Friendship beyond belief

There's a beautiful story over at National Catholic Reporter about the deathbed visit of Bishop Rino Fisichella, rector of the Lateran University in Rome and friend of Pope Benedict XVI, to his friend Oriana Fallaci, provocative Italian atheist.

The lengthy excerpt from Fisichella's own reminiscences of his last moments with Fallaci was what really caught my eye. Here's a sample (emphases added):

... even though Oriana Fallaci said that she didn't believe, she had great hope.... During those days, a phrase came into my mind from the posthumously published book of Ignazio Silone called Severina. The protagonist is a sister who had left the convent, who is now dying from a wound she received during a protest. At a certain point, one of the sisters from the convent comes to her deathbed and takes her hand, saying, 'Severina, Severina, tell me that you believe!' Severina looks at her and says, 'No, but I hope.' I believe we Christians have a great responsibility to talk about our faith with the language of hope. Quite often, people won't understand us when we talk about the content of our faith. But without doubt, people of today can understand when we talk about hope, if we talk about the mystery of our existence and the meaning of our lives …

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