Italian theologian Bruno Forte, rector of the Pontifical School of Theology of Southern Italy and first author of the International Theological Commission´s document "Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and Faults of the Past" (March 7, 2000), reflected on last month´s dramatic manifestation of evil in the world and the suffering of the innocent.
"Since Sept. 11, many of us have wondered why," the theologian told the Italian newspaper Avvenire. "The immediate cause of what has happened lies in the fanaticism of those who have transformed religious faith into the mind-boggling dream of violent domination that they wish to impose on the whole world in the name of the one God."
"Religion transformed into an ideology is a very great danger because in it the confusion between good and evil becomes total, even the greatest barbarity can be justified in virtue of a transcendent value," Forte explained. "Moreover, when this religious ideology is joined to the use of the most advanced technology, the result is unheard-of violence.
"However, God is not like this. He whom Islam itself invokes as merciful and compassionate cannot be the executioner of his children. And this is reflected with absolute clarity in the Gospel revelation of God as father of all. It is this faithful God who enables one to continue hoping, despite everything."
Bruno Forte responded to a fundamental question: Why does this God allow such atrocities? Why didn´t he hold back the hand of the assassins and enlighten their darkened hearts?
"Faith has only one answer: the omnipotent God cannot take away from his children the liberty he has given them," the theologian said. "This does not mean that he does not suffer because of the evil that devastates the earth. The abyss of evil we saw on Sept. 11, and the innocent suffering caused by terrorism, and the violence of war that we are living, infinitely wounds the divine heart more than our own.
"Because of this, the believer feels the need to keep God company in his suffering with prayer and silence. It is not a fleeing from responsibilities, but the most authentic and honest stance for the heart of the believer. Only from this profound faith can a ´No´ to all violence be born, cried out so many times by John Paul II."