Ode to Leo XIII, the Pope of Popes

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By HECTOR BENOIT*

Leo XIII saved God, and God gave what he gave: the universal church and all these new churches that walk around the world in total economic, ecological, epidemiological crisis

To Rio de Janeiro, the wonderful city!

Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci Prosperi-Buzzi was born in 1810 and died as pope, Pope Leo XIII, in Rome, in 1903, aged 93, having been considered the longest-living pope of the Catholic Church. A Jesuit, he knew Latin from an early age, and at the age of 11 he was already writing poetry in Latin.

Well, I won't bore readers with the details of his long life. If interested, just consult Google.

Let's go straight to the most relevant facts for Rio de Janeiro and for the destiny of Christianity today, full of new so-called “Christian” and “universal” churches. Interestingly, for those who don't know Greek, "katolou" in Greek literally means "according to the whole", this word was translated into Latin as "universal", hence the very name of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church", in other words, which means that it is or places itself as the universal church.

But let's go back to Leo XIII. He, even before he was pope, was concerned about Christian charities. He always created foundations that supported and sheltered the poor, boys and girls, low-income women and men. He organized soups for those who had nothing to eat. When floods, earthquakes and other “natural” ecological catastrophes occurred, which affected the most needy on planet Earth, Vincenzo appeared there to extend his hand and organize support for those in need.

His brother, of course with his collaboration, helped to organize the ecumenical council of 08/12/1869, directed by Para Pio IX. This became known as the “First Vatican Council”.

The line followed by Vincenzo, the future Leo XIII, was that the Church needed to be modernized and linked to material problems, those that afflicted the workers.

In short: thus, he rose in the hierarchy of the Church and was increasingly loved by the faithful. In 1878, Pius IX died, and Vincenzo, then Cardinal of Pecci, was elected in the third ballot the new Pope, so he chose his name: Leo XIII.

Elected Pope, he dedicated himself to modernizing the Church, although, as a philosopher and great theologian that he was, he began to demand, within the priests, the rigorous study of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the great medieval philosopher and theologian. Now, would the Lion be a conservative? Did he want to go back to the Middle Ages? Quite the contrary, he was very modern in his actions. He was the first “media-oriented” pope. There is also a CD (accessible on the Internet) in which his voice appears praying for the Ave Maria. It was also filmed, it was filmed by a movie camera! Something that had just been invented! Leo XIII was filmed and blessed the camera at the very moment it was filmed.

Making a small digression. Writing these lines, I remembered what one day Zé Celso Martinez, the great playwright at Oficina, commented: “Who overthrew the USSR was an actor, it was Pope John Paul II”.

Yes, remember John Paul II, when he supported Solidariedade (not this supporter of Paulinho da Força), but that Polish union that many people in the “Brazilian left” thought was revolutionary. Some saw in Solidarity the expected “Political Revolution” of the USSR. Let's leave these depressing things behind.

Let's go back to Leo XIII, he was much more skillful than John Paul II. He was a great diplomat and raised the Catholic Church to the position of world leader in Christianity. He dialogued with all sectors of Christianity. He approached, with particular attention, the Russian Orthodox Church (did he sense the danger of Russian youth who no longer believed in God?). Perhaps. Had he read Nietzsche who announced in the second half of the XNUMXth century: God is dead?!

Had he read Marx? Almost certainly! I understood well, Leo XIII, that a ghost was prowling the world, the most dangerous ghost... atheism and other things...

He negotiated with the Russian Orthodox Church, with the Lutherans, with the Calvinists, with the Presbyterians and showed them all that it was necessary to recognize that capitalism was somewhat dangerous, its “ethics” were suicidal, it was necessary not to do so many “injustices”. It was necessary to correct the excesses of capitalism and make workers believe in God again!

Well, after Nietzsche and Marx, how can we still return to the beliefs of the Middle Ages, and the classical philosophy of the XNUMXth century? Cogito ergo sum, yes, if God exists! And in the same movement, the so-called “First Unmoved Mover” by Aristotle (lambda book of the Metaphysics). But, then, what could be left of any metaphysics and of Saint Thomas Aquinas himself that he insisted on recovering as a theologian?

Yes, he did some diplomatic juggling and managed to save and bring back God.

But, God gave what he gave: the universal church and all these new churches that walk around the world in total economic, ecological, epidemiological crisis.

I think I've written too much!

Just to finish, as a last message to the cariocas and the beautiful cariocas (sorry for my slightly macho slip-up), I remind you that in the Coat of Arms of Leão XIII, in his ecclesiastical coat of arms, among other symbols, there are two FLOWERS-DE-LIS that recall the remote origin of his family, that of Leo XIII, which refer to silver and gold, precious metals.

*Hector Benoit is professor of philosophy at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of Socrates: the birth of negative reason (Modern).

 

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