Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nuncio's Norm #1: "Be Young"

As Archbishop Pietro Sambi works predominantly from longhand notes, the speeches of the "Super-Nuncio" usually go uncirculated in print form....

Sure, that tends to mean more work for your narrator. Then again, as Sambi's speeches tend to have a key nugget of insight -- or several -- just below the surface (or sometimes, not below the surface at all), they're actually a worthwhile joy to mine and transcribe.

In that light, while the archbishop (who won over both Jews and Palestinians during his seven years as papal legate to Jerusalem) quoted extensively from B16's April address to the USCCB in his own words to the body on Monday morning -- seemingly not because, as some folks guessed, he was "unprepared"... but simply that the bench might hear it again -- the first part of the talk drew from another, just as rich source: the last part of Vatican II's closing message, directed to the young of the church.

Sambi's inference: the church -- the church in the United States -- must always resonate with the spirit of youth.

The nuncio didn't use the Council's entire charge to the young, but in keeping with his lead, here's the full of the original:
Lastly, it is to you, young men and women of the world, that the council wishes to address its final message. For it is you who are to receive the torch from the hands of your elders and to live in the world at the period of the most gigantic transformations ever realized in its history. It is you who, receiving the best of the example of the teaching of your parents and your teachers, are to form the society of tomorrow. You will either save yourselves or you will perish with it.

For four years the Church has been working to rejuvenate her image in order to respond the better to the design of her Founder, the great Living One, the Christ who is eternally young. At the term of this imposing re-examination of life, she now turns to you. It is for you, youth, especially for you that the Church now comes through her council to enkindle your light, the light which illuminates the future, your future. The Church is anxious that this society that you are going to build up should respect the dignity, the liberty and the rights of individuals. These individuals are you. The Church is particularly anxious that this society should allow free expansion to her treasure ever ancient and ever new, namely faith, and that your souls may be able to bask freely in its helpful light. She has confidence that you will find such strength and such joy that you will not be tempted, as were some of your elders, to yield to the seductions of egoistic or hedonistic philosophies or to those of despair and annihilation, and that in the face of atheism, a phenomenon of lassitude and old age, you will know how to affirm your faith in life and in what gives meaning to life, that is to say, the certitude of the existence of a just and good God.

It is in the name of this God and of His Son, Jesus, that we exhort you to open your hearts to the dimensions of the world, to heed the appeal of your brothers, to place your youthful energies at their service. Fight against all egoism. Refuse to give free course to the instincts of violence and hatred which beget wars and all their train of miseries. Be generous, pure, respectful and sincere, and build in enthusiasm a better world than your elders had.

The Church looks to you with confidence and with love. Rich with a long past ever living in her, and marching on toward human perfection in time and the ultimate destinies of history and of life, the Church is the real youth of the world. She possesses what constitutes the strength and the charm of youth, that is to say the ability to rejoice with what is beginning, to give oneself unreservedly, to renew one's self and to set out again for new conquests. Look upon the Church and you will find in her the face of Christ, the genuine, humble and wise Hero, the prophet of truth and love, the companion and friend of youth. It is in the name of Christ that we salute you, that we exhort and bless you.
And, with that, there's no better way to bring down the curtain on what's been quite the week.

PHOTO: AP/Gerald Herbert