Monday, August 21, 2006

The Cielini Take Rimini

While in DC for the installation of Archbishop Wuerl -- and, yes, you're all still owed the recap piece -- I had a couple drinks (and, yes, cigarettes) with Msgr Lorenzo Albacete, the New York-based theologian and head of Comunione e Liberazione in the US. He kept saying to me, "You must come to Rimini."

And by that, he meant this week. Obviously, this wasn't my year, but hopefully next.

Benedict XVI's favorite ecclesial movement -- the only one which, he's been overheard saying, hasn't lost its way -- is yet again holding its annual summer conference in the seaside resort-town. It's one of the largest yearly gatherings in Italy; the cielini from around the world flock in by the tens of thousands and with them the cardinals and dignitaries of all stripes. One cardinal who's done his share of travelling over the years told me that Rimini is "the most incredible thing" he has ever seen.

The US crowd will be intrigued to know that nuncio to Washington Archbishop Pietro Sambi (peace be upon him) is a longtime attendee, and not just because Rimini is close by the hometown where he spends vacation filling in for the pastor of his boyhood parish.

Tealeaf readers, take note....

Officially known as the "Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples" -- something churchpeoples could use these days, let alone other peoples -- the gathering's topic for this year is "Reason is the need for the infinite and culminates in the longing for and the presentiment of this infinite becoming manifest." It's ostensibly taken from the work of Don Luigi Giussani, whose death in February 2005 arguably began the tide of events which made his funeral preacher the next Pope.

True to form for the group which "changed [his] life," Benedict sent a message to the meeting, which was read yesterday under the signature of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the outgoing Secretary of State.

"The 2006 Meeting intends to repropose with vigor the perennial truth of Christianity," said the message addressed to Bishop Mariano de Nicolo of Rimini, "God, the Infinite, lowered himself into our finite state that he could be perceived by our senses, and so the Infinite 'reached' the rational search of finite man.

"Here is the Christian 'revolution'," the Pope continued. "God the Creator 'reaches,' today and permanently, the rational search of man who seeks Him, he encounters the creature who sighs for him. Though a man among men, the Only-Begotten Son of God affirms: 'I am the way, the truth and the life' (Jn 14:16). The words give us an invitation which the Church cannot cease to return to the people of each location and culture. From this invitation the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples this year wishes to make an echo, recalling the infinity made 'unassailable' (incontrabile), possible for each man and woman to know God and to quench in Him their own thirsts."

The Conference ends on Friday. Keep an eye here for updates.... And here's hoping the plan for an "American Rimini" about 55 minutes from here eventually becomes a reality.