Saturday, June 04, 2005

Likrat Yerushalayim

I know neither Hebrew nor Italian, but I know this is a nice story, from Haaretz Israel News. Verso Gerusalemme ("Towards Jerusalem") is Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini's book about his retirement pilgrimage to Jerusalem, at the age of 75. Written in 2002 in Martini's native Italian, the book was recently published in Hebrew. Apparently, that's a first.
It's not every day that a cardinal publishes a book in Hebrew...Furthermore, the author is not just any cardinal. Martini is one of the most respected figures in the Catholic Church today. In recent years, he has been the leader of the so-called "progressive" faction, as opposed to the "conservative" wing headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, today Pope Benedict XVI.

For many years, Martini was at the top of the "papabili" - potential pope - list. At the last papal conclave, a little more than a month ago, Martini did not consider himself a likely candidate on account of his age (78) and poor health. But opponents of Cardinal Ratzinger and those on the lookout for a more "open-minded" pope rallied around him and hailed him as their leader. Martini favors delegating more power to Catholic communities around the world rather than concentrating it all in Rome. He would like to see bishops involved in decision-making in the Church and the pope consulting with them. He believes the time has come to reexamine the role of women in the Church and the dwindling number of men joining the priesthood. In the end, however, Martini supported Ratzinger and gave him his blessing.
Though I can't read either edition of the book, I got a great sense of it (and the author) from the Haaretz review. A few highlights about Likrat Yerushalayim:
A pilgrimage to Jerusalem is meant to bring us closer to celestial Jerusalem, to move us toward a new spiritual and moral order. The peace of Jerusalem "radiates to other cities," bringing peace to the human soul. It is a journey, says Martini, not a miraculous shortcut, but it helps us discover the wholeness of our lives and understand what we need to do to triumph over evil and extract the good from the bad. It is here in earthly Jerusalem that Martini is able to get a sense of heavenly Jerusalem and come closer to it, but without forgetting that there are two Jerusalems - physical and metaphysical.

This love for Jerusalem has endeared the Jewish people to him - and perhaps it goes both ways. His Jewish friends call him a "philosemite." Rabbi David Rosen, for example, writes in the introduction to this book that Cardinal Martini played an important role in the revolutionary changes in the policy of the Catholic Church toward Jews and Judaism since the early 1960s.

Martini does not divide the world into believers and non-believers, but into those who think and those who don't. In general, he advises us to preserve a sense of humor, seeing that "we're all in God's hands, which is to say, good hands."

Oh, how I wish I had studied Italian. The review calls it a "fascinating and important read." I imagine so. (Talmida is studying Hebrew. Perhaps she'll check in with a review!)

Meanwhile, cheers to Cardinal Martini!


At 2:52 PM, June 06, 2005, Blogger Talmida said...

Ha! I wish my Hebrew were good enough!! That sounds like a wonderful book. I hope they do translate it into English.

At 7:59 AM, June 09, 2005, Blogger CafeCath said...

Me, too!! (Meanwhile, keep studying!)


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