La Civiltà Cattolica, THE prestigious journal of opinion in Italy, and perhaps in very many ecclesial circles, has new leadership in Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro. La Civiltà Cattolica has been at the service of the Church 162 years.
How can anyone not like Saint George’s story? Whatever happened to the real cult of Saint George? Does the saint have contemporary relevance for us today? What witness does he offer the “post-modern” people we purport to be? Do we still struggle against Satan, the evil one, the great tempter? How do deal with the noontime devil that seeks to divide us from a filial relationship with God? Jesuit Father George Nedungatt, professor emeritus of the Pontifical Oriental Institute (Rome) wrote an essay “Saint George without the Dragon” explaining contemporary –at least since Vatican II– Church’s remembrance of and prayerful reliance on, the Lord’s dragon slayer. As the summary of the article says, “The post-conciliar reform has entered the liturgical celebration of St. George [on April 23] amidst the facultative memoirs, attributing the historical date of his martyrdom in Lydda circa 303. It follows the protest, both by those who have chosen St. George as patron and, and for opposing reasons, by those who deny the killing of the dragon by the saint. To shed light on the issue, the article distinguishes between the current liturgical (the cult certificated since ancient time on the saint’s tomb), and the literary tendency, (legends based on his figure as a symbol of the struggle against the forces of evil).” You can read about Saint George in La Civiltà Cattolica (3859, 2011, II, pp. 20-29).
A few times in the last month I’ve mentioned the the tragic death of a brother in the Lord, Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic in Pakistan, a voice against oppression. His death should signal for us that religious freedom is not operative around the world as well as out-and-out persecution of Christians is a too frequent occurrence. Just read the end of the year stats on the deaths of people just because they are Christian published by the Vatican office of Evangelization of Peoples. We can’t under-estimate the our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world face just because they utter Jesus’ name as Lord and Savior: they face death and oppression daily.
In a recently published essay, “The Assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, Jesuit Father Luciano Larivera, explores the details of a Christian’s murder by Islamic extremists. He writes in his summary, “On March 2, a commando of an Islamic terrorist group assassinated Shahbaz Bhatti, 42, the minister of Religious Minorities in Pakistan. He was a Catholic, and is already considered a martyr for the faith and interreligious dialogue. Let us quote the spiritual testament. As with the governor of the province of the Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, who was killed Jan. 4, Bhatti had fought for the abolition, or at least for the reform, of the law against blasphemy and the liberation of Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to be hung for insulting Muhammad. Pakistan is torn apart by numerous tensions and an internal power struggle. Religious violence and intimidation have weakened the Government’s action. The country needs the restoration of an effective criminal justice system, which also prevents and sanctions crimes against religious minorities. La Civiltà Cattolica (3859, 2011, II, pp. 81-90) carries the essay.
The UK’s Guardian carried this obit for Shahbaz Bhatti.
Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, the literature editor
the Italian bi-weekly journal La Civiltà Cattolica published an article
“Towards a ‘Cybertheology’?” which will appear in the January 1st issue.
Father Spadaro’s summary: