A Vatican-Watcher Goes Public -- With Her Conversion

Alessandra Borghese's Book Hailed as Courageous

ROME, OCT. 25, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A "courageous book" in which the author "has looked into her own being," is how Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls describes the volume in which a Vaticanist tells of her conversion.

"With New Eyes: Story of My Conversion," by journalist Alessandra Borghese, was recently published by Piemme in Italy, was presented last Wednesday in Rome in the Palazzo Ruspoli.

"This account of Alessandra has the rare quality of being a true story," Vatican spokesman Navarro Valls said at the meeting.

"There was a time, I am referring to England in the Victorian age, when to speak of the human body and its functions, including in literature, was inappropriate and indecent," he said.

"Today there is a new taboo: to speak of one's soul. Because of this silence on the soul, modern life is ever more impersonal and superficial," Navarro Valles noted.

In his opinion, "'With New Eyes' is a courageous book in this sense. The author has wished to look into the depths of her own being. And the human being is problematic for himself if he does not encounter God."

"In her pages she often refers to the topic of 'trusting' in God, which is something more than simple believing. ‘To trust' implies abandonment in the hands of someone who is the ultimate end of my existence," Navarro Valls added.

"To trust God is to grow in faith," added the former president of Italy, Francesco Cossiga.

But "the concept of faith is different from that of religion," he said. "The Greeks and Romans were also religious. To believe in God is an act of will, not of intelligence."

Borghese, who works for the weekly Panorama, also writes for Tempo and Newsweek.

"Why did I write this book?" she asked. "When a person encounters Jesus Christ through evangelical reflection, through the Eucharist and so many other experiences, his life can change enormously."

"On the external plane, my life hasn't changed much," Borghese said. "I continue to do the same things I did before, the same activities. But I live my life with new eyes. And I have not been able to keep this most beautiful experience to myself. So I have wished to use what little talent I have in writing to share my experience with all of you."

A descendant of the old Roman aristocracy, Alessandra Borghese gives testimony in 174 pages of her journey in faith, which began with her friendship with Leonardo Mondadori, who introduced her to Opus Dei.

That was the period of her conversion, with which the book begins. The author got to know better the personalities of the Church in Italy and the Vatican, entering finally in the world of journalism, when she was asked to be the Vaticanist for the weekly Panorama.

Acknowledging the literary quality of the new volume, Francesco Cossiga referred to the "courageous confessions" it contains, which are not spoiled by the "pride of virtue" that characterizes the Pharisees.

"A Catholic sinner is infinitely more holy than a proud Catholic," he added.