A New Sun in Ireland’s Skies - ARTICLES

A New Sun in Ireland’s Skies

M.C. Traces Magazine

7/15/2004 | 18:01

A meeting to present the book “Why the Church” by Luigi Giussani, founder of Communion and Liberation

On 12th May 2004 more than 250 people gathered together in the prestigious setting of Trinity College Dublin for a meeting to mark the launch of the English edition of “Why the Church” in Ireland. Among the audience were ambassadors, the Apostolic Nuncio, members of the clergy and many lay people from all walks of life in Ireland.

The meeting was chaired by Margaret Biondi, representing Communion and Liberation in Ireland. The first of the speakers was Alberto Savorana, editor of Traces magazine. He was followed by a Protestant Minister and Professor of Theology. The final speaker was the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Reverend Diarmuid Martin, making one of his first public appearances as Archbishop.

The meeting lasted for almost 2 hours with the audience having the opportunity to ask questions at the end. We present here the interventions of two of the speakers and a report from Traces Magazine.

To all appearances, the day seemed much like any other: A calendar full of events, conferences and other engagements, not forgetting the customary call at the pub.
But one thing that was different that day was the evening engagement, planned at the famous Irish university, Trinity College Dublin, historically one of the most important centers of cultural creativity in the Protestant world.
Trinity seemed an unusual choice, yet our Irish friends were very happy with it, and kept telling me there was no better place in Dublin for organizing the presentation of Fr Giussani’s book Why the Church?.
There was no intention of provocation behind the decision, but rather the desire to use that prestigious place so as to give the meeting greater emphasis, and to give greater amplification to the question contained in the invitations: “After 2,000 years, how is it possible to reach certainty about the person of Christ?” Yes, because this was the point for discussion during the conference. Three speakers were invited: Alberto Savorana, Traces Editor; followed by a Protestant minister and Professor of Theology; and the new Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

The method of the Mystery
The first address was given by Alberto, with the task of synthesizing Fr Giussani’s text. All at once, as I looked at those sitting beside me, I realized that many could give examples from their own experience of what he was describing, since the Christian message had aroused an interest in them, which had matured with time so as to become, almost unexpectedly, part of them, identical with their lives. His were familiar words, referring to experiences near and far.
I was still reflecting on these themes when another voice, with a strong American accent, took over and developed those thoughts. With different lines of argument, the main thread of the talk converged on one thesis: in order to get to know the Mystery, man must start off from the method that the Mystery itself established for making Himself known and left behind as a heritage. The Protestant minister thus brought into focus a contradiction in contemporary thought. If, on one hand, it comes to respect Jesus’ religious sense or His humanity, as happened to those who watched Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion, on the other hand, it doesn’t accept that the Church is “not a road, but the road” for getting to know of Jesus.

A long-distance dialogue
The third speech happened to be the first public appearance of the new Archbishop of Dublin. After a brief introduction, it was clear that the speech was going to be a long-distance dialogue between the Archbishop and the book’s author. The Archbishop’s concern was to clarify the terms of the question, so as to bring them alongside the life of the Church in Ireland, as if to announce the guidelines for his pastoral action.
Three things impressed me in that announcement. The first was inherent to the method of cognition. If, in order to express a judgment on an object, we need to know it, the same criterion has to be used for knowing the Church. In order to know the Church, one has to form a relationship with it; otherwise, without realizing it, you absorb the judgment from the prevailing mentality. Understanding what the Church is is crucial for a mature awareness.
The second point concerned the sphere of freedom belonging to every Christian, whereas the third point indicated that there can be no evangelization if we don’t begin from personal conversion.
Step by step, then, the Archbishop came to answer the central question of Fr Giussani’s book. To the question “Why the Church?” we have to reply, “We need the Church; we need that encounter with Jesus who reveals ourselves to ourselves.”
On leaving the university, perhaps the thought struck someone that a new sun had risen in the skies of Ireland.

Why The Church

Photo Gallery from the event, Dublin May 2004

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