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Chapter 34

The driver who collected Bishop Aringarosa from Leonardo da Vinci International Airport pulledup in a small, unimpressive black Fiat sedan. Aringarosa recalled a day when all Vatican transportswere big luxury cars that sported grille-plate medallions and flags emblazoned with the seal of theHoly See. Those days are gone. Vatican cars were now less ostentatious and almost alwaysunmarked. The Vatican claimed this was to cut costs to better serve their dioceses, but Aringarosasuspected it was more of a security measure. The world had gone mad, and in many parts ofEurope, advertising your love of Jesus Christ was like painting a bull's-eye on the roof of your car.

  Bundling his black cassock around himself, Aringarosa climbed into the back seat and settled in forthe long drive to Castel Gandolfo. It would be the same ride he had taken five months ago.

  Last year's trip to Rome, he sighed. The longest night of my life.

  Five months ago, the Vatican had phoned to request Aringarosa's immediate presence in Rome.

  They offered no explanation. Your tickets are at the airport. The Holy See worked hard to retain aveil of mystery, even for its highest clergy.

  The mysterious summons, Aringarosa suspected, was probably a photo opportunity for the Popeand other Vatican officials to piggyback on Opus Dei's recent public success—the completion oftheir World Headquarters in New York City. Architectural Digest had called Opus Dei's building"a shining beacon of Catholicism sublimely integrated with the modern landscape," and lately theVatican seemed to be drawn to anything and everything that included the word "modern."Aringarosa had no choice but to accept the invitation, albeit reluctantly. Not a fan of the currentpapal administration, Aringarosa, like most conservative clergy, had watched with grave concernas the new Pope settled into his first year in office. An unprecedented liberal, His Holiness hadsecured the papacy through one of the most controversial and unusual conclaves in Vatican history.

  Now, rather than being humbled by his unexpected rise to power, the Holy Father had wasted notime flexing all the muscle associated with the highest office in Christendom. Drawing on anunsettling tide of liberal support within the College of Cardinals, the Pope was now declaring hispapal mission to be "rejuvenation of Vatican doctrine and updating Catholicism into the thirdmillennium."The translation, Aringarosa feared, was that the man was actually arrogant enough to think hecould rewrite God's laws and win back the hearts of those who felt the demands of true Catholicismhad become too inconvenient in a modern world.

  Aringarosa had been using all of his political sway—substantial considering the size of the OpusDei constituency and their bankroll—to persuade the Pope and his advisers that softening theChurch's laws was not only faithless and cowardly, but political suicide. He reminded them thatprevious tempering of Church law—the Vatican II fiasco—had left a devastating legacy: Churchattendance was now lower than ever, donations were drying up, and there were not even enoughCatholic priests to preside over their churches.

  People need structure and direction from the Church, Aringarosa insisted, not coddling andindulgence!

  On that night, months ago, as the Fiat had left the airport, Aringarosa was surprised to find himselfheading not toward Vatican City but rather eastward up a sinuous mountain road. "Where are wegoing?" he had demanded of his driver.

  "Alban Hills," the man replied. "Your meeting is at Castel Gandolfo."The Pope's summer residence? Aringarosa had never been, nor had he ever desired to see it. Inaddition to being the Pope's summer vacation home, the sixteenth-century citadel housed theSpecula Vaticana—the Vatican Observatory—one of the most advanced astronomicalobservatories in Europe. Aringarosa had never been comfortable with the Vatican's historical needto dabble in science. What was the rationale for fusing science and faith? Unbiased science couldnot possibly be performed by a man who possessed faith in God. Nor did faith have any need forphysical confirmation of its beliefs.

  Nonetheless, there it is, he thought as Castel Gandolfo came into view, rising against a star-filledNovember sky. From the access road, Gandolfo resembled a great stone monster pondering asuicidal leap. Perched at the very edge of a cliff, the castle leaned out over the cradle of Italiancivilization—the valley where the Curiazi and Orazi clans fought long before the founding ofRome.

  Even in silhouette, Gandolfo was a sight to behold—an impressive example of tiered, defensivearchitecture, echoing the potency of this dramatic cliffside setting. Sadly, Aringarosa now saw, theVatican had ruined the building by constructing two huge aluminum telescope domes atop the roof,leaving this once dignified edifice looking like a proud warrior wearing a couple of party hats.

  When Aringarosa got out of the car, a young Jesuit priest hurried out and greeted him. "Bishop,welcome. I am Father Mangano. An astronomer here."Good for you. Aringarosa grumbled his hello and followed his host into the castle's foyer—a wide-open space whose decor was a graceless blend of Renaissance art and astronomy images.

  Following his escort up the wide travertine marble staircase, Aringarosa saw signs for conferencecenters, science lecture halls, and tourist information services. It amazed him to think the Vaticanwas failing at every turn to provide coherent, stringent guidelines for spiritual growth and yetsomehow still found time to give astrophysics lectures to tourists.

  "Tell me," Aringarosa said to the young priest, "when did the tail start wagging the dog?"The priest gave him an odd look. "Sir?"Aringarosa waved it off, deciding not to launch into that particular offensive again this evening.

  The Vatican has gone mad. Like a lazy parent who found it easier to acquiesce to the whims of aspoiled child than to stand firm and teach values, the Church just kept softening at every turn,trying to reinvent itself to accommodate a culture gone astray.

  The top floor's corridor was wide, lushly appointed, and led in only one direction—toward a hugeset of oak doors with a brass sign.

  BIBLIOTECA ASTRONOMICAAringarosa had heard of this place—the Vatican's Astronomy Library—rumored to contain morethan twenty-five thousand volumes, including rare works of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton,and Secchi. Allegedly, it was also the place in which the Pope's highest officers held privatemeetings... those meetings they preferred not to hold within the walls of Vatican City.

  Approaching the door, Bishop Aringarosa would never have imagined the shocking news he wasabout to receive inside, or the deadly chain of events it would put into motion. It was not until anhour later, as he staggered from the meeting, that the devastating implications settled in. Six monthsfrom now! he had thought. God help us!

  Now, seated in the Fiat, Bishop Aringarosa realized his fists were clenched just thinking about thatfirst meeting. He released his grip and forced a slow inhalation, relaxing his muscles.

  Everything will be fine, he told himself as the Fiat wound higher into the mountains. Still, hewished his cell phone would ring. Why hasn't the Teacher called me? Silas should have thekeystone by now.

  Trying to ease his nerves, the bishop meditated on the purple amethyst in his ring. Feeling thetextures of the mitre-crozier appliqué and the facets of the diamonds, he reminded himself that thisring was a symbol of power far less than that which he would soon attain.

到列昂纳多。达。芬奇国际机场来接阿林加洛沙的司机开来的是一辆不起眼的黑色菲亚特小轿车。阿林加洛沙想起了过去。那时,梵蒂冈的车都是大型的豪华轿车,上面有栏杆和圆形雕饰,插着印有梵蒂冈城邦标志的旗帜。那个时代一去不复返了。梵蒂冈城的车辆现在已没有那么多的装饰了,有时候连标志都没有。梵蒂冈城声称这是为了缩减开支,以便更好地为教区服务,但阿林加洛沙则认为这可能是为了求安稳。整个世界都疯了,在欧洲的许多地方,公然表达对基督教的热爱,往往被视为像在自己的车顶上画个公牛眼一样,让人无法接受。

阿林加洛沙裹着黑色长袍,爬到车的后座上,准备开始前往岗道尔夫堡的漫长旅途。

五个月前他已经去过一次了。

他感叹道,去年的罗马之行,是我有生以来经历的最漫长的一个黑夜。

五个月前,梵蒂冈城打来电话,让阿林加洛沙立即到罗马来,但没有做任何的解释说明。已经为你订好了飞机票。梵蒂冈城邦竭力保持着一层神秘的色彩,即使对最高级的神职人员也不例外。

阿林加洛沙怀疑,这次神秘的聚会是为了让主教和其他梵蒂冈的官员有一个机会,展示天主事工会最近的一项杰作--他们完成了纽约总部的建设。《建筑文摘》称天主事工会的建筑是"将天主教精神与现代风景精妙融合的光辉典范"。近来,梵蒂冈似乎和什么都能扯上点关系,包括"现代"这个词。

阿林加洛沙别无选择,只好无奈地接受了这个邀请。阿林加洛沙像许多保守派的神职人员一样,并不是现任天主教会管理层的衷心拥护者,新教皇上任的第一年,他们就忧心忡忡地观望着教会的发展。在梵蒂冈历史上最有争议、最不同寻常的一次选举会议上,新教皇登上了宝座,这是一次史无前例的变革。现在,教皇并没有因为他的当选来得突然而表现谦逊,他立即与基督教最高管理组织一起准备采取行动。新教皇获取了枢机团中革新力量的支持,宣布他任期中的使命是"恢复梵蒂冈楔石的活力,使天主教适应第三个世纪"。

阿林加洛沙担心这恐怕意味着新教皇会自以为可以重写上帝的旨意,将那些认为天主教戒律已经不合时宜的人重新吸引回来。

阿林加洛沙以他辖区的选民和选民的财力为后盾,竭力劝告主教和他的顾问,告诉他们放宽教堂的法规不仅是不忠于上帝的怯懦表现,而且是等于放弃一切权力的自杀。他提醒他们上次放宽教堂法规的行动--颁布《梵蒂冈Ⅱ》--不仅遭遇了重大失败而且留下了极坏的影响:来教堂的人比以往任何时候都少,捐赠物匮乏,甚至没有足够多的牧师去主持教堂活动。

阿林加洛沙坚持认为,人们需要从教堂得到教育和指导,而不是溺爱和纵容。

但几个月前的那个晚上,当菲亚特离开机场的时候,阿林加洛沙惊异地发现车不是开向梵蒂冈城的,而是向东开上了弯曲的山路。"我们这是要去哪儿?"他问司机。

"奥尔本山。"司机回答。"你们的会议在岗道尔夫堡举行。"

主教的避暑山庄?阿林加洛沙从来没有去过,也没有想过要去。那座16 世纪的古堡不仅是主教的避暑山庄,而且也是梵蒂冈天文台--欧洲最先进的天文台--的所在地。阿林加洛沙一想到梵蒂冈的古迹要和科学沾上边,心里就觉得不舒服。把科学和信仰搀和在一起有何道理?人们没有对上帝的信仰,就找不到科学真理。信仰也不需要任何形式来证明自己。

尽管如此,它还是存在着,阿林加洛沙正想着,岗道尔夫堡已经浮现在眼前,它高耸在十一月的星空下。城堡坐落在悬崖的边缘,并向外倾斜着。从路上望去,它就像一个企图跳崖自尽的僧侣的石像。悬崖下面是意大利文明的发源地--罗马帝国成立前库里亚兹与奥拉齐两个苏格兰民族交战的地方。

岗道尔夫堡的外形轮廓十分引人注目,那一排防御用的城墙,与它坐落在崖边的险要位置共同展现出古堡的威严。令阿林加洛沙难过的是,现在架在古堡顶上的两个巨大的铝制望远镜将梵蒂冈城堡的形象毁于一旦,使这个曾经威严的建筑就像一个顶着怪帽子的骄傲武士。

阿林加洛沙下车后,一个年轻的基督教牧师急忙迎了上来,问候道:"主教,欢迎您。我是曼古拉教父,也是这里的天文工作者。"

你还真行。阿林加洛沙敷衍地打了个招呼,跟随着接待人进入了城堡的前厅--那是一个开阔的空间,但装修却并不高雅,那文艺复兴时期的艺术风格中还夹杂进了天文学的元素。他跟随着陪同者走上了宽阔的大理石台阶,看到了会议室的标牌、科学讲堂的标牌以及旅行服务台的标牌。令他难以置信的是一贯为人们的精神升华提供指引的梵蒂冈城堡还会为旅游者提供天体物理学的讲座。

"你说说看。"阿林加洛沙问那个年轻的牧师。"尾巴什么时候开始摇狗了?"

牧师用惊异的眼光看着他:"先生,您说什么?"

阿林加洛沙摆手不再提这个话题,他决定今晚不再冒犯什么人。整个梵蒂冈城都疯了。就像一些懒惰的父母,认为默许孩子的娇纵任性比对他严加管教来得省事,教堂处处放宽法规,想重塑自己,去适应那迷乱的文化。

顶楼的走廊很宽阔,两旁有许多房间。它通往一扇挂着铜牌的橡木门,铜牌上写着:天文学图书馆。

阿林加洛沙听说过这个地方--梵蒂冈城的天文学图书馆--谣传那里有两万五千多卷藏书,其中包括哥白尼、伽利略、开普勒、牛顿和赛奇的珍贵著作。据说那也是教皇的最高级官员召开秘密集会的地方……他们不想在梵蒂冈城内召开那种会议。

走向那扇门的时候,阿林加洛沙主教无论如何也想象不到他将会听到怎样令人震惊的消息,也想象不到那消息将引起怎样的连锁反应。一个小时不到,他跌跌撞撞地从里面走出来,脑海中回荡着那个可怕的消息。从现在算起还有六个月!他想着,上帝救救我们吧!

此时,坐在菲亚特轿车中的阿林加洛沙意识到自己正在回想那次会议,拳头都捏得咯咯作响。他吐了口气,又慢慢地吸了口气,放松了一下肌肉。

一切都会好起来的,他自语道,此时菲亚特轿车正沿着蜿蜒的公路向山上行驶。导师怎么还不打电话给我?现在塞拉斯应该已经找到那块石头了。

为了缓解一下紧张的情绪,阿林加洛沙把玩着戒指上的那块紫水晶。抚摸着戒指上那教冠和教杖的花纹和宝石,他提醒自己,这个戒指所象征的权力可远远比不上他即将获得的大权。



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