Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"There are those who work for a more right society"

«There are so many good forces in the world acting to build a fairest society…» 

The look of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Archbishop emeritus of Milan, has always remained the same.  But his voice has all but abandoned him. One of the consequences of Parkinson's disease that struck at the end of his term in the Ambrosian diocese.  

The same illness of Pope John Paul II, the Pope who, in December of thirty years ago, surprisingly appointed this distinguished Jesuit biblical scholar, who as a child dreamed of being a journalist, as head of the Church of Milan, the largest in Europe, among the most important in the world. In the last pastoral letter he wrote: «The impact with the Church of Milan, as well as with civil society has given me infinitely more than I have been able to give or could have imagined to give».  In 2002, when he had just turned 75 years, Martin asked to retire in the land of Jesus, «I want to go to the Holy Land for spiritual reasons, to pray and intercede for those who suffer, and to resume by study of the Bible». 

He spent some years in Jerusalem, participated in the conclave that elected a Pope of his same age, Joseph Ratzinger. Then the disease forced him to return to Italy, to Gallarate.  To speak he sometimes uses a small microphone that amplifies his voice. He walks with difficulty and almost always moves in a wheelchair. 

The cardinal, who was born in Turin in 1927, has agreed to speak with the press about the meaning of Christmas in this time of crisis, inviting once again to have hope, because «there are many good forces in the world that are acting», he who confessed «to have always believed more in the radiant and contagious power of good than in the condemnation of evil». 

«I am pleased – says Martini – to collaborate with your newspaper, remembering all the friends in Turin.  My answers will necessarily be very brief because this is a time of great commitment».

Eminence, Christmas celebrates the birth of a God who becomes a child. What did it mean and what does it mean for us?

«In the past
, in Western culture it has meant a lot. Today is present mostly in spurious forms. For a Christian it always means the incredible dedication of God to man and is a source of endless theological and philosophical reflection».

The story of the birth of Jesus ends up sometimes by being presented as a sugary fairy tale. What reasons are there to believe in the Gospel?

«Luke's story has a
single statement. However, it is possible to believe with confidence to what was reported by the devotees of Jerusalem which lately date back to Mary».

This Christmas comes at a time which for us is full of fear, uncertainty and recession. What message does the event of the birth of Christ communicate in the current state of crisis, on the eve of a new year which we fear will be even more difficult?

«In this state of crisis,
Christmas is a source of hope: it tells us that the things of this world are worth little and are subject to the judgment of God». What positive aspects can we obtain from this situation? «We believe that there are many good forces in the world working to build a more just society».

Can still have faith and hope for the future? And if so, why?

«Thinking about these men
, and God that lives in them, we cannot expect that the future will always be better. Of course, for those who look at it from under the light of the Eternal God».

The crisis makes us wonder about our lifestyle, in many cases is forces us to change it. What value is there in sobriety?

«Sobriety is a word
that agrees very well with the very image of this time. It is the proper use of earthly goods valued in light of the final goal».

What do you feel you should say to a young person who has no prospects of work and cannot raise a family?

«It is a
very painful situation. We need to give much support to these young people especially in trust. To them it must be said that heaven is conquered through sacrifices and that sobriety is in itself a true sacrifice».

In Freiburg last September, Benedict XVI spoke of the need for the Church not to confide in its structures and in power, in order to be poorer and more free. What do you think?

«I applaud the words of the
Pope and I pray they will come true. The tradition of the Church, starting from the Holy Scripture, has always urged not to trust neither in power nor in structures, but in poverty and freedom of heart».

How do you live, Eminence, with the fatigue and pain of the disease? What gives you the most comfort during the day?

«My illness does not give me pain but only limitations. It's good to accept them as a union with the sufferings of Christ. During the day, what gives me the most joy is to visit the Blessed Sacrament».