Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary


By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 26, 2007

Sandro Magister posts a very interesting review of the "pungent, ironic, and anti-conformist" memoirs of Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, former Archbishop of Bologna and the most prominent living conservative among the Italian bishops. It appears that Biffi is well aware of the liberty of expression accorded octogenarian retirees and is exploiting it to full effect. An excerpt from Magister's post:

Even his silences are eloquent. The book dedicates just a few rare references to Joseph Ratzinger. But there are many hints to let the reader know that Biffi has extremely high regard for the current pope. It is an esteem reciprocated in the invitation extended to him by Benedict XVI to preach, in the Vatican, the Lenten retreat of 2007.

On the other hand, his nearly complete silence on Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini -- under whom Biffi served for four years as auxiliary bishop in Milan -- conveys a relentlessly critical judgment. Immediately before dispatching, in a few lines, the appointment of the famous Jesuit as archbishop of Milan at the end of 1979, Biffi makes it clear that the dazzling era of the great twentieth-century bishops of Milan -- the genuine heirs of St Ambrose and St Charles Borromeo -- came to an end with Martini's predecessor, Giovanni Colombo.

And from another silence -- the one in the book surrounding Martini's successor, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi -- one gathers that, even with the current bishop of Milan, the season of the great "Ambrosian" and "Borromean" pastors still shows no signs of resuming.

The reason is explained clearly. For Biffi, a bishop is great when he governs the Church "with the warmth and the certainty of the faith, the concreteness of projects and initiatives, the capacity to respond to the issues of the time, not with surrender and accommodation, but by drawing upon the unalienable patrimony of the faith." Evidently, in Biffi's view, neither Martini nor Tettamanzi fits this profile.


There are some extensive excepts quoted by Magister giving Biffi's views on Pope John XXIII, "the deceptions of Vatican II," Pope John Paul II, and the last conclave, inter alia. Definitely worth a read.

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