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Rome & the World: Qatar’s Christians and the World Cup



I.Media - published on 11/21/22

Also in today's headlines: interview with the high-profile leader of the Church in Italy.

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.

Monday 21 November 2022
1. World Cup fever? Qatar’s Christians are more likely to follow cricket
2. Cardinal Zuppi: “The Church has become aware of the allegations of alleged abuse, but it must do even more”
3. The Church in Colombia will not mediate with the ELN
4. Abuse: changes the Catholic Church could make for the better
5. Meeting between Catholics and Assyrians 


1World Cup fever? Qatar’s Christians are more likely to follow cricket

In Qatar, the Vicar Apostolic Paul Hinder does not detect any “special enthusiasm” among local Christians for the soccer World Cup, even though the event began yesterday. The lack of enthusiasm is partly due to the fact that “many of the Christians are from countries such as India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan, which prefer cricket,” the Bishop told The Pillar. However, the construction of the massive infrastructure used to host the matches and the event has relied on the hard work of hundreds of thousands of young men from countries such as these, as well as the Philippines and Egypt. Many NGOs are calling for a boycott of what they denounce as human rights abuses. According to a report by the British newspaper The Guardian, some 6,500 workers have died in Qatar since the country was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup more than a decade ago, 37 of these while working in the stadiums. “I can respect if somebody is boycotting the World Cup, but I would say that they shouldn’t judge others who still have the pleasure of watching the games,” Bishop Hinder commented. “At the end of the day, people want to see football, and they are not always very consistent in their basic moral decisions,” he added. Another issue that has caused an uproar is LGBT rights, as many national soccer associations have protested Qatar’s ban on homosexual behavior, with penalties that can include execution. Nevertheless, this World Cup is the first to be held in a Muslim country and The Pillar sees “interesting religious subtexts” in the tournament. The site argues that Iran is a team to watch, as protests in support of women’s rights have multiplied across the country. Also, the article notes that Saudi Arabia is in a very “Catholic” group, squaring up to Argentina, Mexico and Poland. However “it will take nothing short of a miracle for the Saudis to make it through to the knockout stage,” The Pillar comments.

The Pillar, English

2Cardinal Zuppi: “The Church has become aware of the allegations of alleged abuse, but it must do even more”

The high-profile Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), gave an interview to the Argentine daily Clarin. This important figure of the Community of Sant’Egidio, who lived in Buenos Aires in 1987, recalls that “Bergoglio is a non-European pope in the modern Church.” Cardinal Zuppi is seen as a potential future pope who could ensure continuity with the reforms Pope Francis has been enacting. Speaking about the situation in the European continent he argued that “Europe must reposition itself. Europe thought of the world from Europe’s perspective and perhaps it must understand who it is by learning to look at itself from the outside. The vision of Pope Francis, which is global, not Eurocentric, gives Europe its true meaning, helps Europe to understand what it can be.” Cardinal Zuppi also recognized that the Catholic Church is currently marked by many conflicts, but he believes that these debates are part of the history of the Church “since the first open synod between apostles, between Peter, Paul and James.” “That there are diverse sensibilities or different approaches is a great richness. Pope Francis brought this out as a great richness,” the Italian adds. Cardinal Zuppi also praised the Pope’s efforts to be transparent about his health, in order to “avoid speculations and conspiracies, which are a connatural specialty, a Roman ecclesiastical variant that has been well developed for several centuries,” he said. The Italian Cardinal said that last May, the Pontiff spoke about this during his closed-door meeting with the Italian Bishops. “Perhaps it was a difficult time for him, he used colorful and ironic expressions about moving on the wheelchair. But he considers for himself the possibility of saying “farewell.” “Yes, if I can’t do it anymore,” [the Pope] said,” Cardinal Zuppi explained. “I think it’s a great lesson in conscience and service. And also of openness, of transparency. I believe that it is not easy for anyone to face one’s own weakness. It is a great lesson of human sense to know how to say goodbye, and also of ecclesial sense, of love for the Church,” the Italian continued. The president of the CEI, who has been criticized for the Italian Church’s timid approach in identifying sexual abuse cases and fighting this issue, acknowledges that “the Church, like everyone else, found it hard to be aware. Fifty years ago there was not the jurisprudence there is today. The Church has become aware of the allegations of alleged abuses but it must do even more.”

Clarin, Spanish

3. The Church in Colombia will not mediate with the ELN

The ELN (National Liberation Army), the last active guerrilla group in Colombia, has agreed to return to the negotiating table as part of the vast “Total Peace” plan promoted by the leftist President Gustavo Petro, himself a former guerrilla. The Church will not be a party to this bilateral process between the State and the guerrillas, but it assures that it will support the implementation of an eventual agreement on the ground, providing pastoral support to promote peace and reconciliation.

Infobae, Spanish

4. Abuse: changes the Catholic Church could make for the better

The Washington Post offers suggestions for ameliorating the crisis of abuse and trust in the Church. Some examples are limit bishops’ terms to 10 years for a natural review of diocesan operations and priestly management, or avoid assigning a bishop to a diocese where he served as a priest, so that he is not influenced by past friendships.

The Washington Post, English 

5. Meeting between Catholics and Assyrians 

On Saturday morning Pope Francis met with Mar Awa III, the head of the Assyrian Church of the East. The Pontiff urged members of both Churches “to pray and work diligently for the much awaited day” when full unity is achieved.

Vatican News, English 

Rome & the World
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