Pietro Parente

Pietro Parente

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Pietro Parente is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 – December 29, 1986, Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, Italy) was a long-serving theologian and inquisitor in the Holy Office of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, and was made a cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

 on June 26, 1967. At his peak he was regarded as one of the foremost Italian theologians.


Parente began his education at the Metropolitan seminary of Benevento
Benevento is a town and comune of Campania, Italy, capital of the province of Benevento, 50 km northeast of Naples. It is situated on a hill 130 m above sea-level at the confluence of the Calore Irpino and Sabato...

 in the 1900s and soon moved to Rome to study. His ability as a theologian was very well known even before he was ordained in 1916, and immediately after ordination he became a seminary rector in Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, a role he was to hold for a decade, after which Parente transferred to the prestigious Pontifical Lateran University and briefly from 1934 to 1938 to the Pontifical Urbanian Athenaeum. Parente then went back to Naples to found the Faculty of Theology and Canon Law in his former seminary, and he was again rector from 1940 to 1955.

During this period of seminary teaching, Parente wrote frequently for the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. He gained a reputation for his strongly worded, almost blunt, style of communicating official Church doctrine - something for which he is remembered by almost all those who studied under him. He was the first writer to use the term New Theology to describe the writings of Marie-Dominique Chenu
Marie-Dominique Chenu
Marie-Dominique Chenu was a progressive Roman Catholic theologian and a founder of the reformist journal Concilium. He entered the French Province of the Dominican Order in 1913. His earlier theological work was on St. Thomas Aquinas, employing an historical method...

 and Louis Charlier in that paper in 1942, and was influential behind the encyclical
An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Catholic Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop...

 Humani Generis
Humani Generis
Humani generis is a papal encyclical that Pope Pius XII promulgated on 12 August 1950 "concerning some false opinions threatening to undermine the foundations of Catholic Doctrine"...

that condemned those theologians eight years later. He was the assessor of most of the cases done by the Holy Office during these years and knew Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....


Parente was archbishop of Perugia from 1955 to 1959, when Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII
-Papal election:Following the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, Roncalli was elected Pope, to his great surprise. He had even arrived in the Vatican with a return train ticket to Venice. Many had considered Giovanni Battista Montini, Archbishop of Milan, a possible candidate, but, although archbishop...

 made him one of the highest-ranking officials of the Holy Office. When this was renamed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition , and after 1904 called the Supreme...

 in 1965, Parente became secretary, but he was viewed by Paul VI
Pope Paul VI
Paul VI , born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church from 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, who had convened the Second Vatican Council, he decided to continue it...

 as too outspoken in personality to be given the job of prefect - which was given to the lesser-known but friendly and tactful Yugoslav Franjo Šeper
Franjo Šeper
Franjo Šeper was a Croatian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1968 to 1981, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1965....

. Parente was elevated to the cardinalate on June 26, 1967, ceasing thereupon to be Secretary of the Congregation, since that post, subordinate to that of Prefect, could not be held by a cardinal.

Although his knowledge and ability was still seen as very valuable in later years, Parente's days as one of the foremost theologians in the Vatican had largely gone by the time he became a cardinal. He was originally highly dubious about the Vatican rehabilitating Galileo during the Vatican Council, but was less opposed to it by the time Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 officially did so in 1979, and he spoke at the age of 91 on the 1700th anniversary of the conversion of Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 to Christianity in an effort to unite the Roman and Armenian Churches. Because he was over 80 at the time of the next conclave
Papal conclave
A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Bishop of Rome, who then becomes the Pope during a period of vacancy in the papal office. The Pope is considered by Roman Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church...

 after becoming a cardinal, Pietro Parente never voted in the election of a pope, for he turned eighty just two months after Ingravescentem Aetatem was published.

When he died in 1986, he was the oldest living cardinal, seven weeks shy of his ninety-sixth birthday.

Parente and Pius XII

Parente, who is rumored to have assisted Pope Pius XII in preparing the encyclical
An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Catholic Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop...

 Humani Generis
Humani Generis
Humani generis is a papal encyclical that Pope Pius XII promulgated on 12 August 1950 "concerning some false opinions threatening to undermine the foundations of Catholic Doctrine"...

 wrote in Filosofia e teologia di Pio XII (Vaticano 1967) about the magisterium
In the Catholic Church the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church. This authority is understood to be embodied in the episcopacy, which is the aggregation of the current bishops of the Church in union with the Pope, led by the Bishop of Rome , who has authority over the bishops,...

 of Pius XII, which he characterized as firm without any bending of eternal truth in favour of popular beliefs in his days. Pius XII demands respects for he achievements of the past, but also openness for the questions of our time. He rejects theological relativism
Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration....

, which would reduce the Christian faith to grass, bent by the winds of time. At the same time, he demands adaptation of existing teachings to the language of the time. The magisterium of the papacy is according to Parente, of divine
Divinity and divine are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in...

 and not human origin. He used the papacy not only to teach the truth but also to bring together all Christians separated from the Holy Roman Catholic Church, but not by reducing basic the truth entrusted to the Church.

Pius XII according to Parente, set firm pointers in mariology
Roman Catholic Mariology is theology concerned with the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ as developed by the Catholic Church. Roman Catholic teachings on the subject have been based on the belief that "The Blessed Virgin, because she is the Mother of God, is believed to hold a certain...

  (Munificentissimus Deus
Munificentissimus Deus
Munificentissimus Deus is the name of an Apostolic constitution written by Pope Pius XII. It defines ex cathedra the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was the first ex-cathedra infallible statement since the official ruling on papal infallibility was made at the First Vatican...

 and Fulgens Corona
Fulgens Corona
Fulgens corona is an encyclical by Pope Pius XII, given at St. Peter's Rome, on 8 September 1953, on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the fifteenth year of his Pontificate...

), liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 (Mediator Dei
Mediator Dei
Mediator Dei, a papal encyclical was issued by Pope Pius XII in 1947. The encyclical suggests new directions and active participation instead of a merely passive role of the faithful in the liturgy, in liturgical ceremonies and in the life of their parish. The encyclical also emphasizes the...

), the definition of the Church, (Mystici Corporis), biblical exegesis (Divino Afflante Spiritu
Divino Afflante Spiritu
Divino Afflante Spiritu is an encyclical letter issued by Pope Pius XII on September 30, 1943. It inaugurated the modern period of Roman Catholic Bible studies by permitting the limited use of modern methods of biblical criticism. The Catholic bible scholar Raymond E...

), and, the application of papal infallibility (with the Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

 of the Assumption
Assumption of Mary
According to the belief of Christians of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglicanism, the Assumption of Mary was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her life...

). But, according to Parente, Pope Pius added to all these firm positions caveats, which allow adaptations at a later time, modification
Modification may refer to:*Modifications of school work for students with special educational needs*Modifications *Posttranslational modifications*Mod *Modified car*Body modification*Grammatical modifier-See also:...

s but never radical deviation
Deviation may refer to:* Deviation , the difference between the value of an observation and the mean of the population in mathematics and statistics** Standard deviation, which is based on the square of the difference...

s. Thus, the theology is both conservative and progressive. Parente states that Pius XII predicted the crisis of theology which did follow his pontificate after Vatican II. This crisis, so Parente, cannot be overcome, by going back to the theology or Canon Law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

of 1918. It will be overcome with a compromise between conservativism and progressivism, maintaining the doctrinal basics and utilizing new language and culture. According to him, Pope Pius XII created the methodological apparatus for such a synthesis.

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