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Rome & the World: popes on NATO • pilgrims rescue villages • & more … 

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Allison Bailey | NurPhoto | AFP

I.Media - published on 06/22/22

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 22 June 2022
1- The Pope’s position on Ukraine causes some misunderstanding in Brussels
2- Two churches attacked in northern Nigeria
3- What has been the Vatican’s position on NATO throughout history?
4- Will synodality change the world? A brief report from an Indian diocese leads us to believe it’s possible
5- Camino pilgrims help rural Spain’s emptying villages survive

1The Pope’s position on Ukraine causes some misunderstanding in Brussels

Jamie Dettmer of the news site Politico EU wonders whether Pope Francis’ ambiguous position on the Ukrainian conflict, especially when he questions NATO’s responsibility, does not amount to “placing temporal interests above spiritual and moral imperatives.” His criticism of the international arms industry, the author believes, is not acceptable if it is simply aimed at maintaining the link with Patriarch Kirill or if it is merely a form of “third-world-style criticism” of the West, inherited from a Peronist Argentina. The journalist does not hesitate to compare what he sees as support for Putin to the Lateran Agreement between Pius XI and Benito Mussolini in 1929, suggesting that the Catholic Church positions itself where it finds its interest. The journalist also wonders if this is not a leitmotif of his pontificate, accusing Francis of “kowtowing to Beijing by turning a blind eye to human rights violations in China.”

Politico, English

Two days after funerals were held for 40 people killed in Nigeria during Pentecost Mass, two more churches in the country, one Catholic and one Baptist, were attacked on June 19. At least three people were killed and more than 30 kidnapped. These latest attacks occurred in the rural northwestern state of Kaduna, and it is unclear who was behind them. The Christian Association of Nigeria condemned the assaults and said churches in Nigeria have become “targets” of armed groups. “It is very unfortunate that when we are yet to come out of the mourning of those killed in Owo two Sundays ago, another one has happened in Kaduna,” Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the association’s spokesman, told Associated Press. Nigeria has seen an increase recently in attacks in rural areas, even though tensions between Muslims and Christians have long been heated. 

Crux, English

3What has been the Vatican’s position on NATO throughout history?

A few days before the NATO summit in Madrid, which will be held from June 29 to 30 against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and the possible accession of Sweden and Finland to the Atlantic Alliance, the Spanish radio station Cope revisits the popes’ positions on the organization. “Since its creation in 1949, the Holy See has always shown its deep respect for the organization, which works for peace and not for war,” explains the article. In 1957, Pius XII invited NATO members to become “apostles of peace.” In 1968, Paul VI explained that it is a “school of defense and not offense.” In 1982, John Paul II spoke of NATO’s contribution to establishing “peace in all nations, among all peoples and in all human hearts.” The Polish Pope, obviously sensitive to NATO’s role as a bulwark against the threat posed by the Soviet Union, praised the organization’s efforts to “build a future marked by harmony, justice and peace.” However, recently Pope Francis made a surprising break with this line, referring to “NATO’s barking at the gates of Russia” and the fact that the war in Ukraine was “in a certain way provoked.” His statements have caused deep misunderstanding in the United States and Poland, in particular.

COPE, Spanish

4Will synodality change the world? A brief report from an Indian diocese leads us to believe it’s possible

Like other dioceses around the world, the diocese of Bombay has embarked on preparations for the upcoming Synod on Synodality. In two meetings held in early June, UCA News reports that nearly 200 people from the diocese came to discuss the topic. “They listened to one another, shared their grievances and discerned the way forward for the local Church,” explained the article. Four themes were discussed: first, that of a more inclusive Church, especially towards people with different sexual orientations, broken families, people with disabilities and people of other religions. The Church must also be more collaborative, to allow more space for the laity and to allow for better administration. It must also be faith-centered, with more spiritual guidance, not just sacramental. Finally, it must be “relevant,” and stop being “disconnected from the daily problems of the faithful, from the growing religious intolerance in the country and the violence against minorities.” The discussion had all the makings of an authentically synodal experience, according to the author of the article, who reports that the Bishop present exclaimed with joy at the end of the session, “the Church in Bombay has been born again!”

UCA News, English 

5Camino pilgrims help rural Spain’s emptying villages survive

Dozens of villages across Spain were built to host medieval pilgrims walking the 500-mile (800-kilometer) route to the Apostle James’ tomb in Santiago de Compostela. The pilgrims who still undertake this journey today are what is saving these villages from disappearing. Spain, like many other countries, has seen its countryside population dwindling through the decades as farmers and young people move to cities in search of employment. However, since the 1990s when the Camino regained popularity there has been an improvement in this trend. A Spanish professor of economics said the Camino has “put the brakes on depopulation,” which is 30% higher in Galician villages off the pilgrimage route.  “The villages next door, off the Camino — they make you cry. Homes falling in, the grass sprouting on the sidewalks up to here,”  said Raúl Castillo, an agent with the law enforcement agency that patrols Spain’s roads and villages, as he pointed to the height of a tabletop. While most pilgrims spend only around 50 euros a day, it stays local. Many times the daily visitors from all over the world outnumber residents tenfold in the tiniest hamlets, so the impact is huge. 

Associated Press, English

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