2002-12-01 The Holy See’s Observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Renato Martino
December 1, 2002
The Holy See’s Observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Renato Martino, is returning to the Vatican after fourteen years in New York, to become President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He succeeds His Eminence François Xavier Nguyen van Thuan, who died on September 16 after a life of saintly witness to the Gospel, which included thirteen years in Communist prisons in Vietnam, nine of them in solitary confinement. During his time in New York, Archbishop Martino oversaw the expansion of the Holy See’s Mission, including a second headquarters on 39th Street, and the new John Paul II Residence for staff, right here on 38th Street. More importantly, the Office of the Permanent Observer has played a crucial role in promoting moral causes in the United Nations against much unedifying opposition.
At Mass marking the Archbishop’s farewell, as well as his seventieth birthday, a standing capacity congregation of ambassadors, other diplomats, and friends filled our church, which His Excellency liked to call his “cathedral.” His Eminence the Cardinal presided from the throne, with the Archbishop as chief celebrant, joined by fifty other bishops and priests.
Such occasions are opportunities for our parish, especially for our children, to learn more about the Church’s work in the affairs of this world, as she reminds the nations of the Kingship of Christ. Last Sunday’s Feast of Christ the King was the annual focus on this and the Advent season is a soberly beautiful reminder of the spiritual revolution Christ makes in history and in each soul converted to Him. In the twelfth century, Saint Bernard said: “There are three distinct comings of the Lord of which I know, His coming to men, His coming into men, and His coming against men.” By “against,” he means the final day of judgment when the secrets of all hearts are open. That is not so much a confrontation as it is a revelation, and a joyful moment for those who have been faithful to Him on earth, so that they can tolerate the glory of Truth fully exposed.
Our homes, parish, archdiocese, and the Universal Church have this annual Advent opportunity to think on these things and apply them in practical ways. The Cardinal will honor the parish with another visit on December 9 to dedicate our parish in a solemn ritual, signifying our renewed commitment to Christ in these most challenging times. That will also be the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The Mother of our Saviour has never failed those who ask her intercession especially in time of war and spiritual challenge.
Fr. George W. Rutler