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Rome & the World: liturgical kissing • Coptic martyrs’ families speak • & more …

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I.Media for Aleteia - published on 07/07/22

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 7 July 2022
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1. What kisses mean in the liturgy
2. Vatican approves election of lay brother to head Congregation of the Holy Cross, a first
3. Mexican bishop proposes a “social pact” that includes organized crime
4. Cardinal Parolin encourages South Sudanese President Salva Kiir 
5. In memory of the Coptic martyrs beheaded by the Islamic State
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1What kisses mean in the liturgy

Seeing a priest kiss the cross, an altar, or the Gospels in the Bible are gestures that any member of the faithful can notice during Mass. However, each of these gestures is an expression of “a particularly intimate attention to God,” liturgist Marco Benini tells the German website Katholisch.de. To help people discover the meaning of these gestures, he explains them according to the structure of the liturgy, beginning with the moment when the priest kisses his stole in the sacristy. Although this gesture is no longer required by the liturgical reform, it can be done to prepare oneself “consciously for his service at the altar.” Then the Mass begins and the priests and deacons kiss the altar at the beginning and end of the Eucharist, it is an “important ritual of greeting and farewell.” Since the altar represents Christ, the kisses in this case are a “sincere sign of love and devotion.” These gestures were inspired by actions practiced since Antiquity and in Judaism. They then became particularly popular in the Middle Ages, especially when there were relics present on the altar. Funnily enough, the kissing of the altar can be replaced by another mark of respect, such as the touching of the forehead, practiced in Japanese churches. Marco Benini then explains kissing the Gospel, which is accompanied by a preparatory prayer for the priest and the priest’s blessing for a deacon. The kiss is not about the Gospels “but about Christ, who is present at the moment the Gospel is proclaimed,” he emphasizes. The liturgist does not forget to mention also the “kiss of peace,” a ritual that existed in the second century and is a sign of brotherhood. Today it is replaced by a simple handshake, or a nod, especially since the pandemic. However, that’s not all, because the liturgist continues to detail three other rarer forms of liturgical kisses with great erudition…

Katholisch.de, German

The Vatican has approved the election of a lay brother as Superior General of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the worldwide religious community that administers the University of Notre Dame in the United States, reports The Pillar. This is, the U.S. media outlet analyzes, the first application of a new rescript issued by Pope Francis in May, which allows lay brothers to lead societies of apostolic life and institutes of consecrated life, exercising governing power even over clerics. Brother Paul Bednarczyk is the first lay brother to hold this position. Due to the provisions of the canon law, this choice required the approval of the Vatican, which must now study these elections on a case by case basis – a process known as postulation. The new constitution governing the Roman Curia, which has been in effect for a month, creates the possibility for lay men and women to head dicasteries and assume other offices and functions that were legally reserved for clerics. 

The Pillar, English    

3Mexican bishop proposes a “social pact” that includes organized crime

Bishop Sigifredo Noriega of Zacatecas, Mexico, is proposing a “social pact” that also includes “criminals” to end the widespread violence in the country. Since 2006, Mexico has been hit by a spiral of violence that has already caused around 340,000 deaths.  Since the military offensive against organized crime was launched, tens of thousands have also disappeared. Bishop Sigifredo Noriega justifies his social pact by saying they need to integrate the whole society to get out of the crisis. “Our commitment is that dialogue builds a path of justice and reconciliation that leads us to peace,” said the Mexican bishop, after two Jesuit priests were murdered on June 20 in the state of Chihuahua. For his part, the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, expressed his support for the Church’s proposal of “forgiveness,” but made it clear that his government “does not negotiate” with criminals.

Noticias en la Mira, Spanish

4Cardinal Parolin encourages South Sudanese President Salva Kiir 

“You have a great mission, starting from being a responsible politician and pushing the country towards the paths of peace, unity, reconciliation, the paths of forgiveness, the paths of serene coexistence and development.” These are Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s words to the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir. Pope Francis was planning to come to South Sudan to support the peace process in this young country struck by a bloody civil war. However, his health prevented him from doing so, and it is his Secretary of State who has been dispatched to encourage the country. Thus, after this meeting with the president, the Italian Cardinal had to go to Kiir’s rival, Vice President Riek Machar, for another meeting. The article in La Croix Africa recalls that the two enemies had gone to the Vatican for a spiritual retreat in 2019, during which Pope Francis knelt down to beg them to work for reconciliation. This Thursday, July 7, Cardinal Parolin is scheduled to preside over a Mass at the John Garang Mausoleum, father of South Sudan’s independence. 

La Croix Africa, French

5 In memory of the Coptic martyrs beheaded by the Islamic State

Many remember the grim images of the Islamic State members killing 21 Copts dressed in orange jumpsuits and placed on their knees on a beach in Libya before being executed. A book published in Italian titled “The 21. A Journey to the Land of the Coptic Martyrs,” pays tribute to them. The German writer Martin Mosebach spoke with the families of the victims as well as with members of the Coptic clergy. In it, he reminds us, among other things, that these Christians in Egypt consider themselves to be the Church of the Martyrs and that as long as Christianity lives, their Church will continue to see dramas like the one of February 2015. 

Alfa y Omega, Spanish 

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