Pope Is Attacked Due to Stance for Truth
Says Real Persecution Is Lack of Fidelity of Catholics
The presentation was moderated by journalist Lorenzo Fazzini and by the president of the Vatican’s Institute for the Works of Religion, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi.
The book’s author, Aldo Maria Valli, Vatican expert for the Italian television network RAI, posed the question: “Why is the present Pope the absolutely most attacked public figure and why are his words the object of strong manipulation?”
The author answered, “Because at the heart of his teaching there is a battle against relativism, a battle fought with calm and gentle tones, and which focuses on the problem of present-day humanity.”
“It’s a convergence of interests and people who do not want others to pose to themselves the problem of truth,” he added. If they did, the author noted, they couldn’t be as easily manipulated.
This was the main theme of the book — illustrated with a number of examples lived personally by the author — and also of the presentation of the book in Rome.
Valli admitted his scant initial enthusiasm for the present Pope: “When Benedict XVI was elected I wasn’t enthusiastic; I was so for John Paul II, a Pope who wished to meet so many peoples, with positive changes such as the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
However, he added, “the Spirit blows where it will, and a European Pope was elected, a German, a theologian, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
“All my expectations were shaken,” the author recalled, “to the point that someone said to me: ‘That day on [the television program] you did not seem very happy.'”
He noted that “he preferred a Pope from a poor country of the South.” However, Valli said, “little by little I was won over by Benedict XVI’s thought.”
The journalist affirmed that Benedict XVI “has won me over with his rationality and simplicity” on posing “the most profound question of decisive topics such as liberty and truth and what it is that comes before, and why he asked us to question ourselves on these great matters.”
The same happened with those who are not Christians, he noted, and “that is why he has asked Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, to dust off the ‘Court of the Gentiles’ [initiative].”
Valli acknowledged, “The cases of sexual abuse were added to the usual attacks, terrible deeds that happened and were used by the world of information to unleash a new attack on responsibilities that were not his.”
However, he added, the underlying problem is that “the attacks are due to the fact that the Pope poses several questions, in which the problem of truth is absolutely central, because it is a genuine battle against relativism.”
This happens “because what permeates our present culture and mentality is [the belief] that truth doesn’t exist,” the author explained.
He noted, “With great simplicity our Pope indicates that truth exists and that if it isn’t sought it’s not possible to be fully men, that man has this longing and that if this desire is denied part of him is amputated.”
Therefore, “if this underlying problem isn’t enunciated his pontificate cannot be understood,” the journalist asserted.
The book refers to several cases, he reported, such as last January “when Benedict XVI addressed the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See on liberty of religion, and appealed to Muslim leaders of the various countries to guarantee authentic liberty of religion to all the faithful and to Christians.”
“However,” Valli noted, “the press extracted from this four-page address four lines of a paragraph on sexual education in schools,” written in regard to the Spanish situation.
And thus, the author recalled, “the headlines of the media were: ‘Pope Attacks Sexual Education.’ His words were manipulated and this happens constantly.”
Valli mentioned other similar cases such as the Papal trip to Africa and his statement on AIDS and condoms, a situation in which even governments aligned themselves against Benedict XVI. The author also recalled when some students and professors in Rome opposed the idea of having the Pope address La Sapientia University.
The journalist said that the Pontiff’s battle “is not a rearguard battle; he has a farsighted vision that will be valid even when we are no longer around — on anthropology, on what man is and what we are.”
“In the end,” he added, “this Pope wins one over in the plane of rationality, but it is necessary to listen to him and to read him.”
Valli urged: “Let us do so. Some of his enemies have understood him very well. We, his flock, often ignore him.”
Asked by the moderator if there is a director or a strategy behind this plan to attack the Holy Father, Valli answered: “The Pope does not think of a plot,” not something such as “James Bond and not even an old man who pulls strings.”
He added, “There is, yes, a convergence of interests.”
The author noted: “The Pope has spoken several times of persecution, but never of external persecution. He has never entrenched himself saying, ‘I’m being attacked.'”
Valli pointed out that “on the trip to Portugal, before the Virgin of Fatima, the Pope wished to consecrate the priests of the world” because “the real persecution is the lack of fidelity, beginning with the consecrated persons, cardinals, bishops and laity.”
The author affirmed, “The Pope is calling us to have a role in this society and we must ask ourselves: Are we giving witness or are we camouflaging ourselves?”
“Caritas in Veritate”
The moderator indicated that when “Caritas in Veritate” was presented behind closed doors by a professor, Stefano Zamagni, to a group of bankers of the Rome, some said: “We can accept everything except the Pope sticking his nose in our businesses.” After that, the moderator noted, the attacks increased.
Tedeschi responded to the moderator, noting that “in the introduction and in Chapter 6, ‘Caritas in Veritate’ states that nihilism does no good to man, that it makes him lose the meaning of life, and if this happens he can no longer distinguish between means and end. Hence, the economic instruments lose moral autonomy and are no longer of any use.”
Tedeschi explained that “in the encyclical, bankers of the city are not blamed” because “the Pope explains that the present crisis is of a moral character.”
The president of the Institute for the Works of Religion, himself a banker, recalled John Paul II’s encyclical “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis,” which indicates how man “grew much in technological capacity but not in the knowledge and capacity to use it” and, therefore, “the risk exists that he will lose control over the instruments.”
Tedeschi noted that “Caritas in Veritate” takes up this idea again. He affirmed: “The instruments are neither good nor bad, not even finance and the derivatives. The immature and egoistic man who uses them badly is evil.”
He warned that if to come out of the crisis “we use the instruments at our disposition badly it will be even worse.”
“In Chapter 6,” Tedeschi said, “the Pope clarifies which instruments are most worrying, such as biotechnology, and the temptation of the immature man who thinks he can substitute himself for God.”
The banker affirmed that “those who led the world until recently were the United States and Europe, which for good or evil have Christian roots, even if they are corrupted, but where the sense of responsibility formed part of the same.”
Now, instead, with the new geo-cultural system those that will affirm themselves “will be those of countries of a pragmatic culture, such as China, which is based on Taoism, which excludes an absolute divinity, and with a bit of Maoism,” Tedeschi said.
Hence, the institute president underlined the importance of re-Christianizing Europe, “which is paganized but which is still strong in its culture and ideas, after 3,000 years of civilization.”