Cardinal Bertone: We Are Supported by the Strength of the Pope

Secretary of State Speaks on Impact of Milan Visit

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 5, 2012 ( In an interview with local Italian news channel TG1, Benedict XVI’s secretary of state spoke of the effect that the Pope’s visit to Milan last weekend for the 7th World Meeting of Families had on both Catholics and non-Catholics. 

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone recounted the arrival of the Pontiff at Piazza del Duomo, where thousands gathered to catch a glimpse of him. The final Mass on Sunday was attended by an estimated 1 million people. 

The visit came as the papacy is marked by news that Benedict XVI’s personal butler was arrested for stealing private documents. Cardinal Bertone spoke candidly about the impact the investigation has had on the Holy Father and on the world. 

The following is a translation by ZENIT of the interview. 

Q: You have just returned from Milan where you accompanied the Holy Father at the World Meeting of Families. We saw it all on television, so many people, an immense crowd and, above all, so much affection for the Holy Father, who spoke words that touched everyone, even non-Catholics.

Cardinal Bertone: It’s true. We all experienced this extraordinary manifestation of love and accompaniment of the Pope, of support for him and his teaching, for his work, the joy and enthusiasm around him. I saw so many people who were moved just on the streets of Milan. I’m thinking of the streets of Milan on Friday and Saturday, the weekend, and not only of the great gatherings at the stadium and at Bresso park. [The spirit] was truly everywhere. Hence, it was a beautiful manifestation of love for the Pope at this particular moment and an act of esteem for Benedict XVI, who was called the «great coach» of the great team of the universal Church for the championships of the third millennium. He had a standing ovation that no player, no coach, no protagonist of social or artistic life has had. Therefore, the Pope was very happy and also very moved.

Q: Naturally, there was talk of the family; it was, in fact, the World Meeting of Families, and the Pope gave some advice. Then he surprised some when he spoke of the family and indicated it as a useful and indispensable element also to overcome the economic crisis that grips our country and the rest of the world.

Cardinal Bertone: Yes, first of all, the family is seen as a resource, a moral resource. A united family, a family that educates, a virtuous family that teaches children the fundamental virtues. A family that teaches children, from an early age, work, respect for the other, and solidarity. And then a family that is a great resource for society, as has been demonstrated also by modern sociologists. I would say that the Pope also launched concrete instruments: the instruments of solidarity, of twinship between parishes, between communities and between cities. It seems to me that he also indicated the ways to be followed concretely to relieve from situations of precariousness and to look ahead.

Q: It was inevitable that the media would look at these three days in Milan with particular attention, due to the coincidence with the internal investigation of which we all spoke and in which a great test of transparency was seen for the Vatican.

Cardinal Bertone: This is also true. I recall, in fact, Saturday evening, when we were returning from Bresso park, from the great gathering of the evening, to the Duomo of Milan. I was with Cardinal [Angelo] Scola and we were close in the car. We saw the stained glass windows of the Duomo of Milan illuminated, and we reflected immediately: «This is the Church, a luminous house, despite all the defects of persons in the Church.» Transparency, however, is a fact of commitment, of solidarity with one another, of trust. It’s not an act of cynicism or of superficiality: it’s not enough to come to know some documents and to publish partial documents to know the full truth about the facts. Often, this also happens: that the clarifications are the fruit of an endeavor of dialogue, of personal relations and also of conversion of heart, which do not result simply from the papers or from bureaucracy. The papers are important, but personal relations are much more so. What is saddest about these events and these facts is the violation of the Holy Father’s privacy and that of his closest collaborators. I would like to say, however, that these were not and are not days of division but of unity, and I would also like to add that they are above all days of strength in the faith, of firm serenity also in decisions. It is a moment of cohesion of all those who truly wish to serve the Church.

Q: One last question, which everyone would like to ask. How has the Holy Father lived these events? It might be thought, as some have written, that there were instrumental inferences, even at attacking the Church and the Pope?

Cardinal Bertone: There have always been, at all times, instrumental attacks: I recall also, as regards my experience of Church, for example at the time of Paul VI, that they are not so far away. This time, however, they were more aimed attacks, sometimes also ferocious, lacerating and organized. I would like to stress the fact that Benedict XVI, as everyone knows, is a humble man, of great faith and great prayer. He does not let himself get frightened by attacks, regardless of their nature, and also by the hard incrustations of prejudices. Those who are close to him and work by his side, are supported by the great moral strength of the Pope. Benedict XVI, as I have already said on other occasions, is a man who listens to all, he is a man who goes forward faithful to the mission he has received from Christ, and he feels the great affection of the people. It seems to me that the trip to Milan gave him further strength. 

Moreover, I would like to stress a word that he repeated so many times, also in fact before leaving the courtyard of the archbishopric of Milan: it’s the word «courage.» He said it to others, he said it to young people, to young people who are seeking to form a family, he said it to families in difficulties, he said it also to the authorities, and he says it to the whole Church. He says this word because he is interiorly convinced, it is his strength which comes from faith and the help of God; hence he says to all: «Courage!» And he said it also to the earthquake victims. I repeat: I would like us to contemplate this word along with the Pope and under his guidance.

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