At the headquarters of the Italian Encyclopedia Institute, along with former Italian President Giuliano Amato and journalist Antonio Padellaro, I conversed with Giovanni Maria Flick on some important issues related to his latest book “L’algoritmo d’oro e la torre di Babele” (The Golden Algorithm and the Tower of Babel). Then, in the aftermath of Benedict XVI’s death, we spoke about the importance of this pope. In light of our telephone conversation, we resumed our discussion to develop some ideas, for the benefit of all including readers of La Civiltà Cattolica.
Giovanni Maria Flick, who was educated by the Jesuits in Turin and Genoa, became a full professor of criminal law at the University of Perugia and then at the Luiss University in 1976. In 1996 he was appointed Minister of Justice in Romano Prodi’s government. After his experience as minister, he was chosen by the D’Alema government as the Italian representative at the Convention to draft the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. On February 14, 2000, he was appointed judge of the Constitutional Court by President of the Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. Elected 32nd President of the Court on November 14, 2000, he retired as president and judge on February 18, 2009.
President, we are here talking about fundamental rights and popes …
Time has elapsed since Benedict XVI’s return to the Father’s house and the chatter about any supposed disagreements and clashes with Francis has died away, thus doing justice to the stature of them both and the loyalty of their relationship. This is summed up by the pope’s words: “I lost a father. For me he was a source of security. Whenever I was faced with a doubt, I would go to the monastery and ask.”
I note here the consistency, the evolution of the thought and teaching of the Church and the popes on the fundamental theme of human dignity, and the arduous journey needed for its implementation and protection in the transition from principles to rights and duties, and then to the rules to implement them.
My remembrance of and gratitude as a believer and as a layman for Benedict XVI and his teaching are connected to the audience he granted me at the end of my term as a constitutional judge, thus as a judge of laws and of the rights that are born, realized, lived and extinguished by them.
Remembrance – now as on that occasion – prompts me to try to place his teaching in the context of that of his predecessors John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and his successor Francis on the themes of rights and rules, justice and mercy, charity and solidarity, peace and war, in a context that has changed profoundly from the last century to the present.