Thomas Merton: Figure of reference for the modern world

On the morning of Thursday, September 24th 2015, Pope Francis gave his speech to the US Congress in which he touched various issues of today’s world: war, social injustice, death penalty, environmental pollution, family breakdown. At the core of his speech was a call to four important protagonists of recent American history: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

The first as ‘ guardian of freedom ‘, the second for his ‘ dream of full civil and political rights for all African Americans ‘, the third for ‘ his social activism, his passion for Justice and for the cause of the oppressed’ , and the last for ‘ the capacity for dialogue and openness to God ‘.       

In speaking of Thomas Merton has stated: « a hundred years ago, at the beginning of World War II, Pope Benedict XV called ‘ useless slaughter ‘, was another American: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a great guide to many people. In his autobiography, he writes: ‘ … I came to the world. Made in the image of God, then free for nature, was however a slave of violence and selfishness, in the image of the world in which I was born. That world was the picture of hell, full of men like me, who loved God and yet hated him and were born to love, living in fear and despair of contradictory desires ‘. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who defied the certainties of his time and opened new horizons for the soul and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, promoter of peace among peoples and religions ».

The reference to these great American characters was highlighted in the international press and then also in the most important Italian newspapers. The International Thomas Merton Society welcomed the relief accorded by Pope Francesco Trappist and writer, reporting documentation and videos on the site and other social networks.

We recall that the figure of Merton was removed from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 2006, because it was considered ‘ monk fell into bad habits and that in the last period of his life was turning to the East, looking not quite Christian consolations, Eastern spirituality … ‘.

Rose Marie Berger, peace activist and poet, wrote recently: “it’s time that the Catholic Church in America place again Thomas Merton to its rightful place, as an example of  Catholic faith within the genius of American democracy, in our catechism, in our churches and in our political life.” It is an exhortation that we also make our and that cannot be denied.