February 16, 2019


In his book, What do believe those who don’t believe?, the philosopher and writer, Umberto Eco, discusses with cardinal Carlo Maria Martini fundamental questions of the behavior and culture that are controversial and perhaps have failed to be included in the reflections of our age.

Umberto Eco compares the environmental catastrophes of the end of the last millennium to the tragedy of the end postulated in John’s Apocalypse, of the New Testament. He still agrees with his interlocutor that instead of Christians, it’s exactly laymen who fear and get more agitated around the idea of the end. Christians, in turn, read the book more as a source of meditation than horror.

For his part, the cardinal states in a non-metaphysical way, by remarking the human nature of “the one who’s holding the pen”, in this case, John, the apostle who was defending the oppressed people of an era, by driving them to the battle that would make the enemies fall, and promising them their final blessedness.

An important matter is that of abortion in the current days. And by taking a step ahead of the millennium, the philosopher wanted to know from the prince of the Church what he thought about the interruption of pregnancy, by asking him when human life begins.

In his categorical reply and placing the soul above the physical and psychic life, in terms of value for the Church, Cardinal Martini, mentions some passages of the Gospels aiming to defend this principle. To finally conclude that “it’s from conception that a new being is actually born”.

Eco questions the Cardinal about the priests who want to get married and about the “homosexuals” who want to be recognized by the
Church. He finishes with the very important question these days about woman not being able to be priestess in the Church and the reason for this.

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, right in the title of his noble response, informs that the Church is not supposed to satisfy expectations, but to celebrate mysteries, which have the history of the Son of God having been born from a woman, a history that ‘must serve as an example’.

At the end of the discussion there’s a question I admire and that is controversial made by the own Cardinal: “Where do the layman find the light of good?”

Let’s leave it for the readers of Pedra de Toque to answer to this question, whether under the reading of the book What do believe those who don’t believe?, or with the reflections this post brings about.


[In: Em que creem os que não creem. Umberto Eco e Carlo Maria Martini: Tradução de Eliana Aguiar – 4ª Ed. Rio de Janeiro. Record, 2000.]

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