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.
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
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 ilsussidiario.net, “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
march, 30th 2011
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 ilsussidiario.net , “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
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
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 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
X Jubilee Conference on:
The role of the Catholic Church in the process of European integration
The Christian contribution to the European Integration Process
Cracow, 10-11 September 2010
Card. Angelo Scola Patriarch of Venices
1. European identity and integration
If we are to attempt to respond as concisely as possible to the topic proposed – the contribution of Christians to the process of European integration – while avoiding abstraction and rhetoric, we need to begin with a recognition of the sudden and often violent transformations that have manifested in all their fullness in the first decade of the twenty-first century that we have just been traversing : the process (I emphasise process and not prescriptive programme) of “hybridisation of civilisations”, the problems of terrorism, the energy and climate crises, the economic crisis. Not to speak of the change in the European religious panorama. As Jenkins has observed, who could have predicted the marked decline in Christian pratice in Europe? Who would have imagined such a significant Islamic presence in Rome and Madrid, let alone Paris and London? Not to speak of the urgent questions more closely connected with the present political and institutional structures of the European Union, from the financial crisis with its worrying repercussions on the single European currency, to the adjustment of equilibria between the organs of the European institutions, to the growing euroscepticism that has recently developed in many countries of the area, to the uncertainty into which the whole unification process seems to be falling. Among other things, it is struggling to keep watch “outside the house”, in particular on the so-called MENA area (Middle East and Nord Africa) which in 2030 will have 600 million inhabitants.
Alongside these questions there is the broader one of the general climate that is seeimg the rapid diminution of the conviction that for centuries has sustained western civilisation, a conviction ultimately founded in the vision of man as person, integral subject of rights and duties that are harmoniously embodied in a system of laws. Against the background of a notable in-difference with regard to the various religious creeds that inhabit our societies, typical of what Taylor identified as phase three of secularisation, a phenomenon stands out lastly that involves Christians more directly in their public life. I am referring to a hostility towards the Christian faith and in particular to the faith of the Catholic Church which is beginning to be translated into certain juridical ordinances and concrete normative formulations. Read the rest
THE “NEW RIGHTS” IN THE EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN PUBLIC SPACE/ “Rethinking Rights in a Plural Society” »
Studium Generale Marcianum Venezia
ASSET – Alta Scuola Società Economia Teologia
International Summer School/ Venice, September 6th-10th 2010
THE “NEW RIGHTS” IN THE EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN PUBLIC SPACE
Rethinking Rights in a Plural Society
+ Angelo Card. Scola
Patriarch of Venice
1. The Summer School as an occasion and the role of Asset
The Summer School is a particularly important and prestigious event in the programme of research and teaching carried out at Asset, l’Alta Scuola di Società Economia e Teologia. Asset developed out of the Studium Generale Marcianum and it was conceived as a means of fostering contemporary interpretative frameworks for the study of today’s socio-cultural reality, viewed in terms of the rise of the “plural society”. This is a project that Asset plans to develop by the utilisation of methods of transdisciplinary comparison, through research on significant issues, such as discussion of the current forms of reason and “public reason” in particular and the elucidation of crucial anthropological and social issues from the diagnostic and critical-propositional point of view.
The transdisciplinary ethos that Asset aims to foster, making connections between the domains of legal science, economics, philosophy, and religion, is a necessity if we are to capture and comprehend reality as it is, namely as rooted in history. Economic globalisation, the civilisation of the internet, migration on an epochal scale, the spread of an education and schooling that are international in character – all these phenomena penetrate everywhere in the structures of contemporary societies. Therefore in pursuit of the unity of knowledge – the raison d’être of the Studium generale Marcianum, along with its concern for the unity of the subject of knowledge – we cannot fail to take up the invitation to the unity of the object of knowledge which is implied in the frequent projects of the transdisciplinary era today under way in various fields of research.
Theology too is of course not exempt from this commitment. The new cultural and social phenomena challenge it to the core; and it has the choice either of interacting with the other disciplines, or submitting to the consequences of too much self-referentiality. Theological pratice is called on for help in the guidance of study and formation by reflecting on the experience of the faith of the Christian community, the place out of which authentic and critical encounter with cultures is born. Read the rest
Tanslation by Giorgio Cini Foundation
Dialoghi di San Giorgio – Inaugural Event – Venice, 13 September 2010
Protecting nature or saving creation?
Ecological conflicts and religious passions
Card. Angelo Scola
Patriarch of Venice
1. A cue from Mahler
“O Schönheit! O ewigen Liebens, Lebens trunk’ne Welt!”: “O beauty, O world drunk with eternal love and life!” These words that Mahler added to the text of the last movement of Das Lied von der Erde (1907-1909) arguably sum up the whole spirit of the work. They are fundamental concepts shaping the structure of the composition.
First, beauty. According to Prince Myshkin’s celebrated claim in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, “Beauty will save the world.” But beauty, if separated from good and truth would, to use Dostoevsky’s words again, this time pronounced by Dmitri Karamazov, be “terrible because it has not been fathomed and never can be fathomed, for God sets us nothing but riddles… The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.” And yet, as the great St Augustine asks, significantly in De musica: “Tell me, I beg you, what else can one love if not beautiful things?”
The second key concept in Mahler’s phrase is the world, seen as the whole of reality. In this connection his reference to drunkenness requires close scrutiny. It is not meant as an allusion to the “third eye of the poet” pointing the way to other worlds, which the so-called poètes maudits in late 19th-century Paris (Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Mallarmé…) sought by drinking absinthe. It is an opening up to fullness, overabundance and even the longing for. This brings us to love, the power which “moves the sun and the stars”, and often becomes solace in life. And lastly, life and eternity. Both because life is unquenchable thirst for eternity and because in every life there is something eternal.
2. Taking in the real
Like all musical geniuses, Mahler alludes to an irreducible state of affairs. Reality speaks to man and man is able to take in reality. Indeed, there may well be an intimate correspondence between the two. Read the rest