The new Mayor of the city of Rome, Ignazio Marino, just announced his intention to destroy one of the city’s central roads, the Via dei Fori Imperiali, and turn the area around the old Roman Forum into the world’s largest archaeological park. Reactions have ranged from commuters’ groans to declarations from classicists that this single act proves the nobility of the human species.
This curious range of reactions seems the perfect moment for me to discuss something I have intended to talk about for some time: the shape of the City of Rome itself. We all know the long, rich history of the Roman people, and the city’s importance as the center of an empire, and thereafter as the center of the memory of that empire, whose echo, long after its end, still so defines Western concepts of power, authority and peace. What I intend to discuss instead is the geographic city, and how its shape and layers grew gradually and constantly, shaped by famous events, but also by the centuries you won’t hear much about in a traditional history of the city. The different parts of Rome’s past left their fingerprints on the city’s shape in far more direct ways than one tends to realize, even from visiting and walking through the city. Rome’s past shows not only in her monuments and ruins, but in the very layout of the streets themselves…
It’s a fascinating and informative post.
So has warned a Chaldean Catholic bishop in Syria:
A Syrian Chaldean Catholic bishop on Monday warned that an armed intervention in Syria could unleash a “world war”, while the Vatican’s official newspaper called for more “prudence” from Western powers.
“If there is an armed intervention, that would mean, I believe, a world war. That risk has returned,” Monsignor Antoine Audo of Aleppo told Vatican radio.
“We hope that the pope’s call for real dialogue between the warring parties to find a solution can be a first step to stop the fighting,” he said.
Audo is also the head of the Syrian arm of the international Catholic charity Caritas and has repeatedly warned about the human cost of the war.
The Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, meanwhile criticised Western powers in an editorial.
“The drumbeat of an armed intervention by Western powers is becoming ever more insistent and ever less restrained by prudence,” it said.
“Several representatives of these countries say they are convinced that the accusation that the Syrian army used chemical weapons is founded — a question which the United Nations is investigating,” he said.
Pope Francis on Sunday called for the international community to help find a solution to the civil war.
“I launch an appeal to the international community to be more sensitive to this tragic situation and to commit itself to the maximum to help the dear Syrian nation find a solution to a war which spreads destruction and death,” he said.