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Rome & the World: Christians unite on Jerusalem • Pope’s confessor remembers Bergoglio • & more …

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@avishai kapach

I.Media - published on 05/24/22

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.

Tuesday 24 May 2022
1. Leader of Polish bishops: “The Vatican’s approach to Russia should change to become more mature”
2. Middle Eastern Churches’ concern for Jerusalem
3. The Bible in cinema: Which films to watch?
4. Nicaragua archdiocese demands Ortega regime ends ‘siege’ of church properties
5. The Pope’s confessor in Buenos Aires, 95 years old, tells of ‘his’ Bergoglio

1Leader of Polish bishops: “The Vatican’s approach to Russia should change to become more mature”

The president of the Polish Bishops’ Conference denounces the “naive and utopian” approach of papal diplomacy toward Russia. He believes that the Holy See has not developed a sufficiently serious approach to the Russian threat, and that it underestimates the experience of Central European countries. He explains that the main motivation for the Russian aggression on Ukraine was “the fear that the democracy that has taken root there would penetrate the Russian Federation and break it up from within,” which Putin cannot allow. The most important thing now is that “the Holy See supports Ukraine at all levels and does not allow itself to be guided by utopian thoughts drawn from liberation theology.” The president of the Polish episcopate also welcomes the acceleration of the process of Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation, 80 years after the beginning of the genocide of 1942-1944, during which 100,000 Poles were massacred by Ukrainian militiamen. This event, largely unknown in Western Europe, has remained very present in Polish collective memory, but the urgency of solidarity in the face of the Russian attack has won out over the wounds of the past. 

eKAI, Polish

2Middle Eastern Churches’ concern for Jerusalem

For the first time, the Middle East Council of Churches – which brings together Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical leaders from the region – met in Egypt for four days. In their final declaration, the council members placed particular emphasis on Jerusalem and the preservation of the holy places. In an extremely tense context following the death of a Palestinian Christian journalist, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, recalled that Christians could not remain silent, that “the Holy City has a Christian character” and that it must be preserved, visible and respected. In the final document, the Christian leaders also wanted to remind the international community of “the importance of strengthening the Christian presence in the City of Peace,” where Christ died and rose again. As Terre Sainte reports, this ecumenical council, founded in 1974, aims to strengthen the unity of Christian communities in the Middle East on issues of common concern, build bridges with Western churches, and foster dialogue with other religions in the region, especially Muslims.

Terre Sainte, French

3The Bible in cinema: Which films to watch?

Matthew Page, author of the book 100 Bible Films, out in June 2022, recounts how cinema and film has changed its manner of depicting the Bible throughout the decades. The very first “Jesus film,” the author explains, was La Passion du Christ (1897), commissioned by a French Catholic organization trying to fight secularism. Page said in the late 19th century and early 20th century, many filmmakers were “drawn to the sense of mystery” and “the connection between heaven and earth,” learning camera tricks to portray miraculous events. “As the medium grew, so many saw the movies as a way to preach about God’s laws that was also entertaining,” Page explains, citing Cecil B DeMille’s first version of The Ten Commandments (1923). In the late 20th century Page says filmmakers “rediscovered cinema’s potential to spread Christian beliefs,” but also used the medium to challenge these values, such as in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973). At the turn of the century he says approaches became more diverse and today a “more contemplative style of filmmaking has emerged,” such as in Mary Magdalene (2018). 

Catholic Herald, English   

4Nicaragua archdiocese demands Ortega regime ends ‘siege’ of church properties

“We have called on the national police to abandon this unnecessary attitude (of siege),” says a statement by the Archdiocese of Managua, capital of Nicaragua, led by Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, where two parishes are under siege by the police. Since Friday, the police have surrounded the Santo Cristo de las Colinas parish, where Bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, took refuge on Thursday night, Crux reports. The Bishop declared a fast to protest the persecution and harassment he said he has been suffering by the police. Bishop Álvarez has questioned the Ortega government’s repressive tactics against the opposition. Another parish, San Juan Bautista Church in the southern city of Masaya, on the outskirts of Managua, has been under police surveillance for a week, and the priest, Father Harving Padilla, has been banned from leaving the premises. “They have violated the right to our Christian life,” he said. “You have surrounded the entire perimeter of the church, have closed the streets [leading to it]. I would like to know why the faithful are not allowed in for Mass, and why you have me here, locked,” he told the policemen. The relations between the Church and the state have been increasingly tense over the years as the regime in place has amplified its aggression against the opposition. 

Crux, English

5The Pope’s confessor in Buenos Aires, 95 years old, tells of ‘his’ Bergoglio

Brother Luis Dri is a 95-year-old Capuchin friar who lives in a monastery in a working-class neighborhood of Buenos Aires. It was here that years ago he baptized the country’s “legend,” the footballer Diego Armando Maradona. It was also in this city that he was chosen to become the confessor of his bishop, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, with whom he developed a “great friendship,” the Spanish magazine Alfa y Omega explains. After becoming Pope, Francis made Brother Dri the protagonist of a book on confession a few years ago. He marvels at how the Pope has not forgotten him since coming to Rome and even calls him on his birthday. “He has so much to do with the war and he remembers this fool,” says the old man amazed, taking no credit for his qualities as a confessor. “God gave me the gift of forgiveness, and the gift of always being ready to forgive,” he says.

Alfa y Omega, Spanish 

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