Rome: “Resisting evil and violence”
A conversation between Roberto Saviano and Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe on the book “The century of Martyrdom” by Andrea Riccardi
1st july 2009
The presentation of a new edition of “The century of martyrdom, christians in the twentieth century” by Andrea Riccardi, has provided the opportunity for a discussion. This discussion was held on 1st July at the church of Saint Bartholomew on the island in the Tiber, a place of remembrance for martyrs of the twentieth and twenty first centuries.
Taking part with the author were the writer Roberto Saviano, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Adriano Roccucci and Gina Guido Vecchi.
In opening the debate, Adriano Roccucci emphasised that this unique book details “a record in which christians have been victims, but have also been strong in resisting evil”. He cited the terrible massacre of orthodox christians in the Soviet Union which killed around one million people.
Their resistance to evil has shown the face of compassion, Roccucci underlined. It has represented a humanisation of society in tragic times. “The small flame of faith, remaining alight, has kept humanity alive”. The liturgy and spiritual life of Russian christians was at odds with the brutal Bolshevik reign, part of which included the reduction in space available for God.
With his personal choice for life and for the dignity of man, Roberto Saviano puts the act made by a martyr for the whole of humanity at the centre of his reflections. He dwelt on the extraordinary richness of this book, the fruit of historical research with a narrative style, in which a large number of stories create a fresco filled with “ choices of responsibility”.
The phrase from the Jewish master Hillel, reported by Riccardi in the first pages of the volume: “Where there is no man, compel yourself to be a man”, has offered the interpretive key to understanding the choice of men and women who have shown a deep love for life and humanity. In martyrdom they have “saved the life and dignity of others, and in so doing have saved the whole of humanity, showing that there is always a way of being human”.
VIDEOCLIP (FONTE C6.TV - 2' 47'')
Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe emphasises that this story “is also the story of the twenty first century. The story of new martyrs did not end in 2000. Andrea Riccardi has given us a text on which to meditate, so as not to forget, so we too can become witnesses. These pages can encourage many christians to be witnesses, risking their own lives to fulfil good works. Martyrdom continues to enrich the earth of the Church”.
In conclusion, Andrea Riccardi remembered the encouragement of Pope John Paul II to collect and preserve the memories of witnesses to the faith. He stated that “In this time of few ideas, little vision, inhabited by a revisionism which diminishes everything, to record these memories is real strength”. Andrea Riccardi remembered the story of Floribert, a youngster from the Sant Egidio Community in Congo, who was killed for repeatedly resisting attempts to be corrupted, and for having impeded the transit of damaged food (dangerous to the health of many) through the customs for which he was responsible.
“He who saves a man saves the whole world, he saves hope and the possibility to improve the whole world”
This is the message of the meeting which was followed by a numerous and attentive public.
VIDEOCLIP (FONTE C6.TV - 1' 44'')