Cdl. Caffarra: A Dire Prediction — and a Substantial Gift

by Juliana Freitag  •  •  December 12, 2015   

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Cardinal Carlo Caffarra is predicting that "we are in the end." In his words, "Europe is dying. And maybe it no longer has any will to live."
The archbishop emeritus of Bologna, Caffarra is scheduled to pass his archbishopric over to Msgr. Matteo Maria Zuppi on Saturday, December 12. Caffarra announced his long-overdue resignation on the Monday immediately following the end of the 2015 Synod on the Family. As required by canon law, at the age of 75 every bishop must submit a letter of resignation to the Holy Father, which Caffarra did on June 1, 2013, but Pope Francis asked that he stay on for two more years.
Caffarra has been among the few Italian bishops outspoken against the LGBT agenda. A day before Family Day in Rome, a pro-family gathering of hundreds of thousands on June 20, the cardinal gave a blunt interview. "Europe is dying. And maybe it no longer has any will to live. Because there hasn't been a civilization that has survived to the ennobling of homosexuality. I am not talking about the practice of homosexuality. I am talking about the ennobling of homosexuality."
He went on to speak more forthrightly. "The fight will become ever harder. This is so true that sometimes I tell my priests: I am sure I am going to die in my bed. I am not so sure about my successor. He will probably die in Dozza" (a prison in Bologna).
Not only has he consistently defended Church teachings against attacks by progressives in Bologna (a city known for its communist convictions), he also founded the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family on May 13, 1981, signed into being the very day the Pope was shot in St. Peter's Square. Caffarra had been encouraged in this work by Sr. Lucia, one of the shepherd children at Fatima.
Under the cardinal's ministry, family-focused pastoral programs have flourished. In addition to his prolific writing and active role within the Church, in 2008 he also created a fund specifically for helping poor families ("Fondo di Solidarietà per le Famiglie," or "Solidarity Fund for Families"), as the effects of the global economic crisis were being felt throughout Italy.
Francesco Agnoli, a bolognese Catholic journalist and writer, has defined Carlo Caffarra as "a man of style, the prudent, wise, humble style, the style of great Churchmen." On November 21, less than a month before formally handing his archdiocese to his successor, in total secrecy, the cardinal made a donation of more than 5 million euros to the archdiocese's Caritas (the charitable arm of the Italian bishops). Through an agreement with the director, the money will be directed to the Solidarity Fund.
Mario Marchi, director of Caritas, said this is a gift that brings with itself "a heavy responsibility," and that "this wasn't an unexpected gift, as the cardinal informed us of his intentions around mid-September: We can consider it his last, extremely generous act as the boss of via Altabella" (location of the Bologna see).
The money from the donation came from an unusual inheritance left to the bolognese Curia. Michelangelo Manini, who died in 2013, owned 66 percent of the shares of a Bolognese multinational, Fabbrica Automatismi Apertura Cancelli (FAAC). Manini was a devout Catholic with no children, so he made the archdiocese of Bologna the exclusive heir of his patrimony. FAAC operates in 12 countries, and its profit in 2011 was over 214 million euros. The news of the sizeable bequest came as a shock, not least of all because Manini hadn't been known publicly as a donor to the Church. But in fact, he had been sustaining the Church of Bologna during the entire course of his life through anonymous donations — much like Cdl. Caffarra.
Since its foundation in 2008, the Solidarity Fund has managed to gather 5.1 million euros in contributions — which puts in perspective how significant is Caffarra's donation. But some would say the contribution is in keeping with Caffarra's character, who said during the opening of the beatification process for Don Luciano Sarti in 2007,
Our dedication to the Church of God in Bologna isn't a peripheric detail of our self-conscience. It is what defines our identity; it is the complete substance of our sacerdota self-conscience. We don't belong to ourselves anymore: we belong to the Church of Bologna. And this Church, like any particular Church, incarnates the mystical Body of Christ among our people, inside their history.
The news concerning Carlo Caffarra's last deed of charity has been circulating in the Italian press, but has had little play in the English-speaking world.


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