The life of the missionary Monsignor Alberto Bottari de Castello. “The experiences in 40 years of service have changed me”


On 5 July the Montebellunese monsignor will be 78 years old Alberto Bottari de Castello he dedicated his life to the service of the Church. He has seen seven popes, from Pius XII to Pope Francis, in addition to Italian, he speaks French, English, Spanish and Arabic, but knows several other languages ​​for having traveled the world thanks to his diplomatic positions as representative of the Holy See.

Monsignor Bottari, in his very high role, was able to get to know the people who populate our planet, poverty and hunger, wars, natural disasters and power.

On 11 September 1966 he was ordained a priest for the diocese of Treviso by Monsignor Antonio Mistrorigo. In 1973 he obtained his doctorate for service in pontifical representations.

He was thus sent to Ecuador from 1973 to 1978, to Syria from 1979 to 1982, to Zaire from 1982 to 1983 and to the United States of America from 1983 to 1987 (where he met Mother Teresa of Calcutta).

In 1976 he was appointed chaplain of His Holiness. In 1999 John Paul II nominated him the titular Archbishop of Foraziana (Tunisia) the ancient episcopal see of Bizacena and apostolic nuncio in Gambia, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone on 18 December 1999. Pope Benedict XVI will later appoint him apostolic nuncio to Japan (in 2005) and Hungary (in 2007). In December 2017, Pope Francis accepted his resignation from office due to age limits and Monsignor Bottari returned to live in his hometown, Montebelluna.

“My experience – explains Monsignor Bottari to our microphones – it was a path of the Church that I was asked for, that I had not chosen, so much so that I made the first three years of priesthood in Nervesa. Then diplomatic studies in Rome, then in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. I did 40 years of service to the Holy See, but also 12 years as a missionary in Cameroon. To tell the truth I have relived, in these lock-down months, experiences that I had already had especially in Africa and Latin America. Living as a missionary, in particular, and also as a diplomat from the Holy See leads you to be close to the people. In New Guinea I was in a humble rented house, I wasn’t in an embassy. Being forced today to leave so many things to which we are accustomed, made me think back to when I was in countries where you touch poverty and live poorly. Where there are no hospitals, there are no communication routes. Those things change you. I remember, when every now and then I came home and observed how much waste there was here in Italy and how there was no need for all this. The pandemic made us partially experience this and we learned that everything we had was not really so necessary. We have rediscovered many values, including respect for others, living in the family, making sacrifices thinking of others. I think these two months have given us a lesson. We have seen how nature has taken up its spaces again and we must learn to respect it a little more. I think something will remain, even if I am a little afraid, because we are all weak and sinners. Some nightlife shows say that we are a little easy to forget, but fortunately it is not for everyone. ”

The Vatican has been subjected to some criticism for not having had a more active role during this pandemic: “One of the things I learned, traveling the world not to visit but to live, is that it is not easy to judge. We must observe and put ourselves in the shoes of others. The Italian Church is made up not only of cardinals or bishops, but also of priests, nuns, deacons and lay people. Let’s start thinking about what the Church has done in this period, because there are so many very good examples. The Vatican has diplomatic relations with 190 countries in the world, so the Vatican’s gaze is not only Italy, it is the world. The good that the Vatican is doing in the world is great, I am witnessing it because I was also an instrument of this. The help that the Pope, through the congregations, is giving to Africa, Latin America, even Asia, is great. I have found missionaries in all countries, including many Venetians. It is a question that also requires an examination of conscience: the commitment is great, we are men, we are weak, and being able to meet all needs is not easy. Just this morning I read that a Josephite bishop died in Ecuador in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest. Another phone call warned me of the death of two missionaries in the Congo. All away from home, away from the family. This is the demonstration of the sacrifice of the Church. While admitting that we still have a lot to do, I think the Church has the ability to be an example, a message, an invitation to have positive feelings, to want to do and not to step back ”.

(Source: Flavio Giuliano ©
(Photos and videos: © reserved reproduction).

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