VATICAN CITY — Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, hopped over to Rome and the Vatican this week to promote his new book, “A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World.”
The first-time author, whose book and related survey were unveiled last week at events in Washington and New York, got a warm welcome and rave reviews in Rome during his book presentation, which was hosted by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi and Vatican Radio.
Too bad the book’s backcover jacket is already covered with blurbs from top Catholic commentators — there’s no room now for the thumbs-up reviews the book got from the Vatican. So I’ll just share a few snippets of what Vatican panelists said during today’s presentation:
Father Lombardi, head of the Vatican’s press office, television station and Vatican Radio, called it “a very important and interesting book.” He continued:
“(Carl Anderson) has presented the big issues, the big problems of the world of today, the challenges we see before us. And in a very clear, simple language he has helped not only the Knights of Columbus, but many other people to understand, to reflect what can we do to solve these big challenges.”
U.S. Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary and former president of the Vatican’s laity council, said the book is “a meditation upon rebirth” and “a reflection on St. John’s ‘God is love.’”
“(Anderson) states his purpose is to outline the way the Catholic laity should create a civilization of love. Carl Anderson has discovered his mature identity as a Catholic by his fidelity to the sources of revelation, sacred Scriptures, and the sacred tradition.”
The president of Rome’s Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, Msgr. Livio Melina, praised the book for having “the courage to propose a great, positive vision” and realistic ideals that Christians and all people of good will can work toward.
Msgr. Melina said he liked how each chapter ended with “original suggestions for contemplation and action” which, in his opinion, made the book:
“a modern handbook of spiritual exercises that update the Ignatian spiritual exercises for the lay Christian of our day. It is concerned with the practice of seeing reality with new eyes, thinking with new criteria, and acting according to new perspectives.”
Finally, Msgr. Jean Laffitte, vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, underlined Anderson’s assertion “that Christians have the responsibility to transform culture radically.”
But, he said, the author is advocating a moral, ethical revolution
“not by imposing values … from above, but through a subtler, more powerful process: living a vocation of love in the day to day reality of our lives. A love whose actions are grounded in the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.”
Dismantling the “culture of suspicion” and building up a civilization of love “involves a personal willingness to see Christ in the suffering of all human beings around us such that our only response to them is one of responsibility for them in love,” said Msgr. Laffitte.
He also lauded Anderson’s book as being “a new powerful tool for which to expand the new evangelization to every world culture.”