The vulnus

Today’s new word self-explains in a passage from an essay written by Roberto Pertici, a history professor in the university at Bergamo:

“One cannot effect a formal recantation of the faith believed and lived by generations and generations, without introducing an irreparable vulnus in the self-representation and widespread perception of an institution like the Catholic Church.”

I found the essay translated (here) in Sandro Magister’s blog. It is worth reading with ripe attention, at least twice, if only for what it attempts: to look at the current worldly fate of the Church in a modern context, not restricted to the time since Vatican II. Rather, in a context that helps to explain that Council itself. Yet it is not some general historical essay. Pertici is writing specifically about the intentions — the stated intentions — of our present pope, against this background.

Having invited gentle reader to consult it, I will not confuse him with my own “summary of the summary.” The essay concludes well, with the historian’s refusal to predict the future. It is sufficient for him to give a better understanding of how things came to be as they are. (In other words, he is a real historian, and not a media flake.)

Bergamo, in northern Lombardy towards the Lakes and the Alps, is two cities. The ancient one, of extraordinary beauty, sits upon a hill, nominally defended by its old Venetian walls; a city of continuous inhabitation from pre-Roman times.

On the plains below and surrounding is a sprawling, shapeless, hideous industrial estate, engulfing half a million human souls — “modern life” in all of its electrically pulsating obscenity. This in turn dissolves into the conurbation of Milan, which houses eight million more. Unfortunately, the beautiful part is a “tourist magnet,” so that it infills with the commercial facilities required by daily waves of the fat, bored, and vulgar.

A comparison cannot be made to the Two Cities of Saint Augustine. He could never have imagined our “cities of the plains.” The earthly city, more like Bergamo’s hilltop, was instead contrasted with the heavenly city.

Let me add that, in light of Professor Pertici’s essay, Martin Luther cannot be blamed for our post-modern sprawl, to which his tenets, and those of the Church against which he rebelled, are equally foreign. My question for today would be, can any form of the Christian religion, however heretic, appeal by its nature or be made “relevant” to that endless twinkling ant colony, which an ancient visitor might mistake for Hell?

The answer is of course, yes. But not without an effort by the worker ants to rehumanize themselves.