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Rome & the World: the horror of war in pictures; Ukrainian refugees in a rectory; & more …

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Vladimir Astapkovich | Sputnik | Sputnik via AFP

I.Media - published on 04/20/22

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 20 April 2022
1. The Kremlin’s “holy war” against Ukraine: how the Russian Orthodox Church has given ideological backing to the invasion 
2. In pictures: The horror of the war in Ukraine
3. Latin America is becoming more secular
4. In Italy, a shrine to World War II victims becomes a home for Ukrainian refugees
5. A well-known Italian singer performs as the Pope’s opening act


The Kremlin’s “holy war” against Ukraine: how the Russian Orthodox Church has given ideological backing to the invasion 

The Financial Times looks at the support given by the Patriarch of Moscow to Russia’s offensive in Ukraine. Surprising from a Western perspective, this convergence of views between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin is part of a collaboration that has been accelerating for several decades. “After being suppressed for decades under communism, the church has formed a curious bond with the descendants of the Soviet intelligence services that used to be its persecutors. It has been well rewarded in return, with privileges for its top hierarchy and thousands of new churches being built,” the newspaper notes, mentioning in particular the inauguration in 2020 of a Cathedral of the Russian armed forces. “Though not formally a part of it, the Russian Orthodox Church has become a de facto pillar of Putin’s autocratic regime,” denounces the London business daily. However the Patriarch of Moscow is losing his authority over the Ukrainian Orthodox who have remained under his jurisdiction: Some of his own clergy are demanding that he be tried by an ecclesiastical court for having blessed the massacres.

Financial Times, English

In pictures: The horror of the war in Ukraine

The New York Times offers a shocking photo report on the war in Ukraine. The dozens of images taken by the photographers of the famous newspaper plunge us into the horror of the war. Bodies crushed by weapons, collapsed houses, mothers crying for their children, refugees by the hundreds, broken roads, coffins piling up… The New York daily reveals the macabre scenes of a conflict that has been going on in Eastern Europe for nearly two months. A report that reminds us of the urgency of a cease-fire.

The New York Times, English 

Latin America is becoming more secular

The British weekly The Economist gives a snapshot of the shrinking number of Catholics in Latin America. Although this geographical region holds more than a third of the world’s Catholics, the numbers have been decreasing for decades : in 1995, 80% of people in Latin America identified as Catholic while today only 56% do. Many have become Evangelical Christians instead, which have risen from representing 3.5% of the population in 1995, to 19% today. The Economist highlights though that “an even more striking trend” is the “ningunas” (“nones”), meaning those who do not identify with any religion at all. This share of people has quadrupled to 16% since 1995 and is particularly high among the young and those who have had access to higher education. However, the article emphasizes that many of the “ningunas” still have spiritual beliefs of some sort and that religious identities seem to be becoming more fluid and mixed, with people attending more than one type of religious service for example. 

The Economist, English

In Italy, a shrine to World War II victims becomes a home for Ukrainian refugees

Yuri, his wife Irina, their three children ages 11, 7 and 4, his mother-in-law Valentina and their dog Sonia fled Odessa when the first explosions sounded overhead at the beginning of the Russian invasion. Since March 3, the Ukrainian family has been living in the rectory of the Strà sanctuary in Piacenza. Don Mario Dacrema and many of the inhabitants welcomed them and provided them with food and clothing. Since that day, and every morning, Yuri opens the door of the shrine of Strà at 7 am and turns the page of the lectionary on the readings of the day. Below them, in the crypt under the foundations of the presbytery, are engraved in marble the names of the 9 civilians who were killed by the German forces on July 30, 1944, reminding us of the horror that every armed conflict produces. Yuri has started to work in a local company. Irina hopes to find a job as a cultural mediator: “I want to be useful,” she explains with gratitude.

L’Avvenire, Italian  

A well-known Italian singer performs as the Pope’s opening act

On Easter Monday, Pope Francis met with more than 50,000 Italian teenagers gathered in St. Peter’s Square. It was the first big meeting with youth organized in the Vatican since the beginning of the pandemic and the implementation of health restrictions. At the event, a young Italian singer, Blanco, 19 years old and very well known among teenagers, sang “Brividi” (meaning “chills”). This song will represent Italy in the next Eurovision Song Contest and was the recent winner of the Sanremo Italian music festival (sung with the artist Mahmood). Blanco expressed his joy on social networks after performing on this very special stage: “I love you. I have no words. Thank you all for this opportunity.” Michele Fabretti, in charge of youth ministry at the Italian Bishops’ Conference, explained the presence of the young singer by saying that he was “the interpreter of Italian adolescents.”

Vida Nueva Digital, Spanish 

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