EUROPEBELGIUM-HOLLAND - The words of the Founder: always up-to-date
(The Bulletin de Liaison – Belgium Southern Sector [December 2009] assures us that the words of the Founder are always up-to-date.)ITALY - That chemo “offered” by Father Fausto
The review “Golias Hebdo” (No. 103), well known to some of us, wrote about the intervention of certain Tarn prison chaplains who “had published their thoughts (critique) about the policy of ‘total security’ in penitentiary law.” In its No. 105, the same review continued this idea by publishing “a letter of Bishop de Mazenod to his fellow bishops in Digne and Fréjus. The objective of this letter: the situation of persons in prison, especially regarding the pressure being exercised by the local authorities on priests who were judged to be too much concerned for the welfare of the prisoners. It is a document dated March 4, 1847; but it is, in a way, a meditation for today.”
Would you happen to have received a particularly extraordinary letter from Chief Prosecutor Borelly, who would want us to forbid our priests from intervening in any way favorable to the miserable persons indicted by the courts? Thus, if they are innocent, we would be forbidden to defend their innocence, and if they are guilty, we would not even be able to beg mercy for them, in so far as circumstances might allow some leniency in the severity of the laws or their implementation! But this magistrate does not know then that we are, by our office, men of mercy. We do no more than exercise mercy, not only in the prisons and on the scaffolds toward the greatest of criminals, but always and everywhere. That is our ministry. If that contradicts the inflexible justice of the Chief Prosecutor, if his more or less well intentioned pursuits fall short because of the charitable action of a priest, that is no reason for us to abdicate our charitable responsibility which is given to us by the spirit of our vocation.
It is true that there are some conspiracies in which we would be wrong to get involved, even in view of mercy toward these unfortunates, but to petition, to get the attention of the judges, to state the reasons for acquitting the accused or which attenuate their crimes or infractions, that is not conspiracy.
Finally, Your Excellency, it seems to me that if, as I believe, you have received the same letter that I did, we would do well to plan our response together. We must not lend ourselves at all to certain pressures that would serve the purpose of those who want to confine the priest to the sanctuary without his being able ever to show his face elsewhere and exercise upon society the least influence. They would like so much to limit this influence which, in their eyes, is an encroachment, so that we should not exercise all of our rights as citizens which they ignore. Here, it’s question of a universal right they would deny us.
Eugene, Bishop of Marseille.
L’Avvenire is a daily, nationwide Italian newspaper founded in 1968 in Milan. The paper takes its inspiration from the doctrine of the Catholic Church, but in full autonomy from the hierarchy, even though one often hears it called the newspaper of the CEI (Italian Bishops’ Conference). Some months ago, there were some accusations against its director, Dino Boffo, by the director of another paper, Vittorio Feltri, raising enormous controversy that led to the resignation of Boffo who was, among other things, a personal friend of our former Superior General, Marcello ZAGO. At the beginning of December, Feltri admitted his error: “… Dino Boffo was not involved… In spite of all that was said and written, he was able to keep a dignified and calm demeanor which can only inspire admiration.”
Surprisingly, the December 5 edition of L’Avvenire published a letter that Father Fausto PELIS, recently deceased, had written to Boffo. Here is the text of that article.
He too was from Bergamo. But when Father Fausto Pelis, Oblate of Mary Immacualte, saw that Feltri (for whom he had “much esteem and confidence”) was undertaking initiatives “that had little to do with journalism,” on September 2, he wrote to Dino Boffo to reassure him of “my fraternal support in the sad events which, these days, are giving you so much grief.” He was “proud” of his fellow “bergamasco,” but he admitted that “I am astounded and upset at the stubbornness” with which Feltri “persists, in spite of the explanations you have offered with so much clarity and truth.” Transparent in the message of this religious are exceptionally rare tact and foresight.
“I foresee for the director of Il Giornale,” wrote Father Pelis, “much pain: it’s like quicksand – the more you struggle and move, the faster you go down. He would have been a true ‘professional,’ before all the evidence and clarifications, to honestly admit his mistake.”
“I promise my prayers,” he concluded with kindliness, “and offer up as much as I can the suffering from the chemotherapy I must undergo in these months.” These words touched Boffo profoundly. In his response, he wrote: “The closing of your letter leads me to confide with you in this. In the end, it is also due to you and to your ‘chemical’ if something happens by way of reconciliation, still far off, but who knows?” But Father Fausto was unable to read this message: a few days ago, his brother, Father Angelo, also an Oblate, announced his death, at Vercelli on November 20.