Magnificat Verse Touches Two Former Terrorists

Group Publishes Correspondence on Subject of Mercy

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ROME, JAN. 30, 2001 ( Two former terrorists, now collaborating with an anti-death penalty group, have published a commentary on the phrase of the Magnificat: “His mercy is from generation to generation.”

The literary contribution of spouses Francesca Mambro and Valerio Fioravanti is added to that of other believers and agnostics who have focused on the subject of mercy, sung by the Mother of Jesus when she visited her cousin Elizabeth. The latter´s unborn son leapt for joy in his mother´s womb at the presence of his Lord. Former terrorist Mambro herself is now expecting a daughter.

Mambro and her husband formed part of the Italian NAR terrorist group, during Italy´s “years of lead” in the 1970s and early 1980s. They have been sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes they now acknowledge they committed, and for the 1980 attack in Bologna, which left 85 people dead, for which they deny any responsibility.

Rosella Stella, the publisher of the project which includes 30 pages of correspondence, explained that the two former terrorists were chosen — Mambro, who is free on temporary maternal leave, and Fioravanti, who is free during the day but in prison at night — because whoever has been stained with blood and wishes to be redeemed, can understand the meaning of mercy better than anyone else.

When the idea was suggested to the couple three years ago, they had to look up the meaning of the word “mercy” in the dictionary. They formulated their ideas on the subject very slowly through letters, the only means of communication available to them, since Fioravanti did not yet have permission to work outside the Roman prison of Rebibbia.

“It has been a great occasion to reflect,” Mambro said. “One must stop thinking all the time of the past and finally begin to look at the future.”

The former terrorist once received a call from a young woman who wanted information about the Touch Not Cain group that opposes the death penalty.

When they met, the young woman, Laura, disclosed: “I am the cousin of one of the ones you killed many years ago. I have grown up with my mother´s sorrow and that of the family over his death … but I don´t want to speak with you to judge you. Now that you know who I am, I want to know and look ahead.”

At the end of that conversation, Mambro looked at herself, in her seventh month of pregnancy, and said: “The birth of our daughter also has a lot to do with mercy.” The baby will live with Mambro until she is 1 year old. In March 2002, her mother will return to prison.

In her letters to her husband, Mambro said: “We acknowledge our errors and the evil that they have caused and that we have caused ourselves. I do not know if these faults will be forgiven us, but we have paid for the real sufferings for which we are responsible and our sorrow will only end with our death.”

Husband Fioravanti replied: “What devil took hold of me at that time. … Stupidity, it could only be stupidity.” His wife added: “Perhaps there is something just and merciful on being able to turn around together, to still be happy for an hour, a day, or a month, even though this does not lessen the sorrow. … [W]e should not have been ashamed of our love, of a feeling that gave meaning to everything … including that revolution, a presumption that was nothing other than a masking of our fears.”

Fioravanti replied: “It is said that men are evil … perhaps this is true, in the sense that they do many evil things. However, in general, they later realize what they have done, and they are ashamed.”

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