2002: A Year of Holiness, Sin, Prophecy and Persecution

Interview with Newspaper Correspondent Orazio Petrosillo

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Holiness, sin, prophecy and persecution are the four words with which a Vatican observer sums up the year 2002 as lived by the Catholic Church.

Orazio Petrosillo, Vatican correspondent of the Roman newspaper Il Messaggero, made this summary over Vatican Radio.

Q: Why did you choose these four words?

Petrosillo: Holiness, because 2002 was the year of the canonization of great figures.

Sin, I would see almost symbolically in the vicissitude of some pederast priests. Terrible vicissitudes for the Church, despite the fact that the case has been blown up completely out of proportion by the media.

Prophecy I see above all in John Paul II’s magisterium, in his opposition to war, in claiming the rights of God and of religion, in the appeal for an explicit mention of the Christian roots in a future European Constitution.

Finally, persecution continues to be the daily bread of the Church, which can be bloody in countries with a communist regime or ruled by Muslim fundamentalists. However, it can also be administrative, without much noise, although equally real: in moderate Muslim countries, the life of the Church is difficult. Moreover, there is also cultural persecution.

Q: What were the events of the year 2002 that will most influence the future of the Church?

Petrosillo: The Pope’s trips. For example, Toronto. The World Youth Day is a new stage in the meeting between the Pope and the Church’s future, young people.

Mexico and Guatemala imply the rethinking of holiness with two figures: Juan Diego, the visionary of Guadalupe, and Pedro de Betancourt.

Bulgaria is a new stage in that ecumenical prophecy of the Holy Father toward the Orthodox Churches, a prophecy of embraces, of the offer of friendship and also of forgiveness.

And then there is the trip to Poland. With the consecration of the Shrine of Divine Mercy, the Pope wished to propose the love, the mercy of God as key to interpret the future of this third millennium.

Lastly, and at the same time, emphasis must be placed on the Pope’s will to go to the roots of the Christian experience and to ask for the help of the Virgin to go forward. It must not be forgotten that this year implies the beginning of the 25th year of his pontificate.

Q: What in the life of the Church is of greatest interest to the media?

Petrosillo: It is a difficult question. The secular media is very interested in the figure of the Pope, and these years the Pope makes news because of his sufferings. There is a certain somewhat obsessive curiosity about what might be the future scenarios. At times, it is a morbid interest.

The media will follow attentively this 25th year of pontificate, which is a goal that only three Popes have reached, if we do not count St. Peter. Therefore, the figure of the Holy Father will always be at the center of attention. Let’s hope that they will be interested in his prophecy, and not so much in the external details of his human and papal vicissitudes.

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