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.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Oct. 27, 2007 11:01 PM ET USA

    When a boxer lands a liver shot to his opponent, the recipient drops to the ground, unable to rise. Its impossible to recover from, because your autonomic nervous system has taken over. I imagine the sound of it is the same as the title of this post: Biff. He threw a Soloviev at the Potemkin Village People of God. They have fallen, and they can't get up.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 26, 2007 11:24 AM ET USA

    Not only Orthodox observers, FrV, but Protestants as well. Well known is the fact that Protestant clergy were enlisted by Bugnini to help craft the “New Mass.” The deceptions of Vatican II are many… BTW: If were going to take a poll, I vote for Pius XII.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 26, 2007 9:31 AM ET USA

    Cardinal Biffi also pointed out that the greatest Pope of the 20th century was Pius XI. About time that someone paid tribute to Achille Ratti, the most underrated pontiff of recent memory.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 26, 2007 8:39 AM ET USA

    Cardinal Biffi speaks very pointedly in the book about the silence of the Council on communism and the suffering-Church under communism. Of course it has been pointed out that this silence was the price for having the Russian Orthodox observers at the Council. The late Fr. Alexis Floridi S.J. documented this in a book called the "Vatican-Moscow Agreement." This agreement really was the beginning of the ecclesiastical Ostpolitik pursued by Paul VI and Cardinal Casaroli.