01-01-2006 - Traces, n.1
Secularity or Secularism

Eugenio Corti. The Church: a Voice of Salvation for All

The author of The Red Horse speaks of a Church that helps man in the struggle
of his daily journey, at times a tragic one, as it was in wartime. Christianity as a factor of higher civilization

edited by Paola Ronconi

Christianity as a factor of stability in public life… When in moments of history its presence was denied, everyone suffered as a result. Eugenio Corti, the well-known Catholic author (his book The Red Horse has been translated into six languages, including Japanese), is a privileged witness of last century. We asked him how this was evident in the twentieth century.

I can claim to have observed most of all Pius XII’s activity during the Second World War. He was elected at the outbreak of the war, and fought strenuously to prevent the conflict spreading. Later, he set about tackling all the sufferings that resulted from it. They were enormous sufferings that struck mankind in the most terrible way. At first, he was not given much attention, only the Catholics listened to him, but at a certain moment, when such a tragic situation was created, when the conflict of ideologies came to a head–Nazism, Communism, and American liberalism–with infinite suffering throughout Europe, it was clear to everyone that the only voice that could represent salvation for mankind was that of Pius XII.

How did the Pope intervene?
Today, we have no idea of how important his radio messages were (at that time the radio was by far the most important means of communication). Those messages were the only voice of sense, not only for us Catholics, a voice that comforted people’s souls. Many felt the Church as the presence of good that was fighting the forces of evil. In the end, this was acknowledged by everyone, so much so that when it was time to rebuild Europe after the war, where Communism was not in control, politicians of Christian inspiration were elected, and they put Europe back on its feet. It was the Pope who pushed in this direction, against the march toward the proclamation of the “death of God” inspired by the thought of Hegel and his disciples Nietsche, Feuerbach and Marx. All the huge massacres of the twentieth century are derived from this philosophical thought.

When man wants to eliminate God he replaces Him with idols.
Yes, like the Russian Communists who wanted to build an earthly paradise, and the German Nazis who wanted to recreate the world. They wanted to remove suffering, poverty and weaknesses by eliminating the weak!
In the sixties and seventies, with other methods, that awful anti-Christian march started again, and the Church was seen as backward. Why? Because the Church wants to help man in his daily struggle, coming to grips every day with original sin, which cannot be eliminated. Those who want to recreate the world try to ignore this reality, and whatever they try to build is destined to fail.

Is there an episode you remember that shows clearly the civic value of the Christian mentality?
Here in Brianza (the area northeast of Milan), the presence of certain priests was fundamental. For example, in the city of Monza, Monsignor Talamoni had immense influence on people’s thinking. At the end of the war, in Milan’s “Red Zone” and in the suburbs, there were terrible massacres, more or less covered up, of the “losers” (the fascists and those believed to support them). In Monza, the third largest city in Lombardy, only one fascist was murdered in revenge, or perhaps two. Why so few? Because the people of Monza were convinced Catholics, as were the people of Brianza generally, and everyone realized that there is a commandment forbidding murder. Even though the reasons given by the ideologies as rational and decisive pushed people to kill, a convinced Christian could not do it. He knew that if he killed someone, he would be a murderer and be considered as such by his own children. This Christian conviction had been inculcated by many priests like Monsignor Talamoni, who had brought the teaching of the Church of St. Charles Borromeo among the people. Hundreds and hundreds of deaths were avoided thanks to a higher civilization, the Christian civilization, instilled in people by these “apostles.” If this is not a civic value, then I don’t know what is.