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Rome & the World: Poet-cardinal sees Church as culture lab

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By António0196 (Cc By-sa 4.0) From Wikimedia Commons

Kathleen N. Hattrup - I.Media - published on 12/09/22

Also in today's headlines: Catholic micro-finance in Africa • And Ukrainian priests being tortured

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.

Friday 9 December 2022
1. “The Church is a great laboratory of culture,” says Cardinal Tolentino 
2. In Africa, Catholic microfinance is developing rapidly
3. Experts study the “miracle” attributed to the intercession of St. John Paul II’s parents
4. Churches in Middle East hapless as Christians migrate en masse
5. Arrested Ukrainian priests ‘mercilessly tortured,’ says archbishop

11. “The Church is a great laboratory of culture,” says Cardinal Tolentino

Cardinal José Tolentino Mendonça, prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, emphasized to the Portuguese Catholic agency Ecclesia, the importance of culture in the Church’s mission. Describing the Church as a “a precious laboratory of cultural hope, in so many ways,” he insisted that what is lived within the Church “is not understood only in a religious key.” The prefect, who is a well-known poet in his country, keenly recalled the Christian inspiration of many artistic creations, which testifies to the “vitality of faith” over the centuries. He insisted that the Christian cultural experience is useful as it can be “a place of encounter or re-encounter with Christianity.” The Church can also rely on its large web of Catholic institutions, the “largest educational network in the world,” with more than 2,000 universities and thousands of schools around the world. This is “the Church’s privileged interface with the world,” Cardinal Tolentino emphasized. In charge of both culture and education at the Vatican, he took his appointment by the Pope as a challenge and said he wishes to “show how the Christian experience is a focus of cultural creation relevant to contemporary culture.”

Ecclesia, Portuguese

2In Africa, Catholic micro-finance is developing rapidly

La Croix Africa looks at the development of microfinance tools that are in line with Catholic ethics. For example, Caurie-Microfinance, an institution linked to the Catholic Church in Senegal, has nearly 140,000 clients, 90% of whom are women, mainly in the field of small trade. Despite the slowdown induced by the measures to contain the pandemic, the Catholic microfinance sector in Senegal is proving to be robust, with a production of 21 billion CFA francs (about 32 million euros) in 2021, with outstanding loans of more than 14.6 billion CFA francs (more than 22 million euros) at year-end. In addition to Senegal, the Church in Africa has been increasingly involved in finance in recent years in Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Benin. More recently this trend has also grown in Malawi, where the Diocese of the capital Lilongwe has taken over a bank. In the Ivory Coast, the experience of the Catholic Savings and Credit Fund (FCEC), launched in 2008 in the Diocese of Yamoussoukro, is even being extended to other dioceses in the country. “The clients are men and women of all religious denominations, cooperatives, associations, small and medium-sized enterprises, parishes, and Catholic action groups and movements,” says Estelle Etché, the general manager of the FCEC. However, these activities have raised strong reservations among some Catholics, such as the Ivorian Élie Mobio, who points out the contradictions of this mode of development. “Investing in finance, for a church that wants to be poor, would it not be for the African Church to serve two masters at the same time as Christ forbids in the Gospel? […] Even if it starts from a good will, the loans granted are not zero-interest loans,” he comments. “When we know the risks of such an activity, we can legitimately fear that the Church will squander its funds as in the case of the Vatican’s purchase of a building in Great Britain,” says Mobio.

La Croix Africa, French 

3. Experts study the “miracle” attributed to the intercession of St. John Paul II’s parents

Father Sławomir Oder, who also served as postulator of the Polish Pope’s cause, told the Catholic news agency KAI that he had received multiple reports of purported miracles connected with Emilia and Karol Wojtyła. They will be investigated.

The Pillar, English

4. Churches in Middle East hapless as Christians migrate en masse

Widespread persecution, especially in recent years, has taken its toll on the oldest Christian communities in the world.

UCA News, English

5. Arrested Ukrainian priests ‘mercilessly tortured,’ says archbishop

On November 16, Father Ivan Levitsky and Father Bohdan Geleta were arrested in the city of Berdiansk, in southeastern Ukraine.

The Tablet, English

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