Saturday, March 18, 2006

Magister's Bouquet of Disquiet

Something's telling me that Cardinal Renato Martino's got a song for L'Espresso's Sandro Magister these days: "You don't bring me flowers...."

Not that Martino -- shown here receiving his red hat at the consistory of 2003 -- isn't getting taken care of in the floral department, but Magister's just been running wild of late on the newly-reburdened president of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace and, as of last week, Migrants and Refugees.

First, a Magister column at midweek bore the subtle headline "Renato Martino, A Cardinal Out of Control."

Some snips:
Martino is a genuine loose cannon in the curia. On repeated occasions, his statements to the press have created serious difficulties for the Vatican authorities.

On the eve of the war in Iraq, for example, his pacifist and anti-American quips were so frequent and so unbalanced that he forced the secretariat of state – even though it was against the war – to impose silence upon him: a silence he observed for a few months.

But as soon as he began speaking again, in December of 2003, he wreaked havoc once more. He was to present to the international press the pope’s message for the World Day of Peace. And instead, the following day the media spoke of something completely different: the accusation Martino had made on the occasion against the United States, charging it with having treated the imprisoned Saddam Hussein “like a cow.”

More recently, Martino won over the newspaper headlines with two other explosive statements.

He made the first of these on his return from a trip to Cuba, where he had met with Fidel Castro, among others. Interviewed by the news agency ANSA last March 3, he said that “Castro knows the social doctrine of the Church,” and that “the times when the Church was persecuted in Cuba are water under the bridge.”

He made the second statement on Thursday, March 9, in a press conference at the end of a conference on “The Ways of Peace” held at the Saint Louis of France Cultural Center in Rome. He said: “If there are a hundred Muslim children in a school, I don’t see why one cannot teach them their religion.” And again: “If we said ‘no’ until we saw equivalent treatment for the Christian minorities in the Muslim countries, I would say that we were placing ourselves on their level.” ....

The consequence was that on Friday, March 10, in a front page editorial in “Corriere,” Ernesto Galli della Loggia opined that “the words of cardinal Martino on a host of highly important questions constitute a position clearly antithetical to the one repeatedly and vigorously marked out by Benedict XVI. One could even say that these words form a sort of embroidered design of a real and proper anti-Ratzingerian manifesto.”
As if that wasn't enough to show his hand, he returned to the remarks on Cuba in a Thursday post on his blog, Settimo cielo.

In response to Martino's statement, referenced above, that "The times of the persecution of the church in Cuba are like water under the bridge," Magister plugged a piece written by the head of Cuba's democratic Christian Liberation movement, Oswaldo Paya, which was published in L'Espresso on the "scandal" of the continuing political imprisonment of Cubans.

Even though the dicastery head's name was nowhere near Paya's piece, Magister still gave his blog post on it the title "Oswaldo Paya shuts Cardinal Martino up."

The backstory on this must be incredible.