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Rome & the World: politically exploiting the Pope? • pro-China at the Vatican? • & more …

Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to US Congress


Pope Francis addresses a joint session of Congress on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Pope is the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church to address a joint meeting of Congress, including more than 500 lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and top administration officials including Vice President Joe Biden. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON

I.Media - published on 07/15/22

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.

Friday 15 July 2022
1. At the Vatican, the race is on for who will be the most pro-China
2. The Pope’s nominations: three women and many others
3. Theologian Karl Barth, precursor of a Christian thought responding to the challenges of secularized modernity
4. Abortion: an American bishop suggests that the Pope is “misinformed” by his entourage
5. New ambassador says French international policy is closely followed by the Holy See

At the Vatican, the race is on for who will be the most pro-China

While a good number of bishops in China find themselves behind bars or under house arrest, “during the pontificate of Francis, neither he nor the Vatican authorities have said one word in public for the sake of lifting the restrictions on these bishops, nor about the many priests and faithful in China and Hong Kong who suffer the same fate,” points out Vatican expert Sandro Magister. Speaking of the “provisional and secret” agreement on the appointment of bishops in force since 2018 between China and the Holy See, and despite its concessions, he says the Holy See has obtained nothing in return from the Chinese authorities concerning the dozens of bishops appointed by Rome but never recognized by Beijing. Magister sustains that the results of this agreement are “meager.” However, according to the Pope’s latest interview with Reuters, the head of the Catholic Church plans to renew this agreement and to defend “at all costs his policy of ‘appeasement’ with China.” According to the journalist, behind this clearly sinophile tendency there is a lobby: the Community of Sant’Egidio and also Professor Agostino Giovagnoli, vice-president of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family and member of the scientific committee of the Confucius Institute of the Catholic University of Milan. This is one of the many Confucius Institutes opened by Beijing throughout the world for the propagation of the Chinese language and culture.

Settimo Cielo, Italian  

The Pope’s nominations: three women and many others

“The Church seems to be on its way to recognizing that it needs women for its governing action,” write Paola Bignardi, president of the lay association Azione Cattolica Italiana (Italian Catholic Action), on Pope Francis’ decision to nominate three women as members of the Dicastery for Bishops. In this opinion article published in the Italian daily Avvenire, Bignardi emphasizes that the Pontiff’s decision is not only important due to the significant role this dicastery plays in choosing future local Church leaders. It also holds an important “symbolic value” as “every woman who assumes a responsibility in the Church bears a heavy task on her shoulders: that of representing all the women […] who feel in the Church that they are not valued, not listened to, not understood, not considered.” Bignardi explains that in fact these three new members of the Dicastery will have the onerous task of reminding their fellow male clergymen that half of the Catholic population is made up of women, many of whom “expect a renewed Church.”

Avvenire, Italian

Theologian Karl Barth, precursor of a Christian thought responding to the challenges of secularized modernity

Protestant pastor Andrew Root, a 48-year-old American theologian and writer, has drawn on the thought of Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) to develop an essay on the challenges that modernity poses to Christianity. In his book “Churches and the Crisis of Decline: a Hopeful, Practical Ecclesiology for a Secular Age,” Root returns to the commonly held view of the institutional collapse of the churches in the West, especially in the United States where the proportion of “nones” – young people with no religious affiliation – is growing rapidly, even in the Bible Belt. Speaking directly to “churches and pastors looking to survive, if not thrive, in a time of disorienting collapse,” the Protestant theologian draws on the thought of Karl Barth to offer practical advice within an “immanent” framework that is audible in contemporary times. According to the author of the book, both liberalism and fundamentalism condemn faith to a “defensive crouch,” whereas Christians should be “on the watch for the living God’s presence and action in the world.” Barth “believes, confesses, and boldly announces the gospel of God: that God alone is God, that God alone is the judge of the world, and that God alone is the loving savior of the world,” even in the context of a modernity against which it seems illusory to fight. The review of the book published in First Things, however, expresses disagreement on certain issues, as it also calls one to “refuse to be told what or how one is permitted to live or believe.” On the contrary the article calls for questioning the current immanent modernity that leads to forgetting the meaning of God.

First Things, English

Abortion: an American bishop suggests that the Pope is “misinformed” by his entourage

German media outlet Die Tagespost interviewed Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City who was at the head of defending issues concerning life in the U.S. Bishops’ Conference during the Trump presidency. He says he is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which he said constituted a “right to abortion,” but explains that the upcoming election could have an “important role.” He points out that the decision now means more support for women because “it’s not just about the child.” “The reality is that corporate America promotes abortion because it means women don’t have to take a vacation,” he laments, deploring the lack of support for mothers in the American system. The Bishop considers that many Catholics who support abortion need to be “educated,” mentioning the case of Joe Biden who he believes “followed the Democrats’ line, not the Church’s doctrine.” On the contrary, he believes that what Donald Trump has done on abortion is “exemplary.” Referring to the episode in which Nancy Pelosi was able to receive Communion during a mass celebrated in the presence of the pontiff in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Bishop said he was “saddened” by the way the Pope was “politically exploited,” and believes that “his advisers and his entourage have completely misinformed him.”

Die Tagespost, German

New ambassador says French international policy is closely followed by the Holy See

On the occasion of the French national holiday on July 14, Vatican News interviewed Florence Mangin, the second woman to hold the position of French ambassador to the Holy See, a month and a half after she presented her credentials to Pope Francis. This “atypical” position, the diplomat notes, requires “a more multilateral approach.” She mentions “that French international politics are of great interest to the Vatican,” citing among the common concerns the action in Lebanon, in the Middle East, in Africa, the climate, and inequalities. She also noted that the Catholic Church in France is very interesting with its “innovative and creative character.” The ambassador explains that she wants to promote the French language and to value the French who work for the Holy See. She also emphasized that “the specificity of the Holy See, both a State and a spiritual power, makes it necessary to invent a position as we go along, day by day, according to the meetings we have.” 

Vatican News, French

Rome & the World
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