ROME, FEB. 28, 2011 (Zenit.org)
A new book by Aldo Maria Valli asserts that the Pope is so often attacked because he stands for truth and fights relativism.
The Italian-language book, “La Verità Del Papa — Perché lo Attaccano, Perché va Ascoltato” [The Truth About the Pope: Why He Is Attacked, Why He Must Be Listened To] was presented last week in Rome’s Don Nicola Mazza Institute.
The presentation was moderated by journalist Lorenzo Fazzini and by the president of the Vatican’s Institute for the Works of Religion, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. The book’s author, Aldo Maria Valli, Vatican expert for the Italian television network RAI, posed the question: “Why is the present Pope the absolutely most attacked public figure and why are his words the object of strong manipulation?”
The author answered, “Because at the heart of his teaching there is a battle against relativism, a battle fought with calm and gentle tones, and which focuses on the problem of present-day humanity.”
“It’s a convergence of interests and people who do not want others to pose to themselves the problem of truth,” he added. If they did, the author noted, they couldn’t be as easily manipulated.
This was the main theme of the book — illustrated with a number of examples lived personally by the author — and also of the presentation of the book in Rome. Valli admitted his scant initial enthusiasm for the present Pope: “When Benedict XVI was elected I wasn’t enthusiastic; I was so for John Paul II, a Pope who wished to meet so many peoples, with positive changes such as the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
However, he added, “the Spirit blows where it will, and a European Pope was elected, a German, a theologian, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
“All my expectations were shaken,” the author recalled, “to the point that someone said to me: ‘That day on [the television program] you did not seem very happy.'”
He noted that “he preferred a Pope from a poor country of the South.” However, Valli said, “little by little I was won over by Benedict XVI’s thought.”
The journalist affirmed that Benedict XVI “has won me over with his rationality and simplicity” on posing “the most profound question of decisive topics such as liberty and truth and what it is that comes before, and why he asked us to question ourselves on these great matters.”
The same happened with those who are not Christians, he noted, and “that is why he has asked Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, to dust off the ‘Court of the Gentiles’ [initiative].”
Valli acknowledged, “The cases of sexual abuse were added to the usual attacks, terrible deeds that happened and were used by the world of information to unleash a new attack on responsibilities that were not his.”
However, he added, the underlying problem is that “the attacks are due to the fact that the Pope poses several questions, in which the problem of truth is absolutely central, because it is a genuine battle against relativism.”
This happens “because what permeates our present culture and mentality is [the belief] that truth doesn’t exist,” the author explained.
He noted, “With great simplicity our Pope indicates that truth exists and that if it isn’t sought it’s not possible to be fully men, that man has this longing and that if this desire is denied part of him is amputated.”
Therefore, “if this underlying problem isn’t enunciated his pontificate cannot be understood,” the journalist asserted.
The book refers to several cases, he reported, such as last January “when Benedict XVI addressed the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See on liberty of religion, and appealed to Muslim leaders of the various countries to guarantee authentic liberty of religion to all the faithful and to Christians.”
“However,” Valli noted, “the press extracted from this four-page address four lines of a paragraph on sexual education in schools,” written in regard to the Spanish situation.
And thus, the author recalled, “the headlines of the media were: ‘Pope Attacks Sexual Education.’ His words were manipulated and this happens constantly.”
Valli mentioned other similar cases such as the Papal trip to Africa and his statement on AIDS and condoms, a situation in which even governments aligned themselves against Benedict XVI. The author also recalled when some students and professors in Rome opposed the idea of having the Pope address La Sapientia University.
The journalist said that the Pontiff’s battle “is not a rearguard battle; he has a farsighted vision that will be valid even when we are no longer around — on anthropology, on what man is and what we are.”
“In the end,” he added, “this Pope wins one over in the plane of rationality, but it is necessary to listen to him and to read him.”
Valli urged: “Let us do so. Some of his enemies have understood him very well. We, his flock, often ignore him.” Asked by the moderator if there is a director or a strategy behind this plan to attack the Holy Father, Valli answered: “The Pope does not think of a plot,” not something such as “James Bond and not even an old man who pulls strings.” He added, “There is, yes, a convergence of interests.”
The author noted: “The Pope has spoken several times of persecution, but never of external persecution. He has never entrenched himself saying, ‘I’m being attacked.'” Valli pointed out that “on the trip to Portugal, before the Virgin of Fatima, the Pope wished to consecrate the priests of the world” because “the real persecution is the lack of fidelity, beginning with the consecrated persons, cardinals, bishops and laity.”
The author affirmed, “The Pope is calling us to have a role in this society and we must ask ourselves: Are we giving witness or are we camouflaging ourselves?”
“Caritas in Veritate”
The moderator indicated that when “Caritas in Veritate” was presented behind closed doors by a professor, Stefano Zamagni, to a group of bankers of the Rome, some said: “We can accept everything except the Pope sticking his nose in our businesses.” After that, the moderator noted, the attacks increased.
Tedeschi responded to the moderator, noting that “in the introduction and in Chapter 6, ‘Caritas in Veritate’ states that nihilism does no good to man, that it makes him lose the meaning of life, and if this happens he can no longer distinguish between means and end. Hence, the economic instruments lose moral autonomy and are no longer of any use.”
Tedeschi explained that “in the encyclical, bankers of the city are not blamed” because “the Pope explains that the present crisis is of a moral character.”
The president of the Institute for the Works of Religion, himself a banker, recalled John Paul II’s encyclical “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis,” which indicates how man “grew much in technological capacity but not in the knowledge and capacity to use it” and, therefore, “the risk exists that he will lose control over the instruments.”
Tedeschi noted that “Caritas in Veritate” takes up this idea again. He affirmed: “The instruments are neither good nor bad, not even finance and the derivatives. The immature and egoistic man who uses them badly is evil.”
He warned that if to come out of the crisis “we use the instruments at our disposition badly it will be even worse.”
“In Chapter 6,” Tedeschi said, “the Pope clarifies which instruments are most worrying, such as biotechnology, and the temptation of the immature man who thinks he can substitute himself for God.”
The banker affirmed that “those who led the world until recently were the United States and Europe, which for good or evil have Christian roots, even if they are corrupted, but where the sense of responsibility formed part of the same.”
Now, instead, with the new geo-cultural system those that will affirm themselves “will be those of countries of a pragmatic culture, such as China, which is based on Taoism, which excludes an absolute divinity, and with a bit of Maoism,” Tedeschi said.
Hence, the institute president underlined the importance of re-Christianizing Europe, “which is paganized but which is still strong in its culture and ideas, after 3,000 years of civilization.”
‘Valli acknowledged, “The cases of sexual abuse were added to the usual attacks, terrible deeds that happened and were used by the world of information to unleash a new attack on responsibilities that were not his.” ‘
Toad finds all this interminable media bashing paranoia a bit tiresome. “The world of information” did not use these events to atack the Pope, it simply ran factual accounts of the “terrible deeds” that nobody denies happened.
That is what the media does, regardless of the religion involved.
As to the “responsibility” of the Pope, Toad has no trouble believing that the Holy Father was more distressed about those events than anyone else on earth. But his first, and entirely understandable, reaction – just like the CEO of BP with its latest oil spill – was to say, “Can’t we keep this quiet? It’s going to look bad for us.”
Of course he couldn’t hush it up. But he was bound to at least try. However, he made it worse by doing so.
And… Benedict has now issued a statement absolving the Jews from the responsibility of killing Jesus.
Fine, but to Toad, it smacks of the ‘relativism’ for which Papa B. is constantly berating the rest of the world.
To put it more graphically, when Toad was a young Catholic, it was accepted as truth that the Jews killed Jesus, and this was taught to him in school.
(Along with the fact of Limbo.)
These things now arerelatively untrue, it seems. Go figure, thinks Toad.
I think you are probably thinking of the ‘infamous’ prayer during Holy Week when we prayed for ‘those perfidious Jews’ – a prayer that has often been mistakenly taken as anti-semetic, when in fact the prayer was for their conversion. Along with many other prayers, this slipped into obvilion with Vatican 2, and was probably just as well.
In my convent education in the 50’s I cannot say that I can recall ever being taught that there was any sin on behalf of Jews, but was taught that Our Blessed Lord died for us and for all sinners. Limbo – I do recall, but not sure that the point was ever held in ‘tablets of stone’ so to speak. (at least, not by the good sisters that taught me!).
It would be ridiculous to blame the Jewish race for the death of Jesus Christ, and then call oneself a Christian………. in other words, a follower of the Jewish Messiah! All the first believers, including Jesus’s Holy Mother Mary of course, were Jewish too. We owe our evangelisation to them and their obedience to the command: “Go forth and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost”. The Jews were the Chosen Race – all Christians know that – and the roots of our Faith are Judeo-Christian. Many wonderful Jewish converts to christianity have remarked how their conversion has made them become wholly Jewish!
So some Jews continue to crucify Jesus Christ? Yes, and us Christians too, let alone all the rest of mankind. Because it is as Teresa says above: it is our sins that crucified Jesus Christ, and His death on the Cross that has redeemed us from eternal death.
“It would be ridiculous to blame the Jewish race for the death of Jesus Christ, and then call oneself a Christian…”
Says Kathleen, and Toad could not agree more. However that has not stopped millions of ‘Christians’ doing so over the centuries, and until quite recently, too.
Still, Papa Benedict’s words were welcome.
Toad grew up in a part of North London and had many Jewish friends there, and later in Fleet Street and America. On the whole, he found them more ‘Christian’ than many Christians. Certainly more tolerant and less judgmental, more liberal in fact. And often better at playing the violin.
An old friend of mine (an agnostic) came to my rescue some time ago when I had a grave problem. When all was sorted out, I hugged her hard, and in thanking her profusely I blurted out without thinking: “You are a true Christian”. She was very touched and said that was a great compliment! Afterwards I wondered to myself why she thought that! Obviously to be a ‘Christian’ is good, and is considered so by those who aren’t. So perhaps you’re right dear Toad, and we should all ‘pull up our socks’ a bit more and give a better example :-).
P.S. Getting some violin lessons in might not be a bad idea too 😉
The first followers of Jesus were Jewish. Reformation in Christianity was always an attempt to return to the early church.
People familiar with the faith of the apostles will not think the Pope’s views are new. It’s only the theologically illiterate Christians or otherwise who will.
“People familiar with the faith of the apostles will not think the Pope’s views are new..”
Writes Savvydsrc perceptively.
True enough, but possibly the Placatory Old Pontiff wasn’t addressing only, “People familiar with the faith of the apostles.”
Perhaps he had John Galliano, and other theological illiterates in mind.
Otherwise Toad agrees, with Savvyrcd, he might as well have saved his breath to cool his porridge.
That’s a cheap shot. John Galliano is not a theologian or even religious . It’s highly doubtful that he’s a practicing Christian in any way. The Pope is not responsible for what everybody else on the planet says.
“The Pope is not responsible for what everybody else on the planet says.”
Toad doesn’t recall anybody suggesting that he is.
As to Galliano’s religious convictions, Toad thinks it’s best not to judge.
Difficult though, he agrees.