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Rome & the World: Stephen King’s theology • “Pontifexit” • & more …

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I.Media - published on 05/12/22

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.

Thursday 12 May 2022
1- French priest Patrick Desbois investigates Russian abuses in Ukraine
2- Lithuanian Catholics and Orthodox are worried about Russia
3- “Pontifexit”: the Roman papacy and the West
4- Sri Lankan priests, nuns play mediators to avert violence
5- A theological interpretation of Stephen King’s novels

French priest Patrick Desbois investigates Russian abuses in Ukraine

Father Patrick Desbois is a French Catholic priest who is currently the scientific coordinator of the Babi Yar Memorial in Kyiv. For some time now, he has been accumulating evidence of war crimes committed by Russian soldiers. To do this, he collects, via Zoom, summaries of executions, testimonies of victims of rape and assault, as well as the stories of people whose relatives were injured or killed by Russian soldiers. Witnesses commit themselves to speak openly, providing personal data, their real identity, telephone number, and e-mail address. “These are people who wish with all their heart that the Russian killers be judged,” explains Father Desbois, who is not afraid to draw a parallel between these massacres and those perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews in this same region in 1941. It was after the repercussions of the discovery of mass graves in Bucha that the French priest embarked on this vast mission. “There are many cases like Bucha, unfortunately,” he adds, hoping that these testimonies will be used in future international judicial proceedings.

Il Messaggero, Italian

Lithuanian Catholics and Orthodox are worried about Russia

The Baltic state of Lithuania, which borders the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, feels particularly endangered by Russia’s aggressiveness. The majority of Lithuania’s population is Catholic, but there is also an Orthodox minority affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate. However in the capital, Vilnius, the 120,000 Orthodox want to break away from the Kremlin’s grip. “We strongly condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine and we pray to God for its rapid conclusion,” said Metropolitan Innocent, affirming his disagreement with Patriarch Kirill but without considering joining the fold of the Patriarch of Constantinople, claimed by part of the Orthodox clergy. For its part, the Catholic episcopate is worried that the Lithuanians will become Putin’s “next victims,” and denounces the “hybrid war already in action,” particularly referring to the migratory pressure at the Belarusian border.

Settimana News, Italian

“Pontifexit”: the Roman papacy and the West

Church historian and academic in the USA, Massimo Faggioli, explains how Pope Francis’ papacy “is leaving behind its identification with the West,” in what he calls a “Pontifexit,” like Britain’s exit from the European Union. Faggioli explains this is a trend that started with Pope John XXIII’s rejection of nuclear war in 1963 and also continued strongly under Benedict XVI, who eliminated “Patriarch of the West” from the titles ascribed to the pontiff. However, the author says that Pope Francis has taken it much further. “Francis has done this from an ecclesiastical and theological point of view with his emphasis on decentralization, inculturation, and ‘the peripheries.'” But he has also done this from a geopolitical point of view, and this has been very visible from the beginning of his ‘liminal papacy,’ the Italian academic explains, citing Pope Francis’ assessment of the struggle between NATO and Russia in the war in Ukraine. “The question is no longer whether Catholicism and the papacy will become less European and more global. […] The question is how the global papacy will relate to a multiplicity of world powers and their conflicting, political-religious legitimizing narratives,” the author concludes. 

La Croix International, English

Sri Lankan priests, nuns play mediators to avert violence

As serious riots rock Sri Lanka, priests and nuns have teamed up with Muslim leaders to counter sectarian violence in the city of Negombo, a predominantly Catholic community. Several businesses and vehicles belonging to local Muslims were attacked on May 10 and four people were injured. Catholic clerics took to the streets to deter the rioters, providing a peacekeeping presence late into the night. Their intervention prevented a pro-government rally. The authorities, sympathetic to the Sinhalese population, are trying to deflect the people’s anger over the economic collapse by using Muslims as scapegoats. “All these attacks must be stopped immediately,” said Cardinal Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo.

UCANews, English

A theological interpretation of Stephen King’s novels

The German Jesuit Klaus Mertes presents in La Civiltà Cattolica, a prestigious Italian Jesuit magazine linked to the Holy See, a surprising theological rereading of the work of American writer Stephen King, “considered for years to be the most prolific and perhaps the most widely read author of horror literature.” The confrontation with diabolical violence leads to the question of the psalmist, which is also that of Jesus on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Stephen King’s books feature “a struggle between good and evil, between reason and deception, between responsibility and hatred, between childish naivety and Satan’s cunning.” In his stories, resistance to evil can only be achieved through “a moral choice,” the German Jesuit assures. The denunciation of the greed linked to the consumer society can also be interpreted in a Christian way. The “triumph of God over evil” can only be achieved through a free choice of the people, and their renunciation of the easy trap of “self-redemption.”

La Civiltà Cattolica, Spanish

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