Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ace Ventura

Keeping with our focus on things Canadian, it bears repeating that the papal nuncio to Ottawa, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, made a star-turn yesterday with his installation remarks.

Sometimes buzzed about as a potential Sostituto of the Secretariat of State, Ventura arrived in Canada on, literally, the eve of 9/11. As a priest in San Damaso, he was the top personal aide to the late, legendary and beloved Cardinal Agostino Casaroli in the days of the Ostpolitik, and after his elevation as an archbishop-nuncio in 1995 has served the Holy See as its pointman in the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chile.

Since coming here, it appears that the appointments prepared under his watch presaged the B16 trend of singling out engaging, positive nominees, and the processes -- 42 to date with quite a few impending -- have been marked by a tangibly broad level of consultation and outreach.

Then again, when the nunciature is viewed by its top occupant as "The Pope's House" and its doors accordingly and frequently thrown open, good things happen. I've never heard of a nuncio who's on an intimate, first-name basis with as many people as Ventura is. (Of course, though, it looks as if Luigi's counterpart to the south is well on his way to sharing that distinction in time.) His affability and easy-going nature is nearly praised in song among the clan here, who find in him a staunch ally and keen counsel.

Gratefully, the nuncio's short but sweet text has been posted. The money quote actually draws from one of the many unsung gems of a prior pontificate:

Speaking of the mystery of the Church, especially as it is reflected in the life and ministry of a diocese, Pope Paul VI (1963-1978), shared the following reflections:

“It is in the local Church ... where we can recognize the point of effective contact, where human persons meet Christ, who opens for them access to the concrete plan of salvation: here there is the ministry, here the faith, here the community, here the Word, here the grace, here Christ offers himself to the faithful inserted in the universal Church. The local Church is therefore in the Catholic religious life, the starting and final point; like the fruit in relation to the roots, the tree, and the branches.” (Homily, 16 September 1972)

In this local church, the bishop is the cornerstone, and the image of Christ, priest and pastor, giving solidity to all the living stones that make up the household of God. (Eph. 2: 19-22)

Dear Archbishop Collins, the responsibilities entrusted to you may seem at times overwhelming but the Lord repeats to you as he did to Peter: “have no fear”. (Luke 5:10) And St. Paul assures us: “We are poor and weak but we count on the grace of God.” (2 Cor. 12:9) This grace will be the object of the prayer that is offered daily in the celebration of the Mass when, in the heart of the Eucharistic Prayer, these words are pronounced:

“Strengthen in faith and love your pilgrim Church on earth; your servant, Pope Benedict, our bishop Thomas, and all the bishops, with the clergy and the entire people your Son has gained for you.” (Eucharistic Prayer III)