A War to Live with Our Faith

Before making any comment, we should be amazed and moved. Both the dead and their families, as well as the soldiers who stay in Iraq, teach us that there is an ancient and profound way of living that has not vanished from our land. It is still possible to give one’s life for an ideal, to obey in an intelligent and generous way, to be up-to-date, technologically efficient and at the same time human and tolerant, lovers of other people’s experience. Perhaps we had forgotten this great resource that makes the Italian people unique in the world. “Italiani brava gente” because our tradition has made us almost naturally ready to serve, to suffer with others, to share, to get our hands dirty.
All that is happening is unable to destroy the nature of this nation of ours. It is not rhetoric; it’s the truth that the simple inhabitants of Nassiriya have begun to love our carabinieri and our soldiers. An Italian, when he is himself, will never be a colonialist, nor an arrogant invader; he will never take the part of the really powerful of the world, nor of the “no global” enthusiasts who destroy positivity and civilization. His memory is full of hunger, of misery, of wars brought by invaders, of injustices suffered, of charity received and given, of good works, of hard work in order to survive and live, of taste for beauty, for truth, for right, of creativity, of industry, of spirit of sacrifice, of indomitable will, of friendship, of the taste for eating and drinking, of will to live the fullness of one’s own deepest desires, of openness to what is different, of sin admitted and confessed, of recovery…. When we are ourselves, when we are those carabinieri and soldiers whom we shall never manage to tear from our hearts, we will carry around all this: the bud of love and of peace.
In this moment, when the policy of the gunners and of Rumsfeld shows that it has failed, at the same time we see the hypocrisy and bad faith of those who still refuse to admit that there is a war on: the war of fundamentalist Islam against the West, the only place in the world where one can still speak of personal freedom. We are at war, and it’s necessary to fight using the witness of what is at the root of this Italianity: that discreet faith, symbolized by the rosary beads given in the room where the fallen soldiers were lying in state, and above all in those profound and true words of the widow of one of them: “Do you know why I feel so calm, General? Because Giuseppe died doing what he always wanted to do, because he died bringing help to the children of Nassiriya, to the people of that far country. And then, it is not true he has gone away. I feel him still with me today. And it is faith that supports me, certainly, because, even in the toughest suffering, God is great.”
(Giorgio Vittadini, in il Giornale, November 18, 2003)

The Brigadier’s Wife
on Television with the Gospel

“ Our life is all in here,” said Brigadier Coletta’s wife before the cameras, pointing to the Gospel. Theirs is a family already hit by the loss of a child struck down by an incurable disease. She went on, quoting from Matthew’s Gospel, “You have heard how it was said,‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked alike. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Do not even the gentiles do as much? You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
(Corriere della Sera, November 14, 2003)

The Chaplain of the Base
at Nassiriya

... At the eight o’clock Mass, the following evening, when the pain is chilling and stabbing at the heart, clothed in combat gear and blue uniforms, with their pistols in their belts and the lights spent in the compound for fear of more bombs, the carabinieri pray, “… for Enzo, Andrea, Giovanni, Domenico, Alfio…”–for their twelve colleagues and for all those killed in the massacre, corporals, marshals, privates, soldiers of the regular army, and friends. They pray because, “if you follow Christ, you can become a great man and a great carabiniere,” says Fr Mariano, the brigade chaplain, before that row of bowed heads, that mass of bated breath. Many of them had come to him the night before and in the early hours of the morning to ask him, as if in collective blasphemy, “Why, why was Christ not there when the bomb went off? Why did He allow this evil thing to happen? Where was Christ hiding when we were being massacred?” Fr Mariano is now looking for words, and in his low, quiet voice he finds the strength to say, “No. Jesus was there, He was there receiving the souls of our brothers who were dying.”
(Goffredo Buccini in Corriere della Sera, November 14, 2003)