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Rome & the World: cancel culture in Russia • Jesus’ breakthrough innovation • & more …

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Alexey NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP

Vladimir Poutine.

I.Media - published on 07/04/22

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.

Monday 4 July 2022
1. Archbishop of Kinshasa comments on role of Church in Democratic Republic of Congo
2. A nun will receive Medal of Freedom, highest civilian honor in the USA
3. Russia denounces “cancel culture,” but has actively implemented it
4. How the Catholic Church transformed the lives of American Jews
5. In the vast panorama of ancient religions, Christianity was a “breakthrough innovation” that changed society

Archbishop of Kinshasa comments on role of Church in Democratic Republic of Congo

Cardinal Ambongo Besungu, Archbishop of Kinshasa, was supposed to receive Pope Francis in his country; he learned the news of the postponement of the Pontiff’s trip a few moments before the official announcement by the Holy See on June 10. “I was completely stunned,” he confided to French Catholic TV station, KTO. By chance, KTO had scheduled an interview with the Cardinal that same day, in preparation for the trip. In this 26-minute interview Cardinal Besungu, who is a member of the Council of Cardinals which helps the Pope govern, speaks about the situation of the Church in Congo, which is fully committed to the transformation of society. In this country rich in natural resources, the people remain poor and the Church is one of the few actors to hold the leaders to account. On the issue of the German Synod, the African cardinal says everyone is watching with “great attention” what is happening there. He added that there is no question in the Church in Congo of debating the issue of celibacy. He looks to the future of the Church with hope, noting that it is moving from the northern countries – where it seems to be dying – to the southern ones, where it is flourishing. 

KTO, French

American Catholic nun Simone Campbell, part of the Congregation of the Sisters of Social Service, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 7, the White House announced on Friday. This award is the highest civilian honor in the US and Sister Campbell will be one of 17 people to receive it during the ceremony. She was the head of the Catholic social justice lobbying organization Network, until her retirement last year. The White House described her as a “a prominent advocate for economic justice, immigration reform, and healthcare policy,” and she is known for having organized “Nuns on the Bus,” a tour that took her and other sisters to hundreds of events throughout the USA to call attention to the need for an expanded social safety net. Sister Campbell tweeted that she was “deeply honored by this unexpected recognition, which highlights the important work of lifting up the experiences of ordinary people in our nation in order to make policy for all.” The White House statement says the award goes to Americans “who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.” 

America, English

Russia denounces “cancel culture,” but has actively implemented it

As the Russian-Ukrainian war continues, the director of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Mikhail Piotrovsky, denounced the “cancel culture” that is affecting Russia, as many organizations are excluding the country’s artists, athletes, celebrities and other figures from events. The museum director echoes the rhetoric employed by President Putin. Similar accusations were repeated by Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, writer and Duma deputy Zakhar Prilepin, and Russian representatives at UNESCO. According to Putin, the problem concerns “public ostracism, boycotting and even complete silencing” of people who “do not fit into modern templates, no matter how absurd they really are.” However, Father Stefano Caprio – a professor at the Pontifical Oriental Institute – points out in AsiaNews, that the rewriting of history has been “one of Russia’s specialties, since olden times.” The country, the article explains, “has always tried to bend events to its advantage and ‘erase’ dissident voices within its own culture.” “As much as one might try to cancel and reject Russia for so many reasons rooted in its past and present, this would be akin to amputating a part of oneself and cutting out a piece of one’s heart, just like Putin’s brutal armies are doing, bombing and destroying the land where Russia was born,” Father Caprio writes. “East and West, Russia, America and Europe are joined together by the self-destructive madness of contemporary cancel culture, and the ongoing war is nothing more than the great punishment of everyone against everyone,” he concludes. 

Asia News, English

How the Catholic Church transformed the lives of American Jews

Joshua Stanton, in an article published in Religion News Service, writes that he believes that “the Catholic Church was the largest ideologically antisemitic organization in the world” 60 years ago. However, today he says it has become “the largest philosemitic organization in the world.” Stanton, who was part of the Jewish delegation received at the Vatican at the end of June, notes the fraternity that unites Jews and Catholics today. He welcomes the message that the Pope wrote to them during their visit, considering it a “high-water mark” in terms of Jewish-Christian relations. An improvement that has borne fruit according to this American Jew, who is happy to see that the time of anti-Semitic priests is over. “The doctrinal transformations of the Catholic Church have shaped Jewish life today, giving space for us to find our voice as a diaspora community in ways unfathomable for much of the past two millennia,” he concludes.

Religion News Service, English

In the vast panorama of ancient religions, Christianity was a “breakthrough innovation” that changed society

“In the year 70, the Jesus start-up could have disappeared,” writes French anthropologist Dominique Desjeux in his book “The market of Gods: How religious innovations are born, from Judaism to Christianity,” published by Presses universitaires de France. The ex Sorbonne University (Paris) professor is not a specialist in religion, but has nonetheless decided to apply the same method of analysis to the emergence of Christianity as he has to other historical phenomena, such as the rise of the consumer society in China or the spread of electrical objects in French homes. By relying on the study of climate, of the imaginary, and of logistics, based in particular on archaeological documentation, he notes that Judaism was at its peak at the beginning of our era, representing between 6% and 8% of the population of the Roman Empire. Jesus’ objective was not to create a new religion, but to purify Judaism. However, the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. changed all that. “Some Jews apparently tightened their grip on the rules of the Torah, which would then constitute rabbinic Judaism. The supporters of this strategy would not give anything up on circumcision and dietary rules. Faced with this, others chose, on the contrary, a strategy of openness and proselytism towards the pagans,” the article explains. This context of the emergence of the Christian adventure shows that “innovations sometimes need crises to spread, because they open windows of opportunity,” explains the anthropologist.

Le Monde, French

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