Father Bartolomeo Sorge, former Director of La Civiltà Cattolica, Director of Aggiornamenti Sociali from 1997 to 2009 and
later Director Emeritus, passed away on November 2nd morning. The condolences
of President Mattarella and the Italian bishops. We report the article
published by Aggiornamenti Sociali.
Dear Fr. Bartolomeo,
Some years ago you wrote, quoting Pope Benedict: “We need men who look straight at God, learning from there true humanity. We need men whose intellect is illuminated by the light of God and to whom God opens their hearts, so that their intellect can speak to the intellect of others and their hearts can open the hearts of others” (The Crossing, p. 7). Thank you for testifying to us that this is possible: with your joy and trust you made a deep impression on those who met you and enabled them breathe the joy of the Gospel Thank you for your tireless commitment to bring the Church “out of the temple walls” through your writings and hundreds of meetings throughout Italy and beyond. Thank you for not having kept silent about what you saw and heard (Acts 4:20), until the last day.
Born in Rio Marina (Elba Island) on October 25, 1929, Fr. Sorge entered the Society of Jesus in 1946. He was the Editor of La Civiltà Cattolica since 1966 and Director of this magazine from 1973 to 1985. Working as a member of the Presidential Council, together with Giuseppe Lazzati and Msgr. Bartoletti, he helped in the organization of the first great National Conference of the Italian Church (1976), on the theme “Evangelization and Human Promotion”.
After an intense decade as Director of the Arrupe Institute in Palermo (where he was among the protagonists of the so-called “spring”, a flourishing of civic initiatives and movements to oppose the mafia), he arrived in Milan in 1997 to direct Aggiornamenti Sociali and, from 1999 to 2005, the monthly magazine Popoli. Father Sorge also has to his credit numerous publications on the social doctrine of the Church and the commitment of Christians in politics.
On Aggiornamenti Sociali Father Sorge has written 162 articles, 5 of which as an external collaborator, 18 as Director Emeritus and the rest as Director. In January 1997, the first editorial as director was dedicated to the relationship between the North and South of the country and to the autonomous and local movements that were beginning to manifest themselves in those very years. With the editorial Palermo and Milan, one Italy, Father Sorge announced, among other things, the beginning of the coordination between the Milanese editorial staff of the magazine and the Institute of Political Education of the Sicilian capital, a coordination that continues to this day.
Among the many themes addressed by the Jesuit in the magazine, one of the most recurrent was the reflection on the evolution of democratic Catholicism, on Sturtian popularism and, more generally, on the presence of Italian Catholics in politics. Among the various articles, we recall the editorial of May 1999 entitled Non è più tempo di “storici steccati”, the memory of Giuseppe Lazzati published in 2009, one hundred years after his birth, and the contribution on Prospects for “good politics”. Pope Francis and the insights of Sturzo, published in March 2014.
Fr. Sorge was in great harmony with the Argentinean Pontiff and Pope Francis on one occasion had wanted to publicly thank his brother for his contribution to the social thinking of the Church (read). Among the articles of Aggiornamenti Sociali dedicated to the Pope there is also the one About some recent criticism of Pope Francis, written by Sorge in November 2016.
Father Sorge’s gaze has not been limited in these years to Italian events alone. For example, his admiration for Oscar Romero, whom the Jesuit had the opportunity to meet during the Conference of the Latin American Episcopate in Puebla in 1979, is known. Here is the editorial in which he recalls the Salvadoran bishop killed at the altar in 1980.
As editor for 13 years and collaborator of the magazine even before and after this position, Father Sorge was undoubtedly one of the most attentive witnesses of the life of Aggiornamenti Sociali. Here we propose a short interview (in Italian) given a year ago to Chiara Tintori on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the publication of the magazine.