DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN     November 5-7, 1999     vol. 10, no. 210

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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GORBACHEV SAYS PRAYER IS ALSO A POLITICAL EVENT

Former Soviet Leader Interviewed by Vatican Newspaper

        VATICAN CITY, NOV 4 (ZENIT).- "Only God knows the importance of prayer in history and in the life of man," Mikhail Gorbachev said, when remembering Giorgio La Pira, a Catholic Italian politician who died 22 years ago in Florence.

        The statement was expressed during an interview with L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, in which Gorbachev acknowledged his admiration for La Pira, one of the visionaries of the post-war Italian "Christian Democrat" Party. For many years, La Pira was mayor of Florence, a city in which his process of beatification is underway.

        Gorbachev also mentioned La Pira's contribution to the dialogue and peace between East and West during the height of the Cold War. "Each one of his writings and speeches confirmed his faith in Christ. All this merits the greatest respect and obliges anyone who is familiar with him to ask himself the reasons for such profound faith, for such unbreakable faith. A faith that generates hope," the former Soviet President said, during his interview with "the Pope's newspaper."

        Gorbachev recognized that "Christian faith compelled La Pira to enter politics." However, this did not impede "a fraternal and open dialogue with non-believers and believers of other religions." He added, "I believe that the union of religious currents was a central fact, for our Continent to come to know a period of peace and understanding."

        "I agree with La Pira's conviction," Gorbachev added, "that there cannot be politics without culture and morality. He also adds to this the Christian faith, prayer -- which he really regarded as a political fact."

        The former Soviet leader recalled La Pira's trips to Moscow during the 60s and his meeting with Soviet President Nikita Kruschev. Gorbachev believes that with these gestures of dialogue, La Pira anticipated "a new way of carrying out politics," pointing out "clear objectives for international politics: the definitive option for peace which must be reached with effective and adequate instruments, such as dialogue, negotiation, and agreement." He liked to repeat that it is necessary "'to knock down the walls and build bridges.' "

        "I personally identify with this political strategy, which he carried forward with courage and in spite of incomprehension," Gorbachev admitted. ZE99110310


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November 5-7, 1999       volume 10, no. 210
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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