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.
Friday 24 June 2022
1. Reframing the polarity between Francis and Benedict as a plus
2. Cardinal Schönborn warns against an “instrumentalization of abuse” by the German synodal path
3. Chastity before and in marriage: a lot of noise about nothing in Italy
4. Moral theology is in crisis, according to an American theologian
5. Afghan Christians seek new hope in Pakistan
Reframing the polarity between Francis and Benedict as a plus
In an opinion article, Crux journalist John Allen highlights the “historic anomaly of two living popes, one governing and one emeritus, both resident in the Vatican but neither in the Apostolic Palace, who, in flesh and bone, seem to incarnate two alternative agendas for the Catholic future.” He says these competing visions are often brought out into the political and ecclesial arena, sometimes overlapping with the political divisions between the left and the right. Allen cites scholars, experts, and observers who see the polarity of Francis and Benedict as exacerbating these divisions. However, Allen proposes an alternative reading saying Catholicism is supposed to be different from secular politics, “which is a zero sum game, in which there’s always a winner and a loser.” “The coexistence between Francis and Benedict just a few yards from one another inside the Vatican, however uneasy it may be at times, nevertheless is perhaps the greatest confirmation of that difference history has ever conjured,” Allen argues. In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI said to a priest, who asked about reconciling playing soccer and studying canon law, that “a good and truly Catholic pastoral approach means to live in the both/and; to live one’s own humanity and the humanism of man … and, at the same time, not to forget God.” “Perhaps the same “both/and” spirit could work just as well on other fronts,” the Crux journalist concludes.
Interviewed by the German edition of the magazine Communio, Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, defines synodality as “at the same time a spiritual and an action-oriented way,” which consists in seeking the “ways” of the Lord. Addressing the German Synod, which bases its action on a response to the abuse crisis, Cardinal Schönborn sees a risk of “instrumentalization of abuse.” “Abusive behaviors are used to treat and tentatively decide demands for church reform,” he believes, considering it ” very questionable whether this really does justice to the subject of abuse and to those affected.” According to him, more than hierarchical or ecclesiological solutions, the “cure for clericalism” that leads to abuse is above all “the following of Jesus,” regretting that “too little is heard about conversion and discipleship in the debates on the synodal path.” He wonders where the competent bodies that some German reformers argue should be established in the place of bishops or priests would get their “legitimacy” from. Finally, he reminds us that synodality is a diachronic reality meaning it is inscribed in the history of the faith. “The assertion, repeatedly formulated and fueled by the media, that if the church does not modernize itself now, does not open up now, then it will perish creates an uneasy mood of doom,” because, according to him, the reason for the Church’s existence has less to do with the modernity of its structures than with Christ’s call to walk with him.
Chastity before and in marriage: a lot of noise about nothing in Italy
Domradio, the website of the diocese of Cologne, is surprised that the recent publication of guidelines on marriage accompaniment by the Vatican has caused a real outcry in Italy. The reason for the discontent of some Italian influencers and media, who evoke a “disturbing sexophobia,” is the promotion of chastity. The 97-page document is reduced by its critics to a few passages evoking the question of chastity before marriage. However, after one reads the section, it is evident that nothing new is actually stated in the document. Chastity is presented as a “precious virtue” in marriage but also before it, because it prepares “for the authentic gift of the self, lived throughout married life.” Additionally, the World Meeting of Families is in full swing in Rome and the question of chastity does not appear to be central for Pope Francis or the organizers. Rather it seems to be overshadowed by the topic of the Church’s accompaniment of couples who are experiencing a breakup or are divorcing and remarrying civilly. Marriage is an important theme, which deserves not to remain “stuck” on the sole question of chastity.
Moral theology is in crisis, according to an American theologian
According to an opinion piece published by American author George Weigel at First Things, since Vatican II there has been a “deconstruction of Catholic moral theology.” He says the Second Vatican Council rightfully “called for a renewal of Catholic moral theology,” but instead what resulted is many moral theologians claiming there is no such thing as an “intrinsically evil act.” He says this point of view was presented as something fresh and new but in fact was “stale, intellectually sterile, pastorally fruitless, and socially irresponsible.” He applauds John Paul II’s 1993 and 1995 encyclicals Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) and Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), which he says wanted to in fact confirm “Catholicism’s long-settled conviction” that there are intrinsically evil acts. According to Weigel “no pope in the modern history of the Church made greater efforts to explain the truths of Catholic faith to skeptical and often cynical late-moderns and post-moderns than St. John Paul II.” He condemns those who demean “John Paul’s intellectual and moral heroism.”
First Things, English
Afghan Christians seek new hope in Pakistan
“You have been traced. We know that you are a Shia kafir [infidel] and a journalist reporting against us.” This is the anonymous call Arifa Rahimi received three days before the Taliban took control of Kabul. UCA News is dedicating an article to the fate of Afghan Christians who converted from Islam and fled to Pakistan in September 2021, helped by Christian humanitarian organizations. However, many of them now find themselves in miserable conditions with no income. Some 450 Afghan families, living in a park in Islamabad, have been staging protests for months to demand legal status, and many are seeking to travel to European countries. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has estimated that there are 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan. In Afghanistan, Christians – forced to worship in secret – are estimated to number between 10,000 and 12,000. A presence which is denied by the Taliban.
UCA News, English