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Rome & the World: abuse in New Zealand, Spain • worshipping in virtual reality

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I.Media - published on 02/02/22

Every day, Aleteia offers a selection of articles written by the international press about the Church and the major issues that concern Catholics around the world. The opinions and views expressed in these articles are not those of the editors.

Wednesday 2 February 2022
1 –  The Church in New Zealand admits 14% of clergy have been accused of abuse since 1950
2 –  I’m a ‘traditional’ Catholic. That’s exactly why I love Pope Francis. (Opinion)
3 – Why the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches split
4 – In Spain the State Attorney General’s Office takes on the investigation of abuse cases in the Church
5 – Why a growing number of people are choosing to worship in virtual reality

1The Church in New Zealand admits 14% of clergy have been accused of abuse since 1950

The Catholic Church in New Zealand released figures revealing that 14% of its diocesan clergy have been accused of abuse since 1950. This is the first time these figures have been collated and they were made public at the request of the royal commission on abuse in care, set up by the prime minister Jacinda Ardern in 2018. The investigation examined records across the dioceses and congregations of the country and took into account allegations of physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse and also neglect. Failure to act on reports or actions that facilitated abuse were also considered in the inquiry. 

The Guardian, English

“A pope asking for prayer; a pope offering prayer.” For theologian Terence Sweeney, who describes himself as a “traditionalist,” this is the key to Francis’ papacy. In an article published in the Jesuit magazine America, he defends the Argentine pontiff. If post-Vatican II Catholicism was a “disaster,” he believes, Pope Francis has begun a life-saving renewal. Professor Sweeney deplores the “vitriolic” portrayal by traditionalists. He argues that the current pope is in fact “very traditional,” by carrying out the reforms of Vatican II, sending out missionaries across the globe and by continuously calling Catholics to pray for him and the world. 

America, English

3Why the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches split

For decades, Ukraine’s Russian-affiliated Orthodox Christian branch was the only one in the country recognised by Orthodox church leaders. Then on January 5, 2019, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, a separate body with no ties to Russia, was granted self-governing status by the head of the Orthodox church in Constantinople, creating tensions between the various churches that still remain today and also causing political repercussions. The Economist explains in its article that these frictions reflect a division in Ukraine between an independent European identity and Russian influence. Despite the protests from Russian Orthodox leaders and President Putin himself, The Economist explains that “church autonomy in Ukraine is almost certainly irreversible and will hasten the cultural divorce from Russia.”

The Economist, English

4In Spain the State Attorney General’s Office takes on the investigation of abuse cases in the Church.

The Spanish Attorney General’s Office (FGE) has taken on the investigation of the allegations of sexual abuse of minors committed by members of the clergy. It has ordered 17 senior prosecutors across the country to refer all criminal proceedings to the FGE for compilation within the next 10 days. According to the Spanish newspaper El País, which was the first to reveal the extent of the abuse allegations in the country, and also confirmed by the Spanish government, the FGE is “within the scope of its autonomy and powers.” The government also said that it is considering other actions in order to investigate the situation and prevent abuse within the Church from occurring. 

InfoLibre, Spanish

5Why a growing number of people are choosing to worship in virtual reality

The Associated Press reports on the emergence of religious celebrations in the Metaverse, a virtual reality that is gaining momentum given the physical restrictions brought on by the pandemic and the massive investments made by Facebook’s parent company, Meta. One pastor who, under the pseudonym of DJ Soto, gathers about 200 people in virtual gatherings, says that “it’s not an anti-physical thing.”

“I don’t think the physical gatherings should go away, but in the church of 2030, the main focus is going to be your metaverse campus,” Pastor Soto explained. A woman suffering from a crippling disease and confined since 2010 explains that she met Jesus through these means. She received a virtual “baptism” in 2018 as a result.

Associated Press, English

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