The visit paid by Cardinal Parolin to Moscow – With reference to the Third Commandment, the original text reads as follows: “Thou shalt not take the name of Yahweh (thy God) in vain (saw), because Yahweh does not let go unpunished those who use His Name in vain”.
In ancient times the Name was not a simple sign. The Name indicated the Substance of the person named forever, thus identifying him/her among the Many others.
It also separated him/her from Evil or, in any case, from the Indistinct.
It is also worth noting that, apart from the Decalogue of the burning bush, Yahweh is named only in a passage of Exodus (23:1), reading as follows “Thou shalt not utter a false report” (sema saw).
False oath was evidence that you should not “swear by a false god” (see Psalm 24:4; Hosea 10).
You should not call Him, He is always everywhere. If you call Him, it means you do not really believe in Him.
Again in the Leviticus, Yahweh stated “Thou shall not swear on my Name deceitfully”.
The Truth of the One is reflected naturally on the objective truth of the things about which men speak.
Furthermore saw is a word used by many prophets of Israel against the worship of idols.
Probably saw was originally the word used to identify the “evil magic”, which therefore had nothing to do with the evocation of God, the Lord of Good, who drove the evil out of the Pardes, the place where, in the End Times, the “second Adam” would return to Truth and Grace.
Based on “The Golden Legend” (Legenda Aurea) by the blessed Jacobus da Varagine – a collection of the legendary lives of the greatest Saints of the medieval Church, which was to revolutionize the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola – Piero della Francesca painted the “Legend of the True Cross” in the Basilica of San Francesco in Arezzo.
According to the tradition of Jacobus da Varagine, Adam asked his son Seth to go to the Garden, the Pardes, to get the oil of mercy to pass away serenely and attain Eternal Life.
Archangel Michael gave to Seth a twig of the Tree of Life, which Solomon found again while he had to build the First Temple.
The King of Israel did not manage to use the tree, which opposed and resisted his workers.
An initiatory theme, also considering to what extent the construction of the Temple and the search for the “password” count in the “primitive scene” of modern Freemasonry.
Furthermore the wooden beam on which Jesus Christ was crucified was buried by a Jew named Judah, who was later thrown into a pit by the Mother of Constantine to make him confess.
Finally workers decided to place the wood on a river, so as to make it a walkway – another obvious symbol.
After the Battle of the Milvian Bridge against Maxentius – in which the Holy Cross appeared together with the well-known message in hoc signo vinces – Constantine sent his mother to Jerusalem to search for the True Cross. St. Helena determined which cross was the true Cross of Christ by laying the wood on the coffin of a dead man, who was instantly brought back to life.
Here there is also the wisdom of Saint Paul, using and overthrowing the Pharisaic and later Cabbalist tradition: certainly, “cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”, but this is precisely the reason why – as Saint Paul said in his Letter to the Galatians (3:13), “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” – in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith”.
This is what St. Paul said about “wood” and its infinite paradox.
Those who walk away will move close, those who come close will be pushed away.
A paradox of Faith that is inconceivable in Islam.
That is the paradox the Islamic theological world has not solved at all, namely the relationship between Evil and Faith.
In fact, if God is the One who orders, commands and decides everything, why does He commands evil and make it win over holiness?
Once again it is Job’s problem. Satan asked: “Doth Job fear God for nought?” (Job 1:9), but Job’s rebellion – which, in fact, creates modern civilization, is targeted against an anthropomorphic God, an Entity that is the projection of our fears and universal desires.
As Psalm 126:3 reads: “The Lord has done great things for us…”, but this must not be shown and His rationale is never the same as men’s.
Therefore, in Islamic theology, there is no way out of the separation between Good and Evil – just think of the absolute uniqueness and, hence, total unknowability of Allah that creates and destroys worlds we do not even know were possible.
Hence Evil is ubiquitous and, above all, unintelligible for human beings, who always interpret it incorrectly or, anyway, in an earthly way.
We revert once again to Job, who encountered the Face of God just when he opposed Him and precisely when God was openly an enemy to him – “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5).
“Do you believe in Me because I am powerful and simply because I am?”
Here is the great theological, political and sapiential limes breaking the continuity between Islam and the other monotheistic religions.
Once again this is the deep theological sense of contemporary jihad.
I can convince God I am right – I only need to interpret His words literally.
Not even the Quran has this logic.
Furthermore, also in Islam, the primary theological problem is the link between Faith and works, as in the Reformation.
Here the link is between Iman and Islam, namely inner faith and exterior practice.
In this case, however, it is the Prophet himself who, in the struggle against the Kharijites – the usual purist sect arising after any religious reform – theorized, in the Dicta, that also a conversion for evident fear was fine.
Hence we revert to jihad, the acceptance of any form of formal adaptation to the rule of the Sacred, which is never the Sacred.
“Have you opened His chest to see whether all that He was saying was true?” asked the Prophet Muhammad ironically.
In the case of contemporary jihad, based on Islamic law, it is precisely the “holy war” that creates many problems.
As in the tradition of the True Cross, jihad is a war that must brought us back to the initial peace.
In fact, according to the Quran, imbalance is the natural trait of the visible world – and this imbalance is precisely represented by war, initial and legal violence.
Hence, the true translation of God’s warning on the Sinai – probably near the current wonderful St. Catherine’s Monastery – is more or less the following: “Do not use the Name of God bending it to your will and whim.”
This does not mean never name it, as is the case with the medieval esoteric sects, or to consider it an objective presence in everyday life – another anti-unitary heresy.
Job, however, could afford it, because he was looking for Him and loved Him, even in the fight against Him, but we certainly not.
In the transcendent original Tradition, Jehovah means “ever greater” – in fact, God is immeasurable because He always grows, while we cannot do other than stand still.
Just think about the revealing metaphor of yeast …
If we look at the traditions of monotheistic religions, born after the first rebellion of Abraham against his father’s idols, we realize that, in any case, Faiths and, above all, ethno-cultural identities must always be preserved.
Copts (10% of the Egyptian population) and, in Jordan and in the Palestinian Territories, the Syrian Christians spread across Turkey, Jordan and the Lebanon, not to mention the Syrian Orthodox Churches and the Syrian Catholic ones, as well as Maronites, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Armenians.
Then Shiites – almost always believing in the Twelfth Imam, as in Iran – even though the Houthis in Yemen and in other Persian Gulf areas are supported by Iran, without theological preconceived ideas, in many regions of the Middle East.
There are also the Zaydis, again in Shiite areas, the Ishmaelites – linked to Agha Khan – as well as the Druids, heirs of Pythagoras, and many others.
Without the map of the religions in the Persian Gulf, nothing can be understood about its policy.
And it is worth reiterating that the sword jihad is a substantial anomaly, which – in fact – rooted itself into the Iraqi-Syrian system when it was convenient for Saudi Arabia and its allies.
As we previously said, identity is a primary criterion.
While there are currently global authorities capable of interpreting, selecting and reforming this huge melting pot of creeds, beliefs and ideas, we certainly cannot avoid thinking of the Catholic Church and the Slavic and Greek Orthodox.
Obviously we can no longer change the past, even though those who do so by profession are called “historians”, but today we can certainly create the present which can build a new future.
There is no need to cry over spilled milk – as Baudelaire said, “One can only forget about time by making use of it”.
Hence currently the real challenge will be freedom of religion and freedom of belief and opinion, in a world in which finally the present is free to build the future.
Obviously after the victory of Assad, as well as of Syrians and Russians in Syria.
Currently this is the real challenge and this holds true for Cardinal Parolin, who will pay a visit to Russia next August to speak with Patriarch Kirill and President Putin.
The correct strategic logic of Cardinal Parolin and Pope Francis is one only: to eliminate any pseudo-controversy with Islam and accept the support of Russia and its religious institutions to recreate the natural pluralistic equilibrium of Christian, Orthodox, Shiite and Sunni communities, as well as of many other faiths which, for the Church of Rome, must be rescued also – and above all – with the support of the Slavic and Greek Orthodox Church.
As early as 2013, Russia had already guaranteed its citizenship to 50,000 Christians in Qalamoun, and in August 2013 the Russian Church had donated 300,000 US dollars to the Patriarchate of Antioch.
The void left by France – ever more naively “secular” – has also left huge room for the Russian orthodoxy in the Greater Middle East.
In Syria 80% of Catholics and, however, Christians, were destroyed in their homes and in their cities.
This is the real acid test for evaluating ecumenism and, above all, the ability to defend Faith.
And today defending creeds also regards the passionate protection of the freedom of religion, the freedom from fear – which is always a bad advisor – and the freedom from the will of leaders.
No more subornation of the poor; enough with the offense to the “little ones”.
Sinite Parvulos …
This, too, must be a point of contact between Cardinal Parolin and his Russian counterparts, including Putin.
Hence it is here – and not in the baroque issue of the Holy Sites – which we can place the new relationship – that we hope will be very effective – between the brilliant Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Patriarch Kirill but, above all, with Vladimir Vladimirovic Putin.
However, let us revert to the Holy Theology that Cardinal Parolin knows better than me and many others.
Who is holy? The answer is simple and can be found in Leviticus 17-26, “You shall be holy, because I, the Lord, am holy who make you holy”.
While interpreting the Covenant between God and men, Jesus simply highlights what the Jews believe without thinking about it: but it is Incarnation which makes the Law effective (also in the legal sense) – and once again there is a contrast with Islamic theology.
If only a cultivated and wise dialogue between the Catholic theology and the Jewish theology could currently be achieved!
Much of the Middle East daily political problems would be solved in a moment.
The Son made flesh creates a filial relationship with the believers, namely he keeps and pursues the “royal law” (James 2:8), which is also the “perfect law that gives freedom” (James 1:25) – hence it is precisely Jesus who almost literarily fills the space of the future and hence the sense and meaning of the present.
Here, in a still new wisdom-based context for the two Churches, the East and the West, there will certainly be room for an initiatory and sapiential world, which has so far been able only to ensure pluralism – certainly a very noble aim which, however, from now on shall speak in re and not only about profane and pluralistic rules.
Therefore we must thank Cardinal Parolin, who will certainly be able to provide excellent theological, political and strategic substance to a relationship with the Patriarchate of Moscow that could become the true and only peace process in Syria and in the rest of the Middle East.
GIANCARLO ELIA VALORI
Honorable de l’Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France