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Rome & the World: the prayerful coach of Portugal’s soccer team

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Fernando Santos, Portugal World Cup 2022


I.Media - published on 11/22/22

Also in today's headlines: Nigeria is becoming the next Afghanistan and German bishops forge ahead on celibacy question.

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.

Tuesday 22 November 2022
1. Does Portugal have a prayer at the World Cup? The coach has plenty
2. Nigeria must not become the next Afghanistan, Bishop warns 
3. Priestly celibacy: German Bishops put pressure on the Vatican
4. The Pope’s tribute to the “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo”
5. Retirement of Cardinal Sandri, the most powerful of the Argentinian Cardinals

The American media outlet The Pillar interviewed the coach of the Portuguese national team, Fernando Santos, who is currently in Qatar for the soccer World Cup. Very religious, he is part of the “Cursillos de Cristiandad,” meaning ‘short courses of Christianity,’ a movement born at the end of the Spanish Civil War, which proposes Christian formation for the laity to help grow in the faith. In 2016, he dedicated his victory against France in the Euro soccer championship final to his “best friend and His mother,” Christ and the Virgin Mary. The coach confides that he prays to God not only to thank him for the victories, but on a daily basis. “Of course, we all know that God would never take sides in a football game,” he says, dismissing any superstitious relationship to his faith that he may have had in the past. For a long time, he didn’t take his baptism seriously, but when he was told about the meaning of the resurrection of Christ, his outlook changed. He also explained that he is no longer afraid to show his faith, confiding that he asked his Orthodox bosses to find him a driver to take him to Mass every Sunday when he was coach of AEK Athens. His players also know that he is a believer, and no longer hesitate to talk to him about his faith. Concerning the controversies surrounding the World Cup in Qatar, he says that the human rights issues worry him, but he thinks that this championship is a good opportunity to “try to change things for the better.”

The Pillar, English.

2Nigeria must not become the next Afghanistan, Bishop warns

Bishop Jude Arogundade of Ondo, Nigeria, warned British politicians during a meeting in Westminster, that his country risks becoming “overrun as is the case of Afghanistan” if decisive action is not taken against terrorist groups and their sponsors. “The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria has spoken against the unprecedented insecurity situation in Nigeria repeatedly but to no avail,” he said in a speech, adding that Christians in the country were at risk of genocide. “We have walked for life, protested and even called the President (Muhammadu Buhari) to resign if he is incapable of fulfilling the basic purpose of government – the security of lives and properties of citizens. Even at that, nothing has changed,” he added. Bishop Arogundade explained that as of June this year, 3478 people had been killed in terror attacks. He strongly appealed to the UK government and “all people of goodwill to compel the Nigerian government to stop the genocide.” Bishop Arogundade also spoke at the launch in London of “Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2020-22,” compiled and published by Aid to the Church in Need UK. He reminded those present of the attack that occurred in his diocese on June 5, where gunmen opened fire on Catholics attending mass at St Francis Church in Owo, leaving 41 people dead and 73 injured. “Like other attacks on churches in Nigeria, no one has been charged for committing this crime,” he insisted. “No one or group of people should have the audacity under any circumstance to unleash the level of mayhem going on in Nigeria on innocent citizens.” The Aid to the Church in Need report found that Africa saw a sharp rise in terrorist violence and more than 7,600 Nigerian Christians were reportedly murdered between January 2021 and June 2022. 

Catholic Herald, English.  

3. Priestly celibacy: German Bishops put pressure on the Vatican

The German Bishops had a tense ad limina visit to the Vatican last week. In spite of the firm reframing attempted by several heads of the Roman Dicasteries, the Bishops intend to persevere in the progressive reforms promoted by the German Synodal Path, especially regarding the abolition of priestly celibacy and the ordination of women deacons.

La Repubblica, Italian

4. The Pope’s tribute to the “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo”

Pope Francis sent a letter to the “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo” after the death of Hebe de Bonafini, one of the founders of the movement, who passed away on November 20 at the age of 93. The Pope invited these women, who are mothers of people who disappeared under the military dictatorship, to continue their commitment with passion, assuming their historical mission of being “mothers of memory.”

Vatican News, Spanish

5. Retirement of Cardinal Sandri, the most powerful of the Argentinian Cardinals

At 79 years of age, the Argentinian Cardinal Leonardo Sandri will retire from the position of head of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches in January, after heading it for the past 15 years. This powerful figure in the Curia, who is still a member of several other Dicasteries, is a very experienced diplomat who was nuncio to Mexico and Venezuela. He was also responsible for announcing the death of John Paul II to the world in April 2005, as substitute for the Secretariat of State.

La Nacion, Spanish

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