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Rome & the World: leave the laptop! Methodist calls pastors back to face-to-face ministry


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Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 10/26/22

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.

Wednesday 26 October 2022
1. The book offered by Emmanuel Macron to the Pope causes controversy in Poland
2. The real work of the Church: breaking the virtual bubble
3. Cardinal Parolin prays for peace in Armenia
4. Archbishop Gallagher in Algeria after the closing of Caritas
5. A Brazilian bishop attacked by Bolsonaro supporters

1The book offered by Emmanuel Macron to the Pope causes controversy in Poland

During his visit to the Vatican on Monday, October 24, French President Emmanuel Macron offered Pope Francis a book dating from the late 18th century: the first French-language edition of “Project of Perpetual Peace,” an important work published in 1796 by the philosopher Immanuel Kant. This choice caused strong reactions in Poland, as observers questioned whether this collector’s item ended up in France following Nazi looting during the Second World War. In fact, on the first page of the book there is a stamp of the Polish library in Lviv, a city currently located in western Ukraine, but which was once part of Polish territory, under the name of Lwów. The city was then one of the most important centers for Polish academia and had an academic reading room that operated from 1867 to 1939 within the Jan Kazimierz University. It is unclear how the book from the Polish library ended up in France. What is known, however, is that before Macron gave it to the Pope, it was purchased for €2,500 from the Parisian bookstore Hatchuel. Two main hypotheses have emerged in the debate that has animated Internet users. The first claims the book arrived in France before the Second World War, as Hatchuel assures that the edition arrived in the country around 1900. The second hypothesis, on the other hand, argues that the book was looted during the war by the Germans who occupied Lviv from 1941 to 1944. At the Jan Kazimierz University alone, the occupiers took away nearly 95,000 volumes, including incunabula and priceless manuscripts. “The Germans looted Polish libraries and archives en masse, which remains the most likely source of origin,” commented Sławomir Dębski, president of the Polish Institute of International Affairs. The controversy, which has gained significant momentum in Poland, comes amid deep concern in the country about the convergence between Emmanuel Macron and Pope Francis, both of whom favor continuing a dialogue with Russia and even Vladimir Putin himself. Warsaw, on the other hand, prefers for Europe to assume full support for Ukraine, as Ukrainian resistance can be seen as a bulwark against the risk of Russian aggression in other Central and Eastern European countries.

Wprost, Polish

2The real work of the Church: breaking the virtual bubbles

In an opinion article published in First Things, Seth Hedman, a carpenter and pastor of Garwin Methodist Church in the United States, calls for churches to return to seeing their work as “primarily hands-on” and “in-person,” after the pandemic. Hedman explains that when the COVID-19 pandemic began, a clear difference emerged between white-collar and blue-collar workers, as the former were able to easily transition to working remotely compared to the latter. He says that during this period, the work of the church also “easily fell into the category of white-collar, laptop work,” as services and celebrations went online to avoid infections. Now though, Hedman calls for a return to a full in-person ministry. “As we encounter God through these embodied practices and liturgies, we are, in turn, shaped to see Christ, the church, and ourselves in the truth of our embodiment. Without these practices, we are shaped by a digital, consumeristic gnosticism that devalues the embodied existence given to us by God,” he explains. Hedman outlines three practical suggestions: making the work of God a “primary daily responsibility, through public prayer and reading Scripture;” overcoming the “ministry bubble” by acknowledging blue-collar working experiences and the importance of manual labor; and calling for all Christians “to rediscover sacramental worship.” He hopes that by putting these points into practice “the focal point of the church’s activity throughout the week will shift from the printer to the altar. It might mean that pastors will spend less time on their laptops and more time interceding, discipling, and evangelizing.” “For Christians, praying together face-to-face is as essential as breathing,” he adds. He hopes “to create a church that can be a haven of reality for the coming generation of digital refugees.”

First Things, English  

3. Cardinal Parolin prays for peace in Armenia

The Pope’s Secretary of State presided over a Mass for peace in Armenia on October 25 in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, in the presence of the Armenian Foreign Affairs Minister. The country is currently in conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan, but the Holy See has remained discreet.

Armradio, English

4. Archbishop Gallagher in Algeria after the closing of Caritas

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, is visiting Algeria from October 25 to 26. The visit takes place in a complex context for the local Church, which was recently forced to close its Caritas branches due to a conflict with the Algerian administration.

Mondo e Missione, Italian

5. A Brazilian bishop attacked by Bolsonaro supporters

Bishop Aldemiro Sena dos Santos, of Guarabira, in northern Brazil, was verbally assaulted and threatened in the sacristy of his church by supporters of incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, who faces ex-President Lula this Sunday, October 30, in the second round of voting of the presidential elections. “Any attempt to silence the preaching of the Gospel is a violation of religious freedom, a constitutionally guaranteed right,” the Diocese of Guarabira warned in a statement. 

SIR, Italian 

Rome & the World
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