Rorate Caeli

Abp Luigi Negri: Western Civilization is at an end

Among the bishops of Italy currently serving as Ordinaries, Archbishop Luigi Negri stands out for his trenchant commentary and prolific writings (including a multitude of articles and around 30 books) on a wide variety of topics, always with the object of defending a conservative Catholic world view and its presence in the public square and the world of culture. A close student and collaborator of Msgr. Luigi Giussani, founder of Comunione e Liberazione, he was appointed Bishop of the small diocese of San Marino - Montefeltro in 2005 and then Archbishop of the small Archdiocese of Ferrara-Comacchio in 2012. He is already well-known to Traditional Catholics for his interventions in favor of the Traditional Latin Mass: his telegram to Pope Benedict XVI thanking him for Summorum Pontificum, his denunciation of episcopal opposition to the same, and his 2013 homily to Traditional Catholics with its precious words of encouragement and praise. 

A friend and reader of Rorate has kindly presented us with this translation of an article written last month by the Archbishop and published by La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana. This is a bishop who knows how to fight, who knows how to denounce the French Revolution (and its Catholic apologists) in the same breath as the Islamist menace that he does not fear to name either. 

By Luigi Negri, Archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio

Ancient Statues and bas-reliefs were toppled down by bearded men who then proceeded to destroy them by using jackhammers. This is the latest video released by ISIS in Mosul.  It is the continuation of a campaign against remnants of the past. Islamic State militants have been blowing up places of worship, feeding flames with books taken from libraries, and destroying a part of Nineveh’s city walls, the ancient Assyrian capital in the outskirts of present-day Mosul. These images, spread by a Twitter account used by the Caliphate, show the methodical destruction perpetrated in the rooms of what looks like a museum in Mosul. During the five-minute long video, we notice museum labels in Arabic and English describing exhibited artefacts. It is because of this that we have recorded the comments of Mons. Luigi Negri, the Archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio.

I hope that the technological means which our society uses – and oftentimes abuses – can vividly preserve for future generations the images of such terrible scenes of barbarism which we have been able to see “live” in different parts of the world. This is rage, much more demented than barbaric, against the artistic expressions of one of the greatest ages of world culture, which have been handed down with devotion and respect from one generation to another, from one culture to another, from one civilization to another. And so culture and civilization are not exclusive, unlike the case of this horrendous ideology, even if it is religious. Culture and Civilization are inclusive and even know how to incorporate cultural and historical realities not born from the limitations of their proper milieu; thereby becoming all the more enriched. 

It has rightly occurred to those few men of culture who yet still exist in this weak society, the great Catholic tradition which for ages and ages has welcomed the expressions of classical culture, both Greek and Roman, and then later on of other traditions even of the Far East.

It is enough to recall the passionate dedication, for example, with which the Benedictine school and later on, the Cistercian, have received, guarded, copied, recopied, and commented on the documents of classical tradition. It is this movement of reception and greater understanding that has produced the great culture of monasteries, of convents, and then of great universities, as taught to us in an incomparable manner by the great Fr. Chenu, and in Italy by the renowned Don Inos Biffi. 

This capacity of reception, of respect, of greater understanding has been crushed. Its vilest expression is the destruction of the diverse. In reality as well, we Europeans have experienced this.  We have seen before our very eyes the destruction of preceding traditions perpetrated, for example, by the French Revolution which European secularism still considers an undisputed point of departure. Regrettably, it is not only the secularists but it is also a certain sector of the Catholic world that considers the French Revolution as an unsurpassable event for the good. 

In advance, the West has seen its own end. In the tragedy brought to completion within Mosul’s beautiful museum which preserved the highest masterpieces of artistry from a great culture; the West sees the death of its very own civilization which was called to mind in an unequalled manner by Benedict XVI in his misunderstood Regensburg address. The great Western Civilization is a civilization in which myriad ways of life, of thought, of customs have known and know how to encounter, understand, value, and contend with each other if necessary, for the sake of developing human life and history which is the mark of a civilization. 

This civilization, whether we like it or not, is now ending if it has not truly and already ended. The horizon is marred by the black flag of the Caliphate, under which lies dead the freedom of conscience and of the heart, of movement, the liberty to live in a dignified way, and to profess one’s own convictions in a free and responsible manner. 

This atrocity, all atrocities have been transformed into casual occurrences by the surreal fantasies of western man. He can quickly read of them in newspapers or on social networks; news headlines flashing at the bottom of the television while he eats tranquilly; as if they were current events from another world. 

Civilization has ended. A society on the brink of death would not even have the capacity to initiate an authentic and critical examination of its own life. If it would do so, what shall be unveiled are all those who, knowingly or unknowingly, have arranged and continue to prepare in more diverse ways its own death. These are all those who have persecuted dialogue beyond all limits; all those who deep inside themselves have more fear of the Christian Faith than the barbarism of fundamentalist Islamic Ideology. Maybe, the responsibility can be claimed, above all, by all those who have apostatized; while apostatizing from Christ, they have apostatized from themselves. Since man is always intimately linked to a society; by apostatizing from themselves, they have destroyed civilization.