That Material Divine that Fascinates Me
We asked the editor of the Italian daily Il Foglio for a reaction to Fr Giussani’s article in Panorama. Here’s what he wrote: “The esteem for the human that Fr Giussani attributes to the Pope is the keystone.”

edited by Luigi Amicone

He once told us, “I would like to reach the end of the homily near a semblance of the truth. An impossible venture, as you see. So it’s a worthy one.”
It’s not a paradox. It’s the force of Giuliano Ferrara, a sceptic full of non-sceptical questions. After all, doesn’t reasonable mean subordinating reason to experience? This is why Ferrara is not contradictory in his systematic “out-ing”–for example, “I’ve broken with the community” (his original one, the communists) “out of love for the truth.” His newspaper is an enterprise whose originality lies in its ironic and formidable inclination to play the watchman over facts. John Paul II is one of those facts (the “cyclopean” facts as Ferrara sees them) that Il Foglio considers with esteem and admiration quite remarkable for a daily that can be accused of everything, except of not being amongst the most secularist on the scene of Italian journalism.
We were passing through Rome, and since we’re fond of each other, I went to say “Hello.” When we met, he had just opened up shop on Lungotevere Raffaello Sanzio. I had in mind an article of his published by Avvenire, another Italian daily, in their special edition for the Pope’s Silver Jubilee, on page 70, rightly assigned to the section “out of pattern.” I quote here the conclusion: “But the Church laughs benevolently at our incapacity to name that which lasts, c’est la faute à Voltaire, and, all the same, this laughing Pope shares this smile with us. It could be because I was born in Rome, but a world without this Church, bereft of her permanent Jubilee, of her rigors, of her deep and unfathomable political involvement, would seem to me transparent and empty. Under the lash of John Paul II those who are bold enough to take the risk of adventure or the pleasure of free-thinking feel safer, with him and against him.” “I saw what you wrote for Avvenire, Giuliano; have you seen Panorama?” “Not yet,” he says, already dialing an internal number of his editorial office. “Can you bring me Panorama?” There on the table is the Pope’s handsome face, exploding with a smile between the red of his cloak and the gold background. The weekend passes before we talk about it again. Then, early one morning, the editor of Il Foglio lets us know he has a note for us and so as not to waste time he’ll send it by e-mail. That’s fine, we’re waiting for it. Then we send it on to Traces. Here it is.
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“Fr Luigi Giussani writes to the Pope and tells us about his Pope: He’s a figure who is atemporal as regards his vicarious functions; modern as regards his thought, work and command of the Church; also an intellectual figure who doesn’t discuss with the filaments of “weak thought” but tackles courageously the powerful event of the French Revolution. Man as lord of the world is a humanistic mistake, but in Fr Giussani’s words addressed to John Paul II, he is something else: he is history and human condition looked at from the divine angle. A material divine, a constitutional divine that announces the fulfillment or the ‘search for happiness’ contained in the first amendment to an eighteenth-century Constitution, but not the French one. The esteem for the human that Fr Giussani attributes to the Pope is the keystone of Wojtyla’s longevity, destined to prosper far beyond his suffering and old age, far beyond the final date of his pontificate.”

Giuliano Ferrara