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Rome & the World: How are Catholics in Russia?

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La cathédrale de l'Archange-Saint-Michel de Moscou où la Russie a été consacrée à la Vierge Marie clandestinement en 1984.

I.Media - published on 12/15/22

Also in today's headlines: Why God can't work miracles to stop suffering • And Villa Bonaparte open for tours

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 15 December 2022
1. Archbishop of Moscow wants a “just peace” between Russia and Ukraine
2. Why suffering is the price we pay for living in a world that makes sense 
3. Did Archbishop Paglia use charity funds to renovate his apartment? 
4. A new prize for Cardinal Tolentino Mendonça
5. The French Embassy to the Holy See opens its doors

1Archbishop of Moscow wants a “just peace” between Russia and Ukraine

Archbishop Paolo Pezzi is an Italian missionary who has been in Russia since 1993 and at the head of the Diocese of Moscow since 2007. After nearly 30 years of mission in this complex and isolated country, the Italian Archbishop (born in 1960 in a town in Emilia-Romagna called … “Russi”), stresses the need to maintain dialogue with the Orthodox Church and to offer “forgiveness without preconditions, like the forgiveness of Jesus on the cross” in order to achieve peace in Ukraine. His huge Diocese, five times the size of France, covers the European part of Russia, with about 70,000 Catholics in a total population of 58 million. “The Catholic Church in Russia today is living a special moment of grace, because in the situation in which we find ourselves, it is almost forced to recover the sense of her own presence,” he explains in the context of the war in Ukraine and the hardening of the regime. Catholics live the “important and dramatic challenge” of living their identity “with peace and freedom.” Faced with fear, doubt, and uncertainty, “the faithful ask for consolation, accompaniment, they ask not to be left alone,” he said. Speaking about the dialogue with the Orthodox Church, Archbishop Pezzi acknowledges that “relations have cooled somewhat” and that the theological dialogue is “in the swamp,” but he is counting on academic exchanges to revive this ecumenical process. Regarding the offensive in Ukraine, he said “the Bishops’ Conference of the Russian Federation intervened with two statements at the beginning of the military operation and on the occasion of the mobilization of arms.” “We are convinced that forgiveness, the purification of historical memory and dialogue are the conditions for a just peace,” he explains, adding that “the will of the Holy See is the only real and concrete proposal for peace, because the Pope is the only one who today does not have his own interests at heart, but the good of individuals, peoples and countries.”

Omnes, Spanish

2Why suffering is the price we pay for living in a world that makes sense

The Tablet devotes a column to the “theological dilemma called theodicy,” or “the impossibility of reconciling the goodness of God with the existence of human suffering.” Journalist Clifford Longley puts the dilemma this way: “If He really cared, he would stop it. So either He can’t, hence He is not all powerful, or he doesn’t really care, so He is not all loving. So the two doctrines about God cannot both be true.” This issue is also summarized in the famous argument between Voltaire and Leibniz after the Lisbon earthquake that destroyed the city in 1755 and killed thousands of its inhabitants. Leibniz claimed that everything was for the best in the best of all possible worlds; Voltaire ridiculed him in his novel “Candide.” “It was widely held that Voltaire had won the argument. God could have prevented the earthquake and didn’t, therefore He – and perhaps we have to drop the upper case letter – did not exist,” points out Longley, for whom, perhaps, Leibniz was right. The world is governed by predictable science, not random miracles. “The very existence of the world we know depends on the consistency of scientific laws and the guaranteed connection between cause and effect. And they are the reason that suffering exists and not some mysterious higher purpose by which suffering turns out to be somehow spiritually advantageous,” the columnist explains. “The world is the way it is, and suffering exists in it, because that is the only rational option. If God had intervened to prevent the Lisbon earthquake he would have had to intervene to prevent all earthquakes and indeed all other disasters, natural and manmade, then and now. It is the price we pay for living in a world that makes sense – the only possible world we can imagine. Leibniz was right, and […] so was I,” he concludes.

The Tablet, English 

3. Did Archbishop Paglia use charity funds to renovate his apartment? 

According to The Pillar, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, allegedly “diverted hundreds of thousands of euros allocated to support missionary and charitable works,” in particular to renovate his personal apartment. Archbishop Paglia said he has reimbursed part of the money. 

The Pillar, English

4. A new prize for Cardinal Tolentino Mendonça

The young Portuguese Cardinal José Tolentino Mendonça, the new Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, has won the Ilidio Pinho Prize, which promotes and defends the universal values of Portugal. The 56-year-old cardinal-poet has already received numerous awards for his literary works. 

Espresso, Portuguese 

5. The French Embassy to the Holy See opens its doors 

Florence Mangin, the French ambassador to the Holy See who arrived earlier this year, wanted to open the rooms and gardens of the Villa Bonaparte, one of the most beautiful embassies in Rome. From January 3, guided tours will be available two days a week.  
Vatican News, French

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