Last Monday 4/03, in the afternoon, the Novitiate community received a welcome visit from its Eminence Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, metropolitan archbishop of Genoa. His Eminence spoke with novices and formators for an informal meeting, in which the community had the opportunity to draw on his great ministerial experience, not only as pastor of the City and of the Diocese but also as President emeritus of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) and President-in-Office of the Council of Episcopal Conferences in Europe (CCEE).
The questions of the community mainly concerned the challenges that the Christian faith must face today on the European continent, hit by the “icy wind” of secularization, which shows no sign of abating. “What prospects does the European Church have before it? Toward what horizons do we move? ”- the Cardinal was asked.
The Eminence’s response was – in some ways – unsettling in that, on the basis of his long association with ecclesial and political institutions in Europe, the Archbishop compared the continental panorama to a “desert that flourishes”. His Eminence was particularly keen to highlight two things: first of all that, “below the media” carpet – which refers to a partial vision of reality – there is all the swarming
of the daily life of so many good people who, everywhere in Europe, are taken by perennial human questions of meaning, to which are added new, unpublished, which have to do with the specificities of contemporary life. Secondly, that “the best ally of the Gospel is man” because the more humanity is crushed by political and / or ideological forces that would like to keep it subdued the more it feels in itself the longing for a
integral liberation that naturally leads her to the Gospel. And this holds true – with the necessary differences – both for those Eastern European countries that have freed themselves, in recent decades, from communist regimes, as well as for those Western European countries in which the secularization process is more advanced.
In fact, if in the first the memory of the blood shed due to the totalitarian regimes is so alive as to function as a complex of vigilant antibodies to certain attempts at ideological colonization, in the latter we witness, a little patchy, the return of some fringes of the new generations to the life of faith. According to His Eminence – who cited in this regard data and experiences reported by other European bishops – this return is characterized by
an intense spiritual search and the request to be helped to live a Gospel “without discounts”; more and more often, it finds its reference environment in places of spirituality different from the institutional community life of the parishes (monasteries, convents and centers of spirituality in various ways).
After the afternoon dialogue, the Archbishop presided over the Eucharistic celebration and stayed for dinner with the community.
Giovanni Lo Giudice, novice of the first year