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  • Araldo del Vangelo. Studi sull'episcopato e sull'archivio di Giacomo Lercaro a Bologna 1952-1968
  • Roy Domenico
Araldo del Vangelo. Studi sull'episcopato e sull'archivio di Giacomo Lercaro a Bologna 1952-1968. Edited by Nicla Buonasorte. [Istituto per le scienze religiose—Bologna: testi e ricerche di scienze religiose, nuova serie 32.] (Bologna: Il Mulino. 2004. Pp. 313. €25.00 paperback.)

The book under consideration here, Araldo del Vangelo, yields many fruits. Edited by Nicla Buonasorte of the University of Modena and the John XXIIIFoundation for Religious Sciences in Bologna, the book contains a useful chronology and bibliography of Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro's life and work; it provides a valuable and detailed catalogue of the Lercaro archive at the John XXIIIFoundation; and it includes four studies of Lercaro, by Giuseppe Alberigo, Angelo Varni, Alberto Melloni, and Giuseppe Battelli. Although Giacomo Lercaro is best remembered for his tenure in Bologna, he was born (1891) in Genoa, launched his career there, and lived over half of his life there. Beyond some early study in Rome, in fact, Lercaro was fifty-five when he left Genoa for good, to become the archbishop of Ravenna in 1947. Five years later, in 1952, he arrived in Bologna. In January 1953 Pope Pius XIIelevated Lercaro to the cardinalate. The new archbishop had already acquired fame as an activist who labored to engage, and engage with, the laity, a quality that would be tested by Lercaro's tenure in Bologna, a citadel of Italian Communism during the Cold War. Under its legendary mayor, Giuseppe Dozza, and his successor, Guido Fanti, Red Bologna did, indeed, figure prominently in Lercaro's fortunes. The Christian Democrats, for example, tried to unseat Dozza in 1956 by challenging him with Giuseppe Dossetti, Lercaro's close associate and advisor. After that debacle, Lercaro's career peaked with his work at the Second Vatican Council where he assumed a number of tasks, as one of the principal co-ordinators of the proceedings, one of Pope Paul's chief aides, and as president of the Consilium ad exsequendam constitutionem de sacra liturgia. The archbishop's work on liturgical reform, however, brought controversy on him through the publication in February 1967 of The Torn Tunic, Letter from a Catholic on the 'Liturgical Reform' by Tito Casini, an angry conservative. Although Giuseppe Alberigo portrayed Casini's attack as "a vulgar libel,"it seemed to signal the beginning of a rough period that ended Lercaro's career in a cloud. The central enigma in these last years, moreover, was the role and motivation of Paul VI. Lercaro's positive relationship with Paul (and Montini before 1963)seemed to work against him after the Casini assault. Shortly before its publication, Lercaro offered his biretta to the Pontiff in line with the August 1966 motu proprio that called for ordinaries to tender their resignations upon reaching their seventy-fifth birthdays. Lercaro would become seventy-five that October; but Paul, significantly, rejected the resignation. The following July, however, after the publication of Casini's book, Rome appointed the bishop of Mantua, the conservative Antonio Poma, to be Lercaro's replacement (and perhaps watchdog) in the wings, as Bologna's archbishop cum iure successionis. Matters came to a head at the end of 1967 when Lercaro and Paul diverged over the war in Vietnam. Encouraged by Dossetti, the archbishop advocated a more activist position than that taken by the more diplomatic [End Page 346] Paul. In his meticulously researched contribution to this study, "Lercaro, Dossetti, the Peace and Vietnam '1 January, 1968'" (Lercaro, Dossetti, la pace e il Vietnam '1º gennaio 1968'), Giuseppe Battelli relates the steps and relationships, such as those with Dossetti and Fanti, that led to Lercaro's New Year's homily in the Bologna Cathedral which called for an end to the United States bombing campaign, triggering what Battelli termed "the impossible union (connubio) of prophecy and diplomacy."On February 12 the Italian press announced Lercaro's resignation as archbishop, the victim of a far-off war that had forced the Vatican into a quandary.

Roy Domenico
The University of Scranton


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