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Rome & the World: China moment • canonized popes • & more …

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I.Media for Aleteia - published on 09/08/22

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 8 September 2022
1. The Vatican must seize the moment on China
2. The Church is in the midst of a civil war, says Vatican journalist Marco Politi
3. Pontifical Academy for Life challenges the teachings of Humanae Vitae and Donum Vitae
4. Archbishop Peta of Astana: “Pope’s visit will contribute to the end of the war in Ukraine”
5. Will more popes be canonized in modern times?
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The Vatican must seize the moment on China

On August 31, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, released her report on the Xinjiang region in China and the situation concerning the Uyghurs. According to Benedict Rogers, a human rights activist and writer, the report recognized that “serious human rights violations” have been committed in the Xinjiang region, which could constitute “international crimes,” however it failed to acknowledge “the genocide of the Uyghurs.” Rogers stresses that it is crucial that the Pope and the Vatican read this report and consider it when assessing the renewal of their deal with China on the appointment of bishops. The activist considered there are three options: the Vatican quietly renews the deal as it is; they renew it but with certain changes to “recover the Pope’s lost moral authority”; or they “declare that this deal is a dreadful mistake.” Rogers would prefer the latter option but understands it may not be feasible and could put Catholics in China in greater danger. “None of the options for the Vatican are attractive. But — especially in light of the UN report — I plead with all my heart to the Holy Father and the Holy See not to contemplate the first option. […] At the very least, the moral silence from Rome on the atrocities committed in China which even the UN is now speaking out on is surely unacceptable” Rogers concluded. 

UCA News, English    

Vatican expert, journalist Marco Politi, analyses the tensions in the Church between “reformers” and “slowers” on the eve of the fourth synodal assembly in Germany. Although Pope Francis is in favour of free discussion, Politi fears divisions within the universal Church. “Francis sometimes zigzags,” the journalist assesses, describing how “on the one hand, he says that German Catholics should lead the way. Then he says to be careful.” In Rome, moreover, many remain very suspicious of the orientation of the Church in Germany. In the Curia, he says, “20% are open to the pope, 10% are against and 70% are waiting for the next pope. The point is, we know we’re in the evening of this pontificate, and they don’t have a clear idea of who the next pope should be and what his policies should be.” Ultimately, Politi said, there is an “underground civil war that has been brewing in the Catholic Church for years now.”

Katholisch.de, German 

Pontifical Academy for Life challenges the teachings of Humanae Vitae and Donum Vitae

The conservative website First Things publishes a joint article by the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, and the philosopher Stephan Kampowski, professor of anthropology at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. They express their concern about a recent book published by the Pontifical Academy for Life, Theological Ethics of Life, which they believe calls into question the teachings of the Catholic Church against contraception since Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, whose themes were taken up again in Donum Vitae, a document published in 1987 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith then headed by Cardinal Ratzinger, and in John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae, in 1995. Noting the “subtle” approach of the experts consulted by the Academy, who relativize the magisterium of the previous pontificates without taking on a frontal opposition, the cardinal and the philosopher give a detailed analysis of the themes which seem to them to call into question the criterion of “openness to life.” This book, which is the result of a seminar organized in 2021, seems to dispute theological points that previous popes had decided upon, notably the non-licensing of the contraceptive pill, the authors claim. By emphasizing “discernment” on a case-by-case basis, in line with Pope Francis, the Academy for Life seems to be opening the way to subjectivity according to the lifestyle of each couple and to a lowering of the requirements that Catholic married life should imply, the article argues. In particular, they point out that, rather than resorting to contraceptive methods, assuming periods of sexual abstinence and “self-control” can be paths of growth in mutual respect between spouses.

First Things, English  

Archbishop Peta of Astana: “Pope’s visit will contribute to the end of the war in Ukraine”

“We believe that the visit of the Holy Father Francis will strongly contribute to an end of the war in Ukraine and to the obtainment of the long-awaited peace,” says Archbishop Tomasz Bernard Peta of Mary Most Holy in Astana, a few days before Pope Francis’ arrival in Kazakhstan (13-15 September). In an interview with Vatican News, the prelate sees the visit as “a great blessing” for his country. He refers to the interreligious congress in which the Pope will participate, which “is not a platform of theological discussions” but “a sign which points to God as to the source of peace.” In a society where Catholics count for around 1% of the population, being Catholic is not easy, he explained, adding that the local Church is very international. 

Vatican News, English    

Will more popes be canonized in modern times?

In light of the beatification of John Paul I, the “smiling pope” who was pontiff for only 33 days in 1978, The Pillar conducts a retrospective analysis of history’s holy popes. Have there been more canonizations in the contemporary era, which has already seen three popes become saints (St John XXIII, St Paul VI and St John Paul II)? In total, 81 popes have been proclaimed saints in the last 2000 years – and 10 are blessed. Of the 81 saints, 49 lived out their pontificate in the first 500 years of the Church’s history. Before Liberius, whose pontificate from 352 to 366 was troubled by the Arian heresy, a record 35 consecutive popes had been recognized as saints, going back to St. Peter himself. Since 530, however, there have never been more than three in a row. Even the second millennium of Christianity was, until recently, considerably less holy for popes: only three from the year 1000 to 1500 were made saints (Leo IX, Gregory VII and Eugene III). In the canonizations of the 19th-century popes, The Pillar says some see “a time when the Church was struggling to define Christian belief and practice the faith amid divisive politics, schism, and a decadent pagan culture.” Others instead argue that it was simply a period of “excessive institutional emphasis, a politicization of canonization.”

The Pillar, English  

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