I am not “a Martinian”, I am a Catholic. What we might do for the soul of Carlo Maria Martini.
by Antonio Socci
Seeing the ocean of lavish praise and awkward exaltations about Cardinal Martini in yesterday's newspapers, the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus admonishes his followers came to mind: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you” (Luke 6, 24-26). The true disciples of Jesus are, in fact, a sign of contradiction: “If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world (…) therefore the world hateth you- (…) If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15, 18-20)
Then Jesus indicated this beatitude to His disciples: “Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Be glad in that day and rejoice; for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”(Luke 6, 22-24)
One thing is certain, for decades Cardinal Martini was praised by the mass media all over the world, and particularly adulated by those who were the most anti-Catholic and the most hostile to Jesus Christ and His Church.
What does this mean? Do you object by saying that this did not depend on him? But the facts are clear - Cardinal Martini always sought the applause of the world, he always caressed Power (that of the dominant mindset) and went along with the current of the latest ideological fashions in the secular newspapers, obtaining applause and esteem.
He was an honoured and regular guest in talk-shows almost to the end.
Or does it appear to you that he refused the exploitative adulation of the mass media which for years acclaimed him as the Anti-Pope, as the rival of Pope John Paul II and after that of Pope Benedict XVI?
It does not appear that way to me.
And yet he could have done it with clear and firm words as Don Lorenzo Milani did when the progressive press and intellectual left-wing politics said: “He is one of us.” Indignant, he responded: “One of yours? I am only a priest and that’s it!” . When they tried to use him against the Church, he hit back brutally: “In what way do I think like you? In what way? This Church is what possesses the sacraments. L’Espresso doesn’t give me absolution for my sins, does it? And do they give me Mass and Holy Communion? They must realize that they are in no condition, nor are able to judge and criticize these things. They are not qualified to pass judgment.” And more: “It took me 22 years to get out of that social class which writes and reads L’Espresso and Il Mondo. They have to snob me, saying that I am a demagogue and naïve and not to honour me as one of them - because I am not one of them.” “The only thing that is important is God, the only task of man is to be in adoration of God, all the rest is rubbish.”
We would have liked to hear these wonderful words of Don Milani from the Cardinal, but we never heard them. Never. Instead we heard others that disconcerted and confused simple Catholics. Words in which he presented, punctually, his countermelody to the teachings of the Popes and the Church. So much so, that yesterday “Repubblica” could risk praising him thus: “he never condemned euthanasia” , “ from dialogue with Islam to a yes on condoms.” All that the fashionable ideologies imposed found in Cardinal Martini a possibilist, open to dialogue: “it is not bad that two people, even homosexuals, have a stability that is recognized by the State.”
It is quite legitimate - for anyone – to profess these ideas. But for a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church? Is this not a clamorous contradiction? What would loyalty impose? When a Cardinal affirms: “…you’ll be happy to be Catholic, and equally happy that the other is an Evangelical or a Muslim…” does this not proclaim the equality of all religions?
Who remembers any vibrant pronunciation by Cardinal Martini that contradicted “politically correct” ideas? Or who remembers an ardent condemnation of his in defense of persecuted Christians? I do not remember any. He preferred chattering with Scalfari – who underlines - “He never did anything to convert me.” I believe it. In fact Scalfari was thrilled at feeling so backed-up in his philosophical whims.
In St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy, St. Paul – enjoining the disciple to preach sound doctrine – prophesizes: “For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.” (Tim, 4,3-4)
In his last interview, criticizing the Church, Cardinal Martini wondered where “the men who burn” are - people “who have faith like the centurion, on fire like John the Baptist, who risk the new like Paul, who are faithful like Mary Magdalene?”
Evidently he does not see any among his followers, but in the Church there are many – very many. What a pity that he fought them so much and in some cases he even brought them before his Ecclesiastical Tribunal. Yes, this is the tolerance of the tolerant.
Cardinal Martini unbelievably signed the preface of a book by Vito Mancuso, who goes as far as “denying or at least emptying the significance of about a dozen dogmas of the Catholic Church.” So writes the “Civiltà cattolica.”
But the Cardinal, heedless of that, defined this book as “courageous insight” and wished that it be “read and meditated upon by lots of people” (in addition, Mancuso defines Cardinal Martini as “his spiritual father”).
So, the demolition of the dogmas of the Faith did not effect any protest from Cardinal Martini. But when two journalists – in defense of the Church – criticized certain Catholic-progressive intellectuals, they were convoked by the Cardinal before his Milanese Inquisition and requested to abjure.
What a paradox. The only case of the submission of lay Catholics to the Inquisition since the Council – because of simple historiographical texts – carries the signature of the progressivist Cardinal. “The Cardinal of dialogue”, as the Corriere della Sera and Repubblica called him.
The newspapers are full of admiration for his maxims. I have to confess that I find them awfully banal. For example: “…the need for struggle and commitment emerges, without allowing ourselves to be overcome by defeatism.” Sounds like Napolitano [President of the Italian Republic]. Thank heavens that there are many true masters of spirituality and love for Christ in the Church.
The other refrain from the mass media regards Cardinal Martini’s biblical erudition. Undoubtedly true. But sometimes the good Lord manifests some humour . On Friday, the day that Cardinal Martini passed away, the [modern lectionary] proposed a Word of God, which appears to be the demolition of erudition and of the “Cathedra of Unbelievers” wished for by Martini, where Cacciari and other geniuses of his ilk pontificated. So, St. Paul wrote that Christ had sent him “to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void. For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the prudent I will reject. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world, by wisdom, knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believe(…). For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor.1, 17-25). And the Gospel was that of the ten virgins, where Jesus - overturning worldly standards - proclaims “wise” those who have conserved the faith until the end and “foolish” those that have lost it.
I hope that the Cardinal conserved the faith until the end. The adulations of Scalfari, Dario Fo, “Il Manifesto”, Cacciari are useless (if not aggravating) before the Judge of the universe. For myself, as the Church teaches, I will have Masses offered up and obtain indulgences so that Our Lord will have mercy on him. It is the only compassion that we sinners really need. It is true love. All the rest is vanity.
From “Libero”, September 2, 2012
*Don Lorenzo Milani: 27 May 1923 - 26 June 1967) born into a Jewish family, he was an Italian Roman Catholic priest. He is best known as an educator of poor children and an advocate of conscientious objection.
** L’Espresso, Repubblica, Il Mondo, Il Manifesto– Italian newspapers and magazines.
*** Scalfari –journalist with Repubblica, - Cacciari – Socialist philosopher and former mayor of Venice.
**** Vito Mancuso - lay "theologian" and "ethicist"
[Source (in Italian). Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]