Redde Rationem: What Eugenio Scalfari’s Prestige Is Worth Now.
Eugenio Scalfari has died some days ago, and the reaction of not only the Press, but the Vatican and the coterie around Francis was boringly predictable.
Cardinal Ravasi told us that he really liked the man’s beat. Francis reminds the conversations with the man with affection. Everybody has a nice word. Everybody is so eager to clap with the world.
What is not said is this: that this is a guy who managed to get to the rather advanced age of 98, in a very sound state of mind, and never gave any hint that he might, his last stop now approaching, have had at least a movement of hope, a hint of conversion, a doubt in his heart. For all we know, he died exactly the hardened atheist he had been for all his adult life.
You would think a Cardinal, or a Pope, would actually profit from the occasion to – gently, but firmly – make of the man a cautionary tale. You would think that they would, gently but firmly, remind their sheep that all the prestige Scalfari enjoyed in life, and for a very, very long time, has now turned to ashes. Gone are the pretty salons, gone the interviews given and taken, gone the constant aura of “great old man” of Italian journalism he took from a man far bigger than him, Indro Montanelli. The moment he died , the man was in front of his Creator, naked and miserable like, certainly, all of us, but with, in addition, that baggage of who knows how many decades of militant atheism.
It is customary, on these occasions, to say that to God nothing is impossible, and if He, in His mercy, has decreed that the man be saved, He has, unfailingly, put in his heart, in the last minutes, the faith and perfect contrition (I doubt a confessor went anywhere near the man) which would allow the wretched man to give his own small contribution to God’s providence and die at peace with Him.
The above is, obviously, true. Whether it has happened, it is a different matter altogether.
As I am neither a Ravasi, nor a Bergoglio, I will tell you what those strange people called Catholics would, in any age before ours, think in moments like this: that God’s majesty is terrifying, and must appear even more so to the likes of an Eugenio Scalfari.
The probability of Eugenio Scalfari *not* burning in hell as I write this is very, very thin, and I will *not* bet my pint on him saving his hide. I have, as it is my custom, said my “eternal rest” for him, for the very improbable case that God allowed the man to avoid hell. But this is, in the end, merely an exercise in charity and, if you wish, a remedy against the mortal sin of “deciding” that the guy is damned. For the rest, Scalfari’s salvation is not something to which I attach any appreciably measurable degree of probability. We are, I think, in the realm of the zero point zero something percent. All the rest – nay, all his life – points to the guy being barbecued in a way that makes the scorchers we are going through (37C today, 38C tomorrow) look like a veritable freezer.
And so this is where we are. Decades of smiling, fawning, admiring men. Cardinals and Popes included.
And at the end, unavoidably, the redde rationem.