John L. Allen Jr.: Bishop calls on the media to take a hard look in the mirror

(Crux) Although he’s hardly a household name, even in Church circles, I’ve always thought Bishop Mario Toso, a Salesian who now heads the Diocese of Faenza-Modigliana in the central Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, is an interesting figure.

(By the way, Toso sort of won the lottery with his present assignment, because Emilia-Romagna’s claim to fame is producing some of the best food in a country legendary for its kitchen. Waiters and shop-keepers in Italy often will tell you they’ve got something today freschissimo, or “really fresh,” from Emilia-Romagna, the same way American waiters will say their cheesecake is fresh from the Bronx or their lobster from Maine.)

From 2009 to 2015, Toso served as the number two official at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which has been since absorbed into the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development under Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. When Turkson first took over at the council, he had little experience of navigating the shoals of the Vatican, and Toso provided some Italian insider’s touch.

What makes Toso compelling is that whenever he talks about an issue relevant to Catholic social teaching – the environment, for instance, or war and peace, or poverty relief, or abortion and the defense of human life – he’ll clearly articulate where the Church stands, but he rarely comes off as impassioned or excitable, and he doesn’t inject himself into the story.

Toso is always calm, collected, and, one might say, “buttoned-down,” while staying solidly within the bounds of tradition. In that sense, Toso is sort of a living reminder that Catholic social teaching isn’t about the passions of a given figure, but a corporate body of teaching. [More]