The XXXII edition will open on August 21 with the participation of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and the inaugural show titled “It’s a Feast” in the heart of Rimini, in Cavour Square: it will be an evening of popular songs to remember the unification of Italy.
This year’s Meeting for friendship amongst people will feature seven days of talks, exhibits, shows, and sports, to discover how the existence of each man can find certainty.
Everything around us seems to confirm that in today’s mentality, in the consciousness with which everyone faces the challenges and hardships of life, true certainty is no longer possible and that the only certainties are the ones produced by a technological control of the world, at least up to the point where reality presents itself in its uncontrollability. The perception that “our powerlessness is incurable,” wrote sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, “makes us feel an even more dreadful and devastating uncertainty than in the past.”
The Meeting wants to reopen the game that pertains to the possibility of a certainty, the possibility of knowledge of self and of the world.
Over 100 presentations are scheduled: among these are Focus, a series of talks for a specialized audience dedicated to a deepening of specific themes; the meetings called “An Italian coffee…questions on the Unification,” an occasion for young people to meet and pose questions to experts on the theme of Italian unity; and the series Texts and Contexts which will present books, music, and videos. Among these we recommend the screening of international reportages titled “Stories from the world.”
“Wisdom shines. Madonnas of Abruzzo from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance” is the title of the exhibit organized with the Regional Director of Abruzzo and the Superintendency of the city of Aquila that will open on August 20 and close November 1 at the City Museums of Rimini. From the castle of Aquila to the Rimini Museum: this is the journey of the beautiful Madonnas from Abruzzo salvaged during the earthquake and offered now to the greater audience. There are about twenty important polychrome sculptures and painted tablets, created by skilled masters from Abruzzo between the end of the XII and the first half of the XIV centuries, which, after having being recovered by firefighters and after the first intervention from the personnel of the Superintendency and the teams of volunteers, have been restored and exhibited in the suggestive rooms of the Piccolomini Castle of Celano, an important bastion of the Marsica region of Abruzzo.
Presenting these Medieval Madonnas, struck by the violence of nature like the land of Abruzzo, at the XXXII edition of the Meeting represents an important sign of hope for a cultural patrimony that is waiting to be completely returned to public fruition in its historical locations.
Inside the fair pavilions, on the other hand, there will be nine exhibits: from the one on the 150 years of subsidiarity, who received the official logo of the celebrations for Italy’s unification, to the one on Capernaum and the Apostles. Great individuals are at the center of the exhibits dedicated to the prophet Ezekiel, Saint Charles Borromeo, Blessed John Henry Newman, and Russian writer Boris Pasternak. Finally, two exhibits will be dedicated to XIII century art and the frescos of the hospital Santa Maria della Scala in Siena. (For more information see the descriptions of each exhibit).
There will be over 20 shows featuring music and plays: Ambrogio Sparagna, the Chieftains, Niccolò Fabi, Paolo Cevoli, Massimo Popolizio, are just a few of the featured name. (For more information see the press release on the shows).
There will also be sporting events and areas dedicated to sports for the young.
The main features of the program
The inaugural presentation, organized in collaboration with Intergroup for Subsidiarity, will feature Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on the theme “150 years of Subsidiarity,” which is also the theme of the exhibit that will be inaugurated on August 21. It will document the richness of a history made of social works and economic initiatives that are the fruit of creative energy, inventiveness, and solidarity. The starting point of this richness is a cultured founded on the certainty that each individual is worth “more than the entire universe” and cannot be reduced to any social or political organization; this conception of man generated a great civilization—which precedes the formation of a unified state—rich in unifying diversities, to which all Italians contributed in different ways, with their work, their thousands of traditions, their social and political undertakings, in order to build a great country. In addition to the head of state, guest speakers at this presentation will be Emilia Guarnieri, president of the Meeting, and Giorgio Vittadini, president of the Foundation for Subsidiarity. Greetings will also be presented by members and promoters of the parliamentary intergroup for subsidiarity Maurizio Lupi, vice-president of the Chamber, and Enrico Letta, vice-secretary of the Democratic Party.
Another panel discussion will be dedicated to the history of Italy and the journey of the Italian people. It will feature Giuliano Amato, president of Treccani, Marta Cartabia, professor of constitutional law at the University of Milan-Bicocca, and Maria Bocci, professor of history at the Catholic University of Milan.
The theme of the Meeting will be discussed by philosopher Costantino Esposito, Professor of History of Philosophy at the University of Bari.
“With the eyes of the Apostles” will be the title of the presentation that will see the participation of Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custodian of the Holy Land, and José Miguel Garcia, biblical scholar. The Meeting returns to one of the themes that have always characterized the history of this event: the historicity of the person of Christ and the event of his resurrection by telling the journey through certainty that the apostles had to travel in front of that man who claimed to be the son of God. An important contribution to this certainty will be the one of French philosopher Fabrice Hadjadj who, on August 25, will give a reflection on modernity and certainty.
The contributions of Christians to politics will be discussed in a panel that will include Phillip Blond, director of ResPublica, Joseph Daul, president of the PPE group (European Popular Party) at the European Parliament, Marcos Zerbini, deputy to the State Parliament in San Paolo (Brazil), and Roberto Formigoni, president of the Lombardy region.
The Mediterranean, the North Africa region in front of the challenge of conciliating stability and rights: this is the topic of the presentation that will see the participation of Franco Frattini, Italian foreign minister, along with representatives of Arabic civil society such as Wael Farouq, professor of Arabic language at the University of Cairo and vice-president of the Cairo Meeting. The experience of the Cairo Meeting, where 150 Muslim and Christian volunteers worked, and the fruits that it generated will be discussed by Tahani al-Jibaly, vice-president of Egypt’s constitutional court, His grace Armiah, secretary of His Holiness Shenouda III, pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Hosam Mikawi, president of the Tribunal of South Cairo, and Antonios Naguib, Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria.
The theme of immigration, of the rights and obligations of immigrants, will be the subject of discussion in a panel on hospitality with American jurists Robert George and Joseph Weiler together with Patrick Weil, director of the French National Center for Scientific Research and one of the leading experts on immigration.
In a Meeting managed by over 3,000 volunteers and built by another 900, president of the pontifical council Cor Unum Cardinal Robert Sarah will talk about volunteering and international development in the year dedicated internationally to this issue.
The concluding event will be the presentation of the book by Father Luigi Giussani “What we hold most dear” with psychiatrist Eugenio Borgna and Father Aldo Trento, missionary in Paraguay.
Experiences to the test: a series of encounters dedicated to telling the experiences of men and women who are not afraid of risks and the challenges of life and who, in different areas, have found certainty in facing reality.
Raffaele Pugliese, surgeon at Niguarda hospital, and Stefano Scaringella director of a hospital in Madagascar, will tell two very different but equally significant stories: the first is the head of a non-profit organization which excels in teaching surgery all over the world. The second is responsible for a particular surgical center, in the middle of the Madagascar forest, the only center for a half million people within a radius of 300 kilometers, an area as large as northern Italy.
Andrew Davison, an Anglican English professor, will talk about the friendship between Catholics and Anglicans and the common work in defense of the faith.
Mariangela Fontanini will tell the story of her daughter Giulia, afflicted since birth by a serious cerebral malformation whose prenatal diagnosis brought doctors from Brussels to advise therapeutic abortion despite the fact that she was eighth month pregnant. Today Giulia is a lively girl able to understand two languages; her story has struck even the atheistic neuropsychiatric Bernard Dan who has defined therapeutic abortion “a treachery.”
Another experience to the test will be the one of Clara Gaymard, successful mother and businesswoman, president and CEO of General Electric in France, in 2007 among the 50 most powerful women in the world and daughter of great geneticist Jerome Lejeune, who was a guest at one of the earlier editions of the Meeting.
Literature and art
There are men who have lived in their times the drama of uncertainty or have expressed in a commendable way the certainty of their existence through the beauty of their art or the witness of their life. They are, somehow, giants and prophets of our present times.
Great representatives of the world of culture, science, and art will attend the Meeting this year: Russian poetess and writer Ol’ga Sedakova who will intervene at the presentation of the exhibit dedicated to Boris Pasternak; John Henry Newman will be at the center of the debate between Edoardo Aldo Cerrato, general director of Confederatio Oratorii Sancti Philippi Neri, Ian Ker, Newman’s main biographer and professor at Oxford University, and Javier Prades López, dean of the Theological Faculty San Damaso in Madrid. The exhibit dedicated to San Charles Borromeo will be presented by Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan.
In Rimini we will also speak of Manzoni and the redemption of the people, of common folks in his works with the great literary critic Ezio Raimondi.
The meeting with Alison Milbank, professor in Nottingham, Edoardo Rialti, one of the leading Italian experts, and journalist Ubaldo Casotto will be a journey into the universe of G. K. Chesterton in the attempt to understand the gaze through which the great British writer observed the world.
Doubt and reality in the art of Hamlet and Cezanne will be the theme of the talk by Professor Piero Boitani of the Sapienza University in Roma and art historian Beatrice Buscaroli.
Among the book presentations we recommend La Guerra contro Gesù (The War against Jesus) by Antonio Socci, Cattedrali (Cathedrals) by Luca Doninelli, Cosa tiene accese le stelle (What keeps the stars lit) by Mario Calabresi, Carta Straccia (Waste Paper) by Gianpaolo Pansa, and Viva l’Italia (Viva Italy) by Aldo Cazzullo.
Scientific certainties seem somehow the more undisputed. But is it really so? Where can man arrive to in the discovery of reality? To which kind of manipulation? What do the great world disasters like the earthquake in Japan teach men in regard to science?
Answering these questions on science, its infallibility, and the certainty of the scientific knowledge process will be John Polkinghorne, physicist and priest of the Anglican Church, winner of the 2002 Templeton Prize; physicist Lucio Rossi, one of the builders of the accelerators at the Cern (European Organization for Nuclear Research) of Geneva, will present the exhibit on the atom whose historical discovery is an example of how scientific certainty is not an immediate evidence, but a combination of signs converging toward something.
On the theme of language and communication two linguists will participate and they are Stefano Arduini, professor at the University of Urbino and Andrea Moro, professor at the University of Pavia, along with philosopher of law Pietro Barcellona.
The complexity and control of the human genome will be discussed by experts such as Carlo Croce, molecular geneticist of the Cancer Center at the Ohio State University and one of the leading scholars in cancer research, Mauro Ferrari, world expert in bioengineering and biomedical nanotechnologies, and Pier Giuseppe Pelicci, of the IFOM-IEO Campus, the largest cancer research center in Europe.
Heart and dialogue
Testimonies of how identity and religion are not an obstacle, but the beginning of a true friendship that faces the entire world.
After the presentation of “The Religious Sense” in Arabic a few years ago, the Meeting will present the translation in Arabic of “The Risk of Education” by Father Luigi Giussani; guest speakers are Abdel Fattah Hasan, Professor of Italian Language in Cairo, ex parliamentary of the Muslim Brotherhood, and translator of the book, and Father Ambrogio Pisoni of the Catholic University of Milan.
The religious sense and university will also be at the center of a debate among some university presidents: John Garvey of the Catholic University of America, Moshe Kaveh of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Lorenzo Ornaghi of the Sacred Heart Catholic University of Milan.
Austen Ivereigh, journalist, commentator, and coordinator of Catholic Voices, John Milbank, Anglican theologian, and Adrian Pabst, professor of religion and politics at the University of Kent in Canterbury will discuss the role of Christians in the public square and in particular Benedict XVI’s journey to Great Britain.
If there is a man who has witnessed the Christian faith to the world, leaving a mark in history, it is without doubt blessed John Paul II. A talk with Monsignor Luigi Negri, bishop of San Marino-Montefeltro, will be dedicated to him.
As a sign of its dedication to dialogue and openness the Meeting will host Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein, director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute. Also, a testimony of the friendship between Christians and Jews will be the lecture titled “Nomos and prophecy: being Jewish, being Christian” by Jewish jurist Joseph H.H. Weiler and Ignacio Carbajosa, professor at the Theological Faculty of Madrid.
Economy and society
The economic crisis and Italy, the country system and the freedom of businesses: these are the challenge the Italian economy has to face in front of the global world. Italy can start over from the truest human desire and from the responsibility of building the common good, freeing the energies of enterprises, families, and associations, because a people that works is a people that exists.
John Elkann, president of the Fiat group, will speak at the Meeting for the first time in dialogue with Bernhard Scholz, president of the Company of Works in a talk titled “Which certainties in an uncertain world?”
An uncertain world that puts the entire country of Italy to the test: this is the topic of the panel discussion with secretary of CISL (Italian unions) Raffaele Bonnani, president of Unioncamere Ferruccio Dardanello, and president of ABI Giuseppe Mussari. Italy will also be at the center of the presentation “Italy in numbers. Radiography of a decline?” with director of Almalaurea Andrea Cammelli and president of Istat Enrico Giovannini.
Giuseppe Bonomi, president and CEO of SEA, Raffaele Cattaneo, representative of the Lombardy region, and Fabio Cerchiai, president of Autostrade per l’Italia will talk about infrastructures. In addition to this, the important theme of public and private welfare will be tackled by Johnny Dotti, CEO of Welfare Italia, Marco Morganti, CEO of Banca Prossima, and Lester Salamon, director of the Center for Studies on Civil Society at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Finally, Andrea Gibelli, vice-president of the Lombardy region, Federico Golla, CEO of Siemens, Luigi Gubitosi, manager, and Leo Wencel, president and CEO of Nestlé Italy will shed light on the topic of synergy between global industry and local work.
Other personalities that will attend the Meeting include vice-president of CSM Michele Vietti, general counselor and CEO of Intesa Sanpaolo Corrado Passera, president of INPS Antonio Mastrapasqua, CEO of Enel Fulvio Conti, CEO of Finmeccanica Giuseppe Orsi, European Commissioner Antonio Tajani, CEO of Ferrovie dello Stato Mauro Moretti, and director of the Agency for the Territory Gabriella Alemanno. In addition there will also be Giuliano Zuccoli, president of the A2A Management Council, Guido Bortoni, president of the Authority for electricity and gas, Marco Ricotti, member of the Agency for Nuclear Security and professor of nuclear plants at the Polytechnic Institute of Milan, Stefano Berni, general director of the Association for the preservation of Grana Padano, and Vincenzo Tassinari, president of Coop Italia.