Monday, August 18, 2014

Brussels Casts Covetous Eyes on Famous Abbey of Monte Cassino?

Famous Abbey of Monte Cassino Belongs to the
State of Italy. Does the EU Cast Covetous Eyes on
Her?
(Rome), the Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino amazingly does not belong to the  UNESCO World Heritage sites, while it is like no other place for its spiritual and cultural heritage of the West and of the Latin monasticism.  When it was fought over during  the Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944 and destroyed by Allied air raids, the abbey is also inextricably linked with the horrors of the Second World War. Currently, there are some dark clouds over the ancient abbey which have to do with its juridical and administrative future, because what only few people know:  that the Abbey belongs to the Italian Republic and in the EU there seem to be secular mentalities who have thrown their eyes on iconic monastery.

1500 Year Old Abbey was Destroyed Three Times and Suspended Twice

In 529 the Abbey of the Holy Father monk Benedict of Nursia (480-547) was founded, which was named after him with the Benedictine Order as the cradle of Latin monasticism. Monte Cassino has since been regarded as the "mother of all abbeys." In her what will soon by her  1500 year long  history, the abbey was destroyed three times by human hands. The first time in 577 by the then Arian Lombards, then 883 by the Muslim Saracens and 1944 by American bombers. For a long time it was claimed after the war, German troops were entrenched in the monastery. Indeed, such did not consider  to spare the abbey from fighting. A strategic consideration, which the Vatican and this also the allies were informed. The recent historical research assumes that the Allies had rear view of the monastery was just annoying, which is why the British commander of the Allied forces in Italy, Sir Harold Alexander (1891-1969) gave the order to carpet bomb in February, which transformed the monastery in a rubble. Only the crypt with the grave of the holy founder was spared. He was reportedly standing in 547 and died during prayer at the altar as angels became visible taking his soul aloft into the sky before the eyes of his confreres.
Monte Cassino after the destruction
Monte Cassino after the destruction
According to various types of reports, 250-430 were killed during an air raid 250-430, especially refugees, who hoped to find safe refuge in the monastery, but also several monks. The survivors, including the abbot, were taken by the German side to safety. Previously,  units of the 1st Hermann Goering Parachute Panzer Division brought, by the unauthorized initiative of Lieutenant Colonel Julius Schlegel the invaluable library and precious works of art to safety in the Vatican. Only then did German units barricade themselves in the ruins of the abbey and kept the Allied attacks at bay for still some months. In the battle of Monte Cassino  around 20,000 German and more than 50,000 Allied soldiers fell. Monte Cassino has since been regarded as a symbol of senseless destruction.
Pope Pius XII. called for the rebuilding of the monastery in 1947 with the encyclical Fulgens radiatur as a symbol of the reconstruction of the Christian West. The Pope named the Abbey as the "home of mercy", which has so far survived all the turmoil of many centuries, as the monks returned again and again to the mountain above Cassino. The largely faithful reconstruction after the Second World War, especially with German and American help, was a sign of reconciliation in the joint cooperation of the former enemies. The abbey church was rebuilt in 1964 and consecrated by Pope Paul VI.  The last year  Pope Benedict made him the Holy Patron of Europe.

Abbot as Diocesan Bishop, Territorial Abbey as a Separate Diocese

The monastery has in the Benedictine Order in 1504 the rank of an Abbey of Cassianese Congregation. In canon law, the abbot not only has the rank of an Archabbott, but also  a diocesan bishop. The abbey has the status of a territorial abbey. The territory belonging to the Abbey is almost 600 square kilometers with about 80,000 inhabitants in 53 parishes, forms a separate diocese whose bishop is the abbot of Monte Cassino.
The reason for this canonical norm was the Italian unification in the wake of the Risorgimento. Already in 1807 it was dissolved once under Napoleon, where it was also ordered by the new Italian state in 1866, the repeal of the abbey and the monastery told unceremoniously in an act of confiscation as a "National Monument". Since then, the monastery has been owned by the state. Only at the beginning of the 20th century was the Abbey be reestablished under the protection of the Lateran Pacts.

Concordat protects Abbey before the State

To protect the abbey and monastic community as much possible from nationalization, the abbot was elevated to the rank of bishop after the signing of the Lateran Pacts of Pope Pius XI.. The abbey church has since, the rank of a cathedral and the monks form the Chapter with the rank of canons. To mitigate the precarious tenure, the abbey has since been under the protection of the Convention signed in the Concordat between the Holy See and the State of Italy. 
In early July there were loud rumors, Pope Francis would dissolve the territorial abbey  in the course of a general reorganization of the Italian dioceses, and thus the diocese of Monte Cassino and annex it to the territory of the neighboring diocese Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo. It's an opportunity to nullify it provided by the current vacancy of Abbatial and Episcopal See. The official announcement of the resolution was expected on 19 July. At that time it was said that Pope Francis had already signed the corresponding decree. Already in 1986 it had come under the new Concordat for "merging" several dioceses, a term with the removal of some dioceses was accomplished. Decisions of bureaucrats who hardly took into account the historical connectedness of individual regions and the impact  on the spiritual life.

Plans to Abolish the Diocese

In addition to Monte Cassino in Italy there are more venerable abbeys, which were expropriated by the state and then brought from the Church to territorial abbeys, to protect the monastic communities and monasticism, which have an essential spiritual and cultural contribution to evangelization.
In the Vatican, the plans were initially shelved, after a "secular rumble" was heard from Brussels. A representative of the EU is to have apparently expressed the idea in a "joke" to convert the Abbey of Monte Cassino or any part thereof in a branch of the European Union for human rights, as soon as it could be removed by  Concordat from the status of a territorial abbey and thus of special protection. Since the Abbey is owned by the state, the Republic of Italy could make a unilateral reclassification.

Brussels "Jokes"

The Brussels flights of fancy on the secularist side was taken seriously enough in the Church at the Vatican - so far successfully - to push for a postponement of a repeal of the diocese. In Rome it has forced the maintaining of the Concordat protected right, to protect the abbey, the abbot and the monks, but especially this icon and this lighthouse of Western Christianity and Christian culture against the appetite of some EU-secularists. It is feared that a "Human Rights Center" would, under the current EU, mean an ideological distortion of the human rights idea, with the risk to go to the expense of human dignity and thus to contradict the Christian principles. So the real risk is seen that a center of Christianity could be converted by the EU among others into a center of the new non-Christian gender ideology.
The Abbey of Monte Cassino is suffering from the same ailment as other religious communities in Europe. On 12 June 2013 Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of the then only  51 year old Arch-abbot Pietro Vittorelli. The Abbot, reigning since 2007,  had asked  for a resignation after a heart attack due to health reasons. Since then, the Abbeyhas been  waiting for the election of the 191st successor to Saint Benedict. "The Lord may at any time allow a fundamental renewal of the monastic community. But if the state has other purposes for the Monastery, it is lost to the church," says Messa in Latino .
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
image: Messa in Latino / Nara

1 comment:

  1. The carpet bombing ordered by the alliees together with a frontal attack on the Abbey of Monte Cassino was silly, useless.and took too many lives. After the allied forces stood immobilized for months before the Abbey, the general Juin, chief of the French Expeditionary Corps in Italy could successfully turn the Gustav Line and take the germans in the rear obliging them to flee in hurry leaving many losses and prisoners.

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