03 January 2022, The Tablet

Church in the World: News Briefing

Church in the World: News Briefing

Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks during an interview in New Delhi in 2012.
CNS photo/B Mathur, Reuters

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was praised as “our moral compass and national conscience” by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who delivered the main eulogy at his state funeral in St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, South Africa, last Saturday. The president said: “Our departed father was a crusader in the struggle for freedom, for justice, for equality and for peace, not just in South Africa, but around the world.” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in a video message, “When we were in the dark, he brought light.” Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier OFM, Archbishop Emeritus of Durban, spoke to Vatican Radio about Tutu’s commitment to ecumenism and Church leaders working together on justice issues. “Invariably Desmond Tutu would be the real firebrand,” he said, “leading the charge in such a way that there would be no misunderstanding where the Churches stood on those particular issues.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, the United States of America, issued norms implementing Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditiones Custodes shortly after Christmas, reflecting the recent publication of answers to dubia about the motu proprio from the Congregation for Divine Worship, writes Michael Sean Winters. All priests of the archdiocese will need the cardinal’s permission before celebrating the pre-Vatican II liturgy, and their requests must be accompanied by information about the number of people who attend such liturgies, and the frequency with which they are celebrated. The norms call for clergy to accompany those who have been attracted to the older rite, “to help them understand the essential principles of renewal called for in the Second Vatican Council and appreciate how the reformed Mass introduces them to a greater use of Scripture and prayers from the Roman tradition.” Clergy requesting permission to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass “must also explicitly affirm ‘the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reform, the teaching of the Second Vatican CounciI … and demonstrate an appreciation of the value of concelebration, particularly at the Chrism Mass.’”

Three brother novices of the Redemptorist Region of Zimbabwe died in a road crash on Christmas Day. The three young men – two in their twenties - were buried on 29 December at St Alphonsus House in Harare after three days of funeral services marked by widespread grief. 

Pope Francis on 23 December accepted the resignation – submitted last month - of Cardinal Peter Turkson as prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development. Cardinal Turkson’s resignation follows an inquiry announced in June led by Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago at the behest of Francis. A Holy See statement said that the Pope “sincerely” thanked the 73-year-old Ghanaian cardinal for his service, and the operations of the department would be entrusted to Jesuit Cardinal Michael Czerny in the interim and Salesian Sr Alessandra Smerilli as secretary until a new director is named.

“The closeness expressed by Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims to Christians on the occasion of Christmas is a sign of brotherhood for Pakistan,” said Cardinal Joseph Coutts, archbishop emeritus of Karachi, last week. Speaking at a charity event at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral in Karachi for the orphaned children of the Don Bosco Hostel, the cardinal warned against “creating walls among us.” 

The Archdiocese of Nagasaki, the cradle of Japanese Catholicism and its martyrs, has a new archbishop, Peter Michiaki Nakamura. The 59-year-old has served as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese and will take over in February. He replaces Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, 75, who has led the diocese for two decades. Archbishop Takami is a survivor of the bombing of Nagasaki, his hometown, on 9 August 1945. He was in his mother’s womb when the bomb detonated over the city, claiming up to 80,000 lives.

Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, has lamented poor security under President Muhammadu Buhari's administration. He spoke to journalists about “the rising insecurity and killings in the country” and “the allocation of positions with favouritism and nepotism.” Days earlier Fr Luke Mewhenu Adeleke, 38, a priest of the Diocese of Abeokuta, Ogun State, was shot dead in his car while returning home after celebrating Mass on Christmas Eve.  

The head of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Franz Lackner, has condemned a new law, in force from 1 January, making the country Europe’s sixth after the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain, to allow euthanasia. 

Human rights groups in Russia have criticised the country’s Churches for failing to react to the late December outlawing of the Memorial organisation, which worked for 30 years to uncover and document communist-era abuses and atrocities. The Supreme Court ordered Memorial to be disbanded for failing to label its publications as “foreign agent” material, although critics said it had fallen victim to political repression. 

Pope John Paul I will be beatified on 4 September 2022 in a celebration presided over by Pope Francis in the Vatican. In October, Francis signed a decree recognising a miracle attributed to the intercession of John Paul I (Albino Luciani), clearing the way for his beatification.

Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, welcomed the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court ordering the parliament to immediately establish rules to protect people with disabilities from losing out in triage decisions made during the coronavirus pandemic. The KNA news agency reported Bishop Bätzing saying it was an important signal for the protection of people with disabilities from discrimination. Triage refers to deciding which patients are to be treated first if medical assistance cannot be provided to everyone.

Russia's Orthodox church has deepened a rift in world Orthodoxy by setting up two dioceses in Africa, in retaliation for the recognition of a new independent Orthodox church in Ukraine by the Patriarchate of Alexandria, which holds ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the continent.

"Due to Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria's lapse into schism, part of the clergy of the Alexandrian Patriarchate, declaring their disagreement, asked Patriarch Kirill to be accepted into the bosom of the Russian Orthodox church", the Moscow-based Holy Synod said in a statement. "It was therefore resolved to accept 102 clerics of the Patriarchate of Alexandria from eight African countries in accordance with the petitions submitted, and to form this Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa". 

The southern part of Bahia State in Brazil is facing one of its worst humanitarian crises in its history, with more than 90,000 people displaced by heavy rains since November. At least 24 people have died and 130 cities are currently in a state of emergency. “I had never seen anything like that in my life,” said Bishop Jailton Lino of Teixeira de Freitas-Caravelas, whose diocese encompasses one of the hardest-hit zones in Bahia.

On the Feast of the Holy Family on 26 December, the Pope published an open letter to married couples as part of the Amoris Laetitia Family Year. Francis focused his letter on the constant presence of Jesus in the day-to-day situations of family life: “Our Christian faith reminds us that we are not alone in the challenges of married life, since Jesus is present.” Married couples “set out to be two in Christ, two in one,” said the Pope. “Your lives become a single life; you become a ‘we’ in loving communion with Jesus, alive and present at every moment of your existence.”

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