INTERVIEW WITH ARCHBISHOP LEO BOCCARDI APOSTOLIC NUNCIO OF THE HOLY SEE (VATICAN AMBASSADOR) TO THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

SHAFAQNA-

1. Can you please introduce yourself and give your general background?

 

For  those  who  read  and  understand  their  life  with  faith  it  is  natural  to  discover  the

plan of God for their life. For everyone there is a moment to answer some fundamental questions: why do I live? What do I want to do in my life? What do I want to do of my life? The story of my life is the story of my vocation; it means how I discovered the plan of God for me and how I tried to respond to his call.

 

From  my  childhood  I  wanted  to  become  a  priest  and  for  this  reason,  also  if  I  was  an

only child, with permission of my parents (but my father secretly was planning for me a  military career!) I joined the minor seminary of Larino for primary education, after the seminary of Benevento for secondary school and finally the Roman Seminary of Lateran in Rome for philosophy and theology studies with specialization in moral theology at Alfonsiana Academy. So, I spent 15 years in seminaries, I entered when I was only a boy of 13 and I left as a young man of 26!

 

Having  returned  to  the  diocese,  I  was  called  on  to  teach  at  the  Regional  Seminary  of

Chieti. There I also had the role of mentor and spiritual guide to candidates for the priesthood. Many of these are today priests and there is even a bishop among them! After 5 years of teaching, I was asked to continue my studies in the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy to prepare me for the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See. After a  PhD in theology, a license in Canon Law and studies in international law, in 1987 I was sent to Uganda, as Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature there. Later I went on to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, then to Brussels at the European Union. Returning to the Vatican, I was for six years special secretary of Cardinal Tauran, who was then Secretary for Relations with States, and in charge of the desk for human rights of the Secretariat of State. After this wonderful experience in the Vatican I was appointed Permanent Observer to the International Organizations in Vienna and in the office of the AIEA, I was seated next to the Representative of Iran … a portent of the future? In 2007 Pope Benedict appointed me Apostolic Nuncio in Sudan and in Eritrea and in 2013 Pope Francis sent me here to Tehran.

 

2. You have spoken about the fact that you became an Apostolic Nuncio for the Vatica Did you choose to become a bishop? How are Apostolic Nuncios chosen?

 

In the Catholic Church nobody studies in order to become a bishop, to become an Apostolic Nuncio, to take up a career, to be successful, to become someone of note, Cardinal or Pope! No, the ministry is a  service! In this service there may come a request from a superior to devote oneself to a particular mission, to perform a service with special responsibilities. I did not choose to become a bishop or a nuncio. The Church, my superiors decided on my experience, my abilities and they entrusted me with an important mission. Certainly a particular competence is necessary, the result of a demanding and long course of studies. In general as it is required by the Code of Canon Law, one must have a degree in theology or in canon law or at least to have demonstrated a competency in the subject. For the diplomatic service of the Holy See, there is in Rome, beside the Pantheon, one of the oldest diplomatic schools in the world, the Ecclesiastical Academy, specifically for the preparation of the diplomatic personnel of the Holy See. There I studied international law and followed specific courses in diplomacy.

  1. You are a bishop and an Apostolic Nuncio, in other words “working” for the Catholic Church. Can you elaborate about the structure of the Catholic Church?

 

First of all, it must be understood that, while there exists a hierarchical structure of authority within the Catholic Church, this structure does not work like a corporation or the military. It is not a chain of command and control. In fact, the term “hierarchy” is a religious term, and its understanding is not derived from common, non-religious use of the word. The basic order of authority in the Church’s hierarchy is as follows.

 

The  highest  authority  belongs  to  the  Pope,  the  Bishop  of  Rome,  who  “has  full,

supreme  and  universal  power  over  the  whole  Church,  a  power  which  he  can  always

exercise unhindered”.

Secondly, the college of bishops possess the authority to make decisions pertaining to the universal Church when such decisions are made in union with the Pope. The Catechism  of  the  Catholic  Church  states:  “The  college  or  body  of  bishops  has  no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head.” As such, this college has “supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff”.

Third, there are individual bishops. The ordinary function of a bishop or archbishop is that of a “leader” or “shepherd” who oversees a particular diocese – local Church. There also exist offices for auxiliary or assistant bishops whose duty is to assist the diocesan bishop.

Fourth, priests are “co-workers” of the bishops. One of the main functions of priests is to serve in a particular parish, a small sub-unit within a diocese. The Catechism states: “A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop”. The bishop is the shepherd of his diocese and pastors of parishes share in the bishop’s ministry and are never disconnected from it.

 Finally, deacons are ordained ministers who assist the diocesan bishop and priests in

various tasks, most importantly the celebration of the sacraments and, above all, the Mass.

 

There  also  exists  the  College  of  Cardinals  which  provides  a  very  important  service,

namely the election of the Pope. In addition to this chief function, cardinals may also perform two other roles. Cardinals are available to assist the Roman Pontiff, either by acting collegially — when they are summoned together to deal with questions of major importance — or by acting individually — that is, in the offices which they hold for the purpose of assisting the Roman Pontiff, especially in the daily care of the universal Church. To become a Cardinal, one must be a bishop, priest, or deacon

 

4. How is the Pope elected? Recently Pope Benedict renounced from his Papal O Is it the first time that a pope did something similar?

 

Popes are elected by the College of Cardinals. They are summoned to a meeting at the Vatican which is followed by the Papal election – or Conclave. Cardinals over the age of

80  are  not  allowed  to  participate  in  the  Conclave.  The  maximum  number  of  cardinal

electors  is  120.  During  the  Conclave,  cardinals  reside  within  the  Vatican  and  are  not

permitted any contact with the outside world.

 

The cardinals do not have to choose one of their own number – theoretically any baptised male Catholic can be elected pope – but tradition says that they will almost certainly give the job to a cardinal. The cardinals are shut away in the Vatican until they reach agreement – the meaning of the word conclave indicating that they are literally locked up “with a key”.

 

The election process can take days. In previous centuries it has gone on for weeks or months and some cardinals have even died during conclaves. The process is designed to prevent any of the details of the voting emerging, either during or after the conclave. Before the voting begins in the Sistine Chapel, the entire area is checked by security experts to ensure there are no hidden microphones or cameras.

 

Once the conclave has begun, the cardinals eat, vote and sleep within closed-off areas until a new pope has been chosen. All radios and television sets are removed, no newspapers or magazines are allowed in, and mobile phones are banned.

 

Voting is held in the Sistine Chapel, “where everything is conducive to an awareness of the presence of God, in whose sight each person will one day be judged”. Once the cardinals are inside the conclave area, they have to swear an oath of secrecy. Then, the Latin command “extra omnes” (“everyone out”) instructs all those not involved in the election to leave before the doors are closed.

 

The cardinals have the option of holding a single ballot on the afternoon of the first day.  From  the  second  day,  two  ballots  are  held  in  the  morning  and  two  in  the afternoon. Printed on  the  upper  half  of  the  ballot  paper  are  the  words  “Eligio in Summum Pontificem” (“I elect as Supreme Pontiff”). Below is a space for the name of the person chosen. The ballot papers are then burned – giving off the smoke visible to onlookers outside which traditionally turns from black to white once a new pope has been chosen.

 

In fact, the only clue about what is going on inside the Sistine Chapel is the smoke that emerges  twice  a  day  from  burning  the  ballot  papers.  Black  signals  failure.  The traditional white smoke means a new pope has been chosen.

 

After the election of the new pope has been signalled by white smoke rising from the Sistine  Chapel  chimney,  there  will  be  a  short  delay  before  his  identity  is  finally revealed to the world.

Once  one  candidate  has  attained  the  required  majority,  he  is  then  asked:  “Do  you

accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?”

Having given his consent, the new pope is asked: “By what name do you wish to be called?” After he has chosen a name, the other cardinals then approach the new pope to make an act of homage and obedience.

 

Then, from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, the traditional announcement will echo around  the  square:  “Annuntio  vobis  gaudium  magnum…  habemus  papam!”  –   “I announce to you a great joy… we have a pope!” His name is then revealed, and the newly-elected pontiff will make his first public appearance.

 

The Pope can tender his resignation out of his own will!  The canons of the Code of

Canon Law answer your question with regard to  the Roman Pontiff, in  particular canons 331-335. Canon 332, paragraph 2 clearly states that for the validity of the resignation from office it needs only to be done freely, without being imposed by anyone, duly manifested and that it does not require acceptance on the part of anyone. Exactly what happened on the 11th of February 2013 with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

 

History records only two cases of resignation from the office of the Roman Pontiff, the

one of Pope Benedict and that of Pope Celestine V on the 13th of December 1294. Pope Celestine was a monk by the name of Pietro da Morrone and came from my own region of Molise in Italy, having been born in Sant’Angelo Limosano. His body rests in the beautiful Basilica of Collemaggio at L’Aquila as it was in that city that he had been elected Pope.

 

5. What are the general duties, the role, the authority of the Pope? What are your

impressions after nearly 5 years of the pontificate of Pope Francis?

 

The Pope also known as the supreme pontiff (from Latin pontifex maximus “greatest bridge-builder”), is  the  Bishop of  Rome, and  therefore ex officio  the  leader of  the worldwide Catholic Church. The primacy of the Roman bishop is largely derived from his role as the supposed apostolic successor to Saint Peter, to whom Jesus is said to have given the Keys of Heaven and the powers of “binding and loosing”, naming him as the “rock” upon which the church would be built. The Pope is also head of state of Vatican City, a sovereign city-state entirely enclaved within Rome. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.

 

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Cardinal of Buenos Aires in Argentina was chosen – to

succeed  Benedict  XVI  in  2013  –  as  the  266th  pope.  Pope  Francis,  as  he  became,  is  the

first Latin American and the first Jesuit to lead the Roman Catholic Church.

 

He  is  praised  for  his  “common  touch”  and  his  zealous  determination  to  reform  the

Curia. Pope Francis underscores the need for Christians, including Church leaders, to reach out in real, practical ways to those on the outskirts, those who are marginalized in any way in society or in the Church. This is certainly a key theme in the pontificate of Francis.

 

The   strength   that   Pope   Francis   puts   in   his   testimony   of   the   dialogue   between

Christians and Muslims is not only a fruit of proper theological reasoning, but derives from the personal and direct knowledge of many people he already had when he was a priest and then bishop in Argentina. In fact, one can be theologically well aware of the evangelical and doctrinal foundation of dialogue between Catholics and Muslims, but also fear to meet people and implement dialogue, because there is no personal relationship with any Muslim and the idea that we make it derives only from what we see on TV and we read in the newspapers. For the Pope the most effective antidote against all forms of violence is education to discover and accept the difference as wealth and fruitfulness. At the beginning of the dialogue there is the meeting: we approach the other on tiptoe without raising the dust that clouds the view. In recent years, he said, despite some misunderstandings and difficulties, progress have been made  in  inter-religious dialogue, including with  the  faithful of  Islam. “This is why listening is essential“.

 

6. How many Catholics are there in the world?

 

According  to  the  data,  compiled  by  the  Vatican’s  Central  Office  for  Church  Statistics,

were  published  in  the  Statistical  Yearbook  of  the  Church  and  the  Annuario  Pontificio

2017,  the  Vatican’s  yearbook,  Catholicism  has  grown  globally  from  1.272  billion  in

2014  to  1.285  billion  in  2015.  This  represents  a  1  percent  annual  growth,  and  17.7

percent  of the world’s population.

 

Regarding  hierarchy  and  consecrated  life,  the  2015  statistics  reveal  that  the  Catholic

Church  had  5,304  bishops  (up  4  percent  from  five  years  before),  415,656  priests,

45,255 permanent deacons and 670,320 professed women religious.

 

7. What kind  of  relation  exists  between  the  Holy  See  (Pope  &  Roman  Curia)  and

the various Local Churches spread throughout the world?

 

As I said before, within the Catholic Church there exists a hierarchical structure of authority. But it should not be understood like a structure within any corporation or the military. More than a mere relation of subordination, it is more appropriate to speak of a “two-way” and “mutual” communion between the Holy See – Vatican and the bishops guiding the dioceses around the world.

 

Therefore just  as  it  is  the  duty  of  the  Roman Curia  to  communicate with  all  the Churches, so the pastors of the particular Churches, governing these Churches must take steps to communicate with the Roman Curia, so that, dealing with each other in all trust, they and the successor of Peter may come to be bound together over so strongly. This mutual communication between the centre of the Church and the periphery does not enlarge the scope of anyone’s author but promotes communion in the highest degree, in the manner of a living body that in constituted and activated precisely by the interplay of all its members.

 

This  was  well  expressed  by  Pope  John  Paul  VI  in  June  1969:  “It is obvious, in fact, that

along with the movement toward the centre and heart of the Church, there must be another corresponding movement, spreading from the centre to the periphery and carrying, so to speak, to each and all of the local Churches, to each and all of the pastors and the faithful, the presence and testimony of the treasure of truth and grace of which Christ has made Us the partaker, depository and dispenser” (POPE PAUL VI, Sollecitudo Omnium Ecclesiarium).

 

The  movement  from  the  centre  (Holy  See/  Vatican)  towards  the  periphery  (the  local

Churches)  is  accomplished  primarily  by  the  apostolic  journeys  of  the  Pope  in  various

countries  around  the  world.  For  example  Pope  Francis  already  accomplished  around

30 international journeys during his first 4 years as Pope.

 

The movement of the Local Churches towards the centre and heart of the Church (Holy See) is accomplished first and foremost by the so called Ad limina Visit of the Bishops. This  means  that  every  5  years,  the  bishops  are  invited  to  visit  the  tombs  of  the Apostles, Saints Peter and Paul, and to meet the Pope and other officials of the Roman Curia in order to report on the state of their dioceses and churches.

 

Moreover there are several kinds of meetings of bishops with the Pope in the Vatican – such as the Ecumenical Councils of the Roman Catholic Church, the Synods – in order to discuss issues concerning faith, doctrine and moral issues.

 

Ecumenical councils are assemblies of Patriarchs, Cardinals, and Bishops. The purpose of  an  ecumenical  council  is  to  define  doctrine,  reaffirm  truths  of  the  Faith,  and extirpate heresy. Council decisions, to be valid, are approved by the popes.

 

The actual meaning of the word “Synod” is “journeying together” coming from two Greek words (syn hodos) that mean “with (someone) and road”. It is a long-established practice in the Church to use this term for meetings held every now and then where members of the Church come together to review things and make decisions. Pope Francis  describes  a  Synod  as  a  “wonderful  experience”,  “an  intense  moment  of growth”.

 

One of the main roles of the Apostolic Nunciature in a given country is to help, support and assist this “two-way” and “mutual” communion between the Holy See and the Bishops.

 

8. From where do the Vatican obtain the money, and who is in charge of the finance administration of the Catholic Church? How does the remuneration of priests take place in practice?

 

The  finance  administration  of  the  Catholic  Church  is  structured  according  to  the  Code

of Canon Law, Book V. To answer to your question I would like to mention only three directives: donations, administration and support. But I have to say that each country, in Europa, Asia, and Africa etc. has its own organization. Concerning the Holy See’s finance the resources come from donations and investments and administered by special department like the Secretariat for the Economy (S.P.E.) , the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA).   For the support of the clergy and maintenance of its institutions every diocese provide by its own resources. I give you some examples like Peter’s Pence and the situation of the Church in Italy.

 

The practice of providing material support to those who have the mission to proclaim

the Gospel began with Christianity itself, with the aim of enabling them to engage fully

in  their  ministry  and  at  the  same  time  take  care  of  the  most  in  need.  At  the  end  of  the

8th  century, the  Anglo-Saxons, after their conversion, they felt  so  attached to  the Bishop of Rome, who decided to stably send an annual contribution to the Holy Father. Thus was born the “Denarius Sancti Petri” (Alms to Saint Peter), which soon spread throughout Europe. This, like other similar practices, passed through many ups and downs over the centuries, until it was blessed by Pope Pius IX in 1871. Currently, this collection takes place throughout the Catholic world, mostly on 29 June or on the Sunday closest to  the Feast of  Saints Peter and Paul.    Peter ’s  pence is  a  secular solidarity initiative by the faithful from all over the world which, by giving, allows the Catholic Church to carry out its mandate, taking part in works and structures of mercy.

 

The “Central Institute for the Support of Clergy” is a body connected with the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) established in implementation of the art. 21 of the “Norms on the institutions and ecclesiastical assets” approved by the Holy See and by the Italian Government. Since 1985, ICSC has been working alongside diocesan institutes to ensure proper support for priests, guarantee assistance and social security and maintain relations with Italian administrations.

 

Besides,  in  every  diocese  there  is  a  special  institute  “The  Diocesan  Institute  for  the

Support of Clergy” that collects the goods or offerings, for the specific purpose that is provided for the sustenance of clerics who serve in the diocese. The Institute has the exclusive purpose of  producing an income for the maintenance of  the clergy. The administration of the assets entrusted to the Institutes must respond to criteria of great clarity and security: they are not comparable to those of other ecclesiastical bodies, but represent an overall patrimony “sui generis”, which must be treated with great caution and with due attention to the requirements of concordant loyalty.

 

How does the remuneration of priests take place in practice? This is quite simple: the Italian  Episcopal  Conference  (CEI)  establishes  a  threshold  of  income  that  every presbyter  must  be  able  to  receive.  Attainment  of  this  level  contributes  any  entry:

 

teaching  or  special  assignments  to  institutions,  such  as  hospitals,  barracks  and  others

offices.

 

Every  year  the  priest  communicates this  income  to  the  competent local  institute, which is transmitted to the Central Institute. The latter, after verifying the income situation, if necessary integrates the income with a contribution that allows the priest to reach the CEI threshold. Each of the diocesan priest is thus guaranteed a just and decorous remuneration.

 

To guarantee the system a development in perfect coherence with the principles that inspired it and in full respect of the discipline, canonical and civil, which regulates it, the law n. 222/1985 requires “every Institute …, before the beginning of each exercise, to communicate to the Central Institute its predictive status … and at the close of each exercise to send a final report to the Central Institute in which they must be indicated the criteria and methods of payment to the individual priests of the sums received “.

 

The  amount  of  money  administered  by  the  Italian  Bishop’s  Conference  is  the  result  of

an agreement with the Italian Government which stipulates that “The “8xmille” (eight for one thousand) a share of the total income of the IRPEF (personal income tax) that the Italian State makes available for social or humanitarian purposes to state management or religious or charitable managed by religious confessions asking annually tax payers to indicate to whom it should be destined. According to the provisions of  Law  222/85,  8xmille  funds  are  used  for  three  purposes:  Needs  for worship and pastoral care of the Italian population; Support of priests; charitable interventions in Italy and in developing countries.

 

9. The Catholics are only a part of all the Christians since there are other major groups of Christia  Can  you  please  explain  briefly  the  major  Christian divisions?

 

Roman  Catholic  –  The  Roman  Catholic  Church  denomination  is  the  largest  Christian

group  in  the  world  today  with  more  than  a  billion  followers  constituting  about  half  of

the world’s Christian population.

 

Protestant   –   There   are   approximately   800   million   Protestants   in   the   world,

comprising 37% of the global Christian population.

 

Orthodox – Approximately 260 million people worldwide are Orthodox Christians, comprising 12% of the global Christian population. Nearly 40% of Orthodox Christians worldwide live in Russia.

 

About  28  million  Christians  worldwide  (1%)  do  not  belong  to  one  of  these  three

largest Christian traditions.

 

10. Before becoming a Bishop and an Apostolic Nuncio, you became a p How do someone become  a  priest?  What  kind  of  formation  is  given  in  catholic seminaries?

 

Seminary:  here  is  a  crucial  word. The  “call  to  priesthood“,  is  not  only  a  spiritual

question: the road to become a priest involves some fundamental “practical” stages, and passes precisely for the seminar. This choice implies a long journey of reflection, prayer and study, because it is a decision that must be “put to the test”, until one really feels secure.

 

The  first  step  can  be  to  confide  in  the  most  loved  ones  and  with  a  trusted  religious,

such as the confessor or the parish priest. The parish priest can be asked not only for spiritual assistance, but also for the possibility of intensifying his activity in the parish, perhaps at his side.

 

Once the choice has been made, it is time to study and enter the seminary. If the vocation was felt at a very young age, the boys who have to attend the lower and upper secondary schools can study in the minor seminary for a first vocational “discernment” (to  understand,  that  is,  the  strength  of  their  vocation),  without  being  obliged  to continue your studies in the major seminary, which prepares you for the priesthood.

 

The major seminar, therefore, is accessed after having graduated from high school, because in any case you receive a “university” training of six years plus an initial one, mainly devoted to philosophy and theology.

 

The six years are divided into three parts: the first ends with the rite of admission to the Holy Orders, that is, the public manifestation of wanting to receive the Sacred Order; the  second  concludes with  the  conferral of  the  ministry  of  the  Lector  and Acolyte, the first refers to the proclamation of the Word of God, the second to the liturgical-sacramental celebration; the third is the two-year period of the Diaconate and of the Priestly Ordination.  After completing the preparation, after obtaining a degree in Theology, to ask for the order, it is necessary to turn to the bishop of the diocese and to those who have been involved in formation. After a series of talks to understand if the person is suitable, the new priest is ordained.

 

Entering the seminary does not “oblige” to  become a  priest. If  along the way one realizes that the vocation is not to consecrate oneself to God, one can leave behind the seminary.

 

Today, especially in Europe, more and more young people join the major seminary after completing the secondary education and some of them after a university degree. Generally is the Bishop who has the responsibility of their maintenance. The Bishop Conference in each country has established a common regulation for the maintenance of  the  priests.  In  Africa,  Asia,  Latin  America  the  Holy  See  and  other  charity organizations provide some assistance for the formation and maintenance of priests and for their pastoral activity.

 

11. How can the various religions in world contribute in building of peace in the

world? Being religious helps or hinders the construction of peace?

 

Religion and peace is a binomial, which cannot be disjointed. We need to show that we can live together with the coherence of our life. We need to spread the respect for human life, for every human life, encouraging openness towards others, in the firm belief that diversity is not something bad but a source of richness.

 

Peace   needs   education!   Our   future   is   based   on   education;   in   schools   and   in

universities. In fact most problems are a result of ignorance. Ignorance leads to hatred

and hatred destroys human coexistence.

 

It  is  important  to  have  a  clear  identity:  authentic  dialogue  cannot  take  place  if  it  is

based on ambiguity. The other person must not be seen as a competitor but as our brother. And the sincerity of intentions means showing that interreligious dialogue is not a strategy. It makes us see the other person not as a competitor but as a travel companion who walks towards God. Dialogue enables us to appreciate the qualities of the other person and it’s also a stimulus for us, for in dialogue we need to be consistent witnesses. Interreligious dialogue always begins with the profession of one’s faith. This avoids relativism.

 

The Christmas message definitely says that the sister of religion is peace and, in no way, violence can find justification. This is the message we must spread throughout the world.

 

As Cardinal Tauran said: Those who make use of force to impose their ideas are in fact

demonstrating their “weakness.”

 

 

12. What role does morality play in the Christian religion?

 

It  is  a  common  place  in  the  context  of  Western  society  to  talk  about  a  crisis  of

morality. Crisis characterized by the fall of the values traditionally shared by everyone, by  the  absence  in  people  of  a  clear  perception of  their  hierarchy, by  the  loss  of common ethical evidences.

 

This  is  under  the  eyes  of  all  as  the  effect  of  a  cataclysm that  has  destroyed the knowledge and ethical acquisitions accumulated over the centuries. Moral knowledge is now dispersed in a thousand streams, together with fragments of various sciences or arts. The context in which the last ethical notions available then remain can no longer be reconstructed and they are incomprehensible and useless.

 

The lack of finality to our existence, the absence of a foundation of morality has also sent moral education into crisis. In fact, what education of moral conscience can we propose? What ethical values should we  transmit? Those we  received; but  do  they really serve something if we have inherited them from a world that is definitely behind us? What criteria should be used to decide what should be passed on to our children?

 

Of course we can no longer think of moral formation in terms of simple assimilation of a  behavior or of pure transmission of values and norms of behavior – which in the recent past were mostly achieved by vital osmosis within the family – to be handed down by generation to generation and of which exact compliance is required.

 

Moral education has always accompanied man in the moral tension between the ideal

of the prefixed aims and the real of the possibilities of implementation. Today is made even more decisive and delicate, almost an extreme anchor of rescue, invest in the moral quality of people. Educating today to distinguish good from evil, “building a moral conscience”, becomes a challenge that cannot be avoided, a magnificent and burdensome task that belongs to parents, teachers and educators.

 

On this scenario there are also the concerns of the Church’s magisterium that for some time has been signaling within the ecclesial community a sort of dissociation between the Christian faith and its ethical requirements regarding life, thus arriving at moral subjectivism and some unacceptable behavior, a real eclipse of the moral sense.

 

For  this  reason  the  work  of  the  church  cannot  be  restricted  to  the  denunciation  and

the  refusal,  but  positively  aims  to  support  with  great  love  all  the  faithful  in  formation

of  a  moral  conscience  that  judges  and  leads  to  decisions  according  to  truth  “(see  Rom

12: 2).

 

The   task   then   of   educating   the   conscience   to   a   righteous   moral   judgment,   in

accordance with reason and the divine law is a task of all life.

 

To  live  a  moral  life  is  no  less  than  understanding  “who”  you  are  as  you  stand  before

God and “who” you are called to be.  It is that journey to wholeness. It is that journey of

 

relinquishing our egos in order to heal our wounds. And in the process, it is in knowing how much we are loved by God, how unique and special each one of us is as someone created by God.

 

Additionally,  to  live  a  moral  life  is  that  journey  of  understanding  ourselves  and  our

unique gifts and doing the work to develop these gifts. It is knowing and using our gifts to  serve  others.  To  live  a  Christian  moral  life  is  no  less  than  living  our  lifelong baptismal journey. And growth from living out the integration of our spiritual and religious lives, in other words the baptismal journey, comes from the call to holiness. God calls everyone to grow and to develop their full potential.

 

In  that journey to  holiness and  in  the  discernment of  our  gifts is  where call and vocation meet. You might think the only understanding of making a vocational choice is to become a priest, brother, or sister. Not so! Vocation is first of all about call, who is doing the calling and who is responding. Moral theology wants to maintain the unique perspective of the human person and say that to live and follow our unique Christian callings is a moral responsibility of the highest order.

 

God  is  to  be  involved  in  our  lives,  in  the  many  choices  of  our  daily  lives,  big  ones  and

little ones. To say that individual choices are just choices and have nothing to do with being a Christian is to deny the call to discipleship, to conversion, to our essential callings in terms of professions and lifestyles. And to do this is to deny living the Christian moral life. To live the Christian moral life is no less than following your vocation.

 

In the soul of the Christian there is a new love, for which he participates in the very love of God: “The love of God – says St. Paul – has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been there given “(Rom. 5.5 ). It is a love of divine nature, far superior to the connatural abilities of the human soul. Charity, Love, is therefore the central value of the new man, “recreated according to God in justice and true holiness” ( Eph. 4.2 and Gal.3.27).

 

If one compares the Christian life to a building under construction, it is easy to recognize in faith the foundation of all the virtues that compose it. But union with God through faith has as its purpose the union with Him in the love of charity, divine  love  participated  in  the  human  soul  as  an  operative  and  unifying  force.

 

In communicating its vital impulse to the soul, the Holy Spirit makes it suitable for observing, by  virtue of  supernatural charity, the  double commandment of  love given by Jesus Christ: for God and for the neighbor.

 

In conclusion I can say that for us Christians moral life cannot be reduced to the mere observance of the law, of the precepts, of the 10 Commandments. Moral life is “life in the Spirit” knowing that the fullness of law of Love. Chapter 13 of the Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians is a summary of our moral life: without love all what we  do  is  nothing  because  the  first  and     most important commandment is love.

 

13. What is the Apostolic Nunciature’s doing in order to realize furthermore the

dialogue and the relation between the Holy See and the Islamic Republic of Iran?

 

Dialogue with the authorities, with the Christian community, with civil society. My house is open to all and I am ready to dialogue with all. Perhaps the word “dialogue” is often misused today; dialogue is not drawing room chatter, dialogue means listening to each other, it means knowledge, accepting that the other thinks in a different way, dialogue is about knowing one another so that we can respect each other and live together.

 

 

What  then  does  the  Nuncio  do  in  Iran?  First  of  all  he  serves,  helps,  encourages, supports the Christian community because I am sent by the Pope to the local Church, I have a pastoral and ecclesiastical role and character. Then I am a diplomat who has the responsibility to maintain and strengthen the ties which exist between Iran and the Holy See, never interrupted, made up of exchanges and common projects.

 

During the 5 years in which I have been here in Iran I have been able to organize high

level visits to the Vatican and also here in Tehran. The visit of the President Rouhani to Pope Francis 2 years ago is a concrete and clear sign that our doors are open and we are ready to welcome anyone who comes with a desire for peace!

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