Rorate Caeli

The Last Italian Bishop Present at Vatican II Dies

Articles by Borgo Pio from La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, (18 July 2023 and 19 July 2023, originals in Italian)

The funeral of Bishop Emeritus Msgr. Luigi Bettazzi, who died last Sunday at age 99, will be held today in Ivrea Cathedral, celebrated by his current successor Msgr. Edoardo Cerrato. Born in 1923, Msgr. Bettazzi was the only Italian bishop still alive to have participated in the Second Vatican Council (he was consecrated bishop in 1963, as auxiliary of Bologna, later becoming ordinary of Ivrea in 1966).

He was the last Italian exponent of Vatican II and perhaps also of that "Vatican III" vaguely envisioned by those who, already in the aftermath of the assize, were still not satisfied with the earthquake of changes that followed in the space of a few years. So much so that, even before the council ended, 42 bishops (Bettazzi was the only Italian) gathered at the Catacombs of Domitilla to sign a pact under the banner of the... "Church of the poor" (a slogan that not infrequently ended up rather impoverishing the Church by reducing its message to mere social accompaniment). Bettazzi's letters to Berlinguer, the battle on the fiscal objection for military expenses, the pacifist marches and finally the openness - in open support of the Prodi government - on the subject of the Dico and various stances that have made the elderly prelate a (red) flag are especially remembered in his thirty-year episcopate in the Province of Turin and also in the long years that followed as emeritus.

There is nothing lacking in Msgr. Bettazzi's cursus honorum, including a rather fanciful exegesis in November 2022 in which the prelate admitted to "subverting the Church's conception of abortion," assuming in short that the embryo is not automatically a person, or at least not right away (talk we have heard echoed lately at higher levels). In short, he was undoubtedly a "prophetic" voice - where "prophetic" usually means "leftist priest." Prophetic he was, however, indeed in the famous February 2012 interview when he spoke of Benedict XVI's possible resignation, which then actually took place a year later. When Benedict died, in a new interview in January 2023 he repeated the experiment by announcing Francis' renunciation (he who will live, will see). And the remote "prophecy" of the catacombs also came true, but in the sense of first of all depriving the Church's action of its spiritual dimension and thus depriving the poor themselves. Also thanks to the contribution of "prophetic" voices like his.

A small detail of Msgr. Luigi Bettazzi's funeral: on the coffin the book of the Gospels and... the "peace flag" (the one with the colors of the rainbow, not to be confused, moreover, with the similar but not identical LGBT flag). Better still would be to call it a "pacifist" flag, to remind us of that ism that marks the difference with the Christian peace that needs no flags.

A symbol inevitably marked by a political connotation, typical of a certain left-wing movementism - and also raised in certain parades where there is never a shortage of people animated by excessive non-violent zeal that leads them to smash cars and shop windows. A symbol, however, made its own, especially in the early 2000s, even by a part of the Catholic world to which the cross no longer suffices and ends up being 'prey to easy enthusiasms and fashionable ideologies' (quoting Battisti).

A 'divisive' symbol, we would say, towards those who do not share those 'easy enthusiasms and fashionable ideologies' and who would also be part of the flock entrusted to the rainbow clergy who, by opening up to the 'world', end up excluding rather than including, moreover, overturning the Gospel dictate: the good... to the left.

Let us pray to the Master of the harvest that he will send us shepherds, not faction leaders.