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Hunger and Thirst of Values – Masterly Adress »

Sunday, 14 June 2015 – Milano, Abbazia di Mirasole

Angelo Card. Scola, Archbishop of Milan

Respected Uniapac President,

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

the title chosen for your international meeting– Hunger and Thirst for Values – unites two basic factors that are indispensable for every living creature.

Hunger and thirst speak immediately of the dimension of need that characterises the life of every man and woman. What do such elementary needs signal? First of all, they are signs of our structural fragility and our lack, a lack which, as is most obvious in new-born babies, no-one can satisfy by themselves. Even as adults, when we are able to look after our own needs, we cannot avoid that healthy obligation of having to receive from others (from creation directly, or from our fellow men and women) that which can satisfy our hunger and thirst. In this sense, our needs highlight that relationships are a factor that are constitutive of our I. There is another given factor that we cannot neglect: the experience of human fragility cannot be resolved through increasing our consumption indefinitely: nothing we can consume is able to remedy the structural “lack” (need) which characterizes the human way of being in the world. To expect to be totally satisfied by multiplying indefinitely what we consume is a technocratic myth, which nevertheless continues to be re-proposed. We are all very aware of the fact that thinking that we can rely on indiscriminate consumption has a human cost – as well as an environmental one – of incalculable reach, which can lead less and less to our satisfaction and to our happiness, and not even to the happiness of the few people who still appear to benefit from it.

At this point we see the dimension of ‘value’ emerging. Indeed, our need as a sign of our fragility documents the necessity to face the crucial question of man’s fulfilment. ‘Value’ points to the evidence that there can be no satisfaction of needs without the mediation of our work, that is, that insuperable combination of our created nature-our freedom which characterizes man’s actions.

Thus man’s need must be thought of as an open factor that goes beyond itself. As I have recalled elsewhere “man makes a culinary art out of his need to eat, stylish clothing and social relations out of his need to be dressed, architectural knowledge and a way of transforming the environment out of the need to take shelter etc. This reveals that man, in relation to specific situations of need, doesn’t only answer with pre-conceived reactions, but is always, to some degree, stretching out to overcome something, or to make a project, both through work and also through the attribution of cultural meanings to whatever he himself does” (A. Scola, Cosa nutre la vita?, Centro Ambrosiano, Milano 2013, 57-58).

By referring to ‘value’, therefore, it is easy to understand the necessity to grasp needs in their ultimate nature, in other words, in light of the desire for fulfilment (the scholastics called it desiderium naturae) which characterizes us as human beings.

This given asks all of us – individuals, families, social entities, intermediate levels of civil society, institutions… – to fully take on their educative task, according to their responsibilities and competences.

Expo 2015, in this sense, can become a great educational opportunity for all its visitors and, in particular, for all the Milanese. This educational opportunity can demand firstly a serious reflection on all the topics concerned: food, energy, the planet, life, all of which centre on the human plea. We need to go beyond what we already know and the illusion that we are able to grasp all the intricacies of the ‘mystery’ of life and man. Indeed, it is always possible to take a step further into this mystery. But it is also necessary to enact experiences and virtuous actions able to educate through being involved – at a personal and community level – in new styles of life. We cannot continue to ignore this urgency if we want to follow the Pope’s invitation to create “a new mindset which thinks in terms of community and the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few.» (Evangelii gaudium 188).

The Family as the Acting Subject of Evangelization »

Notes toward the 14th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

by Angelo Cardinal Scola, Archbishop of Milan

famigliaThe current reflection began with the Third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2014. First of all it is important to point out that the extensive media coverage of these proceedings was often inadequate and to state dispassionately that for two intensive weeks the Synod Fathers, cum Petro et sub Petro, engaged in a lively debate of the real problems of the family in the Church and in today’s society. And they did this by listening and examining in depth the many testimonies from all over the world. Certainly, different views emerged, but there was a great effort on the part of everyone to understand and evaluate the arguments for the various proposals. There can be no doubt, therefore, about the fact that the debate was centered on the good of human persons and of the family, with the intention of making the proclamation of the Gospel of the family more and more effective in present-day circumstances, which often vary widely. For example, the differences between Africa and the Middle East, on the one hand, and Europe and the United States and Canada, on the other, became quite clear.

Read the rest >>


Scola warns against European decline as Church and society grow old and tired »


The Archbishop of Milan, Angelo Scola, says the Pope is thankfully doing something about this


“Europe is facing a decline; its civil society and Churches are tired and old. We have to radically rethink ourselves,” Milan’s archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Scola told Italian newspaper La Stampa in an interview ahead of the Oasis meeting on religious freedom, State secularism and Francis’ focus on the importance of poverty in the Church. The meeting took place in Milan and ended today.

Are the Turkey protests the latest chapter in the “Arab Spring”? 

“It’s a civil protest triggered by a number of factors, including an attempt to Islamise the country and growing authoritarianism. It is another warning sign which Europe needs to take very seriously.”

The West wanted to export democracy but now it finds itself helpless in the face of the massacre going on in Syria…

“The crucial thing is to listen: Bishops in the Middle East are against armed intervention and believe that we Westerners have not been correctly informed about the so-called “rebels”, many of whom belong to fundamentalist groups. Of course the serious differences dividing Shiite and Sunni Muslims in that entire area are clear for everyone to see.”

Why do the Christians in these countries often miss the old regimes?

“Because they had always been guaranteed freedom and protection under these authoritarian regimes. But this does not justify dictatorships and the atrocities they commit. But we Westerners must resist the temptation to just chat about this in sitting rooms over a cup of tea, thinking we can make judgements about situations we know largely nothing about. “Exporting democracy” is an unrealistic choice. What is needed is more time, patience and a different conception of relations between these people and Europe.”

Why is Europe standing by and watching when Western Christians have lost their voice?

“Europe’s civil society and our Churches are tired and old. And it’s understandable: we have the weight of centuries of complex situations and issues on our shoulders. We don’t like to admit it but Europe is facing a decline. What we need is a new synthesis. Providence has given us a big wake up call with the new Pope who is proposing we start over, going right back to our basic experience as human beings. Europe’s Churches need to find the courage to see this as a starting point.”

How do you view the relationship between secular society and religions? 

“As Christians we do not expect any special treatment. But this does not mean institutional powers should neutralise religions and cultures creating a sort of no man’s land. Positive neutrality needs to be shown when dealing with religions and cultures. Both are of a public nature and must be able to express this nature and to compare themselves with other visions of reality, in view of achieving mutual recognition.”

Some say Christians have their own ideas about family and others should be free to stick by their own beliefs.

“Of course” But if that means we Christians are deprived of the chance to have our say on such subjects, then that is very wrong. If I am convinced that a family based on marriage between a man and a woman and open to life is good for society and I don’t share this vision, then I deprive society of something. This is of primary importance and yet it is not understood. And attempts to neutralise certain principles that are essential to Christians, show a lack of understanding of the dynamism of a pluralistic society. In order for efficient lawmaking to take place, moderate but consistent comparisons are paramount.”

There is constant talk about the recognition of same-sex unions… 

“To guarantee individual rights to everyone is one thing. To attack the family either directly or indirectly is quite another.”

Don’t you think that in politics Christians have only focused on certain “non negotiable” values, neglecting others?

“Principles have an order of importance: Human vision comes first and then social life which derives from this. But even St. Thomas said goods are meant for everyone, so all of these goods, even private ones are on loan. If I am a just person, when I decide to buy something, I cannot ignore the problem of hunger in the world. Europeans need to rethink the complex topic of finance in relation to production. We have looked at the relationship between ethics and politics but not the relationship between economics and politics. We allow ourselves to be subjected to the whims of the market as if it were a natural necessity and not a cultural thing.

What are your impressions of the first three months of Francis’ pontificate?

“I am impressed by the strength of his testimony, by his lifestyle and by the way he is with people. I think this is a great gift. He also seems to be aware of the importance of decision-making and is able to take decisions.”

What about the Pope’s explosive speech to the Italian Episcopal Conference? Don’t you think it was underrated? 

“Francis represents a powerful provocation for all faithful and bishops are above all faithful. Providence has given us this wake up call. Each one of us is trying to follow the Pope in our own personal way. It’ll take some time…”

The Pope has spoken against the sickness of self-referentiality, inviting us to come out of ourselves…

“This is a serious problem. We really are too self-referential on all levels. Since last October we have been working on new pastoral project titled “Il campo è il mondo” (The field is the world) because we realise that the great vitality present in our communities often finds us self-occupied. We are busy with so many initiatives but we are not always able to be true witnesses. But going out does not mean creating neutral spaces, it means testifying that Jesus is the good news for today’s humanity, for the difficulty it has to love, for the hurt caused by relationships, for the demographic freeze we are faced with, for the inability to build justice and create work for young people and for the superficial reasoning seen in politics.”

What do you think of Francis’ call for a poor Church? 

“The reason our Churches are not poor is because of our complex history: just think of the importance attributed to bureaucracy in the Church’s various bodies. Poverty implies a balance between the means and an end. Church life needs to go back to basics, it needs to be sober and focused on proclaiming the Gospel, leaving aside all that is superfluous.”

What do you think of the Pope’s decision to appoint eight cardinal advisors? 

“Benedict XVI’s prophetic resignation was also a wake up call: One man alone cannot deal with a  task of such monumental importance. In the pre-Conclave discussions we decided – without wishing to undermine the Pope’s primacy – that it would be opportune for the new Pope to find new ways of leading the Church. The creation of this group is a positive thing and I think other moves could be taken in this direction.”

How do you perceive Christian-Muslim relations ten years on from the foundation of the “Oasis” foundation?

““Oasis” was founded because we realised there was a substantial mutual ignorance in terms of the two faiths. Ignorance causes fear to grow and hinders people from being able to interpret the processes that take place throughout history. We cannot stop these but we can try to influence their direction. The most rewarding experience was bringing a hundred or so Christian and Muslim figures together. They learnt to get to know one another, respect each other and reason together. We realised we had to create a common heritage without oversimplifying problems or cancelling out differences.”

The Challenge of Individualism and a Fragmented Society »

This is the first of a series of writings by Archbishop Angelo Scola, published by the newspaper “Il Sole 24 Ore” every Saturday. Scola reflects on the need to recognise  once again  family and its role in our plural society, also starting from the challenges presented by the coming 7th world meeting of families (Milan, 29 May – 3 June).


“Hope, faith and freedom – mission of the Church more relevant than ever”. An interview from “The Universe” »

from: “The Universe”

Gerry O’Connell speaks to the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Angelo Scola – son of a socialist truck driver and a profoundly Catholic mother. He is also a leading intellectual in the Italian Bishops’ Conference and one of the more creative and original thinkers in the College of Cardinals.


Cardinale 3

Q. What do you see as the main challenges facing the Catholic Church today? 

A. I think the principal challenge, which the Church shares with every other social subject in the field, is the interpretation of the post-modern. The question is; have we, or have we not entered the post-modern world? Certainly the collapse of the Berlin Wall has marked a rather radical mutation that can be seen in certain macroscopic phenomena.

Indeed, what is happening in the Middle East is like a second phase of what happened in 1989. There is obviously a strong desire for freedom on the part of peoples on the world stage, and that comes with an urgent demand for real participation.

This has complicated even more that which I call the process of the mixing of civilizations and cultures; that is, a process of movement and displacement of peoples which will become even more radical in the coming decades. All this has made it made more urgent for us in Europe to gain a deeper knowledge of Islam.

Then there is the question of the progress of techno-sciences, especially in bio-engineering, cloning, bio-convergence, informatics, biology, molecular physics, neuroscience and so on. All these phenomena are producing a different kind of man and so the challenge for the Church is the same as for all humanity: What kind of man does the man of the third millennium wish to be?

Q. What is your view on this? 

A. Some 10 years ago when I was in Munich I bought a copy of Die Welt and there was an entire page written by this young German philosopher of science named Jongen under the banner headline Man is only his own experiment!

It is clear that we are faced here with a framework that is radically different from that which prevailed up to the 1980s, and it seems to me that the Church, in this context, has to insist on the fact that the ‘I’ does not exist without relations. This is the point. Because it is from the ‘I’ that the dynamism of the truth, the good and the beautiful is documented within the human family and, in my view, this fact is irrepressible.

I think that we must value with much realism all the positive things that emerge from these major shifts and discoveries, while accepting the elements of contradiction that are found in every passage of civilization.  Read the rest

WOJTYLA/ Scola: I’ll tell you about the John Paul II that I knew »


Benedict XVI will beatify John Paul II on Sunday, the day that JPII himself wanted to call the Day of Divine Mercy and that will be marked by a large celebration of the faith. “I think that Wojtyla was the Pope of freedom and the Saint of freedom” said Angelo Scola, the Patriarch of Venice about John Paul II. “A freedom that, however, continuously needs to be freed”. And only faith in Christ can free it. This faith, Scola explains in this interview with, “became, in the arc of his life, his primary factor of knowledge of himself, others and God”.

Your eminence, what personal memories do you have of John Paul II?

The first time I went up on the altar with him, in 1979, I was struck by the way he celebrated. John Paul II was a “mystic” Pope. He lived a relationship of extraordinary immediacy with God. It is not surprising that people called for his sainthood starting the day he died. It was enough to see him pray. When we went to lunch with him, we went first to the chapel to say the Angelus. All of us thought that it would take about thirty seconds. Instead, sometimes it took so long that we could no longer remain on our knees on the floor. The Pope was truly immersed in prayer, and for him space and time no longer existed. You could see it by the movement of his lips. In his prayers I perceived—I could see—a profound dialogue with God, uninterrupted. Like a breath, the Pope let out sounds like the gurgles of a river that never ends. It was amazing.

“They try to understand me from the outside, but I can only be understood from within”, Karol Wojtyla said. What unifies the philosopher, the poet, the priest and the man, in one of the richest personalities of the 20th century, the Pope?

Certainly his faith. His intense, in the fullest sense, faith, as the total reliance on Christ Jesus that opened him up to a full understanding of the human person. John Paul II’s personality, his various life experiences, and his versatility (he was in fact a poet, philosopher, theologian) fed him from his infancy through liturgy, prayer, his passionate sense for relationships, his openness and curiosity about reality, and his total gift of self. This faith, which he breathed from his parents, became, in the arc of his life, his primary factor of knowledge of himself, others and God. Everything began within for him and, after passing through basically all of reality, returned, strengthened, to his heart.

How did you draw near the personality of Karol Wojtyla, and how did your encounter with the teachings of John Paul II deepen over time? Read the rest

“How Libya and North Africa can “remake” Europe”, an interview from »


march, 30th 2011

Cardinale 3

At the Angelus yesterday, Benedict XVI made an appeal “to those who have political and military responsibilities for the immediate initiation of a dialogue, which suspends the use of weapons.” “May peace return as soon as possible for these people and further tragedies be stopped”,  Cardinal Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice, tells , “means to object strongly that every death is one too many. But peace is not an automatic utopia, it is necessary to build it every day in reality.” “We in Europe,” Scola explains, “are victims of a strong presumption. We think we know how to evaluate and solve problems without taking into account the testimony of those who live in these situations.” Starting with the Christians in those lands. And there is not only the important issue of participation and democracy, but also of the transformation of Islam.  This is a challenge which involves the spiritual contours of European identity, and of Italy in particular, the hinge between north and south.

“I ask God to obtain that a horizon of peace and concord may dawn as soon as possible on Libya and on the entire region of North Africa,” Benedict XVI said at the Angelus on Sunday, March 20. In what sense can one speak of peace when the policy is to take direct action to save the people from tyranny?

To speak of peace in these circumstances means, of course, to demand that armed violence, even in this case, would end and give way to negotiation, that peace return as soon as possible for these people and to halt further tragedies; to object strongly means that every death is one too many. But peace is not an automatic utopia;  it is necessary to build it every day in reality. Therefore, to obtain peace, prayer arises, against all skepticism, as an effective tool.

On closer inspection, the gears of realpolitik never seem to respond well to commands.  Why is this?  Is it a lack of “strategy” or a cultural deficit or lacking foresight of some kind?

I am not an expert.  What I can observe is that we Europeans are often victims of a strong presumption. We think we know how to evaluate and solve problems without taking account of the testimony of those who live in these situations. This often prevents us from considering all the factors in play. Many collaborators of Oasis who live in these places these days invite us to make a careful distinction:  the situation in North Africa is different from that of the Middle East, although both of the areas are in turmoil. What is happening is largely an unexpected phenomenon or not foreseen in this way, but it has very different connotations from country to country:  Libya is not Egypt, we know very little about Libya, just as this is radically different from what has happened in Tunisia.  Also what is happening in Syria is different.

And what do you think about Libya, specifically, Your Eminence? Read the rest

“Europe must act in a more clear-cut way for the respect of fundamental rights”, an interview with His Excellency Cardinal Angelo Scola »

There follows an interview with His Excellency Cardinal Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice, which was published in the Corriere della Sera on Friday 7 January, edited by M. Antonietta Calabrò

Epifania del Signore

Yesterday twenty-one red roses, twenty-one ‘rosebuds’, were offered to the altar of the Nicopeia Madonna in St. Mark’s  Basilica at the end of the mass held by the Patriarch, Cardinal Angelo Scola. A special gesture to remember the martyrdom of the Christians in the world and the massacre of 21 people which has hit the Coptic community of Alexandria in Egypt, a church that is particularly close to that of Venice, since both were born from the preaching of Mark the Evangelist.

Cardinal Scola, in an interview with the Corriere  the imam El Tayeb, head of the al-Azhar mosque, asked the Pope for a sign in order to re-establish trust. You have been involved in the presence of the Christians in the Middle East for decades now through the Oasis Foundation. What do you think of El Tayeb’s words?

“First of all we must bear in mind that we still know little about each other. This is shown by the fact that no practising Christian would recognise himself in the image of his faith which is current among Muslims and vice versa. There is also an urgent need to face the big problem of the relationship between truth and freedom. It is a question of a balance that must always  be regained, since without truth man loses his way, but without freedom man is a slave. Violence is  born from this too”.

But the Christians have never threatened anyone, but are rather the victims of those who in the name of religion carry out massacres and spread fear and death. Read the rest

Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Abstracts from the homilies of the Patriarch »

Venezia, 25th December 2010

Card. Angelo Scola

Patriarch of Venice

1. «The Word was made flesh, he lived among us» (Jn 1:14, Day Mass). «Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger» (Lk 2:11-12, Midnight Mass).

The incarnation is the process of the new creation which the Lord has come to establish in the world as well as in history. It is the process of salvation for all men («all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God» Is 52:10, Day Mass) which includes the prospect of right, justice, and peace («Wide is his dominion in a peace that has no end, for the throne of David and for his royal power, which he establishes and makes secure in justice and integrity» Is 9:6, Midnight Mass).

2. «He lies in a manger, but embodies the whole universe; he is wrapped in swaddling clothes, but he clothes us with immortality; he does not find shelter in an inn, but he builds his own temple in the heart of every faithful. In order to strengthen weakness, the stronghold  took the form of weakness» (St. Augustine, Sermon 190). Read the rest

The Tibhirine monks related by the cinema: the reasons for a sucess »

The film, Des hommes et des dieux which recently came out in France and recounts the extraordinary events of the of the monks killed at Tibhirine, has been hugely successful.

Card. Angelo Scola

Patriarch of Venice

This is an answer to those who ask whether a desire for God is still present in our times – whether it is reasonable for someone in the Third Millennium to believe in God, to recognize Him as familiar.

I believe that the worldwide success of the film on the Tibhirine monks reflects a burning desire in the men and women of any latitude to meet the face of God; it therefore reflects the real need we all feel for authentic witnesses who may help us keep our gazes focused upwards.

Authentic witness is, in fact, not limited to “giving a good example”. It shines in all its wholeness as a method for practically knowing reality and communicating truth. It is a primary value, standing above any other form of knowledge and communication – scientific, philosophical, theological, artistic, etc.

A luminous example of this method is offered by the very words which Fr Christian de Chergé, prior of the Trappist monastery of Notre-Dame de l’Atlas in Tibhirine, Algeria, wrote in his spiritual will, a good three years before he was massacred with his monks: «When the time comes, I would like to be able to have an instant of lucidity that would allow me to ask for the pardon of God and that of men, my brothers, while forgiving with all my heart those who may have hit me… I cannot see how I could, in fact, rejoice in that this people I love could be accused of my assassination. It would amount to paying too high a price for what might be called “the grace of martyrdom”, to owe it to an Algerian, whoever this might be, especially if he should claim to have acted in faithfulness to what he believes Islam is […] after all, I would have been liberated from the most piercing curiosity I carry inside me: to plunge my gaze into that of the Father in order to see His Islamic children the way He sees them: all lit by the glory of Christ, they too as the fruit of His Passion, invested with the gift of the Spirit, whose secret joy will be that of re-establishing communion and similarity by playing with differences. For this lost life of mine, totally mine and totally theirs, I thank God who seems to have wanted it whole just for this joy, contrary to all and despite all. And you too, my last-moment friend, who will not know what you would be doing, also for you I want to say my thanks, this à-Dieu [literally: “until we meet in God”], as I contemplate you in God’s face. That it may be given us to meet again, two thieves overwhelmed with joy, in Heaven, if that may please God, our Father, Father of us both». Read the rest