Opus Dei priest goes on the warpath against the ‘bad masters’ of the Italian Catholic Church

A monk, two popular priests and even a Vatican cardinal have felt the wrath of an Opus Dei scholar

By Paolo Gambi

Cardinal Ravasi: one of the targets of Mgr Livi's criticism (CNS)

Cardinal Ravasi: one of the targets of Mgr Livi’s criticism (CNS)

Italy has just witnessed a quite extraordinary outburst of rudeness from one of the country’s most prominent Catholics. A leading Opus Dei priest has described a monk regarded by some as a new Francis of Assisi as “substantially atheist” and a “prophet of the end of Catholicism”. And he has accused a clutch of clerics, including a senior Vatican cardinal, of being “bad masters” leading the faithful astray.

Who is this turbulent priest? Step forward Mgr Antonio Livi, former dean of the faculty of philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy

Cross in Rome. He was once a pupil of the celebrated French Thomist Étienne Gilson and today is a visiting professor at the University of Navarra in Spain. Mgr Livi is a formidable scholar and a Catholic philosopher of the first rank.

That makes his attack on Fr Enzo Bianchi, prior of the ecumenical Monastic Community of Bose near Turin, all the more wounding. This is what he said about Fr Bianchi: “Catholics consider him a master of spirituality, a new St Francis of Assisi able to re-propose to the Christians of today the Gospel sine glossa. But the scripture in his speeches is not the Word of God preserved and interpreted by the Church but only a rhetorical device for his propaganda in favour of a humanism that is nominally Christian but substantially atheist.”

Mgr Livi said that Fr Bianchi was thus a “prophet of the end of Catholicism”, preaching a “Christianity that has to be modern, open, non-hierarchical and non-dogmatic, that is, in essence, non-Catholic”.

Mgr Livi must have known that his remarks would provoke uproar. Fr Bianchi is one of the most popular Catholic personalities in Europe today, writing regularly for La Stampa, Avvenire, La Repubblica and Famiglia Cristiana in Italy and La Croix, Panorama and La Vie in France.

Mgr Livi has a history of lashing out at widely admired figures in the Italian Church, including the Focolare theologian Mgr Piero Coda and Fr David Maria Turoldo. He has described both men as “bad masters”. And he attached the same label to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, a possible successor to Pope Benedict, accusing the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture of denying the doctrine of original sin.

According to these “theologians,” Mgr Livi argues, “the more you are progressive, against the Magisterium, against Padre Pio, in favour of Protestants and Buddhists, the more you are truly Christian”.

The third-century martyr St Cyprian once said that there is “no lack of lilies or roses” in the Church (Nec lilia nec rosae desunt). He meant, of course, that the Church contains diverse personalities with often sharply contrasting views. It is only natural that roses occasionally prick the lilies. Mgr Livi, one of the roses, is free to criticise Fr Bianchi and the other lilies. But he is wrong to suggest that the lilies have no place in the vast garden of the Church.

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About Gertrude

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. and the courage to change the things I can... On Twitter: @marion_luscombe
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5 Responses to Opus Dei priest goes on the warpath against the ‘bad masters’ of the Italian Catholic Church

  1. toadspittle says:

    .
    Opus Dei on the warpath!
    Strangle them with their own rosary beads!
    Big fun, eh, Jabba?

  2. JabbaPapa says:

    Opus Dei joining forces with SSPX ???

    Meanwhile Dan Brown rubs his hands with glee and sits down behind the word processor …

  3. kathleen says:

    Opus Dei on the warpath!”

    Toad,
    Mgr Livi may be a leading member of Opus Dei, but I think he was giving his own personal views here and not talking in name of the whole order. I find his views very interesting though. Opus Dei tend to criticise anything or anyone they see as being a danger to the integrity of the Catholic Church, but usually in a more discreet way than this Monsignor.

    I’m not a member of Opus Dei myself, but I have family who is, and I admit to a great admiration for this orthodox, highly learned, devoutly Catholic organisation. They are absolutely loyal to the Holy Father, and they do a great deal of good in the world.

    P.S. A lovely metaphorical comparison of charismas in the Church by St. Cyprian!

  4. toadspittle says:

    .
    Then it’s not true that Opus Dei have especially strong rosary beads designed for strangling people with?

    Oh, well.

  5. Lionel Andrades says:

    La Stampa, La Repubblica are leftist anti catholic newspapers. Famiglia Cristiana is a liberal atholic media. None of them will affirm the necesity of th Church for salvation.

    I have corrsponded brifly with the Focolare theologian Mgr Piero Coda .Same sad story.

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