The Rimini Meeting, a preview of history
From the very start, the Rimini Meeting was an event with a markedly international character that made it a crossroads of testimonies and experiences, unique in the Italian cultural panorama. If we look back at the programs of the various editions, we frequently come across people, problems and perspectives that later moved into the limelight. Here are some examples.
1980. Peace and human rights
Focus on the rights of man: two dissidents, Vladimir Bukovsky and Tatiana Goricheva, describe the situation in the Soviet Union. Mohammed Talbi speaks on the theme of the dialogue between different cultures. Talbi received the Agnelli Award for Dialogue between Cultural Universes in Turin in 1997.
1981. The Europe of peoples and cultures
One of the speakers is the journalist Tadeusz Mazowiecki, who in 1989 was to become the premier of Poland’s first non-communist government.
1982. The resources of man
John Paul II visits the Meeting, where he delivers a memorable speech and replies to questions from young people.
1984. America Americas, 1984: the impossible tolerance?
The great American choreographer Martha Graham, on a European tour, presents the only Italian performance at the Meeting.
1985. The beast parsiphal & superman
Hans Dietrich Genscher, German Foreign Minister, speaks with Giulio Andreotti, President of the Italian Council of Ministers. The encounter, chaired by Roberto Formigoni, deals with Italo-German relations. Europe becomes a major issue.
1987. Creation art economics
While the outstanding event is certainly the visit of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Italian-Israeli archaeologist Emmanuel Anati makes the news with his theory that Har Karkom is the true Mount Sinai.
1988. Seekers of the infinite, builders of history
World premiere, in the presence of the authors, of the opera "Maximilian Kolbe", with music by Dominique Probst, libretto by Eugène Jonesco, and directed by Krzysztof Zanussi.
1989. Socrates, Sherlock Holmes, Don Giovanni. Approach, investigation and possession of reality: in the paradox
The editorial board of the weekly "Il Sabato" calls its cultural "fathers", Augusto Del Noce and Giovanni Testori, to a public debate.
1990. The admirer Einstein Thomas Becket
Lech Walesa addresses the Meeting a few months after his election as president of the Polish Republic.
1991. Antigone returned and the old immigrant, between establishment figures and new badges
The Dalai Lama is invited to the Meeting despite opposition from the Italian government and addresses the largest assembly ever convened to hear him.
1992. The yellow, the black, the Indian and the Latin in search of Americas
Speakers include a militant ecologist, then little known, the “Green” politician Francesco Rutelli.
1993. Something is happening in the east
While the guest who makes the headlines is Helmut Kolh, Chancellor of Germany, Feisal Husseini, a high office-holder in the PLO, leaks anticipations of the Israeli-Palestinian accord that to be announced to the world the following day.
1994. And the exiled people continued their pilgrimage
The general public learns of the texts of the Gospels found in the Qumran scrolls, one of the most important and also most heavily censored issues of contemporary archaeology.
1995. A thousand years are like the night watch
The prospects of the Russian economy are presented to the public of the Meeting by a little-known minister of the Moscow government: it is Anatolij Chubais. For the first time in Italy, it is possible to listen to Ernst Nolte in person. And we discover that his theses are rather different from what the way they are represented.
1996. A raging wind arose in the east and, with faith in their leader, they sailed to the confines of the earth
Cesare Romiti sheds his characteristic reserve and delivers a speech of broad political scope. David Rosen, Rabbi of Jerusalem, discusses the prospects for interfaith relationships with the Meeting. He returns to Rimini the following year.
1997. The Starets answered: "Truly, all things are good and splendid because all things are true
Renato Ruggiero, director general of the WTO, outlines the Organization’s political future; the Cardinal of Sarajevo, Vinko Pulic, offers an authoritative testimony of the postwar period in Bosnia.
1998. Life is not a dream
Against Sergio D’Antoni’s backing for the general strike for employment, the European commissioner Mario Monti chooses Rimini to launch a provocative proposal, "a generational strike by the young for the right to work", and accuses the unions of not representing people excluded from the labor market.
1999. The unknown arouses fear, the Mystery arouses awe
The newly elected Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika presents his political program to public opinion in the West; the Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova publicly meets a Serbian political leader for the first time after the war; the Iraqi vice-premier Tariq Aziz, in a video interview, reveals his government’s attitude to the Pope’s planned journey to Iraq.
2000. 2000 years, an unending ideal
This is the "Jubilee Meeting" because it follows, by a coincidence of dates, the Youth Jubilee celebrated in Rome and, in an autograph message sent to Rimini, John Paul II describes the Meeting as an "explicit and conscious echo of the great mystery that the whole Church is reliving during the Jubilee year: the incarnation of the Son of God." This event prompts an important observations in the press on the role of Catholics at the beginning of the third millennium. A small display devoted to the Risorgimento opens a discussion on the historical revisionism that has occupied the front pages of major Italian newspapers for many months.
2001. The whole of life asks for eternity
Meeting 2001 begins the day after the G8 in Genoa. The cycle of meetings organized by the Companionship of Works, "Above the G8. Works Put to the Test", presents the testimony of people who have spent years working in developing countries – Sierra Leone, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Uganda, the Balkans, Kenya, Peru.
2002. The sentiment of things, the contemplation of beauty
The Meeting reveals itself as an important moment in which Christians and secularists verify, in a serious and positive dialogue, the reasons underlying their personal experience of their contribution to public life. A secularist like the President of the Senate Marcello Pera speaks of a common ground between liberal Catholics and laymen, united by their rejection the state’s intrusion in civil society. Giorgio Vittadini adds, “The state should build on people’s desire for fulfillment and assist everyone in their attempt to find happiness.”
2003. Is there a man who loves life and desires happy days?
A new venue for the Meeting after 23 years: much bigger and more attractive. The Meeting moves from the Palacongressi to Rimini’s New Trade Fair District. The spaces are more than tripled, there are garden areas, pools and more comfortable rooms. Attendance at the 2003 edition reaches 700,000.
2004. Our progress does not consist in presuming we have arrived, but in continually seeking the goal
The Meeting ends in the days when Italy was on the international scene because of the killing of the journalist Enzo Baldoni. Faced with this drama, which shows just how confused the Italian and international situation is, in the 25 years since its birth, the Meeting reveals itself as a true gesture of friendship. The international encounters are particularly significant: from that between the Foreign Ministers of Israel and Palestine, Silvan Shalom and Nebeel Shaat, chaired by Franco Frattini, Italian Foreign Minister, to that devoted to Africa, with Samson Lukare Kwaje, spokesperson of the Sudan Liberation Movement, Ahmed Abdel Rahman Mohmed, representing the Sudanese government and H.E. John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu. The press describes the visit of the president of Catholic Action Paola Bignardi as “historic.” She intervened with greetings during the meeting with Giuseppe Betori, the General Secretary of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.
2005. Freedom is the greatest good the heavens have given us
The press finds many events newsworthy. The first Meeting without Father Giussani, who died in February, surprises observers by the evidence of a paternity that continues in his successor, Juliàn Carròn, welcomed with a lengthy ovation. But the most surprising issue is the friendship with authoritative representatives of secular culture, who show their readiness to explore a hypothesis of reason which is open to reality. They include exceptional secularists such as Marcello Pera, Giuliano Ferrara, Giorgio Israel, Magdi Allam, Ernesto Galli della Loggia, Eugenia Roccella and numerous others: many of them will return the following year.
2006. Reason is the need for the infinite and it cultimates in the sigh and the presentiment that this infinite will manifest iteself
The Meeting is devoted to reason as an openness to the infinite and showcases an extraordinary event: the presentation of an Arabic edition of a book by Fr. Giussani, "The Religious Sense", by two Egyptian intellectuals, Farouq Wa'il, a professor of Islamic Sciences and Arabic, and Said Shoaib, a journalist. Professor Wa'il affirms that the concepts of reason and reality, as the author presents them, have no counterpart in Arabic culture, where the root of the word "realism" signifies "to fall from the sky" and implies the absence of the freedom of man in relation to reality, and the root meaning of the word reason is "to imprison." He concludes by observing that this book will foster "a true dialogue between cultures, because by recovering their elementary experience, mankind will be able to find a common language in which to conduct a dialogue." In the final communiqué, the Meeting underlines that "reason is also imprisoned in the West: reduced to the measure of all things, it ends in relativism." A few days later, at the University of Regensburg, Benedict XVI makes an important speech appealing for the correct use of reason and is attacked with unprecedented hostility by representatives of Islam as well as Western commentators.
2007. The Truth is the Destiny for which We have been Made
Great prominence is given to the opening day with the presence of Cardinal Bertone, who celebrates Holy Mass. In his sermon, the Secretary of State declares, in the climate of the present society, “people are going so far as to proclaim a radical distrust in the possibility of knowing the truth.” With Jews, Catholic, and Muslims engaging in dialogue in a climate of esteem and respect, scientists and theologians speaking of the friendship between faith and reason, business people and politicians laboriously seeking the path to the common good beyond alliances, international personalities who testify to a desire for peace, sufferings and the hopes in places such as Lebanon, Northern Ireland, the Basque Countries, Venezuela and Burundi, the Meeting revealed that the Other is not above all someone to fight but a help in discovering the Truth. Thousands of people have encountered the demand for truth, embracing the appeal to enlarge reason launched a year ago at Regensburg and following the invitation of Benedict XVI in his greetings to the Meeting at the Angelus of Sunday 19 August: “Realize the deepest vocation of man: to be a seeker of the truth and so a seeker of God.”
2008. Either protagonists or nobodies
The Meeting reveals the possibility to live as protagonists according to the content of the message of the Holy Father sent at the opening of the manifestation: “The Meeting intends to reaffirm that Christ alone can reveal to man his true dignity and communicate to him the authentic meaning of his life…This is the protagonism … he wants us to be his collaborators for the realization of his Kingdom.” The encounters titled “One can live this way” offered the testimony of people passionate by their own humanity, they have found an answer to the infinite need of their heart and have therefore become protagonists: Vicky and Rose among those with AIDS in Kampala, Cleuza and Marcos Zerbini among those without a land in San Paolo, father Aldo Trento in Asunción, Rosetta Brambilla in Belo Horizonte, sister Elvira from the community “The Last Supper” and Margherite Barankitse from Burundi, the prisoners that were guides showing the prisons that remained in the heads and hearts of the people because they testified a clearness in the look at life until the recognition of Christ as a true presences.
The Meeting, furthermore, renewed the encounter with intellectuals and writers that underlined the reason for which culture is not only an academic phenomena, but originates within being part of something, and it is documented as a critical consciousness and systematic of an experience. This was testified by Aharon Appelfeld, Michael O’Brien, John Waters and Gianpaolo Pansa, Javier Prades, Enzo Bettiza and Ivanovna Ljudmila Saraskina.
2009. Knowledge is always an event
The Meeting has documented how knowledge is not the result of a logical deductive thought, but an encounter between a human energy and a presence. To document this fact are the two main reports on the theme, the one by don Julián Carrón, President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation that through the figure of Saint Paul has witnessed the truth of the title chosen. And on the other hand, philosopher Carmine Di Martino who has showed the wide range of the theme within the journey of modernity. The Rimini week has been a succession of witnesses, new or well known: Amparito from Ecuador, the friends of Rione Sanità in Naples and Josè Berdini from Corridonia, father Aldo Trento from Paraguay, Marcos and Cleuza Zerbini from São Paulo in Brazil, Rose and Vicky from Kampala, the convicted of Padua. And moreover personalities from the world of culture, as Mary Ann Glendon, who introduced the theme of the “elementary experience” as root of the human rights. Or philosophers as Rémi Brague and Frabrice Hadjadj.
The thirty years Meeting opened with an exceptional international event, supported by Minister Frattini: the meeting of four leaders of African Countries, who spoke about peace and development. Totally unexpected has been the human and political witness of Tony Blair, which arrived until the public confession of the reasons of his conversion to the Catholic Church: the discovery of the universal nature of the Church.