Leo XIII in pill form.

pillole_leo_xviii

Publisher: Editrice Fede e Cultura
Price: €10

“Much has been said to the masses about what are defined as the rights of man; they should also be told about the rights of God”. This phrase is taken from the Magisterium of Leo XIII, as we read in the book of the historian Angela Pellicciari (“Leone XIII in pillole”- Editrice Fede&Cultura), who has written a brief Leonine dictionary drawing from Pope Pecci’s 96 encyclicals. The value of this precious volume resides precisely in having tackled the awesome Leonine Magisterium as such and offering a reader-friendly index of themes, with the dexterity of linking them directly to the documents of Leo XIII. In the list of the items or subjects linked to the encyclicals there are topics in the forefront of attention nowadays as well; for example, education, beauty, political power, the press, tolerance, etc. Pills of wisdom of “this man of faith and profound devotion”, as Benedict XVI called him during his visit to Carpineto Romano last September, where he celebrated the bicentennial of Pope Pecci’s birth. Pills to bolster our faith and reason today as well, to defend the truth and  genuine liberty. As Ms Pellicciari correctly recalls in the foreword, Leo XII was convinced of the need to concentrate on the revival of Thomism and the natural law in order to really be able to act well and think properly. The appendix of the 96 encyclicals of Leo XII (written by the Holy Father during the period from 1978 to 1902) clearly shows us the urgency and timeliness of the Church in tackling the major issues of humankind, with Christ, at the service of man. The author has done an admirable job in putting in alphabetic order all those subjects and topics of such interest today, doing so with the foresight of cross referencing the items to the encyclical where they are treated. This book thereby becomes a useful reference book also for those who may wish to delve into issues linked to the Church’s social doctrine, shunning the simplifications and the propensity to banalize things so frequent in the mass media treatment of the documents of the Magisterium. For example, when people want to harp about what the Church thinks about political matters it would suffice to quote one of Leo XII’s ‘pills’, which says: “It does not pertain to the Church to express preferences regarding the form of government […] among the various forms of government it condemns not a one of them, as long as respected are religion and the morals of mores”.   Or when efforts are made to make people believe the Church is backward and hostile to scientific progress, a few lines suffice to dispel any doubts: “The Church is not adverse to new inventions, and is actually well pleased that human genius, through exercise and culture, may produce most copious fruit.[…] strive to prevent man, in the wake of study and work, from losing sight of God and earthly goods”.   Leone XIII in pillole (Leo XII in Pill Form) is a useful and agile book that scrutinizes the travails of our time in depth, offering lucid and impassioned argumentation for scholars and for ordinary people who wish to draw close to the true wellsprings of the Magisterium of the Church, to that perennial teaching addressed to man for the edification of a natural and Christian society.

FABIO TREVISAN