Those crumbs are brought by eternity, enveloped in the tenderness of the infinite, so that it is something greater than the feast that we would have prepared with our own hands. It is the radical position of poverty to be more receptive to the gift of God. And precisely in this is an answer to the economic crisis. Today we live in the logic of growth and consumption. If poor people have acquired credits, it is because they believe in the paradise of consumption: there is the need to have a house, to obtain extremely dear credits. They did not come across Francis on their path, who would have told them that access to property is important, but it is necessary to be aware of illusion, as those people who offer credits will subject them to slavery.


«Saint Bonaventure said this in regard to Francis: “From so much going back to the first origin of all things, he conceived for all of them an overflowing friendship and he called creatures brothers and sisters, even the smallest, because he knew that he and they came from the same unique principle.”» (Oil painting by Francisco de Zurbaran)

He is, instead, in a logic of decrease, not related to the economic order. He simply says that it is not about increasing riches, but about receiving what is. The meaning of the Shabbat is blessed, because it is the day in which man does not work, as it is the day in which he harvests. One can produce interminably to the point of not knowing how to use things, the small things. Poverty teaches us how to use things, to marvel at small things. Because of this, for Franciscans to be a prophetic sign today is to be faithful to their rule of poverty. Having said this, we must also say that ownership is proper to man. Animals do not have. Man produces and has. Francis is aware of this. However, one can also become a prophetic sign in this sen-

He realized that money makes possible that sort of leveling, it creates new inequalities and is, in addition, something extremely dangerous, as it bestows power, but the most ephemeral of powers.

H 71


se –the poverty of having can make one enter into the richness of being and that someone can tear people away from the madness of having increasingly more and more, to enter increasingly into being. The vocation to the strict observance of the Minor Brothers is not the same as that of their spiritual friends who must know how to use money. There is a difference between the vocation of the Religious and that of the layman. The Franciscans were the first to write treatises on the subject of loans, to emerge from the logic of usury, who wanted money to circulate in better distribution, but they themselves must not enter into that logic. They are foreign to it; they are, rather, the men who give up money and property to be in the nakedness of being.

Fraternity and Hierarchy Francis is not a humanist in the strict sense of the term. The fraternity of which he speaks is a fraternity with all creatures. And he would go beyond the “deep ecology” that speaks of fraternity with animals and plants: for him it is also “my brother fire,” “my brother wind” and also “our sister death.” (…)

H 72

At the end of the battle of Perugia, in which the nobility was expelled from Assisi, a pact was signed with the bourgeoisie of the city so that they would have some power in its governance. The word “minores” appears and describes the bourgeoisie, the nobles being entitled the “maiores.” The bourgeoisie are the minor citizens. Francis founded the Minor Brothers. He realized that money makes possible that sort of leveling, it creates new inequalities and is, in addition, something extremely dangerous, as it bestows power, but the most ephemeral of powers. Someone becomes very rich and then everything collapses, yet he remains bound by the fascination for money. When the ecclesiastical hierarchy tended towards a worldly hierarchy and turned to money, as it acquired greater power, it was weakened. Francis perceived this fragility, reinforced by the logic of money. That is why he did not think of leveling the realm of having, as a Marxist would, but of a fraternity of being. Fraternity is to possess a sense of divine paternity. There is no fraternity without a father. It is necessary not to fall into the “republican” logic of fraternity, which would like us to be a fraternity without a father. Moreover, that does not work. One does not understand well what that “republican” fraternity in France’s motto is. Liberty, yes, equality, yes, but fraternity as it is understood today (without paternity), would be equivalent, rather, to laicity. Saint Bonaventure said this in regard to Francis: “From so much going back to the first origin of all things, he conceived for all of them an overflowing friendship and he called creatures brothers and sisters, even the smallest, because he knew that he and they came from the same unique principle.” Francis is not a humanist in the strict sense of the term. The fraternity of which he speaks is a fraternity with all creatures. And he


would go beyond the “deep ecology” that speaks of fraternity with animals and plants: for him it is also “my brother fire,” “my brother wind” and also “our sister death.” The radicalism of Franciscan fraternity is unique precisely because it understands that our being is received from God in the same way as any other creature and in that radical poverty of the creature. However, Francis will also not be in that shapeless fraternity. If our fraternity is constituted from our mother, the earth, the shapeless matter, then everything is the same and we would enter into the logic of the “deep ecology” of Peter Singer (Movement for Animal Liberation), which again creates a hierarchy from utility and holds, for example, that a good cow is more useful than a handicapped person, who cannot do anything and only digs a hole in social security. For Singer, such a cow would have a dignity that is superior to that of the useless person. Thus, in this perspective, that cow would also be superior to Francis of Assisi, who wished voluntarily to be a disabled person, a poor man among the poor, and to beg. Instead, as fraternity comes from the Father who orders all things, there will be an order, and fraternity will not oppose hierarchy, but will be rethought in greater depth in the hierarchy of beings. When Thomas Aquinas asks if God loves all creatures equally, he returns to Aristotle’s definition and says: “To love is to will the good for someone, and the more or the less can be given whether it is in the realm of loving (with greater or lesser intensity), or in the realm of the good granted (a good of greater or lesser extent).” To which Thomas adds that there is inequality in the goods that God gives, but that this does not mean that each one is not fulfilled, but that each one is fulfilled in a different degree from another. Consequently, the good communicated is unequal. However, Thomas then adds something of which Francis possessed a profound intuition. That in God’s loving, there is only one act of will; it is one and the same infinite love, which is very amazing. There is equality in infinite love, in its intensity, but there is inequality in as much as each one is given what he can and must receive. That is why we really exist in a sense which is neither economic nor ecological, but in a creaturely sense, which is ordered and hierarchical, as each one is given according to his needs. This is fundamental. This is also true for the relations within the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Often there has been an attempt to present Francis’ universal fraternity in conflict with the papacy. Respect for priests and especially for the Pope is fundamental in Francis because he knows that degrees of hierarchy represent degrees of sanctity. In the Church there is a hierarchy, not of power but of service. The Pope is the servant of the servants of God; consequently Francis shows that this hierarchy is ordered towards

(…) The radicalism of Franciscan fraternity is unique precisely because it understands that our being is received from God in the same way as any other creature and in that radical poverty of the creature.

H 73


Fabrice Hadjadj Fabrice Hadjadj was born in Nanterre in 1971 of parents of Jewish origin and Maoist ideology. He spent his childhood in Tunisia and France. At present he resides in French Provence, where he is a professor of Philosophy and Literature. He is a regular contributor to Le Figaro newspaper of Paris. Having converted to Catholicism in 1998, he sometimes introduces himself as “a Jew of Arab name and Catholic confession”. He is an essayist and playwright. He is married to actress Siffreine Michel, by whom he has five children. At present he teaches in the Sainte-Jeanne D’Arc private institute and in the Seminary of Toulon. The present text corresponds to a literal, translated, edited and revised transcription by its author, of an address given in the assembly of the Order of Saint Francis held at Lourdes, France on the 8th centenary of the Order. During the opening of his address Hadjadj pointed out:

“In the first place, I would like to say that I am a perfect ignoramus; I have no Totum where I live. However, it is the Franciscan tradition to receive the poor, so I introduce myself to you as a poor man, as a person without any authority on the subject. “It will be a personal focus and my treatment will be doubly external, given that I belong rather to the Benedictine family (I am an oblate of Solesmes) and, in addition, I am of the Thomistic theological tradition, hence rather on the Dominican side. In any case, neither the figure of Saint Benedict nor the figure of Saint Dominic has marked me as much as that of Saint Francis. As you see, Saint Francis always had a radiation beyond his Order. It is one of his great particularities.”

universal fraternity and is not a proletarian fraternity, subjected to a hierarchy of power. It is about the grandeur of a very lofty poverty, receptive of God, and is heart of sanctity. It is joy that calls primarily for the cross in the present condition of the world, because joy, happiness, is received from God so that it crucifies our pride. Francis speaks about overcoming oneself.

H 74

The Cross and Joy Francis was the first stigmatic in history. What the first Brothers would see in him, was the stigmatic, and not the Francis, the brother of creatures and very fashionable today, but instead the second crucified one. This is fundamental in avoiding a romanticism or forgetfulness of the drama of history. Fraternity is not only a fact but something that also happens through the cross. It is given, but also through sufferings, because we are sinners and we must be converted. Francis is often harsh, because he knows that he is speaking of a fraternity in God and that what is against God must be thrown into the fire and disappear. Therefore, he can make use of a tremendous


force in fraternal correction. It is not about “our smiling, our being together in a mutual complacency, well accommodated in warmth while the evil ones are outside.” No, rather we are going to go before the evil ones because we know that without the grace of God we would have been worse than them. The cross is both the work of injustice as well as the work of joy (Cf. The Little Flowers, chapter “Perfect Joy”). It is joy that calls primarily for the cross in the present condition of the world, because joy, happiness, is received from God so that it crucifies our pride. Francis speaks about overcoming oneself. Consequently, in the first place is the suffering of pride, of the creature that is closed and must be torn, whose shell must be broken to receive divine light and hence true joy, separating himself from all petty pleasures. In the second place, not only is joy received, but it wants to communicate itself. What would a joy be that is kept to oneself in a narrow and egotistical manner? There is no better definition of hell than that of a small pleasure turned in on oneself. Then it is necessary to suffer to transmit joy. It is joy that goes searching for the cross. There is no duality. Hence, Francis the crucified, is the same as the joyful Francis, because it is this crucified one who receives the joy of God and communicates it to his brothers entering into their affliction, identifying himself with their affliction. Helping the poor is not what he does, because as such it would only be a social work, of the world, as do others that are very good. It is essentially about becoming one with the poor. Christ willed to save us by becoming one of us. The Franciscan goes before the poor man, making himself poor. Here is a profound answer to the anthropological crisis, because if man destroys himself it is because he wants to save himself, to be the author of his joy rather than receiving it from God and all the other creatures from a fundamental poverty. Francis calls us again to this receptivity and he calls to it in praise, a poor word par excellence and also hospitable. When I praise God, I tell Him that I do not praise Him yet or that I praise Him insufficiently. It is a wounded, poor word. It calls all other creatures: “Praise the Lord with me,” to be able to approach God with praise worthy of Him. And in addition it calls to the future. Praise is always ecclesial, but in addition it appeals to the end of time. “I will sing to the Lord.” It receives the coming eternity. For that reason also, in this radical entrance into the mystery of poverty, Francis opens us to the loftiest praise.

Not only is joy received, but it wants to communicate itself. What would a joy be that is kept to oneself in a narrow and egotistical manner? There is no better definition of hell than that of a small pleasure turned in on oneself. Then it is necessary to suffer to transmit joy. It is joy that goes searching for the cross.

Translated by Virginia Forrester.

H 75


H 76

«Ratzinger’s trust in man’s reason and in the world’s intelligibility goes hand in hand with the clear conception of the “incomprehensibility” of the divine mystery which always exceeds the measure of our finite understanding.»


The God of Jesus Christ in Joseph R atzinger By Javier Prades

E

ver since the beginning of his academic activity, Ratzinger has been interested in the problem of God.1 In the 1959 lesson “The God of Faith and the God of philosophers,” he considers that in order to face this task we need to re-elaborate theologically the relation between belief and knowledge, between religion and philosophy, between general reason and religious experience.2 The living God of revelation and the God of philosophy must recuperate the reciprocal relation which is typically catholic and which has been obscured and deformed by the theological currents alluded to by Ratzinger in his text.3 A recurrent theme of his is that God cannot be reduced merely to a theoretical problem for fear of frustrating the possibility of knowing and loving Him. Ratzinger has always crisscrossed the dogmatic and fundamental dimensions in theology. Before as well as after the Council, he compares dogma with the aspirations or objections of his contemporaries. This quality manifests when he tackles the subject of God. In his writings, the question of God is confronted both from the angles of faith and reason, and is accompanied by reflections on their reciprocal relationship. This is why if we want to grasp the originality of Ratzinger’s intellectus fidei on God, we must begin with these aspects. We shall now go into some of its dogmatic contents.

When the Creed is professed, the believers’ view of God is a rational view which knows reality through divine revelation, acquiring thus all its depth. That knowledge of the believer is granted in an elementary and unique act, in which it is possible to make legitimate distinctions between natural and supernatural aspects.

In the framework of the profession of faith: I believe in God Ratzinger speaks of God starting from the profession of faith. This is how he affirms before his interlocutors, be they believers or non-believers, one of his most rooted convictions: faith is not a private attitude merely pious or sentimental which superimposes itself almost superfluously over a rational autonomous knowledge of reality. When the Creed is professed, the believers’ view of God is a rational view which knows reality through divine revelation, acquiring thus all its depth. That knowledge of the believer is granted in an elementary and unique act, in which it is possible to make legitimate distinctions between natural and supernatural aspects.

HUMANITAS Nº 3 pp. 76 - 91

H 77


Professing one’s faith does not consist in declaring the “ideology” of the group one belongs to, but in opening reason to the whole of reality, and recognizing it as being intelligible, good, and trustworthy. The real knowledge of God is given in the profession of faith and with it, that of reality itself: that knowledge is inaccessible to him who pretends to confront it from a neutral stance.

H 78

In order that we may understand this knowledge well, Ratzinger places before our eyes the figure of the Jew who professes his adherence to Yahweh: “reciting the Creed is the act through which [the Israelite] fills his part in reality.”4 Professing one’s faith does not consist in declaring the “ideology” of the group one belongs to, but in opening reason to the whole of reality, and recognizing it as being intelligible, good, and trustworthy. The real knowledge of God is given in the profession of faith and with it, that of reality itself: that knowledge is inaccessible to him who pretends to confront it from a neutral stance. We shall see later that only he who is open to the facts of reality questions himself, and only he who questions finds answers. On the contrary, the pretended neutral stance is incapable of curiosity about any sphere of reality, and least when it is a question of enquiring into the very foundations of that which is real. A theological implication of this first characteristic is the relation between faith, Baptism, and the knowledge of God. As the profession of faith is essentially linked to Baptism, the Bavarian theologian teaches that the full knowledge of God comes from Christ’s sovereign gesture in the sacrament that binds man for ever and turns him into a new creature, transforming him ontologically in his being and in his spiritual dynamisms of knowledge and love. Thus, the baptized is the new subject of knowledge and therefore, of the new culture.

An existencial-anthropological statement: the answers emergent from the questions The same Ratzinger who adopts this “professing” posture adopts the questions men ask themselves, their difficulties and their objections, as the starting point for a Christian reflection on God. This is why, for example, you may notice a difference in the way he tackles the subject of God from the 1959 lesson to the Introduction to Christianity of 1968. The cultural, social, and theological transformations of that decade can be felt in this last text which begins by looking into the various questions in which the men of those years of turmoil focus the “problem” of God. In 1968, before presenting the doctrine on God, Ratzinger looks at the restlessness he perceives in society and asks himself why God has become such a problem for men of that generation.5 This attentive attitude does not limit itself to expressing a certain sensibility – as one who treats his interlocutor with delicacy – but lies on a profound anthropologic conviction: “In his questioning, man is always involved in the possible answers from God,”6 so that a loving understanding of God is only possible for those who engage in profound inquiries and exigent requirements. These can derive both


from a condition of plenitude as well as from more urgent needs. It is true that God is not a “stopper” for human needs and there is an exceptional beauty in the recognition of God merged with the plenitude of life, but with a thorough realism Ratzinger does not ignore the suffering cry which can also unfold a relation with Mystery. A society which censures the suffering of existence and denies the fact that it can be a means to transcendence benumbs men and deprives them of their dignity, leaving them at the mercy of alternative powers. A few years later Ratzinger will reach a very lucid conclusion, infrequent in the pastoral life of the Church. He will consider that the crisis in the Christian announcement –in the last century– is not due to lack of energy or clarity in recurrent doctrine but, surprisingly, it is due to the fact that “the Christian answers put aside men’s questions; they were and still are correct, but as they were not developed from those questions as a starting point, and from within them, they remained ineffective. Consequently, questioning together with men who are also searching, is an unrenounceable part of the announcement itself, because only then the word Wort can be turned into an answer, Antwort.”7 So, the regard for the human search which Ratzinger shares with other theologians of his generation has never led him to disguise the revelation’s proposal. He always reminds us that Christian faith cannot be reduced to questions which are born out of pure human experience, but that it encloses something which is always greater; so much so that, in fact, only Jesus Christ –inasmuch as being the answer which preceeds all questions– succeeds in making man raise his questions once again, discloses them when they would tend to be closed, and formulates them adequately.

A reflection on history as a starting point and to shed light on history

Ratzinger does not ignore the suffering cry which can also unfold a relation with Mystery. A society which censures the suffering of existence and denies the fact that it can be a means to transcendence benumbs men and deprives them of their dignity, leaving them at the mercy of alternative powers.

The Ratzinger “Theo-logy” starts with the history of salvation: it reflects on the dialogue which takes place between God and man. Once again he reminds us that God has acted and acts in history’s present, according to a realism which seems outrageous to other religious and philosophical positions. The Christian God is the God of the Alliance, that is to say, it is the Creator who intervenes in the history of the people and in each person. It is therefore from within reality that we get to know the God who has wished, in this manner, to manifest Himself and communicate with men. For our theologian, an important methodological implication ensues from here: he chooses a historical course which allows him to reach the speculative interrogations about the reality of God and

H 79


«One of the battles Ratzinger has been continuously fighting is that against the rationalist reduction of knowledge, exhorting us to always use reason in an open and existential way. It is under this perspective that his appraisal of the difference between esprit de géométrie (Descartes) and esprit de finesse (Pascal) is understood.»

Before a pure positive theological statement, reduced to the study of historical sources, theology always requires an adequate philosophical reflection in critical dialogue with old and modern streams of thought. Our theologian incorporates constitutively the moment of speculation to the intellectus fidei.

H 80

his properties. One way to achieve this is to compare the questions and needs which constitute the human condition with the answers which have been given by religions and, in particular, with that unparalleled answer which had been given the Israelite people so as to reach, from that point, the unheard of historical event of the incarnation-death-resurrection of Jesus Christ as the definitive interpretation of God. The conversation with atheism and the ancient and modern idolatries also tends to unfold from the point of view of human history.

The God of philosophers and the God of faith From the very beginning of his “theo-logical” reflection, as we have seen, Ratzinger has asked himself about the relation between the God of faith and the God of philosophers. It is not a question of circumstantial interest but of establishing properly that relation which is decisive for catholic theology and its ecumenical opening. That is why before a pure positive theological statement, reduced to the study of historical sources, theology always requires an adequate philosophical reflection in critical dialogue with old and modern streams of thought. Our theologian incorporates constitutively the moment of speculation to the intellectus fidei.


Already in 1959 he shows how in this problem, labelled as “God of faith and God of philosophers,” are intertwined various different levels of discussion. In effect, the well known quotation from Pascal could suggest that there are only two terms for comparing this problem: on the one hand, the God who recognizes Christian faith (the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the God of the living and of the dead), and on the other, the philosophical God as the object of pure rational reflection. If that text – and many others which came later – is properly read, however, one understands that Ratzinger bears in mind other aspects as well. Before going into the strictly “supernatural” sphere of revelation, the Bavarian theologian has already been engaged in examining the relation between a purely philosophical and a religious approach to the God that every man can know through his own strength. That is why he has often asked himself about the relationship between religion and philosophy, for instance with regards to their respective ways of searching for the truth. His well known quotation from Tertullian on Christ being the truth and not the habit, has as a background the different aims pursued by pagan religions and philosophy and thence their different value as delegates of the nascent Christian faith.8 Now, in this philosophy a new precision is needed because the

Only a real God can stir up the interest of a normal man, that’s to say, of a man whose reason is made to know and love reality. Hence only a real God and not merely a “theoretical” one can awaken in man a vital, existential attraction, turning into a decisive factor of his “practical” attitude, into an inner source of his moral behavior.

H 81


The different speculative routs which we call “proofs of God’s existence” acquire there probative strength when they are grafted onto this first rational decision of the man about his own situation in the world, and are developed in a systematic and critical manner.

H 82

concept one may have of human reason and how one makes use of it bears essential differences in the way of thinking about God. One of the battles Ratzinger has been continuously fighting is that against the rationalist reduction of knowledge, exhorting us to always use reason in an open and existential way. It is under this perspective that his appraisal of the difference between esprit de géométrie (Descartes) and esprit de finesse (Pascal)9 is understood. An adequate comprehension of reason bears a determining weight in Ratzinger’s argumentation. It is only when reason is properly used that it can be shown that God is real, more real than any other thing we think is real, and which is not merely “theoretical.” Our author warns against the danger of reducing the knowledge of God to concepts which pretend to exhaust the meaning of the divine. The value of definitions and concepts will be greater as they serve better this reality of God and do not hide Him by means of abstractions which substitute the reality they intend to point out. This defence of the reality of God does not respond to any school of controversy, but to a much simpler and decisive purpose: only a real God can stir up the interest of a normal man, that’s to say, of a man whose reason is made to know and love reality. Hence only a real God and not merely a “theoretical” one can awaken in man a vital, existential attraction, turning into a decisive factor of his “practical” attitude, into an inner source of his moral behavior.10

God exists and can be known: what are the proofs of his existence? When speaking of the proofs of the existence of God, Ratzinger is coherent in his concept of reason. The characteristics of human reason specify the nature of those proofs. The starting point of the rational reflection on God is the experience of one’s own existence and the confrontation with the world and its mysteries.11 God is not an isolated “object” about which one can think of separately to the reality of oneself and the world around; on the contrary, in order to reach Him one has to enter deeply into reality. Ratzinger says that what actually happens is that man discovers himself to be previously “placed” in reality, just as he can tell from his original experiences in the basic relations I-youus. Reality “is before” the subject inasmuch as it is not produced by him neither when he began to live nor in each following moment; similarly, man discovers himself “being with” others, which makes him also an individual subject. These previous data (Vorgabe) are original in everyone’s experience: we find ourselves placed in a reality we have not produced, and we discover ourselves inevitably


related to others. No one can presume that his concrete existence has not consisted nor consists of these factors. However, facts do not impose their meaning automatically, but are presented so as to be interpreted by each one from the whole complexity of the circumstances of our life. For some, these data will mean the existence of a limit, and perhaps even a dangerous threat to his own self-realization; for this reason they will have to be submitted to through the sovereign knowledge and power of the subject who prefers to make himself absolute in his loneliness. For others, instead, it will mean the given possibility to be able to be oneself, to unfurl the foundations of confidence which makes one`s own freedom possible in the company of others/of Another. For the former, the facts show an unacceptable imposition – who from? – from which one must rid oneself: for the latter, it means a gift, which calls for gratefulness. Ratzinger points out that this primary position on reality and its interpretation according to one of the two mentioned directions, constitutes basically the beginning of the problem of God, and it is previous to the “proofs.” As both interpretations are possible – and we all adopt one or the other – but are not equally reasonable, it is essential to excercise, from within concrete existence, the rational and systematic appraisal which will allow us to recognize which of the interpretations brings better credit to all the factors of reality. The different speculative routs which we call “proofs of God’s existence” acquire there probative strength when they are grafted onto this first rational decision of the man about his own situation in the world, and are developed in a systematic and critical manner. Both reason and freedom are implied in that decision, so that the proofs of the existence of God can never be scientific ones in which the subject remains outside the experiment, outside reasoning. Man cannot place himself as a pure observer of the problem of God; he is always within the experiment.12 Once this explanation has been made, which he considers crucial, the Bavarian theologian has made use of almost all kinds of common proofs in the Treatment of God: the anthropological, the cosmological, and historical-religious ones. In the anthropological sphere we have frequently seen the appeareance of his argument dealing with the sense and happiness of human life, as well as the moral argument on the relation between God and conscience. He affirms the worth of the contents of what is traditionally called “natural law,” even though he recognizes that some of the formulae with which it has been presented are inadequate in our present setting. As it has already been said, one of Ratzinger’s most characte-

Both reason and freedom are implied in that decision, so that the proofs of the existence of God can never be scientific ones in which the subject remains outside the experiment, outside reasoning. Man cannot place himself as a pure observer of the problem of God; he is always within the experiment.

H 83


God cannot be grasped as an object and unraveled in the uttermost of his being. His revelation is necessarily due to his own free decision. It is only in his free nature that his full identity is accessible in the reciprocal trust of he who gives himself and he who receives, that is to say, in interpersonal love.

H 84

ristic convictions is that faith in God bears the possibility of understanding reality. Given his openness to scientific arguments, he builds with them the way to cosmological proofs, showing how God’s existence insures the metaphysical intelligibility of the different laws and movements of the created world. This being a delicate ground, our theologian carefully shuns the risk of conceiving God as a ground-work of the physical cosmological laws which could reduce Him to a mere function within a cosmovision (in the style of certain “creational” currents), or as a first entity of the same ontologic condition as other entities, even though it be the first one. His appeal to the history of humanity has not been less frequent when pointing to the existence of God: the examination of the triad polytheism-monotheism-atheism as it has appeared in different cultures and religions is a common reflection of his. One may suggest that the history of religions offers him a privileged space on which to centre the anthropological questions on God. On the one hand, this shows his ability to display his speculative arguments within a historic context, and on the other, it confirms his inclination to compare the religious- philosophical arguments of humanity with those of the faith of Israel and that of the Church. We must add yet another consideration regarding man’s rational access to God. Ratzinger’s trust in man’s reason and in the world’s intelligibility goes hand in hand with the clear conception of the “incomprehensibility” of the divine mystery which always exceeds the measure of our finite understanding. This is why God cannot be instrumentalized or manipulated as a legitimizing element of any instance of power, though unfortunately in history we have painful proofs of this idolatrizing temptation. Ratzinger connects with the theology of Augustin and Thomas who were able to combine God’s knowability and incomprehensibility without opposing them. In this tradition, the clue to the knowledge of God resides in the consideration of the knowing subject, as imago Dei. The notion of imago Dei presupposes, in the first place, that man is endowed with the natural capacity which is nothing less than to know God – because he is the image of God – and moreover presupposes that this capacity cannot embrace God precisely because man is a creature, he is an image which participates in the only divine model. In the second place, Ratzinger maintains that the nucleus of imago Dei is freedom: in order to establish the correspondence between God and man he privileges freedom, both divine and human. This being so, the reason why God cannot be grasped comprehensibly is not only because of his infinite character (as if it were something indefinitely great), but because of his being spiritual and free. God cannot be grasped as an object and unraveled in the utter-


most of his being. His revelation is necessarily due to his own free decision. It is only in his free nature that his full identity is accessible in the reciprocal trust of he who gives himself and he who receives, that is to say, in interpersonal love. Any other means of neutral or objective knowledge, even if it seems powerful, is indeed powerless in discovering God’s mystery and ends up taking God’s name in vain.13

A theology on the name of God: He reveals his Name and calls us by our name The theology of God’s Name brings us to what is probably the core of Ratziger’s reasoning. We approach it from the compelling distinctions in his theology between “concept,” “number,” and “name”. If he has denounced the insufficiency of “concept” when it is reduced rationally, he also rejects the “number” when it becomes a simple anonymous measure. He thus wants to avoid an undue theorization or generalization which might diminish the value of the particular. The “name,” instead, expresses that which is proper to each one, his exclusive identity; it identifies him as a singular subject whom must not be submitted to general laws or criteria which reduce him to a mere part of the whole, depersonalizing him. Well, what characterizes the revelation of God in history is that He wants to manifest His Name freely. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance the Bavarian theologian concedes to this theology of the name of God and its consequences in man’s life. Perhaps it is because of this that the figure of Emil Brunner has appeared in key moments of Ratzinger’s reflections. He has allowed himself to be influenced by the importance which the protestant Swiss theologian concedes to the fact that God reveals His Name, but does not accept the clues with which the latter reads the Scriptures.14 How does the Bible speak of God? An unheard of event occurred in history, narrated in the book of Exodus. It is the irruption of Jewish monotheism which will fully become Christian monotheism. All the philosophical-religious history of humanity finds itself summoned before the scene in which God reveals his Name to Moses: “’ehyeh ašer ’ehyeh” (Ex 3, 14). Ratzinger concentrates in this scene and comments on its exegetical and philosophical-theological implications, so as to display the originality of biblical monotheism. He even affirms that all later reflection is the rethinking of this formula. In that scene, God preserves in part His mysterious character by giving an answer which at first seems to hide His Name. This marks the essential difference with gods and idols; the divine incomprehensibility is respected. Yet He also freely wanted to reveal His identity by making us know his proper Name. In

Any other means of neutral or objective knowledge, even if it seems powerful, is indeed powerless in discovering God’s mystery and ends up taking God’s name in vain.

H 85


The characteristic of monotheism as opposed to polytheism is not only in defense of the oneness of the absolute before the multiplication of gods. In his judgment, polytheisms somehow also recognize that there is a final absolute towards which plurality must be led back, but it is unaccessible to mortals and perhaps to the gods themselves. (…)

H 86

Ratzinger’s opinion, the characteristic of monotheism as opposed to polytheism is not only in defense of the oneness of the absolute before the multiplication of gods. In his judgment, polytheisms somehow also recognize that there is a final absolute towards which plurality must be led back, but it is unaccessible to mortals and perhaps to the gods themselves. On the contrary, monotheism appears to be the assertion that the Absolute is not only One but that it can be appealed to by man: it is an infinite You with which the finite you can dialogue. The God of Exodus is not the God of some place but rather the God of the fathers, the God of somebody. And now having manifested His Name he can be called on by the faithful; they can turn to Him personally; they can have a relationship with Him. Through God’s gratuitous initiative, through which He encounters the faithful, it is also possible that they come to encounter Him. When men discover that God knows them, they can, in turn, know Him and love Him – or else they can choose to hide from Him because they suspect that that knowledge is a threat to their absolute autonomy.15 Ratzinger finds the fullness of the theology of the Name of God in the New Testament, particularly in St. John. According to the fourth gospel Jesus’ mission is to make known to men the name of the Father (John 17:6 and 17:26). Actually Jesus himself is God’s name because his own name (Yeshua) contains God’s name and his mission towards humanity (Yahveh saves). He is the living and extant “Logos” who tells us personally who God is and introduces us to the tri-personal mystery of his intimate life. Ratzinger reminds us that for the New Testament the full imago Dei is Jesus Christ (Col 1:15; 2Cor 4:4) and that therefore it is He who establishes the true “proportion” of correspondence with God. His life – his deeds and words, above all his miracles and the Easter mysteries (passion, death on the Cross, resurrection) – is the great “language” with which God shows us his paternal countenance, filial, loving, in a word: merciful.16 This is the only way through which we discover that the ultimate Foundation of all things is personally Father, and that his creative redeeming action in the Son and the Spirit reveals the ultimate goodness and infallibility of the salvation plan for creation and sin. In Jesus, this God calls us by our name, entrusts us our vocation through which He incorporates us in his mission, and in this way He definitively personalizes us as sons in the Son. That is why, Ratzinger states with a certain provocative force, the problem of the full knowledge of God is resolved by the problem of the following of Jesus.


«His explanation of dogmatic data is always accompanied by an existential preoccupation: how does the reality of the personal life of God affect the concrete life of men? Let us not forget that the illustrated rationalism, which excludes the true revelation of God in history, consequently denies the fact that trinitarian doctrine could be of the slightest practical interest. With his correction towards wholeness, Ratzinger has always revindicated the implications of the trinitarian doctrine for man’s knowledge and morality.» The Holy Trinity by El Greco. Museo del Prado.

H 87


God shows us the mystery of his intimacy: divine persons as relations

(…) On the contrary, monotheism appears to be the assertion that the Absolute is not only One but that it can be appealed to by man: it is an infinite You with which the finite you can dialogue. The God of Exodus is not the God of some place but rather the God of the fathers, the God of somebody. And now having manifested His Name he can be called on by the faithful; they can turn to Him personally; they can have a relationship with Him.

H 88

The revelation of God the Father through his Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost opens for us the intimacy of divine life. In other words, “God is as He manifests Himself” in history. What is that unfathomable mystery of intra-divine life? And what interest does it awake in a normal Christian who is not used to enter into such depths? Ratzinger had the courage to talk of these things to university students. And he has always continued to teach and preach about God to the Christian people. His explanation of dogmatic data is always accompanied by an existential preoccupation: how does the reality of the personal life of God affect the concrete life of men? Let us not forget that the illustrated rationalism, which excludes the true revelation of God in history, consequently denies the fact that trinitarian doctrine could be of the slightest practical interest. With his correction towards wholeness, Ratzinger has always revindicated the implications of the trinitarian doctrine for man’s knowledge and morality. As he has not exactly written a Treatise De Deo Trino, it follows that he hasn’t explained equally all the dimensions of this mystery, but that he has privileged those closest to his existentialanthropological interests. The core of his trinitarian reflection is the definition of the divine “person” as “relation.” To reach this statement he undoubtedly relies on the Scriptures, especially in St. John (Jn 5:19-30; 10:30; 15:5; 17:11,12). Furthermore, a noteworthy influence may come from Augustine, who grants a decisive value to the relation of his De Trinitate as opposed to the Arian thesis. And also one must keep in mind – leaping across centuries – the consistency with that category of modern physics, which explains the structure of matter in terms of actuality. From this or other possible influences Ratzinger links the categories of relation and person connecting its intra-divine meaning to anthropology, through Christology. In the Bavarian theologian we perceive a marked interest in overcoming a “substantialist” and “individualist” concept of the human person. In his judgment the notion of person is impoverished when it is reduced to an individual substance enclosed within itself – as has been occurring in western philosophy and in theology itself. In this context must be placed, for instance, his reservations before a certain comprehension of personal self as substance, or before the classic boetian definition of person, or before the risk of a monoist reduction of the augustinian psychological analogy, or, in contrast, Richard de San Victor’s revindication of the concept of person. All of these elements reveal his search for a dialogical, personalist, and


«The same Ratzinger who adopts this “professing” posture adopts the questions men ask themselves, their difficulties and their objections, as the starting point for a Christian reflection on God. In 1968, before presenting the doctrine on God, Ratzinger looks at the restlessness he perceives in society and asks himself why God has become such a problem for men of that generation.»

existential key to the person – in God, in Christ and in man. In the Trinitarian comprehension of God, Ratzinger says, an anthropomorphic concept of person as we know it in human experience is overcome and it is shown that in God the person is the pure relation, not something added to the person, but that the person itself consists in that reference. That way of being, relational, is primordial, of the same rank as the substance. It is a new way of being, which goes beyond the traditional classification of the categories of being (substance and accidents) and which is made known to us exclusively through the Trinitarian relation.17 This revindication of the original character of the relation in God is not traduced, in Ratzinger’s theology, into a dissolution of the divine substance in the relations, or, vice versa, into an ultimate absorbtion of the relational in a kind of divine monism. He insists that both unity and multiplicity are original in God. On the other hand, in order to mantain the unity of the two aspects which constitute the divine person, that of his incommunicability and that of his relational openness, he finds valuable help in his theology of the divine names. Each one of the proper names, while they cannot be transferred, denote a reference to the other and thus opens originally to the comprehension of the person as relation. Ratzinger maintains that only this faith in one tri-personal God bestows all its content and dignity on the human person. Though the classical world (the Roman, above all) already knows the term and grants the person several legal privileges, there is no doubt that the philosophical-theological debates raised by the new Christian faith have enriched this category in an unimaginable way, relating it to the divine persons. The starting point of this reflection is, once again, the Gospel, in this case Matthew 10:39: “he that shall lose his life for me shall find it.” It is from this that the Christian can disco-

«The most mine, that which ultimately belongs to us, our own self is at once the least own because we have not received it from ourselves and for ourselves. The self is at the same time what I have and that which I least own.» (J. Ratzinger).

H 89


The premise of Christian prayer is precisely that of a non-mechanistic vision of God and the world, but a spiritual and free one. The kind of relationship we call prayer can only be established between two personal freedoms.

ver under a new light, how his self is: “the most mine, that which ultimately belongs to us, our own self is at once the least own because we have not received it from ourselves and for ourselves. The self is at the same time what I have and that which I least own.”18 When theology affirms that in God there exists only actual relations, it sheds light on the essential human relationship and its meaning. Man is made for a loving relationaship, for the recognition of a you and a we without which I cannot attain plenitude. If the previous fact we had found in the common experience of all men was “to be-with,” in the light of the trinitarian mystery it is possible to interpret it in the profoundness of its positive meaning – and not in the negative one, as certain modern anthropologies have asserted. Likewise, the fact that each spiritual subject discovers itself “already installed” in reality, will not be interpreted as an unadmissible impostion but as the most solid and reasonable sign of a loving predilection which preceeds us. Relying on these considerations on the concept of a divine person, Ratzinger establishes a similar comparison between the proper name of the person (Father or Son) and the human experience of paternity or filiation. The intratrinitarian relations between the Father and the Son in the Holy Ghost teach us, since always, the meaning of filial dependence in the loving bond with a Source which is pure paternity. The trinitarian revelation also practices here the critical function of purifying human concepts. Man’s basic experiences, such as fraternity – or paternity or filiality – can be obscured to such a degree in the course of history that they may be affected by a final ambiguity. We wouldn’t get very far if we had to explain universal fraternity with Cain and Abel or Romulus and Remus as examples. This is why God himself has taken the initiative to reveal the true anthropological content through Jesus Christ’s filial experience, which teaches us how they are fully accomplished in God: filiation, paternity, and, therefore, fraternity. Once more the trinitarian dogma, in its apparent paradox and apparent uselessness for normal life turns out to be extremely practical, that which enlightens and helps the most.19

To turn to God as our Father: prayer The importance of what we have been saying about divine names and the relationship with divine persons converges existentially in the experience of prayer as the summons from God to man and as the loving answer of the believer. This is one of the dimensions of God’s mystery most loved by our theologian. The relationship between God’s You and the I of each man has an unmistakable concrete modality, which is prayer. The premise of Christian prayer is precisely that of a non-mechanistic vision of God

H 90


and the world, but a spiritual and free one. The kind of relationship we call prayer can only be established between two personal freedoms. Among the different forms of prayer, Ratzinger especially values that of petition, which has often been discussed by secularized thought. He insists that the true condition of man before God is that of the beggar. He refers us to the eucharistic liturgy in which the penitential act invites us to begin the sacramental act with a pleading invocation: “Jesus, have mercy on me!” He asks himself how often we do it with the humble and expectant conscience of the blind beggar who followed Jesus saying those same words along the streets of Jericho (Mk 10:47).20 Only a true prayer of petition and adoration can rescue the Christian man – and especially the theologian – from the danger of empty and sterile erudition. He needs to open his heart from its very depths and receive the initiative of the Resurrected Spirit which urges us to enter into the divine intimacy. The means which teaches that attitude is that of Jesus’ prayer, particularly the “Our Father” in which Christ’s unsurpassed mediation concretizes itself to reveal to us God’s face. Christian faith, Ratzinger says, is the explanation of Jesus’ prayer, of the Only Son of the Father, in which is revealed the full meaning of Christian prayer. 1 I will now suggest some notes in order to enter into Joseph Ratzinger’s reflections on Jesus Christ’s God. The Bavarian theologian has not written a monograph or a manual formally dedicated to God’s mystery, but has dedicated numerous articles, especially up to the beginning of the 80’s. We shall not study his personal publications after he was elected Pope, nor his pontifical teaching on God’s doctrine. 2 These are the Ratzinger’s works f we have studied, with their correspondent abbreviations: Der Gott des Glaubens und Der Gott der Philosophen (München 1960) (Gott des Glaubens). “Atheismus” in: M. Schimaus-A Lapple (Hrsg.). Warheit und Zeugnis (Düsseldorf 1964) 94-100 (Atheismus). “einleitung zum Kommentar zur Offenvarunskonstitution desII. Vatikanums und Kommentar zu Kap. 1,2 und 6 der Knstitution” in: LThK, Erg.Bd.II (1967) 498-528 and 571-581 (Dei Verbum). Einfürhung in das Christentum (München 1968) 73150 (Einführung). Die Frage nach Gott (Freiburg 1972 (Die Frage). Dogma und Verkündigung (München/ Freiburg 1973) 87-141 and 201-219 (Dogma und Verkündigung). “Ich glaube an Gott den allmachtigen Vater”: Internationale Katholische Zeitschrift 4 (1975) 10-18 (Gott den allmächtigen). “Theologie und Ethos” in: K. Ulmer (Hrsg.), Die Verantwortung del Wissenschaft (Bonn 1975) 46-61 (Theologie). Der Gott Jesu Christi. Betrachtungen über den Dreienigen Gott (München 1976) 11.85 (Gott Jesu Christi). “Das Vater unser sagen dürfen” in R. Walter (Hrsg.) Sich auf Gott verlassen. Erfahtungen mit Gebeten (Freiburg 1980)

Only a true prayer of petition and adoration can rescue the Christian man – and especially the theologian – from the danger of empty and sterile erudition. He needs to open his heart from its very depths and receive the initiative of the Resurrected Spirit which urges us to enter into the divine intimacy.

64-69 (Vater Unser). Theologische Prinzipienlehre. Gott und die Welt. Glauben und Leben in unserer Zeit (Stuttgart-München 2000) 83-96 (Gott und die Welt). Skandalüser Realismus? Gott handelt in der Geschichte (Bad Tölz 2005) Skandalüser). 3 Gott der Glaubens, 10-11. 4 Gott den allmächtigen, 11. Einfürung, 46-47. Gott Jesu Christi, 61. 5 Einfürung, 17 ff. 6 Einfürung, 137. 7 Dogma und Verkündigung, 87. 8 Eifürung, 106. 9 Gott des Glaubens, 10. 10 Atheismus. 99. Dogma und Verkündigung, 102. 11 Einführung, 74, 76. 12 Einführung, 136. 13 Gott Jesu Christi, 33 ff. 14 See, for example, Gott des Glaubens, 13-18 and Einfürung, 84 ff. 15 Gott den allmächtigen, 12 which is based on Gal 4, 9 “You have known God, or rather are known by God.” 16 Dei Verbum, 512. 17 Einführung, 140. 18 Einführung, 150. 19 Gott Jesu Cristi, 43 ff. 20 Dogma und Verkündigung, 123-124.

Translated by Juana Subercaseaux.

H 91


H 92


The human Brain, instrument of the mind BY Angelo Serra, S.J.

T

heodosius Dobzhansky, the great researcher and thinker who made fundamental contributions to the subject of evolution, stated: “Undoubtedly, the human mind clearly separates our species from non-human animals. […] Human self-consciousness obviously differs greatly from every rudiment of mind that may be present in non-human animals. The magnitude of the difference makes it a difference in kind, not in degree. Because of this primary difference, mankind became an extraordinary and unique product of biological evolution.”1 This reliable and indisputable statement definitively confirmed the truth of the Homo sapiens. Man, of whom it may certainly be said that a particular aspect deserves serious attention: the relationship between brain and mind. In a careful study on the architecture of the brain, L. W. Swanson stated: “The cerebral cortex is the crowning glory of evolution. It is the part of the nervous system that is responsible for thinking. […] It is the organ of thought.” Further on, after having observed that “the actual dynamics of information processing within the network of connections between the various cortical areas is far from understood,” he concluded: “The cerebral hemispheres appear to form an integrated unity – which from the functional perspective is responsible for elaborating cognition and for transmitting cognitive influences to the motor, sensory, and behavioral state systems.”2 However, W. R. Stoeger, in the introduction to a comprehensive work on the mind-brain problem, rightly noted: “At least at our level of understanding of the brain and its processes – extensive and detailed as it is – we do not yet know how mind and brain are related.”3 In reality, the adult human brain – weighing around 1,300 grams, composed of approximately 100 billion neurons, 30 billion of which are found in the cerebral cortex, and numbering as many as 100,000 different kinds,4 each contributing to different aspects of mental life5 – does not think, but readies, as N. Chomsky emphasizes, “the physical realization of mental life.”6 The architecture and activity of the neo-cortex is essential to this

HUMANITAS Nº 3 pp. 92 - 99

The adult human brain – weighing around 1,300 grams, composed of approximately 100 billion neurons, 30 billion of which are found in the cerebral cortex, and numbering as many as 100,000 different kinds, each contributing to different aspects of mental life – does not think, but readies, as N. Chomsky emphasizes, “the physical realization of mental life.”

1 T. Dobzhansky, Genetics and the origin of species, New York, 1917. 2 L. W. Swanson, Brain Architecture, New York, Oxford University Press, 2003, 157,165,180. 3 W. R. Stoeger, “The mind-brain problem, the laws of nature, and constitutive relationships”, in R.J. Russel ET AL. (eds), Neuroscience and Person, Berkeley (Ca), Vatican Observatory Foundation, 2002, 129. 4 R. D. Fields, “The other half of the brain”, in Scientific American 290 (2004) n. 4, 27-31. 5 N. Chomsky, The birth of the mind, Gary Marus, Basic Books, 2004, 71ff 6 N. Chomsky, The birth of the mind … cit., 67.

H 93


«Stoeger, in a concise philosophical analysis on the mind-brain problem, observes: “We know that matter is necessary for the mental and spiritual we experience, but we also know that what we understand and know about neurologically organized matter is not sufficient for explaining the manifestations of the ‘mental’ or ‘the spiritual.’» (Study by Leonardo da Vinci)

The brain does not think, but as N. Chomsky emphasized, it readies “the physical realization of mental life.” Essential to this process are the architecture and activities of the cerebral neocortex, whose function in man it is to execute motor tasks, such as the muscular-skeletal and eye movements, the expression of emotion, and the use of words.

7 W.R. Stoeger, “The mind-brain problem …”, cit., 135. 8 C.M. Streeter, “Organism, Psiche, Spirit”, in Advances in Neuroscience, Proceedings of the ITEST Workshop, September 2002, St. Louis (Missouri), ITEST (Science) Press, 65.

H 94

process. Its functions in the human subject include: the execution of motor skills, the expression of emotion, the use of words and an active mental development proper to the human species. It is an extraordinary instrument composed of parts that are formed, developed and arranged in accord with a plan written into the DNA proper to each individual that is gradually realized through the subject’s growth and development. It is a highly perfected organ, essential to the human person, which receives, records, and stores. But W. R. Stoeger, in a concise philosophical analysis on the mindbrain problem, observes: “We know that matter is necessary for the mental and spiritual we experience, but we also know that what we understand and know about neurologically organized matter is not sufficient for explaining the manifestations of the ‘mental’ or ‘the spiritual.’”7 Careful reflection clearly shows the presence of an energy of the mind, formed by two forces that are not material but spiritual. Rightly, then, did G. M. Streeter state: “The brain is not the mind. The brain is the mind’s physiological infrastructure. […]. [We] have, perhaps for the first time, a modest beginning account of what empirical functions belong properly to the human spirit, as we have had from science the continually unfolding discovery of the functions of the brain.”8 The mysterious emergence of the word in the human species is truly an extraordinary event: it is the means by which thought that is elaborated by the mind through an intense and ordered cerebral


activity is communicated. Mind and consciousness are the two essential, characteristic features that clearly separate the Homo sapiens from all the rest of the animal world. Mind, an energy that thinks, reflects and expresses itself through language that is understandable, highly developed and extraordinarily driven by the activity of billions of neurons that operate in an orderly manner without interruption in the brain. Consciousness, a power of reflection that examines what the mind expresses, in order to judge its value: good or evil. “Faced with the revelation of the structures of the human brain, which develop gradually as an indispensable instrument that enables the human person to elaborate and express the fruit of his mind, and to choose and execute his own decisions, we cannot but perceive the enjoyment of a privilege particularly reserved to the species Homo sapiens.”9

Splendor and shadows of the human brain The essential framework of an adult human brain is the critical structure for the apprehension and formation of memory. It is a veritable “jungle” of approximately 100,000 kinds of neurons, each contributing to a different aspect of mental life10 nourished by a thick network of blood capillaries through which it receives oxygen and glucose in a rigorously controlled flow. However, it is a jungle that is clearly structured into the so-called three-dimensional topological organizations. The principal one among them is the cerebral cortex: an intricately involved, thin sheet of about 1,000 cm2, 35 cm in diameter and 2-3 mm thick, consisting of six layers of cells, each of which sends and receives specific signals, with a density of approximately 100,000 cells per mm2. This is the most important population; but others of no lesser importance are also present, each with its own proper characteristics and tasks. Today, through more refined instruments, it is a jungle that is more widely travelled and explored. The cognitive system deserves particular exploration and study. With evident satisfaction, but also with a certain concern, L. W. Swanson in his careful study on the architecture of the brain states: “The cerebral cortex is the organ of thought. Can the organ of thought ever understand itself? Will we ever understand the physical basis of thought? […] What is the biology of consciousness? If nothing else – how far have we come in our attempts to understand the brain substrates of thinking?”11 Today it is believed that man’s cerebral cortex, called the isocortex, is formed by six layers of neurons, divided into three super layers: 1) the supragranular layers, which generate the immensely complex network of connections between the three cortical areas, probably

C. M. Streeter, who proposed an anthropological vision of neuroscience, rightly stated: “The brain is not the mind. The brain is the mind’s physiological infrastructure. […] [We] have, perhaps for the first time, a modest beginning account of what empirical functions belong properly to the human spirit.

9 A. Serra, “L’incanto del cervello e l’enigma della mente”, in Civ. Catt. 2008 IV 218 and 236 ff. 10 N. Chomsky, The birth of the mind, Gary Marus, Basic Books, 2004, 71ff. 11 L. W. Swanson, Brain Architecture, New York, Oxford University Press, 2003, 157.

H 95


Careful reflection clearly shows the presence of an energy of the mind, formed by two forces that are not material but spiritual. Intelligence that thinks and will that chooses and decides.

12 T. D. Albright Et Al., “Neural Science: A century of progress and the mysteries that remain”, in Cell Review, Supplement to vol. 100, February 18, 2000, 1-55. 13 L. Cahill, “His Brain, Her Brain”, in Scientific American, May 2005, 1129. 14 Cf. G.M. Edelman – G. Tononi, Un universo di coscienza. Come la material diventa immaginazione, Torino, Einaudi, 2000. 15 C. Holden, “The origin of speech”, in Science 303 (2004) 1.316-1.319. 16 G. M. Edelman – G. Tononi, Un universo di coscienza…, cit., 249. 17 N. Chomsky, The birth of the mind…, cit., 67.

H 96

responsible for thinking, learning, and memory; 2) the infragranular layers, which are essentially the “motor” part of the cerebral cortex; 3) the descending projections of the pyramidal neurons in the infragranual layers. Given their complexity, W. Swanson rightly observed: “the actual dynamics of information processing within the network of connections between the various cortical areas is far from understood”; but he concluded: “The cerebral hemispheres appear to form an integrated unity – which from the functional perspective is responsible for elaborating cognition and for transmitting cognitive influences to the motor, sensory, and behavioral state systems.” Three observations merit particular attention. The first, initially made in an extensive study of D. Albright and his colleagues,12 demonstrates that we are still far from an in-depth knowledge of the state of neuro-psychic mental activities and from other similar considerations, which underscores the need for a serious study of many aspects of the human mind that are still problematic. The second, offered in a recent work by L. Cahill,13 who put forth a synthetic analysis of the brain of the two sexes over the last decade, concluded by stating: “The existence of widespread anatomical disparities between men and women suggests that sex does influence how the human brain works.” His assertion was confirmed by examinations of the cerebral cortex of postmortem subjects, which showed that, of the six layers present, two showed more neurons per unit volume in females than in males: with these findings, neuroscientists can now explore whether or not these differences correlate with differences in cognitive abilities. The third is the decisive advancement made by G. M. Edelman,14 the Nobel prize winner for Philosophy and Medicine, who stated that what we know until now demonstrates that “the brain is the organ of consciousness”; indeed “that every cognitive task involves the activation or the distillation of many large parts of the brain,” and that “memory is the essential component of the brain mechanisms that generate consciousness.” Moreover, “with the attainment of language,”15 a consciousness of a higher order emerged in humans, followed in turn by thought, which came to light and is kept alive in all its splendor and remarkable complexity.”16 It was natural selection that, over the course of a long period of evolution, gave rise to this being, Man, whose thoughts arise from the structure and interactions of his body. The mind flows from the body and from its development; it is rooted in the body and therefore belongs to its nature. The brain does not think, but as N. Chomsky emphasized, it readies “the physical realization of mental life.”17 Essential to this process are the architecture and activities of the cerebral neocortex, whose function in man it is to execute motor tasks, such as the muscular-


Mind and consciousness are the two essential, characteristic features that clearly separate the Homo sapiens from all the rest of the animal world. In reality, the enigma of the mind and consciousness, which are exclusive to the human species, is resolved and at a level vastly superior to the strictly biological, which serves all the same as its indispensible basis. (Study by Leonardo da Vinci)

skeletal and eye movements, the expression of emotion, and the use of words. Indeed, the anterior part of the cerebral cortex, called the prefrontal cortex, increases in size as evolutionary development progresses: it is 3.5% in cats, 7.5% in dogs, 10.5% in monkeys and approximately 30% in man: the latter figure suggests the physiological importance of an ordered and active mental development proper to the human species that is vastly superior to what occurs in the brain development of the most advanced primates, which – as the extensive work of E. S. Savage-Rumbaugh18 demonstrates – failed to learn to pronounce 250 words, even in an unconnected manner, after many years of continual contact with their keepers. These brief comments on the achievements of neuroscience, which

18 E.S. Savage-Rumbaugh et al., “Language comprehension in ape and child”, in Mongr. Soc. Res. Child. Devel, 1993, 58.

H 97


The decisive advancement made by G. M. Edelman, the Nobel prize winner for Philosophy and Medicine, who stated that what we know until now demonstrates that “the brain is the organ of consciousness”; indeed “that every cognitive task involves the activation or the distillation of many large parts of the brain,” and that “memory is the essential component of the brain mechanisms that generate consciousness.”

19 Cf. CH. KOCK, La ricerca della coscienza. Una prospettiva nerobiologica, Torino, Utet, 2007. 20 W.R. Stoeger, “The mind-brain problem…”, cit., 135. 21 C.M. Streeter, “Organism, Psiche, Spirit…”, cit., 65.

H 98

is in continual and rapid development, clearly demonstrate that the human brain is an extraordinary instrument composed of parts that are formed, developed and arranged in accord with a plan written into the DNA proper to each individual: a plan and program that is gradually realized through the subject’s growth and development. Yet careful examination shows that this wonderfully complex structure that constitutes the brain, the central and essential organ of the human person, is a highly perfected instrument that receives, records, and stores; but, as we have said, we are still unable to understand how the mind and the brain relate.

The enigma of the mind The well known researcher Francis Crick, in his forward to the volume by Christof Kock19 – an excellent and out of the ordinary book – clearly points out regarding the voice of consciousness “that it is the main unresolved question in biology.”. This observation is correct, for consciousness –is “the presence of the mind to itself in the act of apprehending and of judging what is currently present to the mind.” But the mind is not a biological structure. Francis Crick and Christof Kock boldly conclude: “We live in a unique moment in the history of science. It is easily within technology’s reach to discover and characterize how the subjective mind arises from the objective brain. The coming years will be decisive.” An immediate question arises: how can thought, which is the expression of a subjective mind, arise from an objective brain, which is finite in its biological structure? In reality, careful examination shows that this wonderfully complex structure that constitutes


the brain, the central and essential organ of the human person, is a highly perfected instrument that receives, records, and stores; however, as W. R. Stoeger20 observes, the need and presence of an energy called “mind” clearly emerges. Faced with the revelation of the wonderful structures of the human brain, which develop gradually as an indispensable instrument that enables the human person to elaborate and express the fruit of his mind, and to choose and execute his own decisions, we cannot but perceive the enjoyment of a privilege particularly reserved to the species Homo sapiens. C. M. Streeter, who proposed an anthropological vision of neuroscience, rightly stated: “The brain is not the mind. The brain is the mind’s physiological infrastructure. […] [We] have, perhaps for the first time, a modest beginning account of what empirical functions belong properly to the human spirit, as we have had from science the continually unfolding discovery of the functions of the brain.”21 In fact, mind and conscience are two essential, characteristic features that clearly separate the species “Man” from the rest of the animal world. In reality, the enigma of the mind and consciousness, which are exclusive to the human species, is resolved and at a level vastly superior to the strictly biological, which serves all the same as its indispensible basis. With keen observation, G. Buzsaki – in a careful and comprehensive volume on the human brain, acknowledges its greatness and personal importance with these clear and simple words: “The human brain is the most complicated mechanism ever created in nature. […] The hope is that the new knowledge about the brain will … provide a better understanding of ourselves.”22

Stoeger, in a concise philosophical analysis on the mind-brain problem, observes: “We know that matter is necessary for the mental and spiritual we experience, but we also know that what we understand and know about neurologically organized matter is not sufficient for explaining the manifestations of the ‘mental’ or ‘the spiritual.’”

22 G. buzsaki, Rhythms of the brain, Oxford, University Press, 2006, xi.

H 99


H 100


World Meeting of Families

O

n the occasion of the Seventh World Meeting of Families which took place in Milan this past May 30 through June 3, the Archbishop of this Archdiocese founded by Saint Ambrose and developed by Saint Charles Borromeo, His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Scola, officiated as host thousands of families gathering from all over the world. He published in the local press a series of ten reflections with the aim of contributing to the preparation of the people of Lombardy for the great event. These ten brief reflections, written in a language fully accessible to the public, review in a clear and concise manner the themes recurrent to contemporary man’s mind whenever he thinks or hears talks about family,- a reality everyone is anchored in one way or another. In the next few pages, two of the previously mentioned texts are published. The complete series can be read in Spanish in Humanitas, Notebook 46, at the disposal of the general public at the web site www. humanitas.cl.

HUMANITAS NÂş 3 pp. 100 - 113

H 101


The “proprium” of the family

T

It comes before other central oday there is no shortawhat are the constitutive aspects of social life such as ge of studies on the family characteristics of a work, friendships, religion, which document that it is an family? Not every form of free time, and politics, which effective good, found empiricommon life can be called in contrast are distributed cally and practically in every family. To avoid confusion, differently within various society. For example, the fourlogic dictates that to contexts. Other findings, such th study conducted in 2009 every “thing” there as those concerning Italian faon the values of Europeans corresponds a precise milies provided by Istat, show (European Values Studies), “name.” an increase in households not shows that the family is conexceeding three persons, as sidered to be very important by a significant portion of the population well as an increase in co-habitation and of (the average among the countries, 84%; Italy, so-called singles. These numbers, while highlighting general 91%) and ranks first in 46 out of 47 countries.

H 102


tendencies, once again pose a crucial question: not merely a biological fact. Indeed, “the gewhat are the constitutive characteristics of a nealogy of the person is inscribed in the very family? Not every form of common life can be biology of the generation” (John Paul II, Letter called family. To avoid confusion, logic dicta- to Families, 9). The daily and stable “I-Thou” relationship tes that to every “thing” there corresponds a that runs through the primary relationships liprecise “name.” ved out within the family also Lévi-Strauss spoke of the favors the balanced growth of socially approved union of a man the person. Herein is found and a woman and their children The family is that the dramatic strength of the as “a universal phenomenon, specific form of “primary family: it constitutes, for every present in every and any type of society” that holds man in his positive and negatisociety”. This important survey together and, allows ve aspects, the privileged way records the existence of a kind for the harmonious of understanding and develoof “social and cultural universal” development of the ping his own personal identity. that points to the proprium of constitutive differences The recognition of the fathe family. I believe this findof human persons – the mily as a specific relationship ing is still current and cannot sexual differences between the sexes and betreasonably be denied. It may between man and woman ween generations involves that be expressed in many forms, and the differences socially and publicly accepted as time past record and as the between the generations covenant between two persons future still holds. These forms, (grandparents, parents, of the opposite sex, which is however, are “families” only and children). We can say marriage. This covenant also insofar as they preserve all it another way: the family connects different generathe elements of the proprium is formally instituted to tions, children and parents, recalled by the famous French give social form to the and provides the gateway to anthropologist. What are they? difference between the the paternal and maternal The family orders the sexes as generators of genealogies-lineages. bond of belonging established life. Therefore, even man’s unamong the subjects by whom reflective self-knowledge is it is formed (the man, the woman, and their children). It is that specific form based on a bond and original belonging where, of “primary society” that holds together and, at any moment, he can find himself. The family thus understood extends indeed, allows for the harmonious development of the constitutive differences of human per- throughout society, not as a private good, but sons – the sexual differences between man and as a true and proper common good, and for woman and the differences between the gene- this reason it reveals the inherent relational rations (grand-parents, parents, and children). nature of human experience. In this sense, We can say it another way: the family is formally belonging to a family and belonging to society instituted to give social form to the difference refer back to and involve one another: trust among subjects and the ability to work together between the sexes as generators of life. A person’s identity is closely connected responsibly for the common good in a ceaseless both with the presence of the generative couple, exchange develops out of their relationship. To recognize the family as a social subject as well as with the history of the generations of which he is an expression. This is a fact of is one of the key challenges facing our indivilife common to every family experience and dualized and fragmented society.

H 103


An irreplaceable place of education

N

ormally the family communicates, almost defines the family as “a community of love and by osmosis, the most basic moral experience. solidarity, which is uniquely suited to teach In its bosom each person, through the primary and transmit cultural, ethical, social, spiritual, good of the affections, is “recognized” as such and religious values, essential for the develop- the mother’s smile tells her baby: “it is good ment and well being of its own members and that you are” - and is opened of society” (n. 238). to the future by a “promise” of And yet today, these abilities Today, the abilities of fulfillment. From this promise of the family that cause the the family that cause the a “task” arises that is played person to flourish seem to be person to flourish seem to out in interpersonal relationcalled into question. be called into question. ships and in the exchange The volume Las sfida educativa between generations. Here [The educational challenge], a we have the three inseparable report on education published factors, “recognition – promise – task”, that are by the CEI’s (Italian Episcopal Conference’s) decisive for the life of every man. Committee for Cultural Projects, has analyzed It thus appears quite reasonable that the this trend and highlighted the dramatic educaCompendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church tional emergency that exists within and outside

H 104


the family in various social contexts. The fa- ties are therefore original and constitutive. mily daily finds itself having to face risky situa- Indeed, for the parents, for the grandparents, tions that require the fielding of values as well and for the whole family, each child is special, as personal and relational resources. However, even if he or she is tried by fate in body or mind. these resources are not always readily available In this perspective, the added value of the fawithin the fragmented social context in which mily is its ability to generate in a humanizing way, by offering children a sense these same families live. The of their uniqueness within risk sometimes presents itself an atmosphere of meaningful under the guise of a challenThe family daily finds belonging lived out day by ge, linked oftentimes to the itself having to face risky day. In other words, the family need to reconcile work and situations that require –that irreplaceable womb in family, which drives parents the fielding of values which the identity of the child to invent repeatedly new reaas well as personal and is generated and the humanity sonable and viable solutions relational resources. of little ones matures– is an for managing their time. However, these resources essential resource for society. The need to deal with social are not always readily Given the breadth and depth situations so uncertain in available within the of the task awaiting it, the their outcomes is no reason fragmented social family cannot be left alone: for discouragement; indeed, context in which these fulfilling or not fulfilling this it only confirms the urgency same families live. task makes a difference in the of the mission to educate. very life of society. It is thereEven if at times it appears as an impossible undertaking, it calls upon the fore urgent for the family to be joined by other family in its very essence: to give life – not only agents who, recognizing its primary educative biological, but fully human – to a new person, role and value, make a pact among themselves. What I have in mind is an educative alliance in to a new generation. How do we support families in taking on a which the educating subjects – family, school, mission that not only affects the family circle, those who are active in the community – are enabled to act cooperatively according to the but also impacts the life of the entire society? First of all, by being aware that children are logic of subsidiarity. Their roles are distinct, but always children, i.e. generated, and that loving the objective – a humanity strengthened and relationships with their parents (the progeni- an increase in free and secure personalities - is tors) as well as family and intergenerational shared. angelo CARD. scola

Translation by Diane Montagna.

H 105


VII World Meeting of Families Milan 2012 May 25 - June 3

“Family, work, and celebration” Zero dialectics, all testimony

The three days Benedict XVI spent in Milan have shown again the Church’s true image. A nation of people in need, with their weaknesses and hopes, that has found Jesus Christ and walks sustained by his grace in spite of any storm. A nation in which Jesus wanted to give shepherds to comfort it on its voyage, and in which he wanted to offer a mysterious cornerstone, a center that would safely knot together the dense network of the Church spread out among the five continents. In this case the immediate motive of the meeting was the family, its meaning and value, its wounds and healings. After all, the Christian family is a realization of the Church, a domestic church; and the Church can be seen as the great family of God’s sons, an immense network of

H 106

families. The most surprising of the Pope’s interventions has been, on the one hand, the way in which he himself has played out against concrete and difficult problems and situations; on the other hand, that everything has pivoted on the testimony of a good, big, and beautiful life, brought by his own eloquence to the world’s square despite all the winds of doctrine, all the false illusions, and the scheduled cultural dismantling. Zero dialectics, zero abstraction, all embodied reason and affection. It is Benedict’s path, which we can express in four images. First image at La Scala in Milan. It was not a rarefied act to delight the music-lover Pope; it was a powerful sign that beauty is not a luxury, but a need, especially for those who suffer. The Ode to Joy included in Beethoven’s


Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, greets the Holy Father reverentially.

Ninth reflects the aspiration for happiness and fraternity in man’s heart, but that aspiration frequently collides with the harshness of life: it is a paradox that travels through the history of each family as a red thread. The pope takes the words, but puts aside its deep musical complexity and faces the great question: he thinks of the earthquake victims in Emilia-Romagna and presents us with his great challenge: Can we talk about a good Mystery, of a God who is Father, after seeing this horror? And so Benedict XVI recognizes that only a God who has come down from the clouds is useful to us, one who became flesh to share our suffering, and who holds us up to help one another with his company. That is the ultimate nostalgia to which Beethoven aims, that is the horizon towards which every love story has a tendency. At Bresso Park, Pope Benedict XVI put himself before families, some are very close and he can look into their eyes when they speak to him. Second image. A Vietnamese girl asked him simply to talk about his own family and Benedict explains that he does not merely want to recount beautiful memories. He relates how the love between his parents and the love for their children was his first conscious reflection on God’s love, how the fabric of family relationships made him grow certain that life is a great good that deserves to be lived despite all its hardships. And the old Pope, almost as in a confidence, tells them that the moment of his walk “towards the other side of the world” will be a little like going home. Third scene: they asked him about the pain of so many divorced and remarried Catholics that cannot re-

ceive the Eucharist. Maybe it is the first time that a Pope faces the question in such way, without papers, in the open. He recognizes that this is one of the great sufferings of today’s Church and there are no simple answers. The message he gives to these people is “that they are not outside,” moreover, that their accepted and offered suffering places them in the heart of the Church. He urges parishes and communities to welcome these people, to accompany and guide them so that they feel that they form part of this communion of life. The Pope insists: “they must know that precisely in that way (accepting the suffering of their condition) they serve the Church.” Sunday morning arrives: the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families. An estimated one million people have gathered to listen to the Pope. Fourth scene: again an occasion to argue against nihilism, Benedict knows how to do it indeed, and in a steel-edged manner. But again he chooses another path. The feast of the Holy Trinity offers him the occasion to explain the mystery of human love as an image of the one and triune God. He talks about the unique relationship between man and woman, the fertility of married love, which is also a heritage of good for the whole society. But total and faithful love, which is the horizon of this relationship, meets every day with human fragility and requires the sacrament’s grace to be sustained: “your vocation is not easy to live, especially today, but love is a marvelous reality, it is the only force that can truly transform the cosmos, the world.” The Pope does not launch anathemas or affirms values like throwing stones, but instead marks a path. The

H 107


paths that already thousands of Christian families walk on, and that is his first recommendation: “before you there is the testimony of so many families that show the paths to grow in love.” Again is demonstrated the force of testimony, the sustenance of this friendship encouraged by the grace of Christ. He invites you to maintain a constant relationship with God and to participate in the ecclesiastical life; encourages you to live free; to have patience with the defects of others; to forgive and

ask for forgiveness; and to accept the risk of educating children…and also friends. He asks them not to remain confined to the four walls of a warm and falsely selfsufficient home because the horizon of every Christian family is the world’s immensity with all its claims. And then comes the great promise, “to the extent you live in mutual love and towards everyone, with the help of divine grace, you will become a living gospel in a truly domestic Church.” By José Luis Restán

H 108


“Resign yourself, people love the Pope” “An event that left a great responsibility,” as expressed by

the Cardinal and Archbishop of Milan, Angelo Scola, during the closing press conference of the VII World Meeting of Families. The Cardinal reviewed the high points of the five days during which Milan received families from around the whole world, with more than one million pilgrims on Sunday, June 3, for the closing Mass at the Bresso Airport, presided over by Pope Benedict XVI. According to the Archbishop of Milan, The Holy Father appeared in good shape during the entire duration of his visit. “The Pope said to me when we said good bye at the airport that he was more consoled than tired, and that he is convinced that in these very demanding trips there is a special grace for him,” Scola confided. The VII World Meeting of Families “demonstrated the great tradition and the great initiative capacity of the Ambrosian Church,” the Cardinal added. The Pope’s meeting with the candidates for Confirmation in the San Siro Stadium, for example, is “an event that is not improvised,” and it has been possible to hold it “because it has been done for so many years and because there is behind it the experience of the cooperation between family and Church, through the parishes and the oratories of our diocese,” Scola said.

The Archbishop of Milan then also showed notable frankness with the journalist who had spoken of the lack of success of the World Meeting, the low popularity of the Pope, and the cold reception at his meetings. “You must resign yourself to a fact: the people of God love the Pope and Italian public opinion does not coincide with Italian media opinion,” said the Cardinal to the press that was present. “There is a great distance between what you recount and what the people feel. The public opinion loves the Pope; the people love him because of the illuminating power of his humility, which is joined to an intelligence of the faith and of a truly superior man. It is a fact recognized by all. The Pope is loved because of this and we have seen it,” he continued. At the end of the World Meeting, “it is for us” to keep the spirit alive, “because an event is important when it picks up and re-launches the ordinary,” observed Cardinal Scola. He also announced that the Diocese of Milan “has decided to reinvent the old ‘mutual aid’ societies.” For his part, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said: “The Pope has told us how beautiful it is to be in this living Church. The Church is alive thanks to the people.” Antonelli was also blunt with journalists: “You should pay more attention to this living

H 109


Church than pause on marginal questions.” The Cardinal then said he was surprised by the Pope’s choice for the next World Meeting of Families: “in the short list of the cities promoted, I thought Philadelphia would be excluded. However, almost all the bishops of the United States realized during their visit that the family is experiencing huge difficulties and must face difficult challenges. And, at the same time, that it possesses a great vitality thanks to the contribution of the Church in America, he said. According to Monsignor Erminio De Scalzi, auxiliary Bishop of Milan and President of the 2012 Family Foundation, he also expressed with satisfaction that the city gave to Benedict XVI “a big and vigorous hug. He returned with a smile; we have given joy to the Pope.” During the press conference, the main statistics of the VII World Meeting of Families were recounted: • There were 1,000,000 participants in the Holy Mass at Bresso on Sunday, June 3. • People on the streets turned to greet the Pope on all his routes, reaching the total of 450,000 faithful people. • There were 350,000 participants in the Celebration of Testimonies at Bresso, on Saturday, June 2. • There were 95 authorities who met with the Holy Father for his address at the Curia on the same Saturday, June 2. • There were 80,000 Confirmation candidates who met with the Pope in San Siro Stadium, also on Saturday, June 2. • There were 5,500 priests, monks, deacons, and seminarians who met with the Pope to pray and hear his message at the Cathedral, also on Saturday, June 2. • There were 1,880 participants at the Concert in La Scala Theater on Friday, June 1. • There were 60,000 souls present at Duomo Square for Benedict XVI’s greeting to the city on the first day of his visit.

H 110

Other relevant figures • Some 80,000 visitors arrived at the expositions center for the Bookstore Expo of the Family in the Milan City Fair, carried out from May 30 to June 1. • There were 6,900 delegates from all over the world for the International Theological Pastoral Congress at the Milan City Fair. • There were 5,000 other participants in the International Theological Congress in the cities of Lombardy and the center of Milan. • The Family 2012 volunteers active during the May 30June 2 week reached 5,300. • There were 900 young participants in the Congress of Youngsters at the Milan City Fair. World numbers • There were families from 153 nations present at the VII World Meeting of Families. • The spectators tuned in to RaiUno for the Holy Mass on Sunday, June 3 were 2,097,000, while the spectators tuned in to the Celebration of Testimonies on Saturday evening, reached the impressive figure of 3,082,000. • There were 80,000 spectators tuned in to the television broadcast RaiTre for the meeting between the Confirmation youngsters and the Pope at San Siro on Saturday, June 2. • Others events as the Pope Benedict XVI’s speech at Duomo Cathedral Square and the Concert at La Scala Theatre, both on Friday, June 1, had 1,490,000 and 1,200,000 spectators, respectively, always through the Italian Television Radio, which presented rating studies from the company Auditel. • Finally, the organizers assure us that the official web site www.family2012.com, received 122,305 visits between May 31 and June 3. By Luca Marcolivio


“If from time to time we may think that the Ship of Peter is at the mercy of ruthless adversaries, it is also true that we see that the Lord is present, He is alive, He truly rose again and holds the government of the world and the heart of mankind in His hand. This experience of the living Church, which lives from the love of God, which lives for the risen Christ, has been, let us say, the gift of these days. Thus let us give thanks to the Lord.” (Words of Benedict XVI, during the family lunch with seven families from different countries after closing the VII World Meeting of Families.)

“Christ, with a special gift from the Holy Spirit, gives you a share in his spousal love” On the morning of Sunday, June 3, the Holy Father presided at Bresso Park, the closing Eucharist of the VII World Meeting of Families. This is a part of his homily:

It is not only the Church that is called to be the image

of One God in Three Persons, but also the family, based on marriage between man and woman. In the beginning, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’” (Gen 1:27-28). God created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for

each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community of love and life. It is love that makes the human person the authentic image of the Blessed Trinity, image of God. Dear married couples, in living out your marriage you are not giving each other any particular thing or activity, but your whole lives. And your love is fruitful first and foremost for yourselves, because you desire and accomplish one another’s good, you experience the joy of receiving and giving. It is also fruitful in your generous

H 111


and responsible procreation of children, in your attentive care for them, and in their vigilant and wise education. And lastly, it is fruitful for society, because family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues, such as respect for persons, gratuitousness, trust, responsibility, solidarity, cooperation. Dear married couples, watch over your children and, in a world dominated by technology, transmit to them, with serenity and trust, reasons for living, the strength of faith, pointing them towards high goals and supporting them in their fragility. And let me add a word to the children here: be sure that you always maintain a relationship of deep affection and attentive care for your parents, and see that your relationships with your brothers and sisters are opportunities to grow in love. God’s plan for the human couple finds its fullness in Jesus Christ, who raised marriage to the level of a sacrament. Dear married couples, by means of a special gift of the Holy Spirit, Christ gives you a share in his spousal love, making you a sign of his faithful and all-embracing love for the Church. If you can receive this gift, renewing your “yes” each day by faith, with the strength that comes

H 112

from the grace of the sacrament, then your family will grow in God’s love according to the model of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Dear families, pray often for the help of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, that they may teach you to receive God’s love as they did. Your vocation is not easy to live, especially today, but the vocation to love is a wonderful thing, it is the only force that can truly transform the cosmos, the world. You have before you the witness of so many families who point out the paths for growing in love: by maintaining a constant relationship with God and participating in the life of the Church, by cultivating dialogue, respecting the other’s point of view, by being ready for service and patient with the failings of others, by being able to forgive and to seek forgiveness, by overcoming with intelligence and humility any conflicts that may arise, by agreeing on principles of upbringing, and by being open to other families, attentive towards the poor, and responsible within civil society. These are all elements that build up the family. Live them with courage, and be sure that, insofar as you live your love for each other and for all with the help of God’s grace, you become a living


Gospel, a true domestic Church (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 49). I should also like to address a word to the faithful who, even though they agree with the Church’s teachings on the family, have had painful experiences of breakdown and separation. I want you to know that the Pope and the Church support you in your struggle. I encourage you to remain united to your communities, and I earnestly hope that your dioceses are developing suitable initiatives to welcome and accompany you. In the Book of Genesis, God entrusts his creation to the human couple for them to guard it, cultivate it, and direct it according to his plan (cf. 1:27-28; 2:15). In this indication of Sacred Scripture we may recognize the task of man and woman to collaborate with God in the process of transforming the world through work, science, and technology. Man and woman are also the image of God in this important work, which they are to carry out with the Creator’s own love. In modern economic theories, there is often a utilitarian concept of work, production, and the market. Yet God’s plan, as well as experience, show that the one-sided logic of sheer utility and maximum profit are not conducive to harmonious development, to the good of the family or to building a just society, because it brings in its wake ferocious competition, strong inequalities, degradation of the environment, the race for consumer goods, and

family tensions. Indeed, the utilitarian mentality tends to take its toll on personal and family relationships, reducing them to a fragile convergence of individual interests and undermining the solidity of the social fabric. One final point: man, as the image of God, is also called to rest and to celebrate (…) (…) Family, work, celebration: three of God’s gifts, three dimensions of our lives that must be brought into a harmonious balance. Harmonizing work schedules with family demands, professional life with fatherhood and motherhood, work with celebration, is important for building up a society with a human face.

Philadelphia 2015 Next World Meeting of Families After having celebrated the closing Eucharist of the VII World Meeting of Families, His Holiness Benedict XVI directed the Angelus prayer with the present faithful at Bresso Park, and before the Marian prayer, he announced that the next World Meeting of Families will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United Stated, in 2015. To read more about the VII World Meeting of Families, see www.humanitas.cl.

H 113


Morality and literature in M aritain By Piero Viotto

N

Recognizing the autonomy of art, Maritain speaks of a creative innocence, referring to the author who frees himself from all conditioning, seeking only the purity of the signs he uses.

H 114

ovels and poems are a mirror of the life of the writers, which is expressed in poetic emotion and is identified in the protagonists of the story, and, at the same time, those works influence the life of the reader, penetrating his consciousness to the point of real identification. It is necessary to safeguard the autonomy of art, because beauty is an absolute category, and to affirm at the same time the responsibility of the writer, because a literary work is a product for intellectual consumption which goes far beyond the intentions of the poet or novelist. It is also necessary to take into account the person of the artist, who puts his destiny at stake in his work. Having explored for years Jacques Maritain’s relationship with literature through his correspondence with contemporary writers, I realized that, beyond the pursuit of a theoretical solution of the relation between morality and literature, elaborated in different works – from Art and Scholasticism (1920) to Frontieres de la poesie et autres essais [Frontiers of Poetry and Other Essays] (1935), from Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry (1953) to The Responsibility of the Artist (1960) –, the philosopher’s concern was related to the salvation of souls, both of the authors as well as of the readers. In both sources of this spiritual adventure, the presence of Raïssa Maritain was crucial above all with her prayers, but also with her counsel1. Recognizing the autonomy of art, Maritain speaks of a creative innocence, referring to the author who frees himself from all conditioning, seeking only the purity of the signs he uses, and he writes: “There is a place that is so profound that no influence of sufferings, excisions, vices or failures, passions or instincts, which might threaten free will, can affect its ontological integrity. In this place there is no conflict at all between the senses and reason, because there is no division” (X, 560-61). Even when the life of the artist is immoral, his creative innocence remains in the purity of the poetic intuition; but the latter is not moral innocence and, in a long letter to Cocteau, who wished to justify his immoral behavior, he writes: “The purity of the artist, no matter how much it costs him, is of no use for the salvation of his soul” (III, 710). Poetry is close to God in creation, not

HUMANITAS Nº 3 pp. 114 - 131


in salvation (the poetry in question is not purely poetry in verses, but that which is the soul of all the arts, regardless of the expressive means used, verbal or non-verbal, figurative or informal, gestural, as in dance, or sonorous, as in music). “Just as the Saint realizes in himself the work of the Passion, the poet realizes the work of creation, he contributes to the divine balances (…), he is co-naturalized with the secret powers enjoying themselves in the universe” (III, 710). Poetry is an allusion, a presentment, a dark desire for supernatural life, which in a certain sense is not of this world and takes us beyond appearances; but the good of poetry is not the good of the poet, but of his work: “Even if all the existing masterpieces were brought together, a movement of charity would not be able to be obtained from them” (III, 709). All the poems of art and all the systems of philosophy do not attain the value of an act of love. “Understand me well. As metaphysics, I only lower poetry before God, yet poetry is not lowered on being lowered before God. I show its grandeur. No one gets as close to the sentient world as the sage or the poet, except the Saint, who is but one spirit with God and, consequently, infinitely closer to Him than any other” (III, 710). Art restores Paradise, not in life, but in works; but the perfection of man is not in his works; it is related to the person and his supernatural destiny, and here one meets with sin and grace. Art is not a sacrament and cannot redeem evil: “Illusionist, it transfigures evil, but does not cure it” (III, 712). The Maritains knew that the lives of many novelists and poets

Art and Anthropology

«Having explored for years Jacques Maritain’s relationship with literature through his correspondence with contemporary writers, I realized that, beyond the pursuit of a theoretical solution of the relation between morality and literature, elaborated in different works – from Art and Scholasticism (1920) to Frontieres de la poesie et autres essais [Frontiers of Poetry and Other Essays] (1935), from Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry (1953) to The Responsibility of the Artist (1960) –, the philosopher’s concern was related to the salvation of souls, both of the authors as well as of the readers.»

1 The texts quoted are taken from the Complete Works, indicating in each one the volume and pages: Jacques et Raissa Maritain, Oeuvres completes, edited by Jean-Marie Allion, Maurice Hany, Dominique and Rene Mougel, Michel Nurdin and Heinz R. Schmitz, in sixteen volumes, Editions Universitaires Fribourg – Saint Paul Editions, Paris, 19862000. Volumes XIV and XV include the writings of Raïssa Maritain. In preparation is volume XVIII with a systematic index. See P. Viotto, Dizionario delle opera di Jacques Maritain, Citta Nuova, Rome, 2002, pp. 478, and Dizionario delle opera de Raissa Maritain, Citta Nuova, Rome, 2005, pp. 364.

H 115


“Just as the Saint realizes in himself the work of the Passion, the poet realizes the work of creation, he contributes to the divine balances (…), he is co-naturalized with the secret powers enjoying themselves in the universe.”

H 116

«Raïssa and Jacques Maritain threw themselves into combating evil where it establishes itself most profoundly, where it contaminates and corrupts the life and work of artists and poets. Their pioneering apostolate was fecund despite difficulties and defeats. On the plane of philosophical reflection and on the plane of friendships, considered scandalous by the conservatives, they helped many find the faith again, and in some cases also a religious vocation, but to all they gave hope in the mercy of God».

were immoral, that in his immorality André Gide fascinated young people, that the surrealists had theorized that only by abandoning themselves to the irrational and to instinct, beyond any rule, was access to poetry possible; but they submerged themselves in their world to save them, often, from despair and suicide. They were aware of the difficulties they would meet, and in the preface to Raïssa’s Diary Jacques recalls: “The work undertaken candidly by us actually consisted– as all work that attempts to open the world of profane culture, art, poetry, and philosophy to the energies of the Christian ferment – in attacking the devil on his own ground. It was an effort to remove from their positions those whom Saint Paul called, “principes et potestates, mundi rectores, tenebrarum harum et spiritualia nequitiae”, against whom it is said the Christian must fight more than against flesh and blood. Now I understand better why she had to suffer so much.” She was the one who endured the greater weight of the battle, in the invisible profundity of her prayer and her offering.”2 The Maritains’ epistolary relations with Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob, Maurice Sachs, Jean Bourgoint, René Crevel, and Julien Green are precious documents of a difficult apostolate, which never fail in moral rigor, not even in fraternal understanding. This spiritual adventure began with Andre Gide. Knowing that the writer was about to publish an autobiographical dialogue entitled Corydon, in defense of homosexuality, Maritain asked for a meeting to dissuade him. He wrote to his friend Charles Journet, a theologian of the Seminary of Fribourg, in Switzerland3: “Dear


Jean Cocteau and His Friends The foregoing quotations on the relation between mysticism and poetry are taken from the public exchange of two long letters between Maritain and Cocteau in 19264, shortly after the poet returned to the faith; but the correspondence between them, which covers the period between 1923 and 19635, also treats on morality because Cocteau, who with difficulty freed himself from opium, to which he became addicted after the death of his friend R. Radiguet, lived his homosexuality dramatically, often giving in to instinct and even justifying his immoral behavior. His faith was sincere, to the point of taking his companions to Meudon so that Maritain could help them by freeing them from the vice, and he helped decorate several churches in Côte d’Azur, among them the small Romanesque church of Villefranche sur Mer, painted entirely al fresco with a series dedicated to the life of Saint Peter. Writing to the Maritains, who at that time were in the United States, Cocteau states: “Dear Jacques, guess how much I think of you and Raïssa amid the angels of my domes and how your distant and close friendship guides me. It helps me to avoid the tricks of the curves and the perspectives. A thousand wishes that all is well from your Jean” (January 17, 1957)6. Cocteau was also thinking of other snares, which with difficulty he tried to avoid, as he was well aware of the inflexibility of Maritain. When Cocteau wrote the White Book, a sort of erotic autobiography, to claim the right to behave this way, the philosopher assailed him with a series of letters. “Unitive love is fecund. Homosexuality destroys this order and it is to love as magic is to wisdom. It is not because of a prejudice attributed to Saint Paul, or education in the seminary, that the Church condemns homosexuality, but for eternal reasons. Do not forget the severity of God in the Old Testament, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. I add that it is not enough to love God through and in his creatures. Grace infuses a direct, immediate

Art and Anthropology

and good friend, pray for me this week. I am expecting the greatest corruptor of this time (you should know who it is), who must fix a meeting with me. I wrote him asking him to meet me. It is about trying to get him to give up publishing a small detestable book. If he does not retract it (which is my fear), then it will be a sort of battle against the devil, with the salvation of many souls at stake. I shudder to think of my ineptitude. I only have the prayers of God’s friends” (December 10, 1919). Maritain’s mission was not successful. In his Journal, Gide recalls the visit with scornful words; but Maritain, “of gentle heart and hard head,” as Cocteau liked to say, could not fail but to attempt the task.

Poetry is an allusion, a presentment, a dark desire for supernatural life, which in a certain sense is not of this world and takes us beyond appearances; but the good of poetry is not the good of the poet, but of his work (…)

2 J. Maritain, Il diario di Raïssa, Morcelliana, Brescia, 1995, p. 14. 3 I make reference to the monumental correspondence of almost 2,000 letters about to be published in six volumes: Journet-Maritain, Correspondance, Editions Saint Augustin, Saint Maure, of which published already are volumes I (1920-1929), II (1930-1939), III (1940-1949), IV (1950-1957) and V (1958-1964). 4 J. Maritain, Lettera a Cocteau, Passigli, Florence, 1988. 5 Jean Cocteau-Jacques Maritain, Correspondance 1923-1963, Gallimard, Paris, 1993; Michel Bressolette, Correspondance ineditee Maritain-Cocteau,” in Cahiers Jacques Maritain, n. 21, November of 1990, pp. 29-34.

H 117


(…) “Even if all the existing masterpieces were brought together, a movement of charity would not be able to be obtained from them” (III, 709). All the poems of art and all the systems of philosophy do not attain the value of an act of love.

6 Other decorations of Cocteau: Saint Blaise of the Simple, in Milly la Foret (1959), and Our Lady of Jerusalem, in Frejus (1961). 7 Max Jacob-Jacques Maritain, Correspondance 1924-1935, Cnrs, Brest, 1999.

H 118

love of God in us, He himself being friend and fellow guest. That is the love of God above all things. He it is who calls at the door. He is exacting, as are those who love; He has terrible messages. And it is not possible to evade Him” (July 6, 1927). Shortly after, he wrote: “It is not enough to know God in the beauty of his creatures, which are still images, but it is necessary to want to offer God such a purified heart that He can show himself in all his beauty, only then will all doubts disappear in regard to his Commandments” (August 11, 1927). Max Jacob7, poet and Jewish convert, who had freed himself from this vice, being on retreat in the monastery of Saint Benedict on the Loire, perceived this ambiguous situation and wrote to Maritain: “Obviously, Jean is tired of glimpsing a goal he thought he could reach. He cannot decide to be half a Christian nor is he made to be, all of a sudden, a great Christian. He does not want to be a Christian every other day, for the time being, he cannot be something else. He gives up or already gave up or will give up and will turn back. I wrote to him what I could, it is no great thing. I wrote to him, asking him to be indulgent with himself, and to go to Confession frequently” (May 7, 1926). Maritain does not accept giving in; he confronts Cocteau and wants to halt the publication: “If you want to talk about homosexuality, you would have to begin by leading a pure life in keeping with the will of God, which you know very well. And then you would have to speak about the subject in keeping with the gravity of the problem and with all the truth of the Gospel. It is your salvation which is at stake, Jean, and it is your soul that I want to defend. Choose between the devil and me whom you love. If you love me, you won’t publish this book and you will hand me the manuscript in custody” (June 13, 1928). The philosopher feels compromised, also because of the letters on the nature of poetry which they published together, and he adds: “Moreover, you are a Catholic and you have said it publicly. Now, the position you defend in the book is essentially not Catholic. Present, therefore, is the ambiguity that scandalizes souls, not like the Pharisaic scandal, which is contemptible, but like the scandal that Jesus curses… It is nature that has no mercy for homosexuals… The charity of God, which is supernatural, embraces those who bear this burden, on the condition that they become eunuchs (as many others have been) for the Kingdom of God, transmuting their wound of nature into a privilege of grace. There is no means of salvation for anyone outside of the cross” (June 15, 1928)8. Cocteau feels all of Maritain’s disapproval and he writes to him: “Dear friend, I would like to receive two lines from you to have the certainty that you are not annoyed with me about something and you consider me worthy of your affection. There is in me an


extremely vague but intact space, and white as snow. I suffer much, and without your affection, without Raïssa and without Meudon, I shall be lost” (November 6, 1928). Speaking with Julien Green about this disagreeable situation, Maritain says of Cocteau: “He must not be tolerated, but loved, and respected if he carries his cross as Jesus orders him (and as grace offers it to him); but I fear that he will claim for his evil the right of citizenship before God and desire to call evil good and good evil. I speak to you of these things, my dear Julien, because I feel grievously all that is dark in this “whiteness.” We have arrived at a time in which the head of darkness of this world disguises himself as a white angel, a cursed time, the time of the Leviathan9, without a doubt” (December 14, 1928). Maritain is opposed to Cocteau’s pretension to legitimize his behavior, to demand a right of citizenship for behavior that is objectively anomalous. The situation worsens when the poet writes the preface to the book I Adore by his disciple Jean Desbordes, who pretends to be a Christian homosexual. Maritain writes to Desbordes: “You are young, and the illusions you harbor today can be dissipated. The harm you do to yourself with this first book is not incurable, so long as one day your eyes open to the sin that crucifies Christ and you understand that to mix vice with the cure is the worst of sacrileges” (July 15, 1928). His words are even harsher for Cocteau in a letter sent from the Carthusian monastery of Valsainte (Switzerland): “In regard to the flowers of sin, they are in fact the carpet of hell. If you paused for a moment

Art and Anthropology

«The Maritains’ epistolary relations with Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob, Maurice Sachs, Jean Bourgoint, René Crevel, and Julien Green are precious documents of a difficult apostolate, which never fail in moral rigor, not even in fraternal understanding.» (Portrait of Jean Cocteau by A. Modigliani)

“Understand me well. As metaphysics, I only lower poetry before God, yet poetry is not lowered on being lowered before God. I show its grandeur. No one gets as close to the sentient world as the sage or the poet, except the Saint, who is but one spirit with God and, consequently, infinitely closer to Him than any other”

8 Maritain writes to a priest friend who reproaches his effort with Cocteau: “I have involved myself in a debate which takes place on a different plane from that of the senses and whose outcome will take place in Heaven or Hell. People are only helped in a relation of friendship. Hence, I am a friend of sinners and I know what I expose myself to with this before the just. It would be presumptuous if I thought I had not committed errors and imprudence. That has happened to me for expecting something more from grace than what was due and I have had to suffer the consequences. However, things like the Letter to Jean Cocteau I would certainly write again in the same conditions, because it was my obligation to do so” (February 8, 1928).

H 119


Art restores Paradise, not in life, but in works; but the perfection of man is not in his works; it is related to the person and his supernatural destiny, and here one meets with sin and grace. Art is not a sacrament and cannot redeem evil: “Illusionist, it transfigures evil, but does not cure it”.

9 Title of a novel of J. Green published by Maritain in his collection “Le roseau d’or” in 1928.

H 120

to think of who God is, you wouldn’t speak as you do. I pray a lot for you in this place where contemplation is the only reality. I have pity for your soul and tremble for you. When you appear before God you shall no longer be able to clothe yourself with images, you will be naked. We have but one recourse: the infinite mercy of the One who died for us. Our only hope is to be able to submerge ourselves in His mercy, but this implies that we weep for our sins” (August 25, 1928). This explicit condemnation of guilt does not impede the philosopher from continuing to be a friend of the anxious poet, even when between them the incomprehension is profound. Cocteau tries to explain himself, attempting to justify himself: “Don’t answer me because you will answer me theologically, whereas I can only understand you cordially” (April 2, 1931). Maritain writes to him from Washington: “If someone has believed you to be lost, he isn’t of my parish. On both sides of the Atlantic, I always see in the sky a star whose reflection has your name and it is a look of God’s kindness ” (November 7, 1934). When Maritain, from his retreat with the Little Brothers of Jesus, sends Cocteau Raïssa’s Diary, he receives this letter: “I have devoured slowly and gently Raïssa’s Diary. I wonder if there is a nobility of spirit comparable to hers. In comparison with her, I think that all of us dabble in the mud. And in what do memories not become through her soul! I am affected by the passages linked to me. A long wave of fresh water has passed through my heart. Many Saints owe their beatification to their crises. There never was a crisis in Raïssa. She believes without the need of proofs (an attitude that always amazes me in Pascal). She believes because she thinks it is impossible not to believe. This book, permeated with the childlike grace that she found on her face after the mask of suffering fell, canonizes her without pomp. She is a secret saint, a queen of the invisible world of true poetry” (December 25, 1962). Shortly after the poet’s death, Green wrote to Maritain: “The last time I saw him, in his room at the Palais-Royal, he had an image of the Most Holy Virgin hanging on the wall and on the table next to him, a crucifix. Some time ago he said to Jean Denoel (adviser and friend of Gaston Gallimard, the poet’s executor): “Who will pray for me when I die?” (January 28, 1964). And Maritain answered: “Poor Jean! He was far more genuine than people believed. He never reneged from the faith. I remember how he prayed (like a child) beside Raïssa’s deathbed. I have great confidence in God’s mercy for him” (February 13, 1964).


Many young people flocked around Cocteau, attracted by his charm and poetry. One of them, Maurice Sachs (1906-1945)10, a Jewish youth who met the poet when he was seventeen, writes in his autobiography: “Cocteau’s teaching, if it is to be summarized in a few lines, was: to believe in poetry as the most lofty expression of human nature, to believe in Orpheus, the poet who knows the mysteries of life and death, to believe in affection and friendship. To be trusting. To love. Not to desire any rule, not to submit oneself to common morality. Never to betray one who belongs to one’s circle, to place one’s trust, over and over again in all its members. To be curious before all spiritual creation, to love painting and music after poetry (…) strangers found us too immoral and free from conventions11.” Cocteau arrived at Meudon, at the home of the Maritains, in July of 1924, and for some time he regained peace, to the point of collaborating with the foundation of the collection “Le Roseau d’or,” in opposition to Gide’s Nouvelle Revue Française, in which he published some works. In her Journal, Raïssa notes Cocteau’s conversion, that is, his return to the faith and to the practice of the sacraments, on June of 1925 (XV, 320-321). The poet also accompanied some of his young companions to Meudon. Maurice Sachs converted to Catholicism and received Baptism, Raïssa being his godmother and Jacques his godfather by proxy in place of Cocteau who was impeded that day. However, Raïssa was worried and wrote in her Journal: “Despite everything, I’m not at peace. This boy has something dark that disturbs me” (XV, 324). Sometime later, Sachs receives Confirmation, spent the whole month of December in the Maritains’ home and decided to enter the seminary of the Carmelites of Paris, but then left to return to his immoral life. On learning of his intention, Raïssa wrote to him, “I am troubled by joy and anguish, in you God exceeds my hopes, I am not prepared to receive so much. I am still not prepared to imagine the sufferings that await you in the life you have chosen. Forgive me for possessing in these circumstances maternal weakness. I would like you to be spared the sacrifices that I would accept joyfully for myself; but your desire is too beautiful and just for me not to want with all my heart to see it realized” (October 20, 1925). Jacques is concerned about the situation and he writes to him: “You lived horribly before being a Christian. It is natural that God now asks of you heartrending sacrifices.” In any case, it is the only way with which you can give him witness of your desire for reparation… The taste for worldly life that has again taken hold of you, your desire to write (one more novelist, one less priest…) and to travel, manifest

Art and Anthropology

Maurice Sachs and Jean Bourgoint

“Moreover, you are a Catholic and you have said it publicly. Now, the position you defend in the book is essentially not Catholic. Present, therefore, is the ambiguity that scandalizes souls, not like the Pharisaic scandal, which is contemptible, but like the scandal that Jesus curses…” (Letter to Jean Cocteau).

10 Maurice Sachs-Jacques and Raïssa Maritain, Correspondances, 19251939, Gallimard, Paris, 2003. 11 M a u r i c e S a c h s , L a d e c a d e dell’illusione 1918-1928, Meridiano zero, Padua, 2002, p. 177.

H 121


Poetry tends to beauty as a natural correlation of itself, beyond any end; but beauty – notes Maritain – is only one of the divine names. Beauty must not be divinized, to divinize it profanes and loses it. (...)

12 Op. cit., p. 211.

H 122

those classical temptations that the devil arouses when one’s heart darkens… I hope with all my heart that you will be able to come out of this test in the best way. The intensity of this hope does not dissimulate its fragility… I pray to God every day to strengthen you… I embrace you” (October 1, 1926). Sachs spent some time at Saint Benedict’s on the Loire, in a cell next to Max Jacob, as he recalls in several pages of his diary. I was struck especially by one of them considering a trip to Brittany, when both were in a hotel: “Later the poet followed the road of the Via Crucis in his room, where he had hung the fourteen stations of the Passion on the wall, painted for the occasion, to pray before each one. The beauty and pure inspiration of those modest drawings impressed me. I encouraged my friend to write a volume with all the texts of his morning meditations.”12 Max Jacob, a Jewish convert, died in a German concentration camp. This stay did not free Sachs from his desire for a worldly life, and after he left he earned his living working with several publishing houses. He became editor of a collection in which Cocteau wished to publish The White Book, and he answered Jacques negatively when the latter asked him not to publish it. Between 1930 and 1933, Sachs lived in the United States, from where he wrote to Raïssa: “In every step of my chaotic life I go in thought to your peace and I often hope that we will be able to meet soon and relish once again the profound peace you are able to give… I am exhausted with trips, conferences, worries, and complications. I can never speak of tomorrow…” (July of 1933). After his first autobiography, The Decade of Illusion, he wrote a second posthumous publication, The Sabbath, Memories of a Stormy Youth, even more lacking in judgment. Sachs caused disappointment and torment in Raïssa, who wrote a letter to Maurice Perquin, a Canadian priest: “… we are quite surprised by the good things our godson says about us… we are happy to know that amid so many temptations and weaknesses, he has avoided being ungrateful. And there is another merit in his favor: the fact of not masking evil with false theories, as famous authors have done, but calling evil, evil… Only God can know the degree of his responsibility in evil, and we, who know to a certain extent the heavy legacy received from his own people, do not judge him. May God have mercy on him, alive or dead” (November 16, 1947). In fact, it is not known how he died, if it occurred during or after the German Occupation, when he ended up collaborating with the Nazis. Very different is the adventure of Jean Bourgoint (1905-1966)13, another youth of the group, initiated into homosexuality and opium by Cocteau, who also served, along with his sister, as models for the two protagonists of the novel Les enfants terribles (1938), in which Bourgoint describes the despair of modern youth. Cocteau accom-


Andre Breton, promoter of surrealism. In the photograph on the left, accompanied by Trostsky.

panied the youth to Meudon, to the Maritains’, in 1925. Bourgoint discovered Christianity little by little and was baptized on October 19, 1926. The suicide of his sister plunged him into despair. Maritain sent him to the Mas de Fourques, to the studio of his painter friend Jean Hugo (1894-1984), great-grandson of the famous novelist, where he met a Polish artist, Alex Ceslas Rzewuski (1893-1983), who after having lived a disordered life, entered the Dominican Order, scandalizing his Parisian friends14. In addition to rescuing Bourgoint from vice, this chain of friendships led him to a radical religious vocation. Father Rzewuski took him to the Dominican monastery of Toulouse, but Bourgoint decided to become a Trappist and joined the Cistercian monks taking the name Brother Pascal and, in 1964, he left for Cameroon to work with lepers. In 1926 Jacques Maritain wrote to him: “I am happy that you liked my Answer to Cocteau. How can we speak worthily of these things of Heaven? Of this light of Heaven that descended among us, that passes through your soul? Jean, and through the soul of Maurice (Sachs), a reflection of which is seen in your eyes? Have confidence, my little Jean. In the first place, Jesus loves you, and his love always watches over you. Get close to this love” (March 16, 1926). Maurice Sachs and Jean Bourgoint, two of Cocteau’s young companions whom the Maritains loved tenderly, two paths, and two different ends: the grace of God always respects man’s liberty, and suffering alone remains to implore God’s mercy.

(…) Contemporary poetry has separated artistic creation from the beauty of the first Being, ending in the experience of the void, because it has adored created beauty. (…)

13 Jean Bourgoint, Le Retour de l’enfant terrible, Lettres 1923-1966, Desclee, Paris, 1975; Lauris Georges, Jean Bourgoint: itineraires d’un enfant terrible: de Cocteau a Citeaux, Presse de la Renaissance , Paris, 1998, pp. 222. 14 Alex Ceslas Rzewuski, Confessioni di un domenicano, Rusconi, Milan, 1984.

H 123


(…) Surrealism takes this situation to its ultimate consequences in a sort of magic gnosis or black mysticism in which poetic knowledge itself pretends to become absolute knowledge, but it only finds nothingness and the void of the egocentric self.

H 124

«“In regard to poetry, their error consisted in believing that their essential truth would be expressed through this psychic mechanism… but automatism undoes what concentration and recollection unify” (XV, 667-668). In this search for pure poetry the surrealists corrupted many young poets.» (Louis Aragon, French poet, member of the surrealist movement)

The Young Surrealist Poets After considering Maritain’s relations with Cocteau and his friends, it is also necessary to analyze the relations he had with the surrealists, because his aesthetic outlook lies in the antipodes of Andre Breton, who after studying medicine and becoming interested in neuropsychiatry, studied Freud and, under the influence of Apollinaire, dedicated himself to poetry, becoming the theorist of the surrealist movement. Poetry tends to beauty as a natural correlation of itself, beyond any end; but beauty – notes Maritain – is only one of the divine names. Beauty must not be divinized, to divinize it profanes and loses it. Contemporary poetry has separated artistic creation from the beauty of the first Being, ending in the experience of the void, because it has adored created beauty. Surrealism takes this situation to its ultimate consequences in a sort of magic gnosis or black mysticism in which poetic knowledge itself pretends to become absolute knowledge, but it only finds nothingness and the void of the egocentric self. Jacques observes that with the surrealists the process of poetic creation is perverted: “the supreme end is not the liberation of the poetic meaning or pure creation, but the pursuit of one’s human self through poetry.” To attain this objective, the surrealists want to free themselves from reason itself, and he points out that for them: “it is not simply about freeing themselves from the conceptual, logical and discursive reason, but about freeing themselves from reason, from the supreme autonomy of a spiritual power by nature, to unleash the infinite powers of the irrational which are in man” (X,


Art and Anthropology

201). Raïssa analyzed this tension towards the Absolute, which in the subconscious of the spirit only the grace of God can satisfy, but is beyond the natural limits of poetry, diverted by the surrealists with a pretension to understand the absolute in the instinctive subconscious of psychological automatisms: “From passive recollection in the best of oneself, rare and fecund, which in a certain sense it is necessary to merit, the surrealists passed to the passivity of psychological automatism… In regard to poetry, their error consisted in believing that their essential truth would be expressed through this psychic mechanism… but automatism undoes what concentration and recollection unify” (XV, 667-668). In this search for pure poetry the surrealists corrupted many young poets. The Maritains established relationships with some of these young men, being successful with Paul Sabon and André Grange and failing with René Crevel. Found, in their autobiographical writings and in their correspondence, is the description of these spiritual adventures. Raïssa recalls the visits of these poets to Meudon: “Father Carlo (Henrion) had an important role in the conversion of Paul Sabon, young poet gifted with an extraordinarily rich aptitude, but who did not live long enough to express it to its just measure. He approached Breton as if he were poetry in person. Not satiating himself with the bitter fruits of surrealism, wounded in body and soul… he won our affection with his rectitude and the fidelity of his affection. It took him several months to get over the despair that flooded him, and many more months to understand that spiritual freedom is linked to truth” (XIV, 1005). In another text, Raïssa points out: “He told us he sensed the devil among the surrealists, with all his illusions and deceits” (XV, 330). Sabon left behind a beautiful testimony on Jacques, in which he analyzed his state of mind in those months of despair: “Every day I regarded my search without an objective as absurd, and I reproached myself for my visits to Meudon, but I would return there as the only place where I could feel at peace.” Speaking of Jacques, he added: “I never caught him in a fault; I was seduced by his gentleness, his carefree and familiar step, that lightness that hid badly a transparency whose depth I could not plumb. Nothing attracted me more than the humility I felt in him… To some extent I was freed, prisoner of the habits acquired with the help of a literature from which I was unable to detach myself… I would withdraw into myself feeling clearly that I had been discovered. I did not dare to expose to him the friendship I felt for him.” Even more tragic is the story of André Grange, young poet, friend of Cocteau, seduced by surrealism. He went, desperate, to Maritain and, on seeing the abyss of his anxiety, Jacques thought that only mysticism could save him, and he invited him to read the compen-

“Despite some useless sudden starts of freedom, Andre Breton also ends up in revolutionary politics, and must ask of dialectical materialism and of a Marxism understood in a more or less orthodox way, that bitter satisfaction of the carnal appetite for the absolute, which is a faceless angel clothed in tinsel exasperated in his suffering.”

H 125


«The Maritains established relationships with some of these young men, being successful with Paul Sabon and André Grange and failing with René Crevel. Found, in their autobiographical writings and in their correspondence, is the description of these spiritual adventures.» (Portrait of René Crevel)

Jacques observes that with the surrealists the process of poetic creation is perverted: “the supreme end is not the liberation of the poetic meaning or pure creation, but the pursuit of one’s human self through poetry.” (...)

H 126

dium of reflections of Saint John of the Cross, elaborated by Father Bruno di Gesù-Maria. Maritain relates the following episode: “I met a twenty-year-old youth, burning with desire to be freed, who ignored the way and whom a false, diabolical poetry had thrust into those spiritual experiences in which the soul is destroyed and, being empty, but not of his God, inebriated himself, enjoying the mistaken taste for an infinite freedom in the ecstasy of nothingness. Someone, sensing that this soul, after having made contact with the profound night from below, would not be able to be healed except by glimpsing the truly superhuman night, gave him a summary of the thought of Saint John of the Cross” (IV, 1213). The young man fell ill, called the parish priest, and went to Confession and Communion. Then his sickness got worse. Raïssa wrote in her Journal: “Jacques, alerted by Paul Sabon of the gravity of the sickness, went to see him in the morning. Grange expressed to Jacques, as he did to all those who went to see him that day, his happiness despite being in the midst of atrocious physical sufferings, saying: ‘Saint John of the Cross has done everything.’ And he said to Sabon: ‘I am happy, now I know it. You do the same as I’” (XV, 329). In face of these conversions, Raïssa comments: “All this shows that the best way for all these poor souls is knowledge of the Catholic doctrine of divine love” (XV, 330). Sabon died in peace with God, being helped by Father Michel Riquet, a student of Maritain at the Institut Catholique, who entered the Society of Jesus. The same did not happen in the case of René Crevel, who also went to Meudon and maintained a brief correspondence with Jacques, because he was unable to extricate himself from the perverse influence of Bre-


Art and Anthropology

ton, who in 1929 gave him a certificate which declared him to be a model of surrealist orthodoxy and good conduct. Maritain wrote to him on Easter Sunday of 1926: “When you came to Meudon, I had not yet read My Body and I. After reading this book, I would lie to you if I did not tell you that I felt immense compassion for your soul. There are gifts in you and something of infancy that move the heart, all of which is a genuine basis of your sincerity and gives room for hope. You have a rich experience of the body; you see well the desolation and loneliness to which the soul is reduced by this dear body. How will you come out of there? Miracles are possible, but it is necessary to desire them or at least to pray for them. Have you read the Dialogue of the soul and body by Saint Catherine of Genoa?… I hope you will be able to love your soul and have mercy on it. At the end of her book there is an unpronounced prayer. Remember that the best prayers are not made with words, but purely with desire” (April 4, 1926). The young poet answered him wondering where he could find the book and he shared his existential doubts with him, telling him that he was submerged in a vacuum “which isn’t nothingness, but the state of mind of a being who doesn’t know himself” (April 9, 1926). It is not known if there were other meetings and another exchange of correspondence. Crevel, tormented by his homosexuality and atheism, devotee of Gide because of the extreme worship of the freedom of the senses, militant in the lines of the Communists, committed suicide in 1935. After a meeting of the “Association des Ecrivains et Artistes Revolutionnaires,” in which once again there was a clash between surrealists and Communists, he went to his house, turned on the gas and left this note: “Please, cremate me. Chagrin.” However, there must also have been in him some trace of Maritain’s friendship, as he sent him his book Difficult Death, with this dedication: “To J. Maritain in memory of two or three conversations and because he seemed to be one of the few men of good faith that I have known, this book without faith, but sincere.” It is an autobiographical novel, in which the protagonist, a 20th century Werther troubled by a wild passion, runs to his ruin. Surrealism is the extreme expression of the theory of art for art’s sake, leading to the idolatry of created beauty and in several cases to worship of the beauty of the body. It is a poetry that plunges itself into a morbid sensuality, precisely the contrary of that “purity of interior sentiment, which calls for and constitutes the purity of expression” (XV, 512-513), of which Jacques speaks when presenting Raïssa’s poems. For the Maritains, poetry must protect its liberty and autonomy, but without becoming mysticism (Bremond) and without falling into magic (Breton).To be recalled in any case is yet another observation of Maritain: “Despite some useless sudden

(...) To attain this objective, the surrealists want to free themselves from reason itself, and he points out that for them: “it is not simply about freeing themselves from the conceptual, logical and discursive reason, but about freeing themselves from reason, from the supreme autonomy of a spiritual power by nature, to unleash the infinite powers of the irrational which are in man”.

H 127


«The conviction that the souls in Purgatory can be purified of the evil done, without having to be reincarnated, led Green to abandon the Hindu philosophy and to accept the Catholic faith totally.» (Portrait of Julien Green).

“I speak to you of these things, my dear Julien, because I feel grievously all that is dark in this ʻwhiteness’. We have arrived at a time in which the head of darkness of this world disguises himself as a white angel, a cursed time, the time of the Leviathan, without a doubt”.

H 128

starts of freedom, Andre Breton also ends up in revolutionary politics, and must ask of dialectical materialism and of a Marxism, understood in a more or less orthodox way, that bitter satisfaction of the carnal appetite for the absolute, which is a faceless angel clothed in tinsel exasperated in his suffering” (V, 782).

The Conversion of Julien Green “How unfathomable and full of filth is the heart of man!” This thought of Pascal can be used to illustrate the life and work of Julien Green, if it focuses on the struggle between the body and soul, between sin and faith, which afflicted this writer throughout his long life, and who also was encouraged by the understanding and friendship of Maritain. The relationship between the philosopher and the novelist was a sort of spiritual direction, as attested to by many pages of Green’s autobiography, and the long correspondence between them.15 Maritain follows the writer with affectionate delicacy and intellectual rigor, and helps him in his conversion to Catholicism, in his anxious struggle against homosexuality never displayed as in Gide or Cocteau, but endured with reserve; he helps him in his work of artistic creation, determined to describe evil without moral concessions or psychological compromises. In this fraternal work, Jacques was supported by Raïssa Maritain, also committed to the risky task of denying Satan the field of literature, so much so that in Green’s letters to the Maritains the discourse often passes from the singular to the plural. In 1924, the young writer published his Pamphlet contre les catholiques in the Revue des pamphletaires, whose director, P. Morhange, involved


Art and Anthropology

in a controversy with Maritain, opposing Eastern wisdom to Western philosophy and Christian mysticism. The Maritains read this short work and began to correspond with Green, who in 1926 wrote The Pilgrim on the Earth, a novel that oscillates between the psychological and the religious, followed at a short distance by three masterpieces: Mont-Cinere (1926), Adrienne Mesurat (1927) and Leviathan (The Dark Journey) (1929). The author sent Maritain his writings and the philosopher answered with his comments, concerned about Gide’s influence on him. Maritain wrote Journet: “I have already spoken to you about J. Green. He is one of the souls that most makes me commit myself and I feel it prey of a tragic work in profundities that few know. I beg that you take recourse to all the prayers you can for him. Only with prayer and penance and through blood can these souls be saved” (January 9, 1929). Shortly after, Journet answered him: “I shall ask for prayers for Green where I know that they are true and painful. I, who do not know how to pray, shall think of him at the moment of offering Christ in the Consecration, as He does and suffers what we are unable to do or suffer.” In the beginning Green resisted Maritain’s incentives, fearing proselytism, as is deduced from a conversation with Gide referred to in the Journal, but above all he was anxious because of his homosexuality, stemming from the worship of the beauty of the human body. Maritain, not allowing himself to be moved by Green’s naïve candor, insisted: “We are involved in a great and terrible debate. We must try to clarify these things at any price, caring not about the time required. I ask you to speak of this often with me, certainly not to inquire indiscreetly into what pertains to you, but to try to examine the problem in the light of truth and, in addition, so that we can know how to help certain souls. Saint Francis wept because Love is not loved. What makes the thing so serious is that it is about our obligation to uncreated Love. Nowhere does the Gospel tell us to mutilate our heart, but it counsels us to become eunuchs for the Kingdom of God. In my opinion, this is the way the question should be approached. I know married couples who for love of Christ have taken vows of chastity and their mutual love has grown divinely. Why could the same separation not be made in other cases? Or is it necessary to reject Christ’s cross and to replace it with a cross chosen by us? Pray for me, dear friend, as I shall pray for you. I embrace you with all my heart” (Undated letter, but surely of 1927). The novelist converts from the Anglican faith to Catholicism in 1939, after reading the Treatise on Purgatory of Saint Catherine of Genoa and after a long conversation with Maritain, which Green himself recalls in the Journal: “It was a violent blow to my belief in the fantasies of Hindu mysticism. At the beginning I suffered much because

Raïssa analyzed this tension towards the Absolute, which in the subconscious of the spirit only the grace of God can satisfy, but is beyond the natural limits of poetry, diverted by the surrealists with a pretension to understand the absolute in the instinctive subconscious of psychological automatisms.

15 The texts quoted, each one with a date, are taken from J. Green, Oeuvres completes, “Bibliotheque de la Pleiade,” Gallimard, Paris, vol. 8 (the twelve volumes of the Journal, which is almost half of the original text, are published in tomes IV-V-VI; the five volumes of the Autobiografia are published in tome V). The O. C. do not include the correspondence with Maritain, which is published separately in J. Green-J. Maritain, Une grande amitie: correspondance 1926-1972, Gallimard, Paris, 1982.

H 129


Surrealism is the extreme expression of the theory of art for art’s sake, leading to the idolatry of created beauty and in several cases to worship of the beauty of the body. It is a poetry that plunges itself into a morbid sensuality, precisely the contrary of that “purity of interior sentiment, which calls for and constitutes the purity of expression” (XV, 512-513), of which Jacques speaks when presenting Raïssa’s poems.

of this meeting. Suddenly it seemed to me that instead of having thousands of years before me, I only had a few hours, and the blow was hard, but at the same time I felt that the whole edifice of my errors was collapsing. My conversion, a result of these facts and others of a more secret character, took place in April of 1939, before I left for the United States.” The conviction that the souls in Purgatory can be purified of the evil done, without having to be reincarnated, led Green to abandon the Hindu philosophy and to accept the Catholic faith totally. Maritain drew Green out of the disturbingly low depths of homosexuality, convincing him that the greatest love is a love of friendship, which leads to the contemplation of God through the knowledge of the mystics. Green was able to triumph over the evil that oppressed him thanks to an interior impulse, which he attributed to the prayers and writings of Mother Yvonne-Aimée of Jesus (1901-1951), superior of the Augustinian nuns of the convent of Malestroit.16 “It was 1956 when I chose between the flesh and the spirit. I did no more than obey a warning. It was very hard; I reached the limits of imbalance. I thank God for this coercion. Where would I now be without it?” (February 25, 1987). Thanking the philosopher for sending him the small volume Love and Friendship17, in which Maritain analyzes in depth the tensions of human love that seeks inexorably the Absolute, Green wrote: “Truly experienced is the sensation that you open the doors of Paradise for souls that have lost the hope of being able to enter there because it was too difficult. And I have never stopped believing that this is difficult, but if I were a theologian, I would like to be among the merciful like you, more than among the rigorists, who have so darkened religion” (December 27, 1963). In fact the topic of the relationship between the invisible world and the visible world, between God’s grace and man’s liberty was the principal theme of the whole literary work of Julien Green.

A Pioneering Apostolate

16 Among his works: God is essentially joy. 17 17 J. Maritain, Love and Frienship, Morcelliana, Brescia, 1986.The text is also in Approches sans entraves, scritti di filosofia Cristiana, Citta Nuova, Rome; 1977, vol. I; 1978, vol. II.

H 130

Raïssa and Jacques Maritain threw themselves into combating evil where it establishes itself most profoundly, where it contaminates and corrupts the life and work of artists and poets. Their pioneering apostolate was fecund despite difficulties and defeats. On the plane of philosophical reflection and on the plane of friendships, considered scandalous by the conservatives, they helped many find the faith again, and in some cases also a religious vocation, but to all they gave hope in the mercy of God. We can end with two fragments of the Journet-Maritain correspondence on the exchange of letters between Cocteau and Maritain


Art and Anthropology

in 1926, which is at the center of this spiritual adventure. Journet wrote to the philosopher: “How lovely is your Answer to Jean Cocteau! It destroys nothing and corrects everything. Cocteau is a terrible friend, all his phrases hide something, opium, Antigone, the Russian Revolution… not forgetting the poetry. All your wisdom of elder brother and the Angel was required, who never abandons you. The good God gave you something you do not feel, but which fascinates the soul. It is from your prayer and Raïssa’s, from your common suffering, from where this perfume comes” (May 7, 1926). Maritain answered the theologian: “Your letter has been like balm from Heaven. A friendship like yours greatly consoles us. You have identified the sufferings and dangers that are behind this correspondence. It is very necessary to pray for Cocteau and his friends, for many other souls who live in dreadful abysses, and we cannot avoid doing something. God has placed us before an absolutely disproportionate work in relation to our strength… I feel like a man on a slippery ground, who is carrying in his arm a weight that is too heavy. The least false move can be fatal. It is necessary to abandon oneself to the grace of God. One must only close one’s eyes and allow it to work. This sort of anguish is perhaps better than tranquility… Pray for us” (May 15, 1926).

Translated by Virginia Forrester.

H 131


On the third anniversary of a great encyclical

On June 29 , we recently celebrated the third year anniversary th

since Pope Benedict XVI signed his third encyclical, Caritas in veritate –which in the same track as Paul VI’s Populorum progressio and John Paul II’s Sollicitudo rei socialis constitutes the most recent magisterial document about the Church’s social doctrine. Enough time has passed for a deeper and more comprehensive assimilation of this monumental pontifical text. As Cardinal Angelo Scola expressed, “Caritas in veritate is not a sort of varnish which is superimposed on an economic system that is already complete and closed, but instead gathers questions that are unanswered by the economy. It gives suggestions for a new ‘civilization of economy’ and we find in it the fundamental content of these suggestions: the ‘gratitude principle’ and the ‘gift logic,’ which all assumes a great novelty.” In the following pages are two reflections on the pontifical text: The first by Father Samuel Fernández E. Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, and the second by Pedro Morandé C. Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the same institution.

H 132

HUMANITAS Nº 3 pp. 132 - 145


H 133


H 134


The logos of charity By Samuel Fernández

W

hy does the Pope publish an encyclical of this kind? If the social processes were to be ruled by inexorable laws, if the market laws acted with the need of the law of gravity, the publishing of a social encyclical would have no sense because there would be nothing to do but to contemplate as observers. Therefore, the fact of writing a social encyclical already contains the fundamental statement that we are not victims but actors in the society in which we are living, and hence we are responsible for history. One of the persistent topics of Benedict XVI’s magisterium is his call to illuminate the faith and the human life with reasoning. Therefore, when reading the encyclical we ask ourselves what is the logos of charity. If charity is only an impulse of the emotions, it could not be proposed as the soul of human relationships, neither individual nor social. But precisely because it is not a simple feeling, but has a foundation in the structure of man, it has a universal scope. Where lies its foundation?

Development, an anthropologic matter In number 75 of Caritas in veritate, Pope Benedict XVI declares: “We need to affirm today that the social question has become a radically anthropological question” (CV, 75). Perhaps it could be said that this statement contains the heart of the encyclical, precisely because the foundation of all human development projects are an idea about man. If we want to benefit man authentically, we must know what man is. Thereby, the same search for the authentically human development, when done responsibly, implies an earlier question about this human that we want to benefit. Not any kind of development is, therefore, a true development. It is not enough to produce or consume more. History has been in charge of demonstrating this. Every idea of development implies, then, an idea of man, that is to say, an anthropology. Therefore, any reductionist view of man will inspire a reductionist development project. In this, no one can assert neutrality, because it is not possible to propose a development project for man without having at least an implicit idea of what man is. Unfortunately, most of the time these fundamental matters are not even discussed. They are taken for granted, or simply they are not

If charity were to be only an impulse of the emotions, it could not be proposed as the soul of human relationships, neither individual nor social. But precisely because it is not a simple feeling, but has a foundation in the structure of man, it has a universal scope.

In the left page: Lithography by Nemesio Antúnez.

H 135


“We need to affirm today that the social question has become a radically anthropological question” (CV, 75). Perhaps it could be said that this statement contains the heart of the encyclical.

H 136

reflected upon because they are considered impractical, and the urgency of problems demand fast solutions. But, in this manner, there arise, in the best case, severe disagreements and misunderstandings, and in the worst, results contrary to the ones intended that, in short, bind man instead of liberating him. Development is authentic only when it corresponds to the truth of man, to the true depth of man. Therefore, in a document like this, the Holy Father, in fidelity to human beings, maintains that not every kind of development is at man’s level (cf. CV, 9). In fact, the matter of development has become a “radically anthropological question.” Therefore, the Social Doctrine of the Church does not offer technical solutions to the social problems, but proclaims, and many times defends, the richness and wide scope of human beings, always susceptible of being reduced unilaterally to only some of its aspects. Hence, the Holy Father calls for facing the social problem in an interdisciplinary perspective (cf. CV, 31). This task finds its most natural place in a Catholic university. A vision of man that fails to integrate harmoniously the diverse richness of man is not capable of inspiring a development model that benefits a human being with full integrity. If it does not consider man as a whole, it does not benefit man in his entirety. If one aspect of man is valued over others, development fails to respond to the truth of man. For example, whenever the logic of the market, which is so useful to comprehend and regulate certain type of relations, is used as a model of total comprehension of reality, then it becomes an ideology. The Pope states that the “Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic” (CV, 36). The market is not able to produce by itself something that lies outside its competence (cf. CV, 35). Furthermore, the conviction of the unity of human beings implies that the diverse human dimensions cannot be addressed without considering all others. The nature of man is indivisible, and therefore, each dimension must be addressed in close connection with the others: life, social relations, sexuality, care for the environment, economics, labor relations, family, etc., as human activities form a harmonic unity that must be preserved in its integrity. Therefore, in the social question, charity is not enough if it is not illuminated by truth. Only love that responds to the truth of man is capable of benefitting him authentically and effectively. Without truth, charity can degenerate into the limits of a sentimentality that selects in an arbitrary way what it considers worthy of respect. Without truth, charity loses its universal meaning and ends up reduced to the private sphere (cf. CV, 3; 75). Thus, we understand that to say Caritas in veritate is a way to say authentic development, in which caritas drives development and veritas ensures that this development is authentic. Love is effective to the extent that it corresponds to the authentic nature of man.


H 137


The specific contribution of the Church to the social question

Every idea of development implies, then, an idea of man, that is to say, an anthropology. Therefore, any reductionist view of man will inspire a reductionist development project.

H 138

Christian faith has a specific contribution to the social question, because it illuminates the truth of man. A human being acknowledges that he himself is not his own author and he experiences himself as a gift; a gift that assumes a goodness previous to himself. This human experience becomes extensive in light of the Trinitarian theology. Christian revelation states that man is an image of God, and proclaims a certain similarity between the union of the divine persons and the union of human beings. That is why Jesus prays to his Father: “That they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17, 11). That is to say, there is a similarity between the way the Father and the Son are one, and the unity of the disciples. This revealed truth opens an inaccessible perspective to the sole human reason, and illuminates the life not only of believers but of all man. This is the Christian conviction! Faith amplifies reason and allows the comprehension of reality in a deeper way. The revelation of the one and triune God teaches us that the three divine persons, in their unity, “are pure relationality” (CV, 54); that is to say that they are not defined in and of themselves but in their relations with the other: the Father is he who is not referred to himself but rather in relation to his Son. This truth, applied analogically to man, shows us that relation, for the human person, is not something accidental. Relationality is an essential element of human nature (cf. CV, 55). The most authentically human is the “I” turned to the other; on the contrary, the “I” enclosed in itself is a perversion of the human being. In his years as professor of theology, Joseph Ratzinger taught that being man means “being from someone and toward someone.… The human person is all the more with itself, and is itself, the more it is able to reach beyond itself, the more it is with the other, then the person is all the more itself the more it is with the wholly other, with God.” (Ratzinger, Joseph. Concerning the Notion of Person In Theology). The complete reference to the other does not suppress or annul man, but takes him to his maximum possibility of being. In 1947, Saint Alberto Hurtado, in a very diverse context, said something very similar “he who gives himself, grows.” That is to say, the true development is received in the gift of himself. Man experiences his life as a gift, therefore, he is made to give himself: he finds his own fullness “in the truly sincere gift of himself to the others” (GS, 24). The most authentically human is not to see the other as an opponent or a competitor, but as that from whom and to whom I am. In this way, the most genuine in man is the generosity, the openness, the donation, in short, the charity. Therefore, because it belongs to the structure of the human being, charity is not only a


principle of micro relations, but is called to configure social relations. If charity forms part of the structure of man, it must also be present in the social structure. But this relational character of the human being is not depleted in the sole horizontal dimension. He who experiences his life as a gift senses a goodness that has preceded him and which opens for him a transcendental perspective. It is the last reference that gives definitive value to human existence since, without a reference to the Absolute and the eternal life, the same human development remains without strength (cf. CV, 11). Thus, it is necessary to insist that the reference to God forms part of the truth of man. Without this reference to the Absolute, all that is human becomes negotiable. If in previous centuries reason and faith were opposed, today as allies they must fight to liberate man from the yoke of sentimentalism, fundamentalism, or the simple logic of power. Without a reference to the Absolute, man ends up at the mercy of the arbitrary. One cannot expect absolute respect for human rights if there is no truth of man with reference to the Absolute. If we recognize existence as a gift, and not as the result of selfgeneration, then the truth of human beings is not at the mercy of our whim. There is an authentic good for man that is not subject to the arbitrary (cf. CV, 68). “Without God man neither knows which way to go, nor even understands who he is” (CV, 78). “In order to know man, authentic man, man in his fullness, one must know God”, stated John Paul II in Centesimus annus, quoting Pope Paul VI (CA, 55). The reference to God does not diminish man or make him smaller, but it manifests itself in its truth. Therefore, Pope Benedict XVI remembers, as did Paul VI, that evangelization is a factor of human development. If for love of man we want to be faithful to the truth of man, then we must recognize all the scope of a human being and look for a model of development which considers man as a whole, a very proper task for a Catholic university. Understood that way, the Social Doctrine of the Church is not a set of restrictive norms that threaten to hinder development, but a clear light about the truth of man, which guide true development. Thus, the Church’s social teachings are good news, that is to say, a gospel. Development is not the result of our effort, but a gift, by which development needs Christians with their arms risen towards God in prayer. And thus, the Pope concludes the encyclical praying to Mary to obtain for us, through her heavenly intercession, the strength, hope, and joy necessary to continue to dedicate ourselves with generosity to the task of bringing about the “development of the whole man and of all men.”

Development is authentic only when it corresponds to the truth of man, to the real height of man. Therefore, in a document like this, the Holy Father, in fidelity to human beings, maintains that not every kind of development is at man’s level (cf. CV, 9).

Translated by David Billikopf

H 139


H 140


The development of

people and technology By Pedro Morandé

I

n this brief space it is impossible to do justice to all the themes developed in this monumental encyclical, whose purpose is to update Paul VI’s encyclical, Populorum Progressio, after more than forty years since its publication, which is considered by the current Pontiff as the Rerum Novarum of the contemporary epoch (n. 8). Therefore, I will abide by its novelty, taking as reference basically paragraph 70 of the encyclical, which is in chapter VI, “The development of peoples and technology.” Paul VI’s statement that authentic development had to be of “the whole man and of all men” has become became very wellknown. This statement, which Benedict XVI endorses and now explains in the new historical context of the development problem, has two dimensions. The expression “the whole man” refers to the foundation; that is to say, to the truth of man, to his transcendent dimension, spiritual condition, and above all, his vocation for eternity. From this point of view, the encyclical states that “Paul VI taught that progress, in its origin and essence, is first and foremost a vocation” (n. 16), which means, on the one hand, the answer to a transcendent call from the Creator himself, and that, therefore, progress cannot take an ultimate meaning by itself. On the other hand, such an answer requires freedom and responsibility (n. 17). As he has done so many times, this is a clear invitation from the Pope to expand reason and our horizon, also in relation with current social realities. The “all men” expression has as its historical horizon the growing interdependence of the people, which at the end of the sixties was beginning to become evident, and forty years later, continues to be so evident that the Pope calls it an “explosion of worldwide interdependence, commonly known as globalization” (n. 33). Then, the horizon of justice and peace exceeds the boundaries of local political power and national states, to consider this new form of relationship, which affects all the peoples of the earth: “The development of peoples – says the encyclical – depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family, working together in true communion, not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side” (n. 53).

This is a clear invitation from the Pope to expand the horizon and reason, also in relation with the current social realities.

In the left page: Lithography by Nemesio Antúnez.

H 141


technology, from which humanity has benefited with abundant fruits in all areas of social activity, is modifying, nevertheless, the very mentality of the peoples, with the resulting danger of stopping to look for the ultimate meaning of everything.

H 142

Evidently, this new worldwide scale of the human phenomenon would not be possible without technology. First, the latter was linked to printing and transportation. Now, the communications electronic revolution has allowed worldwide circulation of capital and information of all kinds, and has permitted the virtual presence of people and events in real time, at any place on earth. Such a powerful tool, from which humanity has benefited with abundant fruits in all areas of social activity, is modifying, nevertheless, the very mentality of the people, with the resulting danger that they stop looking for the ultimate meaning of everything. The Pope says: “Technological development can give rise to the idea that technology is self-sufficient when too much attention is given to the ‘how’ questions, and not enough to the many ‘why’ questions underlying human activity. For this reason, technology can appear ambivalent. Produced through human creativity as a tool of personal freedom, technology can be understood as a manifestation of absolute freedom, the freedom that seeks to prescind from the limits inherent in things. The process of globalization could replace ideologies with technology, allowing the latter to become an ideological power that threatens to confine us within an a priori that holds us back from encountering being and truth” (n. 70). The phrase reminds me right away of Nietzsche’s statement in which nihilism is that situation that lacks finality and the answer to the why question. Now, it seems not only to lack the answer, but also the very question. Nietzsche appealed to the dissatisfaction of the answers offered by metaphysics in connection with human destiny, thinking that it placed values in a sphere in which human beings could not reach. Now, instead, it seems that technology brings values more accessible to a great number of people. However, such values do not refer to the “why,” but only to the “how,” with the risk of finding answers only to the question for efficiency and utility. Therefore, the Pope states that the substitution of ideologies for technique transforms itself into an ideological power, exceeding its instrumental condition until it becomes a judgment criterion and an offer of a sort of pseudo finality. Unfortunately, it is not about an eventual danger, but of a situation that we can daily verify in politics, economics, social media, and even in the very cultural phenomenon’s, as it testifies to the widespread “new age.” But the field that certainly becomes more burdensome than any other is the biotechnological manipulation of human life itself, depriving it of its received gift character to transform it into a product ordered to the corresponding industry. Therefore, the encyclical wants to offer a judicious and different judgment criterion, which allows an exit from the confinement


of the technological a priori towards the truth of being. For this, it is necessary to restore the question of finality. The text continues: “When the sole criterion of truth is efficiency and utility, development is automatically denied. True development does not consist primarily in ‘doing.’ The key to development is a mind capable of thinking in technological terms and grasping the fully human meaning of human activities, within the context of the holistic meaning of the individual’s being” (n.70). This horizon of meaning is the one proposed from the key textual interpretation which represents the observation of all social events with the eyes of “charity in truth.” Christian anthropology usually summarizes it in the formula “being made for gift,” since all intelligence and human freedom is played in the answer that people want to give to the gift of life received and accepted as a gift. From this horizon, technology is discovered in its humanity. The encyclical says: “Technology –it is worth emphasizing– is a profoundly human reality, linked to the autonomy and freedom of man. In technology we express and confirm the hegemony of the spirit over matter” (n. 69). And appealing to the teachings of John Paul II on human work it continues: “It touches the heart of vocation for human labor: in technology, seen as the product of his genius, man recognizes himself and forges his own humanity. Technology is the objective side of human action whose origin and raison d’être is found in the subjective element: the worker himself. For this reason, technology is never merely technology. It reveals man and his aspirations towards development, it expresses the inner tension that impels him gradually to overcome material limitations. Technology, in this sense, is a response to God’s command to till and to keep the land (cf. Gen 2:15) that he has entrusted to humanity, and it must serve to reinforce the covenant between human beings and the environment, a covenant that should mirror God’s creative love” (n.69). This priority that puts the magisterium in the subjective dimension of human work on its objective dimension is what leads intelligence to discover development as a vocation and a response to the original exhortation of God’s creative love that puts the human being on his path towards his destiny. As Heidegger explains very well, technology is a way of approximation to reality that considers the latter as magnitude; that is to say, as something capable of being measured and compared in its quantity. But this is a capacity which human intelligence is able to discover, and which cannot be applied to the spiritual life, which exceeds all magnitude when it comprehends selfless love and life itself. From technology itself comes the name of “chance,” a word beyond technology which expresses the confession of perplexity, of not knowing the cause or

“Technological development can give rise to the idea that technology is selfsufficient when too much attention is given to the ‘how’ questions, and not enough to the many ‘why’ questions underlying human activity. For this reason, technology can appear ambivalent. Produced through human creativity as a tool of personal freedom, technology can be understood as a manifestation of absolute freedom, the freedom that seeks to prescind from the limits inherent in things. (…)

H 143


(…) The process of globalization could replace ideologies with technology, allowing the latter to become an ideological power that threatens to confine us within an a priori that holds us back from encountering being and truth” (n. 70). The phrase reminds me right away of Nietzsche’s statement in which nihilism is that situation that lacks finality and the answer to the why question. Now, it seems not only to lack the answer, but also the very question.

H 144

origin of the considered reality. For the very spirit of intelligence, chance cannot exist, since the very act of comprehension, including the expression “chance,” is preceded or anticipated by the initial exhortation which provokes in intelligence the act of asking and which puts the latter on the road of thought. Therefore, intelligence that seeks truth is open to charity which by its own nature is excessive and overabundant of the gift. From the action’s point of view, the freedom which arises and comprehends itself from this human tendency toward gift, is not indeterminism or indifference, but the search for the responsibility of one’s own acts, and the rest of humanity with whom we remain related, to lead them to the path which carries out vocation. Therefore, the Pope states that “human freedom is authentic only when it responds to the fascination of technology with decisions that are the fruit of moral responsibility. Hence, the pressing need for formation in an ethically responsible use of technology. Moving beyond the fascination that technology exerts, we must reappropriate the true meaning of freedom, which is not an intoxication with total autonomy, but a response to the call of being, beginning with our own personal being” (n.70). In this sense, one understands the responsibility that human beings have for the realization of common good, which is not a generic general good for all men, but that good which relationally shared allows for the reciprocal realization of vocation. We Christians know that this human vocation which is carried out in goodness, truth, and beauty is called holiness. But even those who have not received the gift of faith will be able to understand that the goods one is expecting can only be a result of the moral responsibility assumed in the communion that comes from a shared culture. I think that many people could understand the message of this encyclical as an answer to the economic and financial crisis experienced by the world in the last two years. You will find numerous passages of this pontifical text that are enlightening in this respect. But the challenges that the Pope identifies at this time of global emergency in society, a worldwide interdependence as he calls it, is much deeper and of broader scope. While Paul VI and John Paul II had been able to still identify, in their respective epochs, the anthropological errors that were nestled in the ideologies that sought the legitimation of different ways of power; Benedict XVI’s new encyclical identifies technology instead with the pretension of human self-sufficiency or with technology itself turned into an “ideological power.” Thereby, the interlocutor of the pontifical discourse is not only the powers of the state and its governments, but all human beings that use technology to produce and rule the daily


rhythm of their work and decision making. The traditional distinction between the public and private sphere is today equally crossed by technology: from economy to health, from sports to formal education, from family to procreation, from mass media to politics. In all these areas and many others, technology embodies this new form of self‑sufficiency which disorients human beings from their purpose, and consequently, from where they can put their hope confidently. The magisterium of this Pope seems to indicate to us that the only thing that can counteract this technology’s unilateral vision of the orientation of the human process and its development is the intelligence that arises from the three theological virtues; since its recognition opens reason to grace, to that which transcends human life, because they do not correspond to the design of a product of human work, but to divine grace which is received with the freedom and responsibility that should correspond to the reception of a gratuitous gift. The invitation, accordingly, is to pass from the “how” questions to the “why” questions, so that they will be a response to the infinite longings of those created in the image and likeness of their Creator, a response which is the only one that can guarantee a social coexistence in justice and peace.

It seems that technology brings values more accessible to a great number of people. However, such values do not refer to the “why,” but only to the “how,” with the risk of finding answers only for the question for efficiency and utility.

Translated by David Billikopf

H 145


NOTES Shakespeare, more “Roman” than “British” by Elizabetta Sala

F

our hundred years after writing The Tem- hidden wish to feel that Shakespeare is “one of pest and his famous “farewell to the theatre,” us”. Because Shakespeare speaks to the heart. William Shakespeare still fascinates the world, nor have his works ceased The heart of his mystery to tread upon the stage. It may be due to his sound reaIn a famous passage in HaExamining the lism, or his poetic mastery, mlet, the two treacherous Shakespearean formula or the universality of his gefriends, Rosencrantz and with some attention, it is nius, or the technical perfecGuildenstern, try to wheedeasy to perceive catholic tion which always works on le the prince’s secret out of sympathy glow – yearning stage. But also because his him: he, being cleverer than for a lost past, sympathy inexhaustible genius, or the them, evades the question towards religious orders “myriad-minded” – to use the with great nonchalance and (normally mocked by well-known adjective coined openly says that they will conformist writers), by Coleridge – is never whonever be able to root out “the curses in the name of lly understood, grasped, or heart of my mystery” (Hamlet saints, the Virgin, relics, engraved within the scheme 3.2, 353-354); is it the author, the Holy Cross: hints and of a culture or an age. Whahere, who speaks in first pergleams which point to tever perspective one may son and defies any superficial confession, to Mass, and frame him in, there is always reading? If so, who are Rosento Purgatory. Therefore, something which escapes us: crantz and Guildenstern? first and foremost, it is a just as in Gioconda’s smile. The heart of his mystery. question of atmosphere, Apart from serious critiOn the one hand, each one of of a certain climate cism, there is always someous has one, is one. Every man, which several eighteenth ne trying to find something beyond the Hamlet subject, century critics with unusual in his DNA. Just to is an unfathomable mystery trained ears did not miss. mention one example: in Italy because he is made in God’s there is the extravagant hyimage, endowed with unlimipothesis that his name could be a copy of “Cro- ted faculties, noble by nature. (cf. 2.2, 305-310). llalanza”, a family of Sicilian emigrants. Un- Therefore, each one of us will forever remain a derlying this absurd pretension is the slightly mystery, except in God’s eyes. Though, on the

H 146

HUMANITAS Nº 3 pp. 146 - 155


ÂŤThe theatre was the only means of mass communication which the government could not entirely control. Shakespeare was undoubtedly a very great artist, a magician of the word, but his message certainly did not stop at the aesthetic level or as pure entertainment.Âť

H 147


other hand, let us go back and talk of a lite- nication which the government could not enrary “mystery”: the works of Shakespeare are tirely control. Shakespeare was undoubtedly pervaded by something mysterious, enigma- a very great artist, a magician of the word, tic, never fully explainable, which of course but his message certainly did not stop at the contributes to his fate. Neither the man nor the aesthetic level or as pure entertainment. work fit in a satisfactory way, and the unenIn this sense it is enlightening to know, ding critical studies, on the one hand, always at least on a broad scale, that the Elizabethan explain more, and on the other, reveal more government represented a minority within and more enigmatic and ambiguous problems. the protestant minority. On a statistical level Whichever way we look at it, what one re- therefore, it is highly likely that those who did ads or sees on the stage is only the tip of the not belong to that restricted circle nourished iceberg – therein lies the Shakespearean fasci- some sort of grief, some sympathy for the old nation. As though playing hide and seek, what faith which was abruptly swept away by an exactly does he mean in this or that phrase Act of Parliament. In other words, the majoriwhich often, as in the game ty of citizens were potentially of the looking glass, lends guilty of treachery and the itself to multiple nuanced ingovernment’s duty, with its Then, in 1601, Shakespeare terpretations? In order to unrefined secret services, was was publicly accused, derstand him, it is necessary to detect the greatest possible point blank, of colludin to approach the author in number of traitors and inject with Father Persons, the this context. We will discover the rest with the necessary teregime’s number one that his reticence, once again, rror to render them harmless. enemy. The accusation had looks very much like that of There emerges a new word, no penal consequences, prince Hamlet’s, who would probably new to most, a new but it must have meant like to speak but cannot: “But offence to be condemned something, since he break, my heart, - for I must hold without compromise: “recuretired from the stage the my tongue.” (1.2, 159). sant”, which describes those following year, at the top As all literary men of that English Catholics who refuof his career and with no time who wrote during one of sed to attend the State’s reliapparent explanation. (…) the harshest dictatorial regigious service ordered by law; mes, even Shakespeare could religious dissidence equal to not say all that he wanted to say; but unlike political dissidence. others, he did not give up. This means that the Examining the Shakespearean formu“mystery” multiplies its several layers which la with some attention, it is easy to perceive must be read between lines; this renders it all catholic sympathy glow – yearning for a lost the more interesting and complicated. past, sympathy towards religious orders (norMy study pursues a very specific side of mally mocked by conformist writers), curses in the Shakespearean appraisal: that which came the name of saints, the Virgin, relics, the Holy to light in the nineteenth century and deals Cross: hints and gleams which point to confeswith his political and religious dissension. sion, to Mass, and to Purgatory. Therefore, first By reconstructing the atmosphere of his age, and foremost, it is a question of atmosphere, it is less difficult to understand what the Bard of a certain climate which several eighteenth of Avon had to say to his contemporaries. The century critics with trained ears did not miss. theatre was the only means of mass commu- From then onwards Shakespeare’s life and

H 148


the extraordinary Jesuit father Edmund Campion, who shortly afterwards was martyred. These are the “lost years” in which Shakespeare mysteriously left wife, young children, brothers, friends, and parents in Stratford and, Biographic-environmental clues on an uncertain date, went to London in search To start with, the environment in which of success in the worst possible manner: as an Shakespeare was brought up was just barely actor. He had chosen the least secure profesnonconformist enough to avoid trouble. In the sion in the world, for amongst the tempests many persecutions which regularly occurred, and prohibitions of the puritanical town couit was difficult not to find names connected ncil, the theatrical world was always on the to Shakespeare. Some examples: his father, verge of being shut down. But, once again, John, hid a spiritual catholic testament in the behind the apparent irrationality of this transfer there emerges a concrete beams of the ceiling, writand logical possibility: that ten by none other than Saint of escape. For just at that time Charles Borromeo and distri(…) But why, two years the Arden family fell in disbuted in England by missiolater, when he had grace as a result of a cathonary Jesuits. The document already left London, lic “plot,” the same as that was found in the seventeenth did he make his first which overturned Edward, century, but its authenticiand only acquisition of and all parents were being ty was only proved in 1923. property in the city, and investigated by the governJohn Shakespeare’s name also then never live there? ment. For centuries tradition appears in the recusant list Why did he turn over has wanted us to believe in compiled in 1592; that of Suto an obscure tenant a an escape due to persecution san, the dramatist’s daughter, part of the Blackfriars for fraud… But come on, let’s appeared in 1606. His mother, Gatehouse palace for a be serious. If it was an escaMary Arden, belonged to an token price? Everything pe, it had to be a flight from old noble family whose head, becomes clearer when one something far more imporEdward Arden, suffered the discovers that the palace tant and dangerous. Once in terrible punishment fitting to was a refuge for priests London, whom did Shakestraitors in 1583, only due to and recusants pursued by peare turn to? He probably his religion. Even Stratford’s the government, whose looked for the protection of school teachers were more or task it probably was to some philo-catholic nobleless friendly to Catholicism pay Shakespeare back with man who had close links and recusants: one of them prayers for his soul. with Lancashire’s recusant fled abroad in order to become families. It is a pity that the a priest, another’s brother was executed because he was a priest. And further- nobleman in question, Ferdinand, Lord Stranmore, there is the famous “Lancashire trail”, ge, displeased some highly placed person and first timidly suggested in 1937 and more force- was eliminated without much fuss. Who by? fully later: young Shakespeare could have left “By the Jesuits,” stated the English governhome to work as a teacher-musician-actor with ment after 1606. “By the government,” suggest some great recusant family in the North, whe- instead “Catholicistic” scholars in the light re he may have come into close contact with of more recent studies. The fact remains that works began to be revisited, fathomed, and reexplored, which resulted in several interesting discoveries.

H 149


rrounded her. Even more interesting is the fact that one of them had recently become pregnant by the same Earl of Southampton. To corroborate the allegory, should the audience not have noticed it, we have the moon’s “sick and green” livery; that of the Queen was white and Works tinged with allegories green. Owing to this, and for no other reason at all the adjective “pale” was subsequently Montague? Yes, it is thename of Romeo’s replaced by “sick”. The danger of the message family. It is interesting to pick up a possible extends itself on various levels: a simple satiambiguous reference to the Queen herself in re, with the beauty of the young lady exalted a passage of the apparently before the sovereign’s wilting innocuous Romeo and Juliet. beauty and envy; or a true From his position under the The small talk did not and real insurgency when one balcony, Romeo calls upon relinquish its prey even considers that the young lady his loved one and compares after his death. At the is invited to “kill” the already her to the sun (2.1): end of the sixteenth dying moon or, in any case, century, the Anglican not to serve it. Such a passage Reverend Davies, the same Arise, fair sun, and kill the could never have been incluman who claimed that envious moon, ded in a Court recital. Shakespeare fleed London Let us now move on to Who is already sick and pale because of persecution other signs. Why, for examfor fraud, declared with grief ple, did Shakespeare cram that Shakespeare “died That thou, her maid, art far the classic dramas with anaa papist.” Certainly he chronistic elements such as more fair than she. died a papist, for he had abbeys, churches, belfries, Be not her maid, since she is remained one his entire and monasteries? In “The life. Nevertheless, envious. Comedy of Errors,” to mention the seventeenth and only one instance, an abbey Her vestal livery is but pale eighteenth centuries next to a moat is used as the and green, redoubled their efforts reference point for an executo erase that stain in And none but fools do wear tion spot. In the 1930’s, it was Shakespeare’s reputation discovered that this fact bears it; cast it off! and transform him in their certain importance; this stage system’s knight. was the same as that of the Why is the lovesick Rofirst theatre Shakespeare wormeo so angry with the moon, ked in: where, after the defeat which is often complicit with lovers? It is an enof the Armada, a catholic priest was executed lightening fact that the moon was an recurrent only for being a catholic priest. Tribute to a and already established symbol of none other martyr? than the Queen herself, Elizabeth “the great”, Priests were persecuted by the regime and the Virgin Queen, clad in Diana’s or Cynthia’s automatically found guilty of high treason garments. It is a shame that she, like them, was only for their presence on English soil (this is not immortal nor eternally young. At the time what happens to the unfortunate merchant in she was over sixty and, in truth, she was jea“The Comedy of Errors”). It is relevant, therefolous of the beauty of the young ladies who suShakespeare had to look for the protection of some other catholic nobleman: the Earl of Southampton, a decendant of the powerful family of the Earls of Montague.

H 150


From his position under the balcony, Romeo calls upon his loved one and compares her to the sun. Why is the lovesick Romeo so angry with the moon, which is often complicit with lovers? It is an enlightening fact that the moon was an recurrent and already established symbol of none other than the Queen.

re, that “merchant” was a code word for “missionary”. Obviously these references were far more explicit for those who recognized them, while they could pass unnoticed to the inattentive eye or profane ear. In “The Merchant of Venice” we find again references to priests and to the barbaric horrors inflicted on them by the regime, in which tearing out the heart was too realistic a punishment and occurred every day. Above all, the missionary being pursued, for whom “no port is free,” is Edgar, in “King Lear”, compelled to disguise himself as a poor demented man so as not to be caught. In this same drama we have one of the most chilling scenes in the whole canon; the torture and blinding (with no due process) of the old Duke of Gloucester, falsely accused of treachery. In Shakespeare,

such a charge is usually reserved for innocent characters who, in fact, are the most faithful, ready to pay for their loyalty with their own lives. At this point, the knowledge of scholarly studies which have detected how the influence of Jesuit writers on the entire canon , above all that of fathers Robert Persons and Robert Southwell, is essential. Reading between the lines, the subversive elements become more and more fixed, even in the comedies and what seem to be quite innocent, classy little poems, and even further, in some of the Sonnets. In “The Rape of Lucrece” there explicitly unreels not an entertaining little story taken from schoolbooks, but a dangerous allegory of the violence inflicted personally on the country by King Henry VIII (later taken up again in different points, but particularly in “A Winter’s

H 151


Tale”); in “Venus and Adonis” is portrayed the his career and with no apparent explanation. political snare of the Elizabethan court which But why, two years later, when he had already damaged young noblemen from catholic fami- left London, did he make his first and only lies; and the list goes on. The recurrent motifs acquisition of property in the city, and then neamaze one which, if found in isolated works, ver live there? Why did he turn over to an obscould not raise any suspicion, but which be- cure tenant a part of the Blackfriars Gatehouse come clear messages through their recurren- palace for a token price? Everything becomes ce throughout the canon. From the earlier to clearer when one discovers that the palace was the mature works, from comedies to tragedies, a refuge for priests and recusants pursued by from historical dramas to romances, we speak the government, whose task it probably was here of the exile of the just, of the right of tyran- to pay Shakespeare back with prayers for his nicide, and, above all, of foreign invasions (of- soul. Perhaps this is the reason why Prospero ten led by those same banished renegades) as in “The Tempest” says farewell to his audience wishing that “your indulgenthe only means to save a couce set me free” (“The Tempest” ntry afflicted and oppressed ep. 20). by its own governors. As all literary men of The small talk did not rethat time who wrote linquish its prey even after Tradition: during one of the his death. At the end of the he died a papist harshest dictatorial sixteenth century, the Anregimes, even Shakespeare glican Reverend Davies, the Here things turn really could not say all that same man who claimed that hot for our dramatist and he wanted to say; but Shakespeare fleed London behis company– so much so unlike others, he did not cause of persecution for fraud, that they were investigated give up. This means that declared that Shakespeare by the government because the “mystery” multiplies “died a papist.” Certainly he one of their dramas had enits several layers which died a papist, for he had recouraged a conspiracy at the must be read between mained one his entire life. palace. We speak of “Richard lines; this renders it all Nevertheless, the seventeenth II” and of Essex’s conspirathe more interesting and and eighteenth centuries recy in 1601. This should have complicated. doubled their efforts to erase left Shakespeare speechless, that stain in Shakespeare’s reyet he immediately presents “Hamlet,” filling it with oblique references to putation and transform him in their system’s the whole affair, as well as yearning for the knight. In spite of all this, however, the mystery of good old times, when the souls in Purgatory asked the living for their help. This must his heart remains, otherwise he wouldn’t be have been supported by important catholic Shakespeare. But many pieces of the puzzle circles, but truly, his boldness is surprising. fall into place, many knots are unraveled, and Then, in 1601, Shakespeare was publicly the Bard of Avon is ever more one of us. Paaccused, point blank, of colludin with Father radoxically, ever more “Roman” and ever less Persons, the regime’s number one enemy. The “British.” accusation had no penal consequences, but it must have meant something, since he retired from the stage the following year, at the top of Translated by Juana Subercaseaux

H 152


Secularization and its mythology according to John Milbank

Secularization and its mythology by Alessandra Gerolin

T

he cultural proposal of the Anglican movement springs precisely from the basis of theologian and philosopher John Milbank this awareness. In the early 90s, Milbank (at appears from the beginning in Theology the time reader in theology and philosophy at and social theory, one of his most significant Cambridge and a Peterhouse fellow) realized how Cambridge University, works (whose first edition together with so many other goes back to 1990): “If theoThe adjective “radical” English universities, was still logy can no longer ‘install’, – proceeds Milbank – ruled by a distinct theologimoderate, or criticize other expresses above all “the cal liberalism. This atmosdiscourses (that is to say, the sense of return (...) to a phere was well described political, economic, cultural, notion which goes beyond by Tom Wright (the present and social discourse) – Milthe false modern dualism Anglican Bishop of Durham bank stresses – these [other between faith and reason, and at the time a student at discourses] will unavoidably grace and nature.” Oxford): “There was a kind ‘install’ it”. With this stateof feeling of frustration in ment the English theologian and philosopher responds to the seculari- the universities and churches as though theozation process which, far from pointing to a logians were becoming disillusioned, saying: progressive “laicism” of temporal power and ‘We can’t believe in this, we can’t believe in society, in fact conceals a specific theological that’”1. Every single cultural perspective was perspective on reality. The Radical Orthodoxy considered relative, as if it were a matter of 1 R. Shortt, Rowan’s Rule, London 2008, p. 59.

H 153


personal “preference”, or “fancy”, or “opi- to sift with unprecedented courage, modern nion”. All the standpoints – including those society, culture, politics, the arts, science and which opposed each other – were thought to philosophy”. In fact, according to the English be equally valid. In such a cultural climate theologian and philosopher, “the great Christhe demands of reason and of the heart were tian critique of the Illuminism (which is vadeeply constrained and people became incre- lued in other aspects by Milbank) – Christoasingly confused. pher Smart, Hamann, Jacobi, Kierkegaard, Within this human and cultural context Péguy, Chesterton and others – shows that in there springs a deep friendship between many ways secularism destroyed and denied Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, Conor Cun- precisely that which it wanted to celebrate: ningham, Graham Ward, Phillip Blond, and the lived life, the expression of being oneself, John Montag, a friendship which immedia- sexuality, the aesthetic experience, and the tely generated a lively culpolitical and human commutural and academic confronnity.”3 “The great Christian tation, leading the group to According to the Radical critique of the Illuminism formulate alternative propoOrthodoxy movement, “the (…) shows that in sals with regards to the presecular theory – Milbank many ways secularism vailing paradigm. synthesizes – does not only destroyed and denied The publication of the borrow from religion intrinprecisely that which it movement’s manifesto, the sically inappropriate patwanted to celebrate: homonymous Radical Orterns of expression (...), but is 2 the lived life, the thodoxy , goes back to 1999: in fact composed, in its secular expression of being “In which way orthodox being, by an “heresy” of oroneself, sexuality, the and in which way radical?” thodox Christianity or by a aesthetic experience, and –Milbank asks himself . Orrejection of Christianity – a the political and human thodoxy (understood in its rejection which seems more community.” simplest form) is adherence “neopagan” than merely anto a Christianity moved by ti-religious”4. a lived faith as well as by In Milbank’s judgment the exemplarity of its patristic roots; but, in a one of the most radical changes which has more specific sense, orthodoxy also consists occurred during modern times consists prein reaffirming that more intense and cohe- cisely in the new meaning taken on by the rent Christianity which was lost after the term sæculum (from which stems the words Low Middle Ages. In that sense, the term ‘or- “secular” and “secularization”). While in thodoxy’ transcends the confessional limits”. Antiquity and in the Middle Ages the notion The adjective “radical” – proceeds Milbank of sæculum indicated a temporal dimension –expresses above all “the sense of return (...) (the lapse between the birth and death of a to a notion which goes beyond the false mo- person), since modern times, this same term dern dualism between faith and reason, gra- instead describes a special dimension – that ce and nature.” “Secondly, ‘radical’ indicates is to say, the secular reality (and therefore the attempt to develop this vision in order “desacralized”) as opposed to the sacred one. 2 J. Milbank, C. Pickstock, G. Ward, Radical Orthodoxy, London 1999. 3 Ibidem, pp. 2-3. 4 J. Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, op. cit., p. 3.

H 154


Thus, with the advent of modernity, there is- which they can dispose. sues a distinct separation between the private According to the Anglican theologian and sphere of living, in which each individual en- philosopher, the only possible way of recovejoys the right to have his own opinions and to ring secular reason consists in recovering a cultivate his own religious convictions, and real and informed experience of faith within the public milieu, which is characterized by the Church. Because of this, theology must the centrality of the new forms of knowledge, always turn to the life of the Church, to the considering that these enjoy greater objectiv- tradition of its thought, to its social and liturity (political science, sociology, the economy, gical practice, avoiding the risk of losing its etc.). In this way secularism establishes an own identity. In fact, this does not mean that artificial separation between theology should be redudeeds – the aspects of reality ced to a self-referential dis“liable to be measured” by These criteria, Milbank cipline; quite the opposite, exact sciences – and values – observes, will reflect the the truth being as Milbank personal convictions and relogic imposed on by the affirms, remembering the ligious beliefs, of which there dominant powers, which genesis of Theology and Socan be no certainty. The great define themselves – lying cial Theory: “I was influenced lie which characterizes secu– as neutral, in spite of by the idea (…) according to exercising absolute power larism consists in the fact which theology has no pro(according to the new that, both in personal life, per significant argument and meaning taken on by the and in public and social life, consists, rather, in the search word dominum) over all of judgments are stated and deof how God’s manifestation which they can dispose. cisions taken permanently, makes each thing different.”5 always referring to “values”. In the author’s judgment, the Nevertheless, if these do not withdrawal of faith and of stem from a critical judgment and from a per- the works deriving from it to a purely private sonal and communitarian verification (in as dimension, and the invention of the concept much as they would only be an expression of “neutral public space” are, consequently, the a “private” preference and therefore a “sub- most relevant consequences of the forsaking jective” one), what would be the criteria for of that vision which recognized in God the developing a judgment and for making an origin of all reality and all knowledge. Preelection? These criteria, Milbank observes, cisely this “secularized” perspective, proper will reflect the logic imposed on by the domi- of a certain modern culture, generates a renant powers, which define themselves – ly- duction from “gift” to “datum” and prevents ing – as neutral, in spite of exercising abso- the acknowledgment of life as a gift, the only lute power (according to the new meaning dimension in which authentic for-give-ness taken on by the word dominum) over all of can occur.

Translated by Juana Subercaseaux. 5 R. Shortt, Radical Orthodoxy, a conversation, in J. Milbank, S. Oliver, The Radical Orthodoxy Reader, Abingdon 2009, p. 30.

H 155


H 156


The Pope in his own words

Holy Mass for the Opening of the Year of Faith Homily of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI Saint Peter’s Square Thursday, 11 October 2012

T

oday, fifty years from the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, we begin with great joy the Year of Faith. I am delighted to greet all of you, particularly His Holiness Bartholomaois I, Patriarch of Constantinople, and His Grace Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. A special greeting goes to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and to the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences. In order to evoke the Council, which some present had the grace to experience for themselves - and I greet them with particular affection - this celebration has been enriched by several special signs: the opening procession, intended to recall the memorable one of the Council Fathers when they entered this Basilica; the enthronement of the Book of the Gospels with the same book that was used at the Council; the consignment of the seven final Messages of the Council, and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I will do before the final blessing. These signs

HUMANITAS Nº 3 pp. 156 - 169

help us not only to remember, they also offer us the possibility of going beyond commemorating. They invite us to enter more deeply into the spiritual movement which characterized Vatican II, to make it ours and to develop it according to its true meaning. And its true meaning was and remains faith in Christ, the apostolic faith, animated by the inner desire to communicate Christ to individuals and all people, in the Church’s pilgrimage along the pathways of history. The Year of Faith which we launch today is linked harmoniously with the Church’s whole path over the last fifty years: from the Council, through the Magisterium of the Servant of God Paul VI, who proclaimed a Year of Faith in 1967, up to the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, with which Blessed John Paul II re-proposed to all humanity Jesus Christ as the one Saviour, yesterday, today and forever. Between these two Popes, Paul VI and John Paul II, there was a deep and complete convergence, precisely

H 157


The most important thing, especially on such a significant occasion as this, is to revive in the whole Church that positive tension, that yearning to announce Christ again to contemporary man. But, so that this interior thrust towards the new evangelization neither remain just an idea nor be lost in confusion, it needs to be built on a concrete and precise basis, and this basis is the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the place where it found expression. upon Christ as the centre of the cosmos and of history, and upon the apostolic eagerness to announce him to the world. Jesus is the centre of the Christian faith. The Christian believes in God whose face was revealed by Jesus Christ. He is the fulfilment of the Scriptures and their definitive interpreter. Jesus Christ is not only the object of the faith but, as it says in the Letter to the Hebrews, he is “the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith” (12:2). Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ, consecrated by the Father in the Holy Spirit, is the true and perennial subject of evangelization. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18). This mission of Christ, this movement of his continues in space and time, over centuries and continents. It is a movement which starts with the Father and, in the power of the Spirit, goes forth to bring the good news to the poor, in both a material and a spiritual sense. The Church is the first and necessary instrument of this work of Christ because

H 158

it is united to him as a body to its head. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21), says the Risen One to his disciples, and breathing upon them, adds, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (v.22). Through Christ, God is the principal subject of evangelization in the world; but Christ himself wished to pass on his own mission to the Church; he did so, and continues to do so, until the end of time pouring out his Spirit upon the disciples, the same Spirit who came upon him and remained in him during all his earthly life, giving him the strength “to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” and “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19). The Second Vatican Council did not wish to deal with the theme of faith in one specific document. It was, however, animated by a desire, as it were, to immerse itself anew in the Christian mystery so as to re-propose it fruitfully to contemporary man. The Servant of God Paul VI, two years after the end of the Council session, expressed it in this way: “Even if the

The Council Fathers wished to present the faith in a meaningful way; and if they opened themselves trustingly to dialogue with the modern world it is because they were certain of their faith, of the solid rock on which they stood. In the years following, however, many embraced uncritically the dominant mentality, placing in doubt the very foundations of the deposit of faith, which they sadly no longer felt able to accept as truths.


Recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual “desertification”. In the Council’s time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us. This void has spread. But it is in starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us, men and women. (…) Council does not deal expressly with the faith, it talks about it on every page, it recognizes its vital and supernatural character, it assumes it to be whole and strong, and it builds upon its teachings. We need only recall some of the Council’s statements in order to realize the essential importance that the Council, consistent with the doctrinal tradition of the Church, attributes to the faith, the true faith, which has Christ for its source and the Church’s Magisterium for its channel” (General Audience, 8 March 1967). Thus said Paul VI in 1967. We now turn to the one who convoked the Second Vatican Council and inaugurated it: Blessed John XXIII. In his opening speech, he presented the principal purpose of the Council in this way: “What above all concerns the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be safeguarded and taught more effectively […] Therefore, the principal purpose of this Council is not the discussion of this or that doctrinal theme… a Council is not required for that… [but] this certain and immutable doctrine, which is to be faithfully

respected, needs to be explored and presented in a way which responds to the needs of our time” (AAS 54 [1962], 790,791-792). So said Pope John at the inauguration of the Council. In the light of these words, we can understand what I myself felt at the time: during the Council there was an emotional tension as we faced the common task of making the truth and beauty of the faith shine out in our time, without sacrificing it to the demands of the present or leaving it tied to the past: the eternal presence of God resounds in the faith, transcending time, yet it can only be welcomed by us in our own unrepeatable today. Therefore I believe that the most important thing, especially on such a significant occasion as this, is to revive in the whole Church that positive tension, that yearning to announce Christ again to contemporary man. But, so that this interior thrust towards the new evangelization neither remain just an idea nor be lost in confusion, it needs to be built on a concrete and precise basis, and this basis is the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the place where it found expression. This is why I have often insisted on the need to return, as it were, to the “letter” of the Council – that is to its texts – also to draw from them its authentic spirit, and why I have repeated that the true

(…) In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive.

H 159


Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path. legacy of Vatican II is to be found in them. Reference to the documents saves us from extremes of anachronistic nostalgia and running too far ahead, and allows what is new to be welcomed in a context of continuity. The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a living faith in a world of change. If we place ourselves in harmony with the authentic approach which Blessed John XXIII wished to give to Vatican II, we will be able to realize it during this Year of Faith, following the same path of the Church as she continuously endeavours to deepen the deposit of faith entrusted to her by Christ. The Council Fathers wished to present the faith in a meaningful way; and if they opened themselves trustingly to dialogue with the modern world it is because they were certain of their faith, of the solid rock on which they stood. In the years following, however, many embraced uncritically the dominant mentality, placing in doubt the very foundations of the deposit of faith, which they sadly no longer felt able to accept as truths. If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honour an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago! And the reply to be given to this need is the one desired by the Popes, by the Council Fathers and contained in its documents. Even the initiative to create a Pontifical Council for the promotion of the new evangelization, which I thank for its special effort for the Year of Faith, is to be understood in this context. Recent

H 160

decades have seen the advance of a spiritual “desertification”. In the Council’s time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us. This void has spread. But it is in starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us, men and women. In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive. Living faith opens the heart to the grace of God which frees us from pessimism. Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path. The first reading spoke to us of the wisdom of the wayfarer (cf. Sir 34:9-13): the journey is a metaphor for life, and the wise wayfarer is one who has

This is how we can picture the Year of Faith: a pilgrimage in the deserts of today’s world, taking with us only what is necessary: neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money, nor two tunics – as the Lord said to those he was sending out on mission, but the Gospel and the faith of the Church, of which the Council documents are a luminous expression, as is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published twenty years ago.


learned the art of living, and can share it with his brethren – as happens to pilgrims along the Way of Saint James or similar routes which, not by chance, have again become popular in recent years. How come so many people today feel the need to make these journeys? Is it not because they find there, or at least intuit, the meaning of our existence in the world? This, then, is how we can picture the Year of Faith, a pilgrimage in the deserts of today’s world, taking with us only what is necessary: neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money, nor two tunics – as the Lord said to those he was sending out on mission (cf. Lk 9:3), but the Gospel and the faith of the Church, of which the Council documents are a

luminous expression, as is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published twenty years ago. Venerable and dear Brothers, 11 October 1962 was the Feast of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. Let us entrust to her the Year of Faith, as I did last week when I went on pilgrimage to Loreto. May the Virgin Mary always shine out as a star along the way of the new evangelization. May she help us to put into practice the Apostle Paul’s exhortation, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom […] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:16-17). Amen.

“Queen” is a title of trust, joy and love

T

oday is the liturgical Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoked by the title: “Queen”. It is a recently instituted feast, although its origins and the devotion to her are ancient. It was in fact established in 1954, at the end of the Marian Year, by Venerable Pius XII who fixed the date as 31 May (cf. Encyclical Letter Ad Caeli Reginam, 11 October 1954: AAS 46 [1954], 625-640). On this occasion the Pope said that Mary was Queen more than any other creature because of the sublime dignity of her soul and the excellence of the gifts she received. She never ceases to bestow upon humanity all the treasures of her love and tender care (cf. Discourse in honour of Mary Queen, 1 November 1954). Now, after the post-conciliar reform of the liturgical calendar, this feast is set eight days after the Solemnity of the Assumption to emphasize the close link between Mary’s royal nature and her glorifi-

cation in body and soul beside her Son. In the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church we read: Mary “was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory... and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son” (Lumen Gentium, n. 59). This is the origin of today’s feast: Mary is Queen because she is uniquely conformed to her Son, both on the earthly journey and in heavenly glory. Ephrem the Syrian, Syria’s great saint, said of Mary’s queenship that it derives from her motherhood: she is Mother of the Lord, of the King of kings (cf. Is 9:1-6) and she points Jesus out to us as our life, our salvation and our hope. In his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus the Servant of God Paul VI recalled: “In the Virgin Mary everything is relative to Christ and dependent upon him. It was with a view

H 161


to Christ that God the Father, from all eternity, chose her to be the all-holy Mother and adorned her with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else” (n. 25). Now however, let us ask ourselves: what does “Mary Queen” mean? Is it solely a title, together with others, a crown, an ornament like others? What does it mean? What is this queenship? As mentioned above, it is a consequence of her being united to the Son, of her being in heaven, that is, in communion with God; she shares in God’s responsibility for the world and in God’s love for the world. There is a worldly or common idea of a king or queen: a person with great power and wealth. But this is not the kind of royalty of Jesus and Mary. Let us think of the Lord; the royalty and kingship of Christ is interwoven with humility, service and love. It is above all serving, helping and loving. Let us remember that Jesus on the Cross was proclaimed king with this inscription written by Pilate: “The King of the Jews” (cf. Mk 15:26). On the Cross, at that moment, he is shown to be King; and how is he King? By suffering with us and for us, by loving to the end, and in this way governing and creating truth, love and justice. Let us also think of another moment: at the Last Supper he bows down to wash the feet of his followers. Consequently Jesus’ kingship has nothing to do with that of the powerful of this earth. He is a King who serves his servants; he demonstrated this throughout his life; and the same is true of Mary. She is Queen in her service to God for humanity, she is a Queen of love who lives the gift of herself to God so as to enter into the plan of man’s salvation. She answered the Angel: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” (cf. Lk 1:38) and in the Magnificat she sings: God has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden (cf. Lk 1:48). She helps us. She is Queen precisely by loving us, by helping us in our every need; she is our sister, a humble handmaid. And so we have already reached this point:

H 162

how does Mary exercise this queenship of service and love? By watching over us, her children: the children who turn to her in prayer, to thank her or to ask her for her motherly protection and her heavenly help, perhaps after having lost our way, or when we are oppressed by suffering or anguish because of the sorrowful and harrowing vicissitudes of life. In serenity or in life’s darkness let us address Mary, entrusting ourselves to her continuous intercession so that she may obtain for us from the Son every grace and mercy we need for our pilgrimage on the highways of the world. Through the Virgin Mary let us turn with trust to the One who rules the world and holds in his hand the future of the universe. For centuries she has been invoked as the celestial Queen of Heaven; in the Litany of Loreto after the prayer of the holy Rosary, she is implored eight times: as Queen of Angels, of Patriarchs, of Prophets, of Apostles, of Martyrs, of Confessors, of Virgins, of all the Saints and of Families. The rhythm of these ancient invocations and daily prayers, such as the Salve Regina, help us to understand that the Blessed Virgin, as our Mother beside her Son Jesus in the glory of heaven, is always with us in the daily events of our life. The title “Queen” is thus a title of trust, joy and love. And we know that the One who holds a part of the world’s destinies in her hand is good, that she loves us and helps us in our difficulties. Dear friends, the devotion to Our Lady is an important element of spiritual life. In our prayers let us not fail to address her with trust. Mary will not fail to intercede for us with her Son. Looking at her, let us imitate her faith, her full availability to God’s plan of love, her generous acceptance of Jesus. Let us learn how to live from Mary. Mary is the Queen of Heaven who is close to God but she is also the Mother who is close to each one of us, who loves us and listens to our voice. Thank you for your attention. (Castelgandolfo, 20 August 2012)


Paragraphs chosen from the series of catechesis that His Holiness Benedict XVI has dedicated to the theme of prayer during successive Wednesday general audiences.

This situation would change if the community all spoke together with God

I

would like to highlight another aspect of Peter’s attitude in prison. In fact, we note that while the Christian community is praying earnestly from him, Peter “was sleeping” (Acts 12:6). In a critical situation of serious danger, it is an attitude that might seem strange, but instead denotes tranquility and faith. He trusts God. He knows he is surrounded by the solidarity and prayers of his own people and completely abandons himself into the hands

Peter trusts God. He knows he is surrounded by the solidarity and prayers of his own people and completely abandons himself into the hands of the Lord. So it must be with our prayer, assiduous, in solidarity with others, fully trusting that God knows us in our depths and takes care of us to the point that Jesus says “even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore” (Mt 10:30-31).

of the Lord. So it must be with our prayer, assiduous, in solidarity with others, fully trusting that God knows us in our depths and takes care of us to the point that Jesus says “even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore” (Mt 10:30-31). Peter lives through that night of imprisonment and release from prison as a moment of his discipleship with the Lord who overcomes the darkness of night and frees him from the chains of slavery and the threat of death. His is a miraculous release, marked by various accurately described steps, guided by the Angel, despite the monitoring of the guards, through the first and second guard posts, up to the iron doors to exit to the city, with the door opening by itself in front of them (cf. Acts 12:10). Peter and the Angel of the Lord make their way together down a stretch of the street until, coming back to himself, the Apostle realizes that the Lord really freed him and, after having reflected on the matter, went to the house of Mary the mother of Mark where many disciples were gathered in prayer. Once again the community’s response to difficulty and danger is to trust in God, strengthening the relationship with Him. Here it seems useful to recall another difficult situation that the early Christian community experienced. St James speaks of it in his Letter. It is a community in crisis, in difficulty, not so much because of persecution,

H 163


but because of the jealousies and contentions within it (cf. Jas 3:14-16). The Apostle wonders about the reason for this situation. He finds two primary motives. The first is that they let themselves be carried away by their emotions, by the dictates of their own interests, by selfishness (cf. Jas 4:1-2a). The second is the lack of

In fact, even talking about God runs the risk of loosing inner strength and the testimony dries up if they are not animated, sustained and accompanied by prayer, by continuity of a living dialogue with the Lord.

H 164

prayer –“you do not ask” (Jas 4:2b)– or a kind of a prayer that cannot qualify as such –“You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (Jas 4:3). This situation would change, according to St James, if the community all spoke together with God, truly praying assiduously and unanimously. In fact, even talking about God runs the risk of loosing inner strength and the testimony dries up if they are not animated, sustained and accompanied by prayer, by continuity of a living dialogue with the Lord. An important reminder also for us and our communities, both the small ones like the family and the bigger ones like the parish, the diocese and the entire Church. And it makes me think that they prayed in this community of St James, but prayed wrongly, solely for their own passions. We must always learn again how to pray pro-


perly, truly pray, moving towards God and not towards our own good. Instead, the community that is concerned about Peter’s imprisonment is a community that truly prays the entire night, deeply united. And it is overwhelming joy that fills the hearts of all when the Apostle unexpectedly knocks at the door. It is joy and amazement in light of the actions of the God who listens. Thus, from the Church arises the prayer for Peter and to the Church he returns to tell “how the Lord had brought him out of the prison” (Acts 12:17). In that Church where he is set as a rock (cf. Mt 16:18), Peter recounts his “Passover” of liberation. He experiences true freedom in following Jesus. He is enveloped in the radiant light of the Resurrection and can therefore testify to the point of martyrdom that the Lord is Risen and “sent his Angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod” (Acts 12:11). The martyrdom he was to suffer in Rome will definitively unite him with Christ, who had told him: when you are old, another will take you where you do not want to go, to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God (cf. Jn 21:18-19). Dear brothers and sisters, the episode of the liberation of Peter as told by Luke tells us that the Church, each of us, goes through the night of trial. But it is unceasing vigilance in prayer that sustains us. I too, from the first moment of my election as the Successor of St Peter, have always felt supported by your prayer, by the prayers of the Church, especially in moments

Each of us, goes through the night of trial. But it is unceasing vigilance in prayer that sustains us. I too, from the first moment of my election as the Successor of St Peter, have always felt supported by your prayer, by the prayers of the Church, especially in moments of great difficulty. of great difficulty. My heartfelt thanks. With constant and faithful prayer the Lord releases us from the chains, guides us through every night of imprisonment that can gnaw at our hearts. He gives us the peace of heart to face the difficulties of life, persecution, opposition and even rejection. Peter’s experience shows us the power of prayer. And the Apostle, though in chains, feels calm in the certainty of never being alone. The community is praying for him. The Lord is near him. He indeed knows that Christ’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). Constant and unanimous prayer is also a precious tool to overcome any trial that may arise on life’s journey, because it is being deeply united to God that allows us also to be united to others. (Vatican, 9 May 2012)

It makes me think that they prayed in this community, but prayed wrongly, solely for their own passions. We must always learn again how to pray properly, truly pray, moving towards God and not towards our own good.

H 165


For prayer becomes the daily breath of our soul

O

ne element that the Apostle would have us understand is that prayer should not be seen simply as a good deed done by us to God, our own action. It is, above all, a gift, the fruit of the living presence, the life-giving presence of the Father and of Jesus Christ in us. In the Letter to the Romans, he writes: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (8:26). And we know how true it is when the Apostle says: “we do not know how to pray as we ought”. We want to pray, but God is far, we do not have the words, the language, to speak with God, not even the thought. We can only open ourselves, set our time at the disposal of God, waiting for him to help us enter into true dialogue. The Apostle says: this very lack of words, this absence of words, even the desire to enter into contact with God is a prayer that the Holy Spirit not only understands, but carries, interprets, to God. It is precisely our

This very lack of words, this absence of words, even the desire to enter into contact with God is a prayer that the Holy Spirit not only understands, but carries, interprets, to God. It is precisely our weakness which becomes, through the Holy Spirit, true prayer, true contact with God.

H 166

weakness which becomes, through the Holy Spirit, true prayer, true contact with God. The Holy Spirit is almost the interpreter who makes God and us ourselves understand what we want to say. In prayer we experience, more so than in other dimensions of life, our weakness, our poverty, our being created, because we stand before the omnipotence and the transcendence of God. And the more we progress in listening to and dialoguing with God, for prayer becomes the daily breathe of our soul, the more we perceive the meaning of our limits, not just before the concrete situations of every day but in our relationship with the Lord too. Growing within us is the need to trust, to trust ever more in him; we understand that “we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8:26). And it is the Holy Spirit who helps us in our incapacity, who illuminates our minds and warms our hearts, guiding us to turn to God. For St Paul prayer is above all the work of the Spirit in our humanity, taking charge of our weakness and transforming us from men attached to the material world into spiritual men. In the First Letter to the Corinthians he writes: “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit” (2:12-13). With his dwelling in our human frailty, the Holy Spirit changes us, intercedes for us, leads us toward the heights of God (cf. Rom 8:26). (Vatican, 16 May 2012)


For him we are not anonymous, but have a name

P

erhaps people today fail to perceive the beauty, greatness and profound consolation contained in the word “father” with which we can turn to God in prayer because today the father figure is often not sufficiently present and all too often is not sufficiently positive in daily life. The father’s absence, the problem of a father who is not present in a child’s life, is a serious problem of our time. It therefore becomes difficult to understand what it means to say that God is really our Father. From Jesus himself, from his filial relationship with God, we can learn what “father” really means and what is the true nature of the Father who is in heaven. Critics of religion have said that speaking of the “Father”, of God, is a projection of our ancestors in heaven. But the opposite is true: in the Gospel Christ shows us who is the father and as he is a true father we can understand true fatherhood and even learn true fatherhood. Let us think of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount where he says: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who

He is Love and in our prayers as children we too enter this circuit of love, the love of God that purifies our desires, our attitudes marked by closure, self-sufficiency, and the typical selfishness of the former man.

persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:44-45). It is the very love of Jesus, the Only-Begotten Son –who goes even to the point of giving himself on the Cross– that reveals to us the true nature of the Father: he is Love and in our prayers as children we too enter this circuit of love, the love of God that purifies our desires, our attitudes marked by closure, self-sufficiency, and the typical selfishness of the former man. We could therefore say that God in being Father has two dimensions. First of all God is our Father because he is our Creator. Each one of us, each man and each woman, is a miracle of God, is wanted by him and is personally known by him. When it says in the Book of Genesis that the human being is created in the image of God (cf. 1:27), it tries to express this precise reality: God is our Father, for him we are not anonymous, impersonal beings but have a name. And a phrase in the Psalms always moves me when I pray. “Your hands have made and fashioned me”, says the Psalmist (Ps 119[118]:73). In this beautiful image each one of us can express his personal relationship with God. “Your hands have fashioned me. You thought of me and created and wanted me”. Nonetheless this is still not enough. The Spirit of Christ opens us to a second dimension of God’s fatherhood, beyond creation, since Jesus is the “Son” in the full sense of “one in being with the Father”, as we profess in the Creed. Becoming a human being like us, with his Incarnation, death and Resurrection, Jesus in his turn accepts us in his humanity and even in his being Son, so that we too may enter into his specific belonging to God. Of course,

H 167


Of course, our being children of God does not have the fullness of Jesus. We must increasingly become so throughout the journey of our Christian existence, developing in the following of Christ and in communion with him so as to enter ever more intimately into the relationship of love with God the Father which sustains our life.

H 168

our) being children of God does not have the fullness of Jesus. We must increasingly become so throughout the journey of our Christian existence, developing in the following of Christ and in communion with him so as to enter ever more intimately into the relationship of love with God the Father which sustains our life. It is this fundamental reality that is disclosed to us when we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit and he makes us turn to God saying “Abba!�, Father. We have truly preceded creation, entering into adoption with Jesus; united, we are really in God and are his children in a new way, in a new dimension. (Vatican, 23 May 2012)


The amen

I

ndeed Paul lived amidst great trials, he had to pass through much difficulty and affliction but he never gave in to discouragement. He was sustained by the grace and closeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, for whom he had become an apostle and a witness, putting his whole life into Jesus’ hands. For this very reason Paul begins this Letter with a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving to God, since in his life as an Apostle of Christ he never, not even for a single moment, felt deprived of the support of the merciful Father, the God of all comfort. His suffering was appalling, as he says in this very Letter, but in all these situations, when it seemed that there was no way out, he received consolation and comfort from God. He was also persecuted for proclaiming Christ and even thrown into prison, but he always felt inwardly free, enlivened by Christ’s presence and keen to proclaim the word of hope of the Gospel. So it was that he wrote from prison to Timothy, his faithful collaborator. In chains, he wrote, “the word of God is not fettered. Therefore I endure everything for the [God’s] sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which in Christ Jesus goes with

eternal glory” (2 Tim 2:9b-10). In suffering for Christ, he experiences God’s consolation. He writes: “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor 1:5). (…) Dear brothers and sisters, our life and our journey are frequently marked by difficulty, misunderstanding and suffering. We all know it. In a faithful relationship with the Lord, in constant, daily prayer, we too can feel tangibly the consolation that comes from God. And this strengthens our faith, because it enables us to have an actual experience of God’s “yes” to man, to us, to me, in Christ. It makes us feel the fidelity of his love which even extended to the gift of his Son on the Cross. St Paul says, “for the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God” (2 Cor 1:19-20). The “yes” of God is not halved, it is not somewhere between “yes” and “no”, but is a sound and simple “yes”. And we respond to this “yes” with our own “yes”, with our “amen”, and so we are sure of the “yes” of God. (Vatican, 23 May 2012)

H 169


THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD

Synod of Bishops

Pope Benedict XVI opened the Synod of Bishops with Mass at St. Peter’s Square

On Sunday 7 October 2012 Pope Benedict XVI officially opened The Synod of Bishops, under the theme of “The New Evangelization and the Transmission of the Christian Faith” with the celebration of Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday. The Holy Father also proclaimed St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Church. During his homily, the Holy Father reflected on the na-

H 170

ture of the new evangelization, and the call of Christ to his disciples to announce the Gospel around the whole world. Pope Benedict XVI stressed the role of the Catholic Church, saying that the “Church exists to evangelize.” “Even in our own times, the Holy Spirit has nurtured in the Church a new effort to announce the Good News, a pastoral and spiritual dynamism which found a more

HUMANITAS Nº 3 pp. 170 - 202


universal expression and its most authoritative impulse in the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council,” the Pope said. “Such renewed evangelical dynamism produces a beneficent influence on the two specific “branches” developed by it, that is, on the one hand the Missio ad Gentes or announcement of the Gospel to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ and his message of salvation, and on the other the New Evangelization, directed principally at those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life.” The Pope reiterated the Synodal Assembly’s purpose to evangelize to those who have strayed from the faith saying its rediscovery can be a “source of grace which brings joy and hope to personal, family and social life.” Contemplating on the theme of marriage found in the first reading and Gospel of Sunday, the Holy Father emphasized the importance of the sacrament of Marriage, calling it “a Gospel in itself.” The Pope also stated that the crisis of faith is inherently linked to the crisis of marriage in today’s society. “Marriage, as a union of faithful and indissoluble love, is based upon the grace that comes from the triune God, who in Christ loved us with a faithful love, even to the Cross,” the pope said. “Today we ought to grasp the full truth of this statement, in contrast to the painful reality of many marriages which, unhappily, end badly.” A Call to Holiness

Pope Benedict XVI, in recalling the Second Vatican Council’s call to holiness for all Christians, specifically regarded the saints as “pioneers and bringers of the new evangelization.” The Holy Father presented St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen, who were both proclaimed Doctors of the Church during the Mass, as examples of the call of all Christians to announce the Good News. Saying that the call to holiness also helps us to contemplate on the fragility, and even sins of Christians, the Pope emphasized that it is not possible to speak of the New Evangelization without “a sincere desire for conversion.” The Holy Father concluded his homily asking the intercession of the saints and “great evangelizers”, particularly his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, referring to the late Pope’s pontificate as “an example of the new evangelization.”

Pope highlights importance of Passion for announcing Christ to the world In his address at the thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (8 October 2012), Pope Benedict XVI highlighted two key themes for the day’s discussion on the New Evangelization: the passion for announcing Christ to the world and the knowledge that God acts in the Church. The theme of the Synod is “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” The Holy Father explained that the question as to whether God is real is as urgent today as it was in the past. “With the Gospel, God broke His silence; He spoke to us and entered into history. Jesus is His Word, the God Who showed that He loved us, Who suffered with us even unto death, then rose again,” the Pope said the assembly of bishops. “This is the Church’s response to that great question. Yet there is another question: how to communicate this truth to the men and women of our time that they might learn of salvation? We cannot make the Church. We can only make known what He did. The Church did not begin with our actions but with the actions and word of God.” Addressing the Synod after praying with the General Assembly, the Supreme Pontiff reflected on Pentecost and how the Apostles received the Holy Spirit while gathered in prayer in the Upper Room. “The fact, then, that each Synodal assembly begins with prayer is no mere formality. Rather, it is evidence of our awareness that the initiative is always God’s. We may implore it, but the Church can only cooperate with God,” the Holy Father said. Pope Benedict XVI also said that upon achieving this awareness, the second step is “confession”, or rather, bearing witness even in dangerous situations. “It is precisely such witness in moments of difficulty that is a guarantee of credibility, because it implies a readiness to give our lives for that in which we believe,” the Pope said. “Yet, confession requires a visible form, a ‘clothing’. This is charity, the most powerful force which must burn in the hearts of Christians.” Faith, the Holy Father concluded, “must become a flame of love within us, a flame which burns in our lives and is propagated to our neighbors. This is the essence of evangelization.”

H 171


Year of Faith

Plenary Indulgence for the Year of Faith According to a decree signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Benedict XVI will grant faithful Plenary Indulgence for the occasion of the Year of Faith. “Since the primary objective is to develop sanctity of life to the highest degree possible on this earth, and thus to attain the most sublime level of pureness of soul, immense benefit may be derived from the great gift of Indulgences which, by virtue of the power conferred upon her by Christ, the Church offers to everyone who, following the due norms, undertakes the special prescripts to obtain them.” “During the Year of Faith, which will last from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013, Plenary Indulgence for the temporal punishment of sins, imparted by the mercy of God and applicable also to the souls of deceased faithful, may be obtained by all faithful who, truly penitent, take Sacramental Confession and the Eucharist and pray in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.” For more information about Plenary Indulgence for the Year of Faith visit www.review.humanitas.cl

H 172

Greetings of Ecumenical Patriarch at Vatican II anniversary celebration At the conclusion of the Mass to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople addressed Pope Benedict XVI and the Bishops and Faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. In his remarks, Patriarch Bartholomew —the “primus inter pares”, the “first among equals” in the Eastern Orthodox Communion— said he was honored to be invited and to attend “this solemn and festive commemoration of the Second Vatican Council”. He said, “It is fitting that this occasion also marks for your Church the formal inauguration of the ‘Year of Faith’, as it is faith that provides a visible sign of the journey we have traveled together along the path of reconciliation and visible unity.”


YEAR OF FAITH 2012-2013 Year of Faith Calendar Events that will be attended by Pope Benedict XVI The Holy See has published on 21 June 2012 the full official calendar of events pertaining to the Year of Faith that began on 11 October 2012 and will conclude on 24 November 2012. We present those events that will be attended by Pope from 25 January 2013. • On 25 January will take place the ecumenical celebration at the Roman basilica of St. Paul’s Outside-theWalls, which will be celebrated solemnly. • Saturday, 2 February: Pope Benedict is then due to preside at the celebration for the World Day for Consecrated Life. • Palm Sunday on 24 March, the celebration is dedicated to the young people who are preparing for the World Youth Day. • On April 28 the Pope will confirm a group of young people and meet with others who recently have been or are about to be confirmed in their home countries. • Sunday 5 May will be dedicated to the faith expressed in the popular piety, which is a particular form of popular faith and gives life to Confraternities. • On 18 May, the eve of Pentecost, Catholic movements, both old and new, will gather in St. Peter’s Square. • On 2 June, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the pope will lead the solemn adoration of the Eucharist and is asking every cathedral and parish to have an hour of silent contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament at exactly the same hour. • Two weeks later, on 16 June, Pope Benedict will preside over a celebration of the church’s witness to the dignity and value of every human life.

A ship symbolizes the Church. The mast of the vessel is a cross with full-blown sails which form the monogram of Christ (IHS) and in the background is a sun representing the Eucharist.

• On 7 July seminarians and novices from all over the world will conclude their pilgrimage by gathering in St. Peter’s Square. • From 23 to 28 July: World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. • The 29 September will be dedicated to catechists on the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. • On 13 October the Pope will celebrate a Marian Day together with a host of Marian Associations. • On 24 November will be the closing celebration of the Year of Faith. There will be many other initiatives, such as those of departments that will celebrate the Second Vatican Council 50th Anniversary with various conferences and cultural activities. There will also be great cultural events that include art, literature and music, where so many men and women have expressed their genius and their faith. Notable among these events is an exhibition on St. Peter to be held at Castel Sant’ Angelo from 7 February to 1 May, and a huge concert in St. Peter’s Square on 22 June.

H 173


The Final Judgement, British Alabaster. S. XVI.

H 174


Why the Year of Faith?

The right of God over what is his own

Why the Year of Faith? The question is not rhetorical and deserves an answer, especially in light of the great expectation being recorded in the Church for such an event. Benedict XVI initiated this momentum when he declared: “The mission of the Church, like that of Christ, is essentially to speak of God, to remember his sovereignty, to remind all, especially Christians who have lost their own identity, of the right of God to what belongs to him, that is, our life. Precisely in order to give a fresh impetus to the mission of the whole Church to lead human beings out of the wilderness in which they often find themselves to the place of life: the friendship with Christ that gives us life in fullness”. This is the main purpose, so as not to forget what characterizes our life: belief. To exit from the desert, bringing the silence of those who have nothing to say, we receive the joy of faith, and thus speak of it in a renewed manner. This year therefore is aimed primarily at the whole Church so that in the face of the dramatic crisis of faith which touches many Christians, she will be able to show once again and with renewed enthusiasm the true face of Christ which calls her sequela. It is a year for all, because through the perpetual journey of faith, we feel the need to reinvigorate our steps, which at times become tired and slow, in order to give firm witness to our faith. Those who understand

their weakness, that often takes the shape of indifference and agnosticism, strive to find lost meaning and to understand the value of belonging to a community– true antidote to the bareness of the individualism of our time. In “Porta Fidei”, Benedict XVI write that this “door of faith is always open.” This means that no one can feel excluded from wondering about the meaning of life and the important questions that strike us due to the persistence of complex crises . Asking the question of faith does not mean withdrawing oneself from the world, rather it means being conscious of the responsibility that one has in regards to humanity at this historical juncture. This year is a year when prayer and reflection must be combined with the intelligence of faith. We cannot allow for believers to rush blindly into various fields of science in order to make their work more professional, and thus finding themselves with a weak and insufficient knowledge of the faith– an unforgivable imbalance which does not permit our personal identity to grow and which prevents us from giving accountability to our choices.

Mons. Rino Fisichella President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization

H 175


Two thousand years Pope blesses world-traveling cross honoring Christ’s resurrection

Pope Benedict blessed a large wooden cross that will travel to the capitals of the world marking the 2000th anniversary of Christ’s Resurrection in 2033.

Bethlehem Existed seven centuries before Jesus

Israeli archaeologists said they had discovered the first physical evidence supporting Old Testament accounts of Bethlehem’s existence centuries before the town became revered as the birthplace of Jesus. The proof came, they said, in a clay seal unearthed near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and imprinted with three lines of ancient Hebrew script that include the word “Bethlehem.” Eli Shukron, who directed the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said the seal apparently

H 176

The cross has already visited the Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Iceland, France, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. The initiative was started by a group of Ukrainian faithful from the city of Leopoli (Lviv), which was a polish city from 1918 to 1941, it was occupied by Germany from 1941 to 1944 and finally passed to Ukraine in 1945. In Rome, the cross visited the Basilicas of St. Peter, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. Now the cross is back on its journey. “L’Osservatore Romano” also pointed out that the initiative is of “great ecumenical value,” similar to the initiative of Father Vladimiro Timoshenko, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Russia, who presented the Pope with an icon of St. Olaf for his blessing. The image will be placed in the church to replace an ancient icon that was destroyed.

had been placed on a tax shipment of silver or agricultural produce sent from Bethlehem to the King of Judah in nearby Jerusalem in the 8th or 7th century BC. “This is the first time the name Bethlehem appears outside the Bible in an inscription from the First Temple period,” Shukron said in a statement, referring to the years 1006 BC to 586 BC. The coin-sized remnant of the seal proves that Bethlehem first mentioned in the Book of Genesis and located on the West Bank, just south of Jerusalem “was indeed a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly also in earlier periods,” he said.


Vatican Apostolic Library To digitize a million pages of Manuscripts and incunabula

Msgr. Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, announced on April in “L’Osservatore Romano” that over the next five years 1.5 million pages of manuscripts and incunabula held in the Vatican and in the Bodleian Library in Oxford will be transferred into digital format. This is the largest such initiative yet carried out by the Vatican Library and is being put into effect with the assistance of the Polonsky Foundation. Two thirds of the works to be digitized around one million pages or 2,500 books_will be chosen from the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and incunabula in the Vatican Apostolic Library. The institution possesses 8,900 incunabula, making it the fourth largest collection in the world. A catalogue of the incunabula has recently been published on the internet and, thanks to this latest project, it is hoped to make more than 800 complete works available online. They include the famous “De Europa” by Pope Pius II, printed by Albrecht Kunne in Memmingen before 1491, and the 42Line Latin Bible of Johann Gutenberg, the first book printed using moveable type, between 1454 and 1455. Certain particularly important Hebrew manuscripts are also due to be digitized, including the “Sifra,” written some time between the end of the ninth and the middle of the tenth century and perhaps the oldest surviving Jewish codex; a Bible written in Italy around the year 1100; commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud; the Halakhah and the Kabbalah, as well as writings on philosophy, medicine, and astronomy. Among the Greek manuscripts to be transferred into digital format are works by Homer, Sophocles, Plato, and Hypocrites, as well as New Testament codices and works by Church Fathers, many decorated with Byzantine miniatures. As well as its 8,900 incunabula, the Vatican Apostolic Library also possesses more than 80,000 manuscripts. Msgr. Pasini explains that transferring them to digital format is a way of “better conserving cultural heritage, facilitating consultation and ensuring a high-quality reproduction before any eventual degradation of the original. It also means

making those works immediately accessible to many more people online.” The Vatican Apostolic Library’s digitization project began two years ago, since then the number of manuscripts available in digital format has been gradually increasing thanks to the efforts of the library’s own reproduction laboratory. There are also a number of initiatives under way in collaboration with other cultural institutions, such as the ongoing digitization of the Latin Palatine manuscripts being carried out with the University of Heidelberg.

American Blessed Women Benedict XVI reminds of Coming Canonization

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of the upcoming canonization of blessed Kateri Tekakwitha –who will become the first Native American saint– along with Marianne Cope, and stressed the important role played by women in the Church. Receiving about 120 members of the Papal Foundation –an American charitable association who go on pilgrimage to Rome once a year–, the Holy Father stated that both of these Blesseds “remind us of the historic role played by women in the building up of the Church in America.” Pope Benedict XVI said that both Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and Blessed Marianne Cope “are examples of sanctity and heroic charity.” “By their example and intercession, may all of you be confirmed in the pursuit of holiness and in your efforts to contribute to the growth of God’s Kingdom in the hearts of people today,” said Pope Benedict XVI, who also stressed the mission of the Papal Foundation, established in Philadelphia (United States) in 1990. “I am happy to have the occasion to thank you personally for your support of a wide variety of apostolates close to the heart of the Successor of Peter.” The Pope asked in these days for their “continued prayers for the needs of the universal Church and in particular for the freedom of Christians to proclaim the Gospel and bring its light to the urgent moral issues of our time.”

H 177


The Annoyance of Martyrdom Eloquent words stated by the Archbishop of Bolonia, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, on the occasion of the feast of Saint Biagio, regarding martyrdom as a model of freedom. “He who feels ashamed of Me and of my words should know that the Son of Man will too feel ashamed of him when He shall come in the glory of the Father.” This threat of shame uttered by Christ, which at the moment of the final judgment shall fall upon those who were afraid or felt ashamed to acknowledge themselves as his disciples, recalls us to the incomparable seriousness of the Christian profession. It is precisely from the stance man takes when facing Christ on which will depend his eternal fate. Earthly glory, even if it comes from having “earned the whole earth”, will not save those who felt ashamed of Him from loosing their own person everlastingly. Christian martyrdom is born out of this intimate certitude: nothing shall be given preference over the loyalty to Christ, to his aftermath. The preference given to Christ up to the moment of death is generated in the martyr by having discovered the central Christian truth: that it is through Jesus Christ that the final revelation of the love of God for man is revealed. “I certainly am convinced says the martyr that neither death nor life… nor creature what so ever, will ever separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ, our Lord.” Nevertheless, in the present day, Christian martyrdom is looked upon with suspicious eyes. Is it just by chance that Christian martyrdom, precisely in its essence of being a testimony of Christian faith up to death, may come to stand in contradiction with one of the pillars of our civilization: tolerance? Could it be possible that the act of reaffirming the discovery of a truth not threatened by doubt –as the martyr does by means of his death– may constitute a dangerous presumption that must be given up if one wants to overcome the violent intolerance that has characterized the relations between precisely those people convinced of knowing absolute truths? At present, the martyr is an obstacle, because in his apparent defeat –being himself a victim of intolerance as well– he radically denies the widespread opinion that it is enough to annul differences in order to annul tensions. It is enough to convince ourselves that there does not exist anything absolute for which it is worthwhile to live and therefore to die– that in life there is no truth to be searched for and therefore there is no reason whatsoever to fight against each other.

New Doctors of the Church Saint Hildegard von Bingen and Saint Juan de Ávila

O n May 10 th 2012 the Pope authorized the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to promulgate 17 new decrees, among which appears the official acknowledgment of the sanctity of the German nun Hildegard von Bingen and of the heroic virtues of a

H 178


The martyr restates to our consciousness the question fundamental to all humans: Is there a truth for which it really could be worthwhile to live and, consequently, also to die? And if it does exist, what is the meaning it brings to my life? The martyr teaches us that the acknowledgment of truth is the most profound condition of freedom facing any earthly power. “…thou shall know the truth and the truth will make you free” [John 8: 32]. It is the truth that makes us free when facing power, bestowing fortitude on martyrdom. So it happened with Christ, model and cause of any martyrdom, when taken before Pilate he said: “For that I have been born and for that I came to the world: to give testimony to the truth” [John 18: 37]. That only truth can make us free is demonstrated by the fact that if there were no truth, there would also be no real distinction between good and evil. There only would be left the difference between what is useful and what is harmful for myself: man becomes a slave of utilitarianism and of those who have the power of deciding what is useful. The martyr’s testimony of the truth definitely matches with the testimony of the intangible good which is the human person. The denial of the existence of truth [over the good] would transfer life to the level of a game. This might be enough for those debating at the academic level, but not for those who ask if there is some sense in their living, in their suffering, in their dying. CARLO CARD. CAFFARRA www. caffarra.it

Spanish priest and a Spanish nun who were both proclaimed Doctors of the Church during the opening mass of the Synod of Bishops on 7 October 2012. During the audience given by Benedict XVI to Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, on May 10th, the Holy Father extended the liturgical cult of Saint Hildegard von Bingen to the universal Church, “inscribing her in the catalogue of saints,” which supposes a formal declaration equivalent to her canonization. Furthermore, together with Saint Juan de Ávila, she will be declared a Doctor of the Church on the coming 7th of October. (Cfr. HUMANITAS 66, 2012). Even though the Popes had allowed the cult of Saint Hildegard (member of the Benedictine Order, who was born

in 1089 and died in 1179) in Germany, (Cfr. HUMANITAS 42, 06) the mystic –famous for her visions and prophecies– had never been properly canonized because the process opened half a century after her death was interrupted Benedict XVI, who has quoted her on various occasions and who dedicated to her two catechesis on the occasion of general audiences, defined Hildegard as “an important female figure of the Middle Ages who was distinguished for her spiritual wisdom and the holiness of her life,” whose “mystical visions resembled those of the Old Testament prophets: expressing herself in the cultural and religious categories of her time, she interpreted the Sacred Scriptures in the light of God, applying them to the various circumstances of life.

H 179


A Conversation between Grünewald and Abdessemed

Entitled Décor, this work of Adel Abdessemed, recently shown in New York and purchased by François Pinault for two million Euros, has been lent to the 16th of September by this renowned collector to the museum Unterlinden in Colmar, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the extraordinarily famous altar piece in Issenheim, a work by Mathias Grünewald. The undertaking was seen through to the end by Jean-Jacques Aillagon, former Minister of Culture of France, who asked the patron for this favour. Abdel Abdessemed had an encounter with Grünewald’s figure of Christ in 1995, a year after having left Algeria. Nearly frozen he managed to hitchhike from Lyon to Colmar under the snow and through the fog. Still moved by his adventure he says: “I was almost invisible, completely desperate, and once I arrived, I stood in front of Grünewald’s work for a long time, being fully recharged by it. Scream is the real essence of my work. I come from the south and the sun has burned my words”. With tears in his eyes, looking at this figure of Christ, François Pinault isn’t able to keep quiet. “When I saw Abdessemed’s work I lost my speech: it is a masterwork of the XXI century. What struck me was the suffering Abdessemed carries along with him, his passionate energy, his everlasting anguish, his will to go forth, the support emanating from his encounter with Grünewald; nevertheless, he stands alone and on his own feet. It is the suffering of a man, of contemporary humanity”. This is the message the collector wished to express.

H 180


Cardinal József Mindszenty Hungary: Legal, Moral and Political Rehabilitation

The web site of the Archidiocese of Esztergom-Budapest reported the complete legal, moral and political rehabilitation of Cardinal Jószef Mindszenty. The rehabilitation process of the Servant of God Cardinal Mindszenty was officially concluded following a request by his successor, Cardinal Péter Erdö and after an order given by the Hungarian Chief Prosecutor’s Office. By the end of 1989, the Chief Prosecutor had ordered the revision of process Nr. IX 254/1949, heard by the Popular Court of Budapest against Cardinal Jószef Mindszenty, charging him of high treason. By way of law Nr. XXVI from 1990, the Hungarian Parliament ordered the reparation of this show trial and of the corresponding illegitimate sentence. The new law officially closed the revision process and at the same time ordered the complete legal, moral and political rehabilitation of Cardinal Jószef Mindszenty. Cardinal Péter Erdö stated that this “is the summary of a long story full of suffering,” which will “contribute to the knowledge of the truth of our past, to the spiritual recovery and the moral elevation of our people.” “This decision –concluded the Cardinal– is a clear sign that Hungary’s justice system rid itself of the cumbersome heritage of show trials and is making a serious effort to enforce the basic human demand for justice.”

Canada Two Anglican bishops received into full communion with the Catholic Church

Last April, on Divine Mercy Sunday, Canadian Anglican bishops Peter Wilkinson and Carl Reid requested their admission into full communion with the Catholic Church. To these two religious leaders, two Anglican ministries and a deacon must be added, as well as a part of the faithful of their communities in the cities of Ottawa and Victoria. In an interview with Vatican Radio, the Archbishop of Ottawa, Monsignor Terrence Prendergast, said that, “this is the happy outcome of a coming together process which began several years ago.” “We’ve tried to respond to the request from a certain group of Anglicans, who now wish for full communion,” said Archbishop Prendergast. “It is a small but significant group.” The Archbishop described this fact as an example of the strengthening of union and “a positive sign for others.” He explained that these communities will receive the support of Catholic priests, and they will be under special jurisdiction. For now, these communities will not have their own priests. Meanwhile, the ministers who had requested admission into the priestly order are studying theology and will receive the approval from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Archbishop Prendergast also explained that Catholics coming from the Anglican Church can celebrate the Eucharist with the special rite admitted by the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, anwwd participate in any of the celebrations within Catholic communities, according to their convenience. Therefore, the celebrations of these admitted communities are valid for all Catholics, since they are in full communion with the Pope. The Divine Mercy Eucharist celebrated to formally admit the Anglican bishops and their communities within the Church was carried out under the specific form authorized by the Holy See. “I have learned how to celebrate the Holy Mass in the Anglican tradition that has been approved for this group,” said Monsignor Prendergast, who explained that it is very similar to the extraordinary form used by the Catholic Church on certain occasions. “The priest who has been working with them has also learned their liturgy as well, so I think that will encourage them and comfort them,” he concluded.

H 181


Monseigneur Martínez Camino

“God Demands Martyrdom of Life from all of Us”

Thousands of Spanish people have a martyr of the religious persecution of the 1930s among their relatives. Monseigneur Martínez Camino, Auxiliary Bishop of Madrid, is one of those Spanish people. In this interview he rescues the testimony of these witnesses for the faith as a life model for all of us today: “God asks some for the martyrdom of blood, but he asks all of us for the martyrdom of life”. —It seems that these last years, coinciding with a larger number of beatifications, there is more attention being paid to the testimony of our martyrs. What is the reason for this phenomenon? —The Church has always been very devoted to her martyrs. Just remember the catacombs in Rome or, here in Spain, the care with which they were venerated and still are; for example, Saint Fructuoso of Tarragon and his deacons, or his contemporary Saint Eulalia from Mérida. The martyrs carry out in an eminent way the vocation of all those who are baptized—to be configured to Christ. As the Lord did, they have kept nothing for themselves, because everything they had was given to God the Father: they gave their lives for the greatest love, without fear of the world’s threats and without falling for its deceptions. It is not strange that we pay attention today to those extraordinary witnesses of the Gospel. —Few know that among the nearly 10.000 martyrs of the religious persecution during the 1930s, there are twelve bishops… —The bloody persecution of the thirties in our nation aimed at the annihilation of the Church by the extermination of its leaders and the destruction of its cultic sites, as well as its symbols. But neither was it the greatest persecution of history, nor a peculiarity or an oddity in our history, as it is sometimes said erroneously or ideologically. It was the Soviet regime which started and who perpetrated the greatest persecution of Christianity. Just think about the fact that in Spain were murdered 12 bishops, but in Russia 250 orthodox bishops were killed. In Spain, 7.000 priests, nuns and monks were murdered, but in Russia the numbers are really chilling: 200.000 members of the orthodox clergy were sentenced to death between 1917 and 1980. Between 1937 and 1938, 105,000 alone of them were killed. What happened in Spain during the 1930s can only be understood as part of the great persecution unleashed during the twentieth century against Christianity by atheist ideologies of the Marxist kind, and later also by the Nazis. —What do we Spanish Catholics owe to all our martyrs? —We owe the martyrs of the twentieth century the greatest love for their testimony. They are witnesses to the great cause of God, as John Paul II said. They died forgiving. In this way they show the beauty of the Catholic faith and the falsehood of all atheistic ideologies. Faith elevates man because it divinizes him and makes him almost omnipotent in mercy, in the image of God. Atheism instead diminishes the human being, because it locks him up in his finitude and deprives him from the encouragement of grace. The luminous history of the martyrs and of martyrdom in the twentieth century deserves to be better known.

H 182


—They resisted for many years increasing persecution with strength and confidence in God. Do you believe these hostile attitudes could somehow be reproduced in present day Spain? History shows that martyrdom has always accompanied the journey of the Church. It does not seem reasonable to think this company will end. Christians today are persecuted with violence in many places. We must pray that the violence does not overcome anyone. But we have to be prepared for everything: A servant is not greater than his master. —At present there are laws which undoubtedly work against the beliefs of the Spanish faithful and against natural law as well. What can be done with regard to this situation? —There are laws that do not adequately protect fundamental rights, as the right to live, for example, the rights of matrimony and the family, or the right of parents as the prime educators of their children. As pastors we always must support the discernment of unjust situations by the magisterium. Lay faithful, according to their capability and their concrete professional callings, should make use of all legitimate means to bring about just legislation. There are many ways to do this. Moreover, all of us, pastors and lay people, have a very beautiful task, which in the short and long term will have great influence: we have to live our faith and pass it on in our environment and according to our responsibilities. It is in the parish church, in the family, in the catholic school, etc., where the future of a society provided with just laws is at stake. God bestows on some the martyrdom of blood, but asks from all of us the martyrdom of life. The former as well as the latter are both expressions of the joy of faith. Interview by J. L. Vázquez Alfa & Omega

Human trafficking For sexual purposes and organ transplants

On the occasion of the VII World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism, which took place in the Mexican resort of Cancún from April 23 to 27, the Holy Father wrote a message to Cardinal Antonio María Veglió, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and to the Bishop-Prelate of CancúnChetumal, Mons. Pablo Elizondo Cárdenas, L.C. “Tourism (…) [L] like other human realities, is called to be enlightened and transformed by the Word of God – writes Benedict XVI–.Tourism, together with vacation and free time, is a privileged occasion for physical and spiritual renewal; it facilitates the coming together of people from different cultural backgrounds and offers the opportunity of drawing close to nature and hence opening the way to listening and contemplation, tolerance and peace, dialogue and harmony in the midst of diversity.” “Travelling reflects our being as homo viator; at the same time it evokes that other deeper and more meaningful

journey that we are called to follow and which leads to our encounter with God. Travelling, which offers us the possibility of admiring the beauty of peoples, cultures and nature, can lead to God and be the occasion of an experience of faith, ‘for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator’ (Wis 13:5)”. “On the other hand tourism, like every human reality, is not exempt from dangers or negative dimensions. We refer to evils that must be dealt with urgently since they trample upon the rights of millions of men and women, especially among the poor, minors and handicapped. Sexual tourism is one of the most abject of these deviations that devastate morally, psychologically and physically the life of so many persons and families, and sometimes whole communities. The trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation or organ harvesting as well as the exploitation of minors, abandoned into the hands of individuals without

H 183


scruples and undergoing abuse and torture, sadly happen often in the context of tourism. This should bring all who are engaged for pastoral reasons or who work in the field of tourism, and the whole international community, to increase their vigilance and to foresee and oppose such aberrations.” (…) “I would like to highlight three areas which should receive full attention from the pastoral care of tourism. Firstly, we need shed light on this reality using the social teaching of the Church and promote a culture of ethical and responsible tourism, in such a way that it will respect the dignity of persons and of peoples, be open to all, be just, sustainable and ecological. The enjoyment of free time and regular vacations is an opportunity as well as a right. The Church, within its own sphere of competence, is committed to continue offering its cooperation, so that this right will become a reality for all people, especially for less fortunate communities”. See also: Giuseppe de Rosa, “Globalized prostitution” at www.review.humanitas.cl Pope sends congratulations To Queen Elizabeth II on her Jubilee

Pope Benedict XVI has written to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of United Kingdom on the celebration of her Diamond Jubilee (60 years of reign). Text of the message, which follows, is dated May 23. “I write to offer my warmest congratulations to Your Majesty on the happy occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of your reign. During the past sixty years you have offered to your subjects and to the whole world an inspiring example of dedication to duty and a commitment to maintaining the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, in keeping with a noble vision of the role of a Christian monarch.” “I retain warm memories of the gracious welcome accorded to me by Your Majesty at Holyroodhouse in

H 184

Edinburgh at the beginning of my Apostolic Visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010, and I renew my thanks for the hospitality that I received throughout those four days. Your personal commitment to cooperation and mutual respect between the followers of different religious traditions has contributed in no small measure to improving ecumenical and interreligious relations throughout your realms.” “Commending Your Majesty and all the Royal Family to the protection of Almighty God, I renew my heartfelt good wishes on this joyful occasion and I assure you of my prayers for your continuing health and prosperity.” Mons. Gerhard Ludwig Müller New Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Bishop Muller, whom the Pope elevated to archbishop, will also head the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the International Theological Commission, and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which oversees Catholics who celebrate the traditional Latin Mass. He will succeed Cardinal William Levada. In 1986 he became Professor of Catholic Dogmatics at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, where he is still honorary Professor. He was named Bishop of Regensburg in 2002. For his Episcopal motto, Müller chose Dominus Iesus (Jesus is Lord, Romans 10:9). In Germany, Bishop Müller has the reputation for being a defender of Catholic orthodoxy. As a personal friend of Pope Benedict XVI, he has been charged with preparing the publication of the “Opera Omnia”: a series of books that will collect, in a single edition, all the writings of the current Pope.


Benedict XVI: About the Youth Catechism (Youcat) These are the final paragraphs of the prologue that Benedict XVI wrote to the Youth Catechism (Youcat) that was distributed at WYD 2011 Madrid. The reading of the Catechism is one of the recommendations for the Year of Faith.

“You need to know what you believe. You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing. Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination. You need God’s help if your faith is not going to dry up like a dewdrop in the sun, if you want to resist the blandishments of consumerism, if your love is not to drown in pornography, if you are not going to betray the weak and leave the vulnerable helpless. “If you are now going to apply yourselves zealously to the study of the Catechism, I want to give you one last thing to accompany you: You all know how deeply the commuGod present in the London Olympics The Virgin Mary and the “Our Father”: the gratitude of the competitors

The Brazilian female volleyball team along with all the technical team gathered together and knelt in the field to pronounce a moving “Our Father” in appreciation for their victory in the final of the 2012 London Olympics. On August 11, the Brazilian team won its second consecutive gold medal after beating its United States rivals by 3 sets to 1. For this opportunity and in gratitude to God, the Brazilian team had promised to travel through the Way of Saint James in Spain. After the victory, the players and the technical team knelt and recited the Our Father. “I want to thank God (…) in our team, self-improvement is our base,” said Jaque, the attacker. Coach José Roberto Guimarães for his part thanked God

nity of faith has been wounded recently through the attacks of the evil one, through the penetration of sin itself into the interior, yes, into the heart of the Church. Do not make that an excuse to flee from the face of God! You yourselves are the Body of Christ, the Church! Bring the undiminished fire of your love into this Church whose countenance has so often been disfigured by man. “Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord!” (Rom 12:11). When Israel was at the lowest point in her history, God called for help, not from the great and honored ones of Israel, but from a young man by the name of Jeremiah. Jeremiah felt overwhelmed: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth” (Jer 1:6). But God was not to be deterred : “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you shall speak” (Jer 1:7). “I bless you and pray each day for all of you.”

and his family: “my wife made many promises on my behalf, promises that now I have to fulfill. I prayed a lot, I never prayed so much in my life. I never asked for so much. Now I have to keep my promises,” said the Coach and added, “I would like to be a writer to narrate a beautiful story like this one, but I do not have the ability. I think that only a great writer could write this story, and that was God.” The Ethiopian athlete Mesert Defar starred in one of the most moving moments of the 2012 London Olympics when crossing the finish line to win the women’s 5,000-meter gold medal. She took out an image of the Virgin Mary from her chest, showed it to the cameras, and held it to her face in a moment of intense prayer. Defar, an Orthodox Christian, entrusted her race to God with a signal of the cross and completed the distance in 15:04:25, beating Tirunesh Dibaba, her compatriot and traditional rival who arrived as the competition’s favorite. With tears of emotion, Defar showed the world the image of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus in her arms which accompanied her through the entire race.

H 185


World Youth Day Rio 2013 Volunteers wanted for the World Youth Day

With less than a year left until the start of World Youth Day (WYD) in Rio de Janeiro, organizers are still receiving applications from youths and adults that want to dedicate their time as volunteers to the great event in the city. In order to volunteer, it is necessary to be at least eighteen years old and there is no age limit for adults. Organizers are also considering the possibility of accepting youths from age sixteen with parental authorization. Volunteers put themselves at the disposal of the organizing committee offering their free collaboration with the preparation and execution of the event at its different phases. Many volunteers are already working, though most of the volunteers will start their work just a few weeks before the opening ceremony, so they must arrive in Rio de Janeiro at least 15 days before it begins. Registration is also open to congregations, movements and religious communities willing to participate in the Vocational Fair, which has its headquarters in the Urca neighborhood, in the General Tiburcio Square, starting point for the cable car that takes you to Sugarloaf Mountain, one of the biggest touristic attractions in the city.

When the young people arrive at WYD, “they will immediately see banners for the Vocational Fair with messages from saints, so that they can begin right then to discern, or to question themselves regarding their vocation,” explains Deacon Arnaldo Rodrigues, one of those responsible for the Pastoral Preparation of the event. “There will be a stage for concerts, homilies, prayers and a place for reflection.” And also large tents will be arranged for the worship of the Holy Sacrament, for masses and for the sacrament of Confession. “The purpose of the Fair is not to satisfy the young people’s curiosity, but a key event in WYD so that each one of them can discern their vocation. Congregations, diocesan seminars and communities will pray with the young people. They will not only show their particular charisma but also the chance to find the Lord,” Rodrigues said. For more information write to: feiravocacional@rio2013.com And those interested in signing up to volunteer can do so at: www.rio2013.com/es/voluntarios. The WYD Río 2013 can be followed at: www.rio2013.com www.facebook.com/jornadamundialdelajuventud

“The main need of young people today is to be rooted in the faith (…), so that they are able to make a contribution to the life of society”

On April a press conference was held to provide information on preparations for World Youth Day (WYD) 2013, due to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 23 to 28 July

H 186

2013. Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, expressed in the conference the view that “WYD truly was a prophetic intuition on the part of


Blessed John Paul II, and marked a revolution in the field of youth pastoral care. ...And Benedict XVI has explained how WYD opens up a new way of being Christian.” Hence the great efforts the Church makes in preparing these events, he explained.

With the Rio celebration, WYD is returning to Latin America, twenty-six years after the first international WYD, held in Buenos Aires. Rio 2013 “will be part of the continental mission, which emerged from the meeting of bishops of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) at Aparecida in 2007. At the level of the universal Church, the Rio WYD will also be linked to this year’s Synod of Bishops on the theme of the new evangelization.” The cardinal also noted that WYD will be taking place during the Year of Faith. “The aim of WYD,” the cardinal explained, “is to increase faith among young people and stir up the mission. ... The main need of young people today is to be rooted in the faith and in the great family of the Church, so that they are able to make a greater and more effective contribution to the life of society.”

Official prayer

In order to prepare the faithful of the Universal Church, as well as those who will attend to the appointment in Brazil, the organizing committee of World Youth Day Rio 2013 has released the official prayer of this great youth event, which will take place from July 23 to 28, and be attended by the Holy Father. Here we offer the prayer to our readers: Oh, Father, You sent Your Eternal Son to save the world and chose men and women, through Him, with Him and in Him, to proclaim the Good News to all nations. Grant us the graces necessary so that joy may shine in the faces of all young people, the joy of being, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the evangelists the Church needs in the Third Millennium. Oh Christ, Redeemer of humanity, the image of Your open arms on the top of Corcovado welcomes all people. In Your paschal offering, You brought us by the Holy Spirit to an encounter of sonship with the Father. Young people, who are fed by Eucharist, hear You in Your Word and meet You as their brother, need your infinite mercy to run the paths of the world missionary-disciples of the New Evangelization. Oh Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son, with the splendor of Your Truth and the fire of Your Love, send Your Light to all young people so that, driven by their experience of World Youth Day, they may bring to the four corners of the world faith, hope and charity, becoming great builders of a culture of life and peace and catalysts of a new world. Amen !

H 187


in th e sph e r e o f

Letter from the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, says that “it is necessary that the clarity of the academic light reaches all fields of culture on the background of a true Christian humanism, so that the path of faith may be disclosed. This is the virtue that –according to the wishes of the Holy Father– we will deepen and experience with intellectual strength and apostolic spirit during the YEAR OF FAITH, which is about to begin.”

H 188


Letter from the President of the Pontifical Council for promoting the New Evangelization, Monsignor Rino Fisichella.

His Excellency, Monsignor Rino Fisichella, President for the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, highlights “the quality of the magazine, as well as the depth and diversity of approaches that it contains.”At the same time, he encourages us“to keep working in this field of Christian culture.”

H 189


in th e sph e r e o f

Letters sent by Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, Monsignor Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix and Monsignor George V. Murry S.J., Bishop of Youngstown, thanking for the English edition of HUMANITAS review.

H 190


Summer Course Oxford: Center for Faith & Culture

The Editor of HUMANITAS review joined the summer course developed at Oxford and Downside Abbey, near Bath (England), from 7 to 21 August, together with Lady Clare Asquith, Countess of Oxford, R.P. Ian Ker, Dom Aidan Bellenger Abbot of Downside, Gerard Kilroy, André P.Gushurst-Moore and Stratford and Léonie Caldecott. Starting from the first roots of Christianity in the British Islands, and going over the periods of more algid confrontation, studying the Oxford Movement and the XIX century’s Catholic revival, the course was integrated by recognized figures in each of the areas of analysis. Among them, Lady Asquith, author of Shadowplay an acknowledged investigation about the presence of Catholicism in the life and works of William Shakespeare. Moreover, the specialist in the work of John Henry Newman and professor of the Faculty of Theology at Oxford, R.P. Ian Ker also took part of the conferences. Both the organizers, as professor Stratford Caldecott, director of the Center for Faith & Culture and member of the Council of the English Edition of HUMANITAS, as well as the guiding teachers and partakers of the summer course enthusiastically celebrated the diffusion of HUMANITAS review in English language, through its digital version that can be downloaded for free in www.review.humanitas.cl Greetings from Lady Asquith ”I am in the middle of reading Humanitas –for which I am full of admiration. What a beautifully produced magazine– I want to frame the detail of the Rembrandt deposition on the back; and what excellent articles. As you know, we have nothing of that quality in English – at least, I have not come across it if we have“.

Letter of Lady Asquith, famous author of Shadowplay: The Hidden beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare, PublicAffairs, 2005.

H 191


in th e sph e r e o f

Greeting offered by Cardinal Gerhard M端ller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith to HUMANITAS review.

Greeting offered by Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, to HUMANITAS review.

H 192


Rímini XXXIII Meeting for the Friendship among Peoples The nearly one million of persons that visited the Rímini Fair, from 19 to 25 August, in the occasion of the annual Meeting convened by the Communion and Liberation (CL) movement, wielded ad inspirational phrase the words of Don Giussani that invite to live a life without fear of the mundane adverse currents: La natura dell’uomo è rapporto con l’infinito (“By nature, man is relation to the infinite”). In reference to the phrase of the founder of CL, S.S. Benedict XVI asserted in the inaugural message, addressed to the Bishop of Rímini, that: “Speaking of man and of his desire for the infinite means first of all recognizing his constitutive relationship with the Creator”. This aspiration towards the infinite “in the human heart is indelible”, the Pope highlighted, “even when God is rejected or denied, the thirst for the infinite that dwells in men and women is not slaked”. The problem arises in

what Benedict XVI “frantic, sterile search for false infinites”, which has established strong and largely spread ideals as drugs and a disordered sexuality through the mass media. “Even the good things which God has created, such as paths that lead to him, often risk being absolutized, and thereby becoming idols that replace the Creator”. The Pope that it is necessary to take “the route of purification from what we have called false infinites, a way of conversion of heart and mind,” uprooting “all the false promises of the infinite that seduce men and women and enslave people.” Hundreds of thousands of attendees were able to hear every day firstlevel speakers from different countries, testimonies of public figures. It was also possible to attend to music, dance and theater shows, as well as admire expositions of Dostoievsky and other themes. J. A. A.

H 193


Javier Prades The nature of man is relation to the infinite

The disparity between reality and desire is what drives man to a search without boundaries. It is precisely this more or less conscious relationship with the infinite which puts men of all times in motion, which is presently also dominated by horizontality. The theme of this year’s Meeting, the nature of man is relation to the infinite, was inspired by a phrase of Luigi Giussani and the main conference on the same theme was entrusted to Father Javier Prades L., one of the most illustrious spiritual sons of Father Giussani. On August 21, in front of a crowded room of the Rimini Fair (twelve thousand people, not counting those who followed the conference on the big exterior screens), the Spanish theologian, rector of the University of San Dámaso in Madrid, went unhesitatingly to the roots of the universal and biblical question: What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him? (Psalm 8). The parallels between tradition and modernity around the decisive question are inevitable, but Prades succeeded in the difficult attempt to avoid such dualism by quoting Giussani without neglecting other less predictable but equally significant names. “The eternal dissociation between reality and desire –explained the rector of the University of San Dámaso– has always troubled man and made him suffer. Each one of us must accept that the life that awaits us is too limited to be able to host all those desires that we bear in ourselves.” The drama of the man that desires too much –even more when he fulfills all his own desires or a great part of them– is the loss of the sense of his thoughts and actions: he becomes a man incapable of true experience; therefore he has nothing significant to say. The longing for the infinite is more or less evident in everyone, but nobody has ever perceived it in such clear way than he who has had the personal experience of Jesus Christ, God made man, the infinite who has physically entered into the finitude of life and death. A metaphor of the tension towards the infinite is

H 194

that of the horizon which is “unattainable”, as sculptor Eduardo Chillida argued; if we move forward, it moves. By its nature, “the horizon is the common nation of all men.” Writer Ernesto Sábato lingers over a similar concept of the “absolute,” extracting similar consequences: the need for the absolute “is nostalgia for something I have never reached, and with this nostalgia we confront all of life,” Sábato said. For his part, Father Giussani formulated the category “elementary experience”; that is to say, that “set of demands and original evidence with which men projects himself in order to confront all that exists.” We are in front of a longing and restlessness to which only Jesus Christ can give an answer, being his Resurrection “the first and fundamental event in which the convergence point becomes the experience of man.” Because in reality “this convergence point is an evidence of the beyond and this beyond has become flesh and bones.” If a ship that approaches the horizon becomes increasingly smaller (as goes the popular “Sevillanas del adiós”), then Father Giussani explained that the novelty of Christianity consists in the opposite; that is to say, that surprisingly, the horizon approaches man. Christianity is the infinite which appears in the history of each one of us, it cannot be reduced to pure subjective experience confined to the personal realm as would be claimed by the natural and social sciences today. Therefore, Christianity must face the questions of three fundamental and inalienable issues of the contem-


porary mentality: the uniqueness of man in body and soul, his intrinsic sexual constitution as man and woman, and the fullness of man in natural sociability. However, concerning the first three aforementioned issues, there is the surprising answer which neuroscience provides which creates a crisis seeking “an explanation of man purely immanent, of a material kind, incapable

of realizing the enigma of man.” Therefore, we can know Christ, the highest expression of the human Infinite manifested on earth and we can know him better by begging. “The real protagonist of history is the beggar: Christ who begs for man’s heart, and man’s heart that begs for Christ,” Prades said towards the ending of his speech.

Beatification process Jérôme Lejeune, father of modern genetics

Last April, in the Cathedral of Notre Dame (France), the research phase of the beatification process of the French physician and researcher Jérôme Lejeune, father of modern genetics, and globally known as the discoverer of Down Syndrome, was closed. In 2004, Fiorenzo Angelini, Chairman of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health, requested the initiation of the process; it was opened in 2007, ten years after the death of the scientist. Years before, in 1997, John Paul II in the World Youth Day in Paris, went to pray at the tomb of his friend Lejeune, who became the first Chairman of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Lejeune dreamed of finding a cure for Down Syndrome. That is why he created a foundation in France dedicated to research and treatment not only of this syndrome, but also other syndromes of mental genetic disorders. Today, this center continues its work and also works with a committee that helps different groups worldwide. In 1969, suddenly all the doors were closed to him, even though he was well respected in all research centers worldwide, because he clearly revealed his stance against abortion at the time when abortion campaigns initiated in Europe and the United States. In the book “Life is a Blessing: a biography of Jérôme Lejeune,” his daughter Clara tells that the rejection of

his stance against abortion went so far that nobody was interested when he made his discovery. In 1971, he made a speech at the National Institute for Health and thereafter sent a message to his wife saying: “Today I lost my Nobel Prize.” In the speech he referred to abortion saying: “You are turning your health institute into a death institute.” Prayer to obtain the beatification of Lejeune “God, who created man in Your image and intended him to share Your Glory, we thank You for having granted to Your Church the gift of Professor Lejeune, a distinguished Servant of Life. “He knew how to place his immense intelligence and deep faith at the service of the defense of human life, especially unborn life, always seeking to treat and to cure. A passionate witness to truth and charity, he knew how to reconcile faith and reason in the sight of today’s world. “By his intercession, and according to Your will, we ask You to grant us the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon become one of Your saints. Amen.” With the ecclesiastical approval of Monsignor André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris. Please communicate the received graces to: the Cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Jérôme Lejeune Abbaye Saint-Wandrille, F-76490 Saint-Wandrille, France.

H 195


Teresa of Calcutta Mass marks anniversary of Mother Teresa’ death

A Mass on Wednesday in the ancient church of Santa Maria alla Navicella marked the 15th anniversary of Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s death. The solemn liturgy was presided over by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, in a packed church, and enriched by the polyphonies of the imposing choir of the Diocese of Rome. A photo of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was placed in the sanctuary area. “Mother Teresa has been dead for 15 years, but her memory is very much alive because saints leave a sign,” Cardinal Comastri told Zenit. “All false greatness is extinguished. Mother Teresa once said that history is the incinerator of all pride, but she was humble and that is why her memory is still alive and her example is still fascinating.” Cardinal Comastri concluded by recalling that “Mother Teresa’s example is important in the Church especially today, after the Pope proclaimed a Year of Faith. All the crises in the Church are rooted in a crisis of faith: the Pope said it on so many occasions and Mother Teresa repeated it many times.” After Communion, one of the Missionaries of Charity said that “Mother Teresa’s message to each one of us is: the Creator is thirsty for your answer of love. Mother exhorted us Sisters with these words: love one another, as God has loved you, because love is the foundation of the meaning of life and where there is love, there is God.” At the end of the Mass two reliquaries were exposed with relics of Mother Teresa that the faithful were able to venerate; then two Sisters handed out a small card containing a little medal and a phrase of the Albanian Blessed who moved and worked in India. Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, postulator of the cause of canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, explained to ZENIT: “We are awaiting a miracle, we receive many signs of grace, verified every year, almost always, in some important

H 196

case and we are investigating them, although at present we await one sufficiently strong and solid to present it to the process. We are confident that it will arrive.” “We must recall that to have a miracle that is useful for the process of canonization someone must pray to Mother Teresa and she must intercede. God must work the miracle, but it is also necessary that persons inform us about what has happened. After which, as postulator, I will see to it that it is studied and presented to the appropriate scientific committees,” continued the postulator. “The communion of saints enables us today to be better connected with the Blessed Sister. In a certain sense it is easier now because before it was necessary to call her on the telephone at Calcutta, or write a letter, even though, with so many arriving, the answer was delayed. Now we can communicate with her at any time.” Today the Missionaries of Charity number more than 50,000 and they have almost 700 Houses.

Notre-Dame de Chartres The original decoration of the cathedral reappears

The gothic cathedral of Chartres shines again: Paris Match, the French weekly, in its last issue of August dedicates a dossier to the biggest work of restoration in France, a work of enormous proportions “funded with more than fifteen million euros, which are worth it,” writes Frédérique Féron in his article. The news was picked up by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, in its August 27-28 issue. “A gigantic metal structure constituted by twenty thousand pieces is what has enabled scaffolds to reach the choir height of thirty-three meters and has permitted the restorers to take care of the windows and the blackened and cracked walls that look like the skin of an old pachyderm,” says foreman Pierre Salanon.


The original decoration of the XIII century has reappeared under a soil layer of an inch thick. “It was painted by medieval artisans in pale and white ochre over the gray background of the stone, and preserved intact in 80% of the painted surface.” Architect Patrice Cavel explains it like this: “the light colors had to contribute to the dematerialization of the cathedral walls illuminating it with divine light.” But the stone had never left so much space to the glass, Ferón affirms, trying to synthesize all the en-

chantment of the fountain of colors poured over the visitor through the 2,500 square meters of transparent images that cover 173 windows. The visitors barely note the commemorative plate that honors the first pilgrimage of Charles Péguy to this city, and it is from the French poet that comes the most beautiful description of this palace of light: “Here is the place in the world where everything becomes easy,” he writes in the first of his Prières dans la Cathédrale, entitled Prière de résidence (“Prayer of residence”).

The diabolic presence in contemporary mentality It is a phenomenon of great depth, complexity and perversity. It is about the action of the devil that conditions life, trying to undermine the faith of the heart of men. In fact, there is a diabolic presence certainly in the mentality that dominates this society of ours, a fundamentally atheist mentality, diabolical in the sense that it says: If you take God away, man will realize his full potential. The power the Church has over the devil, which is the same power that Christ had, is an integral part of its mission and is expressed as a diaconia of truth and charity. Therefore, the Church tries to give clarity of judgment about the presence of evil, the devil, in the normality of cultural and social life, and to accompany those who are attacked by the power of the devil with ample and significant charity, and in certain situations resorting to exorcism. Present in any sphere, the phenomenology of cults has been thoroughly studied over the course of time because of its incessant growth both in regards to the variety as well as the number of followers. And even though not all cults are specifically satanic, testimonies have defined sects as a whole as diabolic by nature since, under a cloak of secrecy, its sole aim is sometimes to only exploit and deprive the vulnerable person from his freedom –which is destroyed, thereby damaging family and society– trampling their rights, imposing a strict model of existence, locking it in a totalizing structure, leading it to a social and affective isolation and therefore to a depersonalization through numerous rather evident abuses. The religious sense has nothing to do with cults. These cults, at best, turn the religious sense into an instrument; they are also successful in approaching youths and many minors. Furthermore, adding to these factors is the fascination that Satanism holds over teens. Satanists are not very numerous but –also through the Internet– the satanic culture is very widespread, and there the instigation to violence and suicide is not strange. The background of all these tendencies is the search for power that penetrates everywhere, which drives the claim to obtain specific benefits from a situation of estrangement from God. With precise roots in the relativist dictatorship, in the crisis of interpersonal relationship, in a hyper-technological panorama, in the exaltation of subjectivism, in the delirium of omnipotence that makes the person a god. Monsignor Luigi Negri Bishop of San Marino-Montefeltro L’Osservatore Romano

H 197


Martini and the dramatic symphony of the Church

“In the Church, differences of temperament and sensitivity, as well as the diverse interpretations on the urgencies of each time, express the law of communion: the pluriformity in unity.” These are words of the Archbishop of Milan, Angelo Scola, during the funeral of his predecessor in the chair of Saint Ambrose, Cardinal Carlo María Martini. And in the middle of the waterfall, sometimes unharmonious, of images and words that provoked the death of the Jesuit Cardinal, I think they constitute the most serene and decisive orientation to consider a figure so powerful and controversial. Martini has been above all a believer in Jesus Christ, a man of the Church who has served loyally. And that is not a little thing to say, since through entire pages dedicated to his praise in some media, one can hardly find a trace of that root that, without it, all his life becomes incomprehensible. The paradox is that a man, so celebrated by the mainstream media (at a time when it dispenses bitterness with full hands when it comes to the Church), has had to live all his life with an image that did not belong to him at all. For many people that now applaud Martini, he had been the great antagonist, the other side of the coin, the anti-Pope, the man always uncomfortable with the very Church in which he was born and who had been called to the highest responsibilities. But reality is stubborn. When he was 52 years old and Rector of the Gregorian University, John Paul II chose him to rule one of the most important dioceses of the world. He was very young, barely had pastoral experience, and it was no secret that his vision of things did not coincide in many aspects with the Pope, who nevertheless never ceased to trust him, even when some of his public stances could have been interpreted as a disagreement, either discrete or clamorous. Martini has not been a “stranger” to the ecclesiastical course of the last thirty years. He has rather been an evident protagonist, spoiled by some and disputed by others, but always at home. Much has also been spoken about his relationship with Joseph Ratzinger, before and after his arrival to the See of Peter. They were contemporaries and united by their intellectual condition, their passion for dialogue and their desire to encounter reconciliation between the Church and the best of modernity. Also, and this is a documented fact, they always professed of each other mutual esteem and respect in their discrepant analysis and proposals. While Martini cultivated above all ethical and institutional debates and focused his battle for the renewal of the Church on them, Ratzinger was always passionate over the nature of the Christian event and focused his gaze on the relationship between faith and reason as the key to a new modernity that will safeguard reason and freedom as a path towards Mystery. Both recognized that the Church became defensive in many themes since the Enlightenment and they shared the certainty that that route was eventually sterile. But while Martini was carrying out a pessimistic reading of the last two hundred years of ecclesiastic life, Ratzinger was developing his Newmanian thesis about the renewal in the continuity, claiming a mutual opening and a reciprocal purification between faith and modern reason. It is not the idea to say that everything has been a path of roses. The Church’s symphony is composed throughout history by dissonance and grief, with tensions that only the mercy and forgiveness of the work of God’s grace can be resolved by a constructive impulse. And in this Martini has given and has received. In his long prominence he has certainly gained bitter and often unfair critics. But at the same time he has caused pain, for example when

H 198


he publically challenged the Humanae Vitae, that encyclical that cost blood, sweat and tears to Paul VI, that encyclical which Benedict XVI considers prophetic, precisely an expression of authentic Christian modernity. In any event, Cardinal Martini is much more than the caricature of an intellectual annoyed with his Church, which has been transmitted to us these days by those who continue to cherish the pretension of controlling the Church with the media, and with economic and political power. The irony of the Holy Spirit is that it was precisely Cardinal Scola (also caricaturized by some as the anti-Martini) who traced his real profile, which is definitively valuable for the Church: as that of a pastor who is attentive to the contemporary reality, willing to receive everyone, passionate for ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, always looking for paths of reconciliation for the good of the Church and civil society. Evidently, he made all this with his own style, his personality and his temperament which did not shield him from conflicts and grief from the side of those who insisted in manipulating him until the end. But all this must now be seen with a serene mercy from the heavenly Jerusalem to which he always longed to travel. José Luis Restán

Irreplaceable lay faithful To make Africa the continent of hope

Africa is called to be the “continent of hope,” says Benedict XVI in a letter written to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, for the occasion of the African Congress for Catholic Laity, which was held in Yaounde, Cameroon, from September 4-9, and which theme is: “Being witnesses of Jesus Christ in Africa today. Salt of the earth ... light of the world.” Hope, the Pope writes, “indicates the bright horizon which opens up before the eyes of faith” despite the many spiritual and material problems facing the African continent and the African Church. “Even the best traditional values of African culture are today threatened by secularization, which gives rise to disorientation, ruptures the fibers of personal and social life, exacerbates tribalism, violence and corruption in public life, leads to the humiliation and exploitation of women and children, and increases poverty and hunger. To this must be added the threat of fundamentalist terrorism which has recently targeted Christian communities in a number of African countries.”

In spite of all this, the people of Africa possess “a great wealth of spiritual resources, which are very valuable in our time: love for life and the family, a sense of joy and of sharing, enthusiasm in living their faith in the Lord. Never let the dark mentality of relativism and nihilism, which affects various parts of your world, open a breach in your lives. With renewed energy accept and spread the message of joy and of hope which Christ brings, a message capable of purifying and strengthening the great values of your culture. Making Africa the ‘continent of hope’ must be the goal that guides the mission of African lay faithful today,” the Pope says. This mission “arises from the faith, a gift of God which must be welcomed, nourished and developed, because ‘we cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden.’ In this transformation of all society, which is so urgent for Africa today, the lay faithful have an irreplaceable role to play. Women and men, young and old, children, families and all of society: today all of Africa awaits the ‘ambassadors’ of the Good News.” These ambassadors are “the lay faithful in parishes, ecclesial movements and new communities, enraptured by Christ and the Church, full of joy and gratitude for the Baptism they have received, courageous workers for peace and announcers of authentic hope.”

H 199


500 years of the Sistine Chapel

The Creed in images

Four million tourists a year visit the Vatican museums to enter one of the most impressive sacred places of all time. For a while, his gaze rests on a monumental work of art, a collection of frescoes which encircles the visitor with the paintbrush of some of the principal figures of the history of art, especially the one of the unique Michelangelo Buonarroti who received the assignment, from Pope Julius II, of decorating the vault and the apse (the construction of the Chapel was ordained by Pope Sixtus IV, and named after him). But what Michelangelo did was more than fill the empty walls with color. His hand guides us through a journey that explains our daily life, threatened by sin and death, and he enriches it with the hope for eternal life. So, twenty meters above the visitor, in the nine central scenes of the ceiling’s vault, Michelangelo represents different passages from Genesis, from the Creation to the Fall of Man, passing through the Flood and the new rebirth of Humanity with Noah’s family. It opens before our eyes the first and second Creation, the birth and baptism which introduces us into the Church’s life. Adam, the man, was created in the image and likeness of God –Michelangelo represents him full of an astonishing humanity– but after the fall and the expulsion from Eden, the bodies of the first parents are shown aged as a consequence of sin. In Michelangelo’s work, the body is the reflection of the spirit, the mirror of the soul. However, the flesh is saved because everyone who is in Christ is a new Creation. After Baptism, which is present in the frescoes of the vault under the sign of the Flood and the salvation of Noah and his family, man can now expect the resurrection of the flesh and a walk into a new life; and the Arch is the Church, shelter of men and refuge for sinners. The entire Chapel is covered with numerous figures called ignudi, naked men of an extraordinary presence. If after sin, Adam and Eve cover themselves to hide their nakedness, these figures rescue the first glance of God over the human being, when everything was very good. A sacrament of the Christian life But the center of the Sistine Chapel is, without doubt, the figure of Christ as Judge of the living and the dead. In the words of John Paul II, it is an “unusual Christ,” with all “the glory of his humanity,” which captures the gaze of the visitor contemplating the Universal Judgment which is unfolded behind the great altar of the Chapel. Everything in Him is quiet, in contrast with the whirlwind of activity which unfolds around

H 200


him: angels waking the dead with trumpets, skeletons assuming the new flesh as the resurrection of dead advances, numerous saints and martyrs that populate the sky… Below, there is the mythical Charon with his boat, which makes the passage from death to hell easier, showing destiny to the condemned. And on top of the fresco, very visible, are the symbols of the Passion of Christ: the column where he was scourged, the dice with which they divided his garments, the crown of thorns, and the Cross which underlines the path to Heaven. There are also two books sustained by angels: the smallest one contains the names of the saved; and the largest, that of the condemned, because narrow and rough is the way which leads to life. Together with Christ is the Virgin Mary, and it is noteworthy how some of the figures that ascend to Heaven do it attached to a powerful instrument: the rosary, from which two angels pull upwards. The entire Final Judgment of the Sistine Chapel is revealed as a visible image of our Creed, for, as John Paul II said, “In some sense, it is like a sacrament of the Christian life, for the mystery of Incarnation is made present there.” J. L. Vázquez Alfa & Omega

H 201


Jesus as Husband The news channel CNN Chile has given great attention to a fourth century papyrus which contains the phrase: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”, stating that this finding could prove that Jesus was married. Actually, there is no need to resort to such a suspicious testimony as to ascribe to Jesus the condition of husband. The texts of the New Testament and of Catholic Tradition do this openly and frequently. In fact, when they ask Jesus why his disciples do not fast, he responds: “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day” (Mark 2:19-20). But the role of husband is not only assumed by Jesus, it is also ascribed to him by others. John the Baptist denies being the expected one saying: “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30). Many other texts could be quoted, but it is sufficient to add that the Scriptures conclude with this dialogue: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ […] ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:17, 20). The metaphor of the spousal love which Jesus demands from his Church and from the faithful – total, exclusive, loyal, fruitful and insoluble – is taken from the Old Testament, where it is used to describe the loving relationship between God and his people. Hosea uses this metaphor for the first time: “On that day, says the LORD, She shall call me ‘My husband,’ and never again ‘My Baal.’ […] I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD” (Hosea 2:15.18). And the spousal metaphor is used again by Isaiah and Jeremiah: “For the LORD delights in you, and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you” (Isaiah 62:4-5). In consequence, idolatry is called prostitution. Should we discuss if God was married to Israel? It is really surprising how much a channel as CNN Chile has echoed such a false interpretation. We can read in the biography of Saint Rose of Lima that the Child Jesus said to her: “Oh my heart’s Rose, I love you as wife.” Does this mean that we should discuss if the Child Jesus was married to her? Honestly, one would expect more rigor and professionalism in reporting news of a religious nature. Mons. Felipe Bacarreza Bishop of Santa María de los Ángeles Chile

H 202


ON TABLET FOR FREE Now the articles of Humanitas are optimized for reading without cost on any tablet.

To visit our website on your computer or tablet,

just point your web browser at

www.rewiew.humanitas.clH 203


BOOKS

Life and work of Father Aleksandr Men BY GISELA SILVA ENCINA

The Orthodox priest Aleksandr Men was murdered in Russia in 1990, at the time when the Soviet State was collapsing. The motives of the crime and the name of the murderers were never known. As a pastor who practiced his ministry in the secrecy imposed by the communist system, his name is relatively unknown in the west. Only with time, the information from his friends and parishioners have reflected the image of a true apostle, and some books that reveal his vast erudition and fervent love for the figure of Christ have been published.

Jesus. The Master of Nazareth The first surprise impression on reading this work* is its clear and pleasant style. The book has the facility of a novel and is read with interest from beginning to end, even by those persons who deeply know the Jesus of the Gospels. However, the work has nothing fictional. Its author faithfully abides to historical truth and uses sources not only from the canonical books of the New Testament but also from ancient historians’ works.

T

he orthodox priest, Aleksandr Men, a figure of evangelization at a time of great tribulation for the Eastern Church, stood out among his parishioners with a pastoral ministry that reflected his vast erudition and fervent love for the figure of Christ. These are, so to speak, the foundation for the life of Jesus that we mention here. The first surprise impression on reading this work is its clear and pleasant style. The

book has the facility of a novel and is read with interest from beginning to end, even by those persons who deeply know the Jesus of the Gospels. However, the work has nothing fictional. Its author faithfully abides to historical truth and uses sources not only from the canonical books of the New Testament but also from ancient historians’ works, among others, of Flavius, Josephus and Tacitus. Before delving into the central theme which

* Aleksandr Men, Son of Man: The Story of Christ and Christianity, Oakwood Publications, 1998, 263 pp.

H 204

HUMANITAS NÂş 3 pp. 204 - 215


is the figure of Jesus, Father Men situates before us a succinct but complete history of humanity’s religious beliefs. In thirty pages that reveal his vast erudition, the author takes us from the animistic cults of primitive man to the monotheistic faith of Israel, passing through the history of all the great religions. This vision of notable breadth is not purely historical. The author often introduces reflections which expand to beyond mere narration. For example, by explaining the religious faith of the Jewish people, he helps us view the paradoxical fact that the belief in a unique God, Creator and superior to all creation, had been professed with tenacious persistence by a small nation that had not created a great civilization, and whose political independence only lasted through the reigns of David and his son Salomon. Divided after the death of the latter, the people of Israel submitted to diverse empires, all of them of polytheistic religions. Their history is a history of their faith, constantly threatened by contagion from the superstitions of their neighbors, and whose survival is only explained by divine assistance which punishes and forgives. Focusing on the central theme of the personality of Jesus of Nazareth, Men’s psychological description is very precise. He explores the moral and intellectual profile of the “Son of Man,” the simplicity that surrounds his acts, even the miracles which aroused the fervor of the multitudes, and his mysterious spiritual bond with the Father which creates around Him an encircling atmosphere of love, joy and faith.

Father Men makes us understand the remarkable moral equilibrium of the Master of Nazareth. “Lucidity and good sense –he tells us– are the main features of his character.” Pathological exaltation and fanaticism, very frequent among the founders of religions, were absolutely alien to him. He was serene and restrained. Except for those rare moments – such as his “sacred fury” against the sellers in the temple– he was surrounded by an atmosphere of peace. “He talked about struggles and trials, but at the same time he gave light to all, he blessed and transfigured life.” Father Men sees a significant relation between the Kingdom of God announced by the Nazarene and the setting of serene beauty of Galilee at the time. Another topic which Father Men explores is how the Lord establishes women’s dignity and how Christianity continues to faithfully safeguard this dignity. “It is Christ –he tells us– who restored woman’s human dignity that had been taken away from her, and the right to have spiritual demands.”This would explain the fact that, together with his disciples, there was a large group of women that followed him in his journeys and helped him with their goods and work. The pages dedicated to the Lord’s Passion are touching. Written with faith and love, its author causes us to live Christ’s sufferings, and at the same time appreciate the humility and nobility of the Lord’s soul, which arouses the

H 205


astonishment of the roman centurion: “Truly, this man was the Son of God.” The epilogue of “Jesus, the Master of Nazareth” gives us the key to the spiritual richness of this book. There, Father Men projects the

entire course of human history, the moral greatness that the example of Jesus has left to all men. The work ends with a touching sentence that reflects all the fervor of a faithful priest and a great pastor of souls.

Aleksandr Men This biography* of Father Men written by Yves Hamant, covers not only the life and ministry of this priest, but also the setting of the Soviet society in which he lived. In a brief but clear synthesis, the author takes us from the thirties through to the regime’s fall.

F

ather Aleksandr Men, Russian Orthodox priest, was born in Moscow in 1935. He was the son of Jewish parents, but his mother was religious, and was baptized in a clandestine manner, along with her son. By then, the Orthodox Church had been devastated by the Soviet regime. Approximately 95% of the temples had been destroyed or destined to serve as warehouses or factories. Some of the most valuable temples had been conserved in order to become “atheism museums.” Thousands of priests and monks had been murdered or sent to “Gulags.” This biography of Father Men written by Yves Hamant covers not only the life and ministry of this priest, but also the setting of the Soviet society in which he lived. In a brief but clear synthesis, the author takes us from the thirties through to the regime’s fall. One should try to comprehend the reason for communism’s initial apparent success. The masses lived with blind faith in the triumph of the revolution. The USSR was a giant test tube which cranked out the happiness of all future humanity. Many intellectuals from the rest of the world shared this optimism: “they saw in the USSR a land where utopia was about to be-

come a reality,” the author tells us. This blind faith made all crimes justifiable. Millions of innocent victims were sacrificed without mercy to this theory, which was the practical culmination of the rational thought of the last few centuries. In this initial framework, Yves Hamant –who lived several years in Russia and personally met Father Men– gives us a very real biographical sketch of a man of extraordinary spiritual and intellectual gifts, whose ministry was growing increasingly, even in the hostile context surrounding him. Inserted in clandestine life and culture, Aleksandr Men began, as a very young man, instructing himself in the gospels and biblical texts as well as in the Russian classics. Philosopher Vladimir Soloviev highly influenced his education. At the same time, his notable

* Yves Hamant, Alexsandr Men, a witness for contemporary Russia a Man for our times, Oakwood Publications, 1995, 176 pages.

H 206


intellectual capacity led him to expand his erudition in all fields of knowledge. When he was ordained priest, he was already a thinker, theologian and exegete of unusual depth and scope. His apostolic life, although clandestine, promptly reached unexpected routines. Curate of a small parish church near Moscow, the priest not only officiated and administered the sacraments there, but he often went to the capital to visit his parishioners. Very active, but prudent, his circle of friends and faithful parishioners grew increasingly. Meanwhile, the historical events altered the situation in a meaningless manner. The Second World War forced Stalin to make a few minimal concessions to the Church in order to obtain its support to call upon the traditional patriotism of the Russian people to defend their country. Later, Khrushchev found himself forced to carry out an unexpected turn: denounce Stalin’s crimes and try to idealize Lenin’s figure in order to return to a supposed “pure” communism that had never existed. But at the same time, he initiated a very new and violent religious oppression. The Brezhnev era, known in the USSR as “the stagnation,” continued along the same lines. Under the Soviet regime, the Orthodox Church never experienced freedom or any respect from the authorities. But a change in the times was inescapable. The faith in the “radiant future” that was going to bring communism had disappeared and the pain of millions of men and women who knew that their dead had been victims of a bloodthirsty tyranny now weighed on the social consciousness. At the same time, the advance of communications made it increasingly difficult to maintain the USSR in isolation from the rest of the world. Contact with the West was ever more frequent, and for a man possessing such

vast knowledge as Aleksandr Men, this was a new world full of interest. He was very well known for his openness towards other Christian religions, especially towards Catholicism. He often quoted the words of Plato: “The walls which divide us do not reach up to heaven.” An authority on many of the excessive positions established by post-conciliar Catholicism, his lucid and well-balanced judgment was not deceived: “I have no sympathy for those intentions to create a ‘secular Christianity,’ which appears here and there in the West – he declared – (…) those persons had been influenced by the ‘spirit of the century.’” By that time he had already written one of his masterpieces: “Jesus, the Master of Nazareth” which was published under a pseudonym by the Brussels East Home. Then he wrote a work of greater scope: the history of religions, gathered in five volumes under the title, “In Search of the Way, the Truth and the Life.” This too was published in Brussels, and today it would be very valuable to re-edit and translate it. Father Men’s erudition and his admirable capacity of synthesis served well in a historical work of that magnitude. This vast research was carried out while the priest continued with an increasing amount of pastoral duties, in very difficult material and spiritual conditions. On several occasions, he had to suffer interrogation and inspections from the KGB (Committee for State Security), who deprived him of books and very valuable personal notes. Meanwhile, the Soviet power was weakening inexorably. The dissidents, led by great intellectuals such as Solzhenitsyn and Sajarov, had been recognized as formidable enemies. Father Men was a friend and a solid support to all of them. When Gorbachev began to yield and give more freedom to the then strangled Soviet society, Father Men jumped into the limelight.

H 207


More and more often he was invited to give lectures on religious subjects. In Moscow’s broad daylight his culture and religious fervor touched the heart of thousands of men and women thirsty for God. But this was too difficult to handle for certain persons educated in odium fidae. In 1990, Father Men was brutally murdered while on his customary way from his home to his parish in Novaya Derevnya.

The shock caused by his death was immense, but the authors of the crime were never identified. Shortly after, the Soviet regime definitively collapsed. Today, through this excellent biography by Yves Hamant, we are able to know more about the rich spiritual and intellectual legacy of this exemplary pastor who faithfully followed the model of Christ until the last day of his life.

Le Concile Vatican II

reform” formulated by the current Pope in his speech to the Roman Curia in late 2005. In these introductory pages –always in communion with the Church– the image that these assemblies used to have in the past as reunions of maximum harmony is prudently demystified. It has never been that way and the councils have always taken many years to be fully assimilated by the Catholic people. In a counterpoint that covers centuries, he recalls, for example, that in the past, if one guarded against Jewish practices (Council of Jerusalem), this was done so not to affect the essential, the justification by faith and not by the Law. In a similar way today, the Eucharist can be celebrated in French or Latin, but it makes no sense to transform the Eucharist, a mystery of unity, into a Trojan horse in the middle of the city of God. A council cannot be read in an abstract manner, but within the living communion of the Church, which includes all the centuries: “Never self-sufficient in itself, a council is part of the continuity of the living Tradition of the Church. Moreover, it is noteworthy how so many councils complete and qualify each other.” An important point in this introduction is the reference to the Apostolic Letter Tertio Millenio Adveniente (n.18) of John Paul II, where the renowned Pontiff remarks the providential event that the Council prepared for the Second Millennium Jubilee. In the conclusion we read personal memories related to situations that strongly strained opinions in the immediate post-council and the importance of John Paul II’s initiative of convoking, in 1985, the Extraordinary Synod of bishops, where the four constitutions of the Council, the pillars of Vatican II, are very clearly explained. The last paragraphs reveal to us the importance of the calling of Benedict XVI to a New Year of Faith –due to a “profound crisis of faith” (Motu proprio Porta fidei)– which will be inaugurated this year 2012 in the commemoration of the 50 years from the inauguration of the Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, one of its major works. Jaime Antúnez

Cardinal Paul Poupard Ed. Salvator Paris, 2012 185 pages

This book is a revised, updated and expanded edition of another published by the same author in 2004 entitled Découvrir le concile Vatican II. In twelve chapters, Poupard gives the historical context and summarizes the content of the sixteen documents promulgated by the Council: four constitutions, nine decrees, and three declarations. In every page, the book shows great erudition on the theme. He easily highlights what is essential, emphasizes what has been subject to discourse, and reaches conclusions with knowledge of documents and historical circumstances. At the same time, Poupard establishes appropriate relations with documents issued by the pontiffs that follow the Popes of the Council, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, for whom he was a close collaborator. The book has an introduction of about thirty pages of particular importance which are harmoniously intertwined since the conciliar convocation of John XXIII in 1952 on “the hermeneutic

H 208


Introduzione alla biopolitica: dodici voci fondamentali Francesco D’Agostino Aracne Rome, 2009 208 pages

In this new work, the well-known philosopher of law and honorary President of the National Bioethics Committee of Italy offers us perspicacious and suggestive reflections about valuation and the “public management” of human life. However, the reader must not expect a discourse similar to such as generally presented in manuals or treatises on bioethics, a discipline which although new, already has a certain background and tradition. The book aims to give us an introduction to the novel problems ,with astonishing originality, both in the form of exposure as well as in its content. The first innovation deals with form and is announced in the title. The book is not divided into chapters, but instead topics alphabetically ordered. Thus, it resembles a small encyclopedia or dictionary, with the difference that each one of the entries has the substance and extension of a monographic article. Therefore, starting with “abortion” and ending with “life,” the major topics of bioethics are gathered, either in its fundamentals or in its most polemical applications: autonomy, bioethics, biotechnology, homosexuality, people, technology, and also others which are less expected, such as fragility, nudity, and evolution. To this unique form, the work adds arguments which are also developed in a non-traditional way. D’Agostino rejects the idea widely spread that bioethical problems can be resolved on the basis of identifying certain principles, from which the answers to questions raised by the application of technology to vital processes are inferred. Nor does he attempt to return to the classical or Thomistic discourse on naturalism that is not comprehended by those who are immersed in postmodern culture. His purpose is to unveil and reveal the incoherence, contradictions, and injustices that the consequentialist or rather relativistic ethics of postmodern thought produces in the handling of the most fundamental matters of hu-

man life. For example, about the controversial issue of legalization of abortion, the author shows us that what seems like women’s liberation, becomes an anthropological change in the perception of motherhood: “called by nature to assume the role of giving life, she is induced to attribute to herself the role of pretending to be a judge of the quality of life” (page 18). In regards to homosexuality, he states that the greatest difficulty is that the claim for legal recognition between the union of people of the same sex possesses two different ideological tendencies: the liberationist, who seeks the legalization of homosexual marriages in order to prevent the state from intervening in family matters, considering them within the merely private scope; and the liberal, whose position is not to withdraw the participation of the state in family matters, but to admit that there is no preferential model to follow, but rather, just as in creed and religious issues, there must be a pluralism which includes all preferences and lifestyles. Both tendencies start from the assumption that it is not possible to formulate an objective discourse about the human person, which leads to the denial of law, whose mission it is to become an instrument at the service of interpersonal communication (and not of merely single interests). D’Agostino concludes that homosexual unions cannot be legally recognized because they are not communication in the sense that it can be relevant for law (page 162). It is not about detracting or despising forms of relationship, but instead distinguish between those which belong to the private sphere (among which is friendship, for example), and those which must be regulated by public institutions, as in the case of marriage. This issue of public importance, which concerns the law, is that marriage has as its structural aim “the regulation of the exercise of sexuality to ensure the order of the generations” (pages 163-164). Paradoxically, the author seems to lay the grounding of dignity and the duty of respect for all human beings, not in human power or intelligence, but in their “fragility.” Certainly there are human beings that are more vulnerable and deserve greater protection, but at the end every human being is a reality impregnated with fragility because he is inevitably destined to die. The human being is human as long as he is mortal. Therefore, when medical and therapeutic efforts try to act against this fundamental data, with the dream of liberating man from his innate fragility, they are depriving him of his own nature (page 134). In the work, the analysis over the term “bio-politics” is central, and not chosen by accident as part of the book’s title, with preference over the better known term, bioethics. In regards to bio-politics, D’Agostino does not simply refer to legal regulations, which are adopted by political bodies, in order to translate the conclusions of bioethical reflections into norms. He designates by this term what he believes is happening in our time, and what is the management of biological life by authority, understood not as the state structure

H 209


but as “all collective practice of a self-referential type” (page 56). This authority justifies itself, as a mere praxis, and it does not refer to the objectivity of reality and its intrinsic standards. According to bio-politics, humanitas is not an assumption but a product of praxis. He states that an example of the deprivation of the meaning of what is human, and its consideration only as a biological instrument, is seen in the Nazi concentration camp phenomena. According to D’Agostino, totalitarians are not those who generated biopolitics, but it was biopolitics which preceded them and assisted their development. After totalitarianism, biopolitics has learned how to maintain its validity under other cultural customs. Is this not what happened in concentrations camps similar to what can happen or even is happening today, at institutes and laboratories in which scientists and researchers, in the name of progress, are manipulating the lives of humans, animals or hybrids? The periodic destruction of thousands of embryos who remain as leftovers after assisted reproduction techniques, beyond any verification of their vitality (as happens in the United Kingdom), is also evidence of the power of biopolitics which does not need any justification other than what is practical. In this background, it is understood how the “animalistic” movement continues and advances considering that there is no basis to distinguish between human and non-human life. D’Agostino offers diverse keys which he believes are necessary to “deconstruct” the paradigms of bio-politics: to consider biology as something private and not political, to avoid the use of speech on behalf of individual rights and claim fragility as a fundamental anthropological principle in biological matters. However, the author does not seem to have much hope that overcoming the bio-political culture will lead us to a more just and human society, in the same way as the fight against dictatorship does not guarantee, on its own, the advent of democracy (page 72). With this disclaimer, the book serves to warn us about the dangers of our time and to assist us in our decision on how to fight against the ideology of power over the management of human life. Although it is a fight which does not necessarily guarantee success, it is essential. Hernán Corral T. Acquire online at www.aracneedditrice.it

H 210

Giovanni Paolo II. La biografia Andrea Riccardi San Paolo Edizioni 2010 562 pages

Although texts about the person and pontificate of John Paul II abound (including books on his attractive personality, his productive work, the depth of his spirituality and the direction of his leadership), the subject matter has not been exhausted. In this biography, Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio and Minister of the International Cooperation and Integration Policies in Italy, and who knew the Pontiff intimately, shows us a Pope who is familiar yet reserved, friendly, who loves his country, and professes an unwavering faith in God and an unbreakable love for men. He reveals a Pope who is happy, charismatic, and enthusiastic, but at the same time one who suffers from a profound sense of his own pain and that of others, a spiritual leader who changed the history of humanity. Karol Wojtyla was a man of his time, who had to grow in the middle of torments derived from ideological fanaticism, whose ferocity was felt by his beloved Poland. He was also both witness and victim of the consolidation of a totalitarian regime which needlessly prohibited faith, and he was a protagonist in the collapse of the real socialisms. His pontificate marked the end and the beginning of a new era. He was a global leader in the words of one his Polish friends. As Riccardi states, the aim of the book is to “approach a character and his time, so as to further understand the history of our time.” The text, rich in biographical quotes and papal documents, delves into the multifaceted nature of this pontiff who conquered humanity with his strong and direct message, his ability for personal encounter and his close relationship with the media. Although tired and sick, the Pope never renounced his intention to reach everyone—to meet people, and to visit them in their own nations in what has been called his “proclivity for mass gatherings.” The Riccardi writes: “the habit of continually receiving visits and always sharing meals with guests, practiced in Krakow and then implemented in Rome, expresses the rooted desire to learn


Ratzinger Prize 2012: Les Ancres dans le Ciel: l’infrastructure métaphysique Rémi Brague Seuil, L’ordre philosophique 2011

“In my opinion, Rémi Brague is a true philosopher and, at the same time, a great historian of cultural thought who unabashedly combines his speculative ability and his historical vision of the Christian and Catholic faith.” (Quoted from Cardinal Ruini, President of the Academic Committee of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, awarding Brague the Ratzinger Prize 2012).

This book1* comes from a series of lectures that the author gave in Barcelona in 2009, in French, and then were translated into Catalan. Rémi Brague is a philosopher, very erudite in his fields, which he knows how to handle in an accurate, perceptive, and simple way ever since his works in the 80’s: Du temps chez Platon et Aristote and Aristote et la question du monde until his most recent works on medieval thought, where he demonstrates his extraordinary knowledge not only of Christian philosophers, but also of a Jew like Maimonides or the Aristotelian Arabs. The same can be said of his literary knowledge; his references to Dostoyevsky, Conrad, Artaud, Novalis, and Rimbaud are notable. The book makes very clear its original character, a series of lectures which open a range of topics that are later developed in the Avant-propos elucidated by Brague. The starting point, or its infrastructure, as the author says, is in metaphysics, from the work of Aristotle until its modern development which reaches Leibniz and Kant and the contemporary thoughts of Heidegger and Bergson. This scheme, says Brague, can be very technical to nonphilosophers, but “ridiculously concise” for the philosopher. The adjective ridiculously is not meant with irony because in its brevity it is possible to appreciate formulations of great precision and insightful observations on relationships between Christian and Islamic thinkers, such

as Duns Scotus and Avicenna, or interpretations, for example, of Kant’s Critiques and his metaphysics of praxis. From that sketched vision of the development of metaphysics, the book goes on with penetrating reflections on the medieval doctrine of the convertibility of the transcendental notions, especially being and good, and therefore, the relationships between understanding and will, which will lead to Nietzsche’s nihilism and the meaning of his “will of power.” Such infrastructure is projected, according to the author, in the modern idea of autonomy and in the origin of the human society placed in the social contract that can operate, both in Hobbes, with the defense of monarchy, as well as with Rousseau in the closed space of modern democracy, which reappears in Rawls’s idea of justice. Finally, he refers to two serious ethical consequences which appear with individual suicide, postulated already in very ancient ideas, and the collective suicide, which today humanity holds in its hands, not only through its destructive nuclear weapons but also because of its rejection of procreation, already denounced by Rousseau and led Alexander von Humboldt to assert that he considered marriage a sin and procreation a crime. At first glance, one could think that in this series of lectures there is an excessively wide range of topics and thesis, and in a certain way, this is true; but if such method was no more than the product of a brilliant intellectual imagination, one could be distrustful. But the truth is that the work is a rigorously coherent discourse of a very rich knowledge. Juan de Dios Vial Larraín Acquire online at www.seuil.com

1 * Brague, Remi, Les ancres dans le ciel, Seuil, 2011, 135 pages.

H 211


from everyone. This proclivity for gatherings reveals his personal inclination but also a theoretical reflection” based on a phenomenological and experiential method that would turn into a way of life and conduct. Early on, when Wojtyla already was a Cardinal, the general opinion tried to label him but he was always above all possible categories of conservativism or progressivism. He had a larger concern, and that was the Western tolerance for communism. Once in the papacy, his message, although coming from the East, was profoundly European. From the beginning he spoke to all of Europe, one of Christian roots which breathes “with two lungs,” the West and the East. But this agile, young and athletic Pope saw his health seriously impaired after the attack on May 13, 1981, of which its instigators remain unknown. Riccardi states: “If one wonders who could gain by the Pope’s death, the Soviets and their allies come easily to mind.” According to documents quoted in the book, the opinion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Andrey Gromyko, was that the Vatican had “an expert man, smarter than a fox, a political and ideological adversary that threatens us.” The Pope was aware of this hostility toward his person: “They hate me because I know them.” Another motive can be found in the history of the Polish labor movement “Solidarity,” which menaced the communist regime. The Christian world would have had another ending if the Turkish terrorist, Ali A ca, had achieved his task. From the attack, the Pope came back renewed with a sense of urgency to communicate the Gospel message to the world and to reinforce his devotion to the Virgin of Fatima, who –the Pope was convinced– deflected the assassin’s bullet. The idea of martyrdom is connected to the idea of forgiveness granted. “That is the Church’s position on martyrs, those who are not afraid,” the author states. “Do not be afraid,” the pastor proclaimed to the world. The popes desire to spread the Gospel to all nations made him take 104 trips abroad, not counting those made in Italy. The Pope traveled nine times to Poland, eight to France (a historically Christian country strongly influenced by secularism), and five times to a Spain influenced by a similar secular culture as the French. Riccardi states, “For Wojtyla, Europe and European Christianity had a great role in the world,” a conviction that led him to fight for the recognition of the Christian roots in the European constitution. A special reference is made to the Pope’s closeness with the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, both victims of terrorist attacks, which led to the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Washington, but that later on were troubled by the invasion of Iraq. Seven trips to the United States turned the Pope into the great spiritual leader for some, but certainly for all in the West. Latin America was not overlooked

H 212

by the papal glance. “The Pope is concerned with the politicization of the language of theology” –says Riccardi– “and the relationship between Christians and Marxism was a great issue…since the begging of the pontificate,” a topic in which the aid of then Cardinal Ratzinger was crucial. Thus, the pope visited the tomb of assassinated Monsignor Romero in San Salvador proclaiming “Romero is ours” and scolded Ernesto Cardenal in Nicaragua. Riccardi adds: “John Paul II was convinced of the risk of liberation theology and the need to avoid a union with Marxism.” This problem continued until 1990, with the fall of the Eastern communist regimes and the naming of a renewed generation of bishops. A new concern came to Latin America, the spreading of Neo-Protestantism. In this book, there is a special section dedicated to the Pope’s mediation between Chile and Argentina over the Beagle Channel dispute. The Pope, a tireless fighter for peace, did not hesitate to use his intercession to prevent armed conflict, notwithstanding some who recommended him to abstain. In April 1987, John Paul II visited Chile, and his appearance on the balcony of the Palacio de La Moneda with Pinochet, “caused disturbances in the West,” according to Riccardi. Riccardi continues: “John Paul II never personally avoided entering into tense situations. He preached against the use of violence, and he appeared several times with Pinochet, despite opposition from the Nunciature.” The author recalls the Pope’s visit to the National Stadium, where Chilean political prisoners were arrested, and where he urged youngsters to commit themselves to the construction of a more Christian society and to remove themselves from the seduction of violence. The Pope indicated the path of reconciliation and transition. This Pope, who was reconciler, a global leader, and a modern prophet, changed the history of mankind. His last years were, for Riccardi, “a fight against time and his body.” His funeral, on April 8, 2005, was carried out in front of a crowd among whom there were representatives from 172 countries. Riccardi concludes: “In other words, this was the life of Wojtyla, always in the midst of people.” Francisca Alessandri Acquire online at www.sanpablo.es


John Henry Newman: A Biography Ian Ker Oxford University Press USA, 1990 784 pages

From being ordained an Anglican pastor and Oxford fellow to becoming a Cardinal of the Catholic Church, John Henry Newman, beatified by Benedict XVI in 2011, is one of the most fascinating figures of the Church and his country, England. This book, nearly 800 pages long, is a very complete biography of Newman, and is classified as one of the best character studies of that century. Despite the frightening number of pages, it is not at all a dense book to read. A great part of the book is written by Newman himself, because it is inevitable to quote from his abundant letters and writings. Besides his better known books, there are thirty-two volumes of his letters, in addition to thousands of pages of his more personal writings and even an intimate diary. Biographies have already been written containing his letters, such as, “Ever yours affectionately” (his invariable way of saying goodbye) for which a review was published by Humanitas. This book aspires to more, it aims to be a portrait of the man and his time, but also what the author calls a “literary biography,” that is to say, to explain the genesis of each book, its development and impact. Newman admitted that it was a difficult process for him to transfer his thoughts to paper: “I write, I write again, I write a third time in the course of six months; then I take the third, I literally fill the paper with corrections so that another person could not read it. I then write it out fair for the printer, I put it by, I take it up, I begin to correct again… it will not do, alterations multiply, pages are re-written, little lines sneak in and crawl about.…” Ian Ker believes that Newman had particular literary talent, and even claims that he is better than Dickens in regard to irony and descriptive passages. However, the substance of this biography is dedicated to his production as a theologian, essayist, as well as polemist when it was appropriate: “There is a great fat lie,

a lie to the back bone, and in all its component parts, and in its soul and body, inside and out, in all sides of it, and in its very origin, in the Record. It has no element of truth in it, it is born of a lie, its father and mother are lies and all its ancestry, and to complete it, it is about me.” Newman’s spiritual trajectory, which finally led him into full communion with the Catholic Church, is treated delicately and with detail. Five chapters of the book are dedicated to this process. He had begun to search in the Church Fathers for the germs to explain the Roman Church’s corruption, and ended up convincing himself that it was this Church that had kept the faith’s deposit, and therefore, was the true Church: “I saw my face in that mirror, and I was a Monophysite. The Church of the Via Media was in the position of the Oriental communion, Rome was, where she now is; and the Protestants were the Eutychians.” “It was clear that I had a good deal to learn on the question of the Churches, and that perhaps some new light was coming upon me. He, who has seen a ghost, cannot be as if he had never seen it. The heavens had opened and closed again. The thought for the moment had been, ‘The Church of Rome will be found right after all;’ and then it had vanished. My old convictions remained as before.” (Apologia pro vita sua). But his “old convictions” started to crumble, and Newman, in a very painful process, left Anglicanism. His sensibility –according to Ker it was not at all hyper-sensibility, as has often been criticized– led him to suffer for the lifestyle he was leaving, circles of friends, culture. He was highly criticized and thereafter his insertion into the Catholic world was not easy. English Catholics were forming a society of small intellectual scope, and Newman, in turn, did not identify at all with its authorities. In his famous Apologia pro vita sua, he precisely unfolded his character and responded to those who termed him a false man. Newman, being secretly a Catholic, had remained Anglican for years to proselytize the university youths. Other major themes of the book are the beginning of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri in England, Newman’s work, the agitated existence of the Catholic University in Ireland, of which he was its first Rector, the opening of the First Vatican Council, the tendencies of the Church in its time, and the politics of his country. In the last few pages of his diary he criticized: “I am dissatisfied with the whole of this book. It is more or less a complaint from one end to the other. But it represents what has been the real state of my mind, and what my cross has been.” And in the following line, his last note: “Since writing the above I have been made a Cardinal.” Elena Vial Acquire online at www.palabra.es

H 213


La Foi des démons ou l’athéisme dépassé Fabrice Hadjadj Ed. Salvator Paris, 2009 300 pages

Once again, recent accusations against priests, bishops, and deacons testify that the Church oscillates between holiness and sin. Benedict XVI even said, during his trip to Fatima, that the worst enemies are within de Church. The Church, that is to say all of us, as an unfaithful wife, sins. But again and again, Christ the husband washes our sins. At times like now, this book, with its provocative title, repels and attracts. It seems that the author, Fabrice Hadjadj, professor of literature and philosophy, of Jewish parents and Maoist inclinations, and who converted to Catholicism in 1988, intends to shake our consciousness. In the first part of the book, the author shows us the demon concealing and masking himself in his knowledge to hide his pride, and his attempt to empty all meaning from Christian teachings. In this sense, Gramcsi is only a little disciple. But Hadjadj’s invitation is not to judge others, but to look within ourselves. The author says “The demonic is not so much in wanting evil, as wanting to do good though not obeying the source of all good, wanting to do good according to a rule, as a gift which intends to receive nothing, in a kind of generosity which matches the finest pride.” The question is: are we confessing Christ in order to tie ourselves to Him or are we instead confessing Him to throw him away from us and feed our arrogance and ego? In the second part of the book, the author shows us how the devil dances on the believer’s board of errors. Through unusual examples in theology, the demon appears to fertilize the errors of men: including lies, pride, ambition, and other subtle temptations that thwart today’s men from opening up to grace. He divides what must be united and leads us to attitudes that are only apparently good, through two rival tactics, one that pushes us to error based on our weakness and the other that pushes us to pride based on

H 214

our strengths. Finally, in the last part of the book, the follower’s faith is viewed both in its flourishing as in its darkest night. Sometimes the examples and also the language are strong, even shocking, but at the end, this book succeeds in making us ask ourselves how true is our faith. Is our faith humble, open to grace, and full of love? Or is it a collection of rules which we follow not really understanding why and for what? Through his book, Hadjadj unravels myths until at the end he leaves us in front of a mirror, and reveals to us that a certain type of atheism can be better or more authentic than our faith; that the demon succeeds in making people love Christ badly, and especially, that we must also examine ourselves. It is a book that, for those who are not theologians, must be read slowly, with patience, and which will sometimes drive you to leave it for good. The strange combination of diverse cultural currents knotted in the author, offers the readers an original view. Christiane Raczynski Acquire online at www.nuevoinicio.es

Une énigme photografique Maurice Blondel Co-édition Éreme - Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi Barcelona, 2005 192 pages

Maurice Blondel (1861-1949) was an important French philosopher. He was born in Dijon to a Catholic family and lived according to their beliefs. He used to spend his holidays in the country at a family property, and it was there where he wrote his famous doctoral thesis: The Action, an essay of a criticism on life and on the philosophy of action. He married Rose Royer and from this union three children were born. He died in Aix-en-Provence.


His itinerary unfolded in an intellectual environment of vigorous personalities with the strong presence of positivism, scientism, and agnosticism. The development of his thought led him to state that man can never be satisfied or selfsufficient. Therefore, Blondel’s intention was to develop a philosophy that would give meaning to life and explain the unsatisfied aspirations of man. His reflections led him to formulate a philosophy oriented toward religious transcendence, for its own internal logic,in which the natural order aspires, opens and perfects itself in the supernatural. The study of action, its exigencies and dynamism becomes the proper way to fulfill his purpose. Blondel’s ideas produce controversies and finds followers and opponents, both in the field of philosophy as well as Catholic theology. I had the opportunity to discover the thought of this French philosopher in the modern philosophy classes of Father Jorge Hourton P. at the Pontifical Catholic University. This priest, and later bishop, also introduced him in two publications in the Finisterrae magazine: The philosophy of action by Maurice Blondel (1961), and The religious philosophy by Maurice Blondel (1962). He also translated two of his works: “The starting point of philosophic research” and “Christianity’s philosophical requirements” published by Editorial Herder (Barcelona, 1967). This link with the author induced me to write my thesis –which in turn led to my degree as a philosophy professor– on a specific aspect of his thoughts, the one related with his philosophy of education. The book by Maurice Blondel, Une énigme photographique, surprised me when I discovered another aspect of his work. The book recounts the philosopher’s interesting photographic work and unveils the author as a person of flesh and bones, possessor of a rich family life, admirer of his surroundings and immersion in daily life. It also dissolves the myth of the philosopher perched in an ivory tower, foreign to daily reality, without affections or emotions, who views the world from above. Without a doubt, the publication of these images will help us to better understand the human being that is behind the execution of philosophical and aesthetic acts. The book was published on the occasion of the philosopher’s first photographic exhibition in the Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi, in 2005, where the photographic documents are deposited, as kept by his descendants and those who helped to compile them. The photographs cover a period of about twenty years (1895-1915). Blondel never publicly spoke about his photographic work and his pictures were only known by his family and friends. There are 95 photographs, in black and white, included in the publication. His subjects are diverse: portraits of people, individuals as well as groups, landscapes, animals, labor activities, self-portraits. Two studies precede the photographs: “The look and the

reflection,” by Jean Leclerc, Director of the Center of the Archives of Maurice Blondel in the University of Leuven, and another study, Une énigme photographique, written by the historian Carl Havelange, where he analyzes the characteristics and the quality of the photographs: “mysterious, intensely attractive,” “common images and at the same time magnificent” (page 13). They manifest the author’s “liberty, fertility and photographic rigor” (page 33) and possess an aesthetic appearance which exceeds the criteria of an amateur photographer. For Havelange, the reproduced images are “family pictures, but without being; pictures of an experimented amateur, but without truly sharing the amateur culture in the late nineteenth century; author photographs, but without an author who is claimed as such; photographs where an artistic intention prevails, but without any real affiliation with the tradition of artistic photography; documentary photographs –they have the quality and rigor– but without a documentary project other than the scope of intimacy; photographs taken with a lot of expertise, from the point of view of composition and light, but without any pretense of masterpiece…. Photographs that in his time do not resemble anything expected or really known; photographs that without lack of evident ties seem to constantly go out of his time’s milieu” (page 29). Is there a nexus that links the philosophical labor and the photographic work, the words and appearance? Havelange, the historian, proposes a clue: the necessary bond of philosophy and of art to the world of the senses, at the risk of distortion, would be a core of union between both human activities. “The same passion for the sensitive in the text and the image, and the same will to make it intelligible. This agreement between the sensitive and the intelligible is evidently in the heart of the philosophy of action, as it is in the heart of the best images of Maurice Blondel” (page 49). The book ends with a written homage paid by lawyer Felipe Blondel to his grandfather. Elena Sánchez Acquire online at www.ereme.net

H 215


About the Authors CARDINAL ANGELO SCOLA. Archbishop of Milan. Former Rector of the Pontificia Università Lateranense. Tracey Rowland. Australian Theologian. Dean and Associate Professor of Political Philosophy and Continental Theology at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family (Melbourne, Australia). She is member of the Centre of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham, and a member of the editorial board of the English edition of the international Catholic journal, Communio. Rino Fisichella. President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and ex-Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. Fabrice Hadjadj. Professor of Philosophy and Literature at Sainte-Jeanne-D’Arc private Catholic high school, and in the Seminary of Toulon. He is a regular contributor in Le Figaro. Javier Prades. Priest in the archdiocese of Madrid. Doctor in Theology from the Pontifical University Gregoriana. Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Delegate of the Grand Chancellor of the Ecclesiastical University of San Dámaso, Madrid, Spain. Member of the International Theological Commission. Angelo Serra. Jesuit priest. Professor Emeritus of Human Genetics at the Catholic University of Sacred Heart. He was Director of the Genetics Department at Gemelli Clinic of the Catholic University in Rome, and a honorary member of the Pontifical Academia pro Vita. Piero Viotto. Professor Emeritus of Educational Philosophy at the Catholic University of Milan, and member of the scientific committee Jacques Maritain International Institute.

Alessandra Gerolin. Doctor of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan, where she is now dedicated to research on the history of philosophy. She deals with themes of Anthropology, Ethics, and Politics in English thought. She collaborates with the Centro di Ateneo per la dottrina sociale della Chiesa dell’Università Cattolica, and the Centre of Theology and Philosophy of the University of Nottingham. Samuel Fernández. Diocesan priest. Former Dean of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Member of the Publishing Committee of Humanitas Magazine. Pedro Morandé. Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and active member of the Social Sciences Academy, Politics and Ethics of the Chilean Institute. Member of the Publishing Committee of Humanitas Magazine. Jean Louis Brugués. French Archbishop. Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church. ELIZABETTA Sala. Language, Literature and English History professor. Authors in The Church and the world and Books: Cardinal Carlo Caffarra. Archbishop of Bologna. José Luis Restán. Editor of digital pages. Gisela Silva. Chilean historian. Andrés Arteaga. Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago. Francisca Alessandri. Professor at the Faculty of Journalism of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Christiane Raczynski. Chilean president for AIDS. Juan de Dios Vial L. Humanitas Editorial Committee member. Hernán Corral. Humanitas Editorial Committee member.

EDITORIAL COMMITTEE Jaime Antúnez. Director of Humanitas review. PhD in Philosophy. Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences of the Institute of Chile. Hernán Corral. PhD in Law. Former Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Law, University of Los Andes. Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences of the Institute of Chile. Samuel Fernández. PhD in Theology. Former Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Director of the Padre Alberto Hurtado Study Center. Gabriel Guarda O.S.B. Abott Emeritus of the Benedictine Monastery of St. Trinity of Las Condes. National Prize for History, l984. Member of the History Academy of the Institute of Chile. René Millar. PhD in History. Former Dean of the Faculty of History, Geography and Political Sciences of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Full Professor of the History Institute. Member of the History Academy of the Institute of Chile. Ricardo Riesco. PhD in Geography. Rector of the University de San Sebastián. Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences of the Institute of Chile. Francisco Rosende. Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Master of Arts in Economics, Chicago. Juan de Dios Vial Correa. Former Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Former President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Member of the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Chile. Arturo Yrarrazával. PhD in Law. Former Dean of the Faculty of Law of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

H 216


Council of Consultants and Collaborators Héctor Aguer: Archbishop of La Plata, Argentina. Anselmo Álvarez O.S.B: Abbot of Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos. Carl Anderson: Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus. Andrés Arteaga: Assistant Bishop of Santiago, professor at the Faculty for Theology, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC). Francisca Alessandri: Professor, Faculty for Journalism, PUC. Antonio Amado: Professor of Metaphysics, University of Los Andes. Felipe Bacarreza: Bishop of Los Ángeles, Chile. Jean-Louis Bruguès O.P: Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Bishop Emeritus of Angers, France. Massimo Borghesi: Italian philosopher, senior professor of the University of Perugia, Italy. Rocco Buttiglione: Italian political philosopher. Carlos Francisco Cáceres: Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences, Institute of Chile. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra: Archbishop of Bolonia, Italy. Stratford Caldecott: Director of The Centre for Faith and Culture, Oxford. Cardinal Antonio Cañizares: Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Cult and the Discipline of Sacraments. Jorge Cauas Lama: Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences, Institute of Chile. Guzmán Carriquiry: Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. William E. Carroll: Aquinas Fellow in Theology and Science, Blackfriars. Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford. Alberto Caturelli: Argentine philosopher. Cesare Cavalleri: Director of Studi Cattolici, Milan, Italy. Fernando Chomalí: Archbishop of Concepción. Member of the Pontifical Academia Pro Vita, PUC. Francisco Claro: Dean of the Faculty for Education, PUC. Jesús Colina: Director of Aleteia. Ricardo Couyoumdjian: Professor History Institute, PUC. Member of the History Academy, Institute of Chile. Mario Correa Bascuñán: Secretary General PUC, professor at the Law Faculty, PUC. Francesco D’Agostino: Professor of Philosophy of Law at the University Tor Vergata of Rome, former President of the National Bioethic Committee of Italy. Adriano Dell’Asta: Professor, Catholic University, Milan, Italy. Vittorio di Girólamo: Professor, University Gabriela Mistral. Carmen Domínguez: Lawyer, Director of the PUC Centre for the Family. Carlos José Errázuriz: Consultant of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, professor at Pontifical Università della Santa Croce. Luis Fernando Figari: Founder of “Sodalicio de Vida Cristiana”, Lima, Peru. Alfredo García Quesada: Pontifical Consultant for the Cultural Council, professor of the Pontifical and Civil Faculty of Theology, Lima, Peru. Juan Ignacio González: Bishop of San Bernardo, Chile. Stanislaw Grygiel: Polish philosopher, tenured lecturer of the John Paul II Chair, Lateranense University, Rome. Raúl Hasbun: Priest of the Schöenstatt Congregation, professor at the Pontifical Senior Seminary of Santiago. Henri Hude: French philosopher, former Rector of the Stanislas College, Paris. Lydia Jiménez: Director of the Secular Institute Cruzadas de Santa María. Gonzalo Ibáñez Santa-María: Professor and former Rector of University Adolfo Ibáñez. José Miguel Ibáñez Langlois: Theologian and poet. Raúl Irarrázabal Covarrubias: Architect, President of the Chilean Association of the Order of Malta. Paul Johnson: British historian. Jean Laffitte: Bishop of Entrevaux. Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Nikolaus Lobkowicz: Director of the Eastern and Central European Studies Institute, University of Eichstätt, Germany.

Alfonso López Quintás: Spanish philosopher. Regular member of the Royal Spanish Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. Alejandro Llano: Spanish philosopher, former Rector of the University of Navarra, Spain. Raúl Madrid: Professor, Law Faculty, PUC. Patricia Matte Larraín: Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences, Institute of Chile. Mauro Matthei O.S.B: Benedictine monk and priest. Historian. Cardinal Jorge Medina: Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Javier Martínez Fernández: Archbishop of Granada, Spain. Carlos Ignacio Massini Correas: Professor at the National University of Cuyo, Argentina. Livio Melina: President of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies of Marriage and the Family. Augusto Merino: Political Scientist, professor at University Adolfo Ibáñez. Dominic Milroy O.S.B: Monk at Ampleforth, former Rector of the Ampleforth College, York (G.B.). Antonio Moreno: Archbishop Emeritus of Concepción, Chile. Fernando Moreno: Philosopher, Director of the Political Science Program, University Gabriela Mistral. Rodrigo Moreno Jeria: Member of the Chilean Academy of History. Máximo Pacheco Gómez: Former Minister of State, Ambassador to the Holy See, member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences, Institute of Chile. José Miguel Oriol: President of Editorial Encuentro, Madrid, Spain. Mario J. Paredes: Director of Catholic Ministries at American Bible Society. Francesco Petrillo O.M.D: General Superior of the Orden de la Madre de Dios. Bernardino Piñera: Archbishop Emeritus of La Serena, Chile. Aquilino Polaino-Lorente: Spanish psychiatrist. Cardinal Paul Poupard: President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Javier Prades: Dean of the Faculty for Theology at San Dámaso, Madrid, Spain. Member of the International Theological Commission. Dominique Rey: Bishop of Tréjus-Toulon, France. Héctor Riesle: Former Ambassador to the Holy See and the UNESCO. Florián Rodero L.C: Professor of Theology, Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, Rome. Alejandro San Francisco: Professor at the Institute of History, PUC. Romano Scalfi: Director of the Christian Russia Center, Milan, Italy. Cardinal Angelo Scola: Archbishop of Milan. David L. Schindler: Director of the John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and the Family, Washington D.C., U.S.A. Josef Seifert: President of the Liechtenstein International Academy of Philosophy, Granada, Spain. Gisela Silva Encina: Writer. Robert Spaemann: German philosopher. Paulina Taboada: Medical doctor, member of the Pontifical Academy Pro Vita. William Thayer Arteaga: Member of the Academy of Social, Political and Moral Sciences, Institute of Chile. Olga Uliánova: Ph. D. in History, University of Lomonosov, Moscow. Researcher at the University of Santiago. Luis Vargas Saavedra: Professor, Faculty of Literature, PUC. Miguel Ángel Velasco: Director of Alfa y Omega, Madrid, Spain. Juan Velarde Fuertes: Member of the Royal Spanish Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. Príncipe de Asturias Prize in Social Sciences (1992). Aníbal Vial: Former Rector of University Santo Tomás. Pilar Vigil: Medical doctor, member of the Pontifical Academy Pro Vita. Richard Yeo O.S.B: Abbot and President of the Benedictine Congregation, England. Diego Yuuki S.J: Former Director of the Museum of the 26 Martyrs of Japan, Nagasaki.

H 219


Tracey Rowland HUMUS OF THE CHRISTIAN CULTURE Rino Fisichella THE NEW EVANGELIZATION: WHAT IS IT?

C H R I S T I A N A N T H R O P O L O G I C A L A N D C U LT U R A L R E V I E W/ N º 3 / Y E A R I

YEAR II Jean-Louis Bruguès VATICAN II AHEAD OF US

2012-1013

YEAR OF FAITH

"Credo Domine, adauge nobis fidem!" Hymn of the Year of Faith

3

Profile for Revista Humanitas

Humanitas Review 3  

Christian Anthropological and Cultural Review

Humanitas Review 3  

Christian Anthropological and Cultural Review

Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded