Caritas in Algeria must close • Cardinal Koch clashes with German bishops

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Every day, Aleteia offers a selection of articles written by the international press on 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, September 30, 2022
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1. Caritas Algeria closes its doors at the request of the authorities
2. Confrontation between the President of the German Episcopate and Cardinal Koch
3. The Vatican’s new Minister of Culture and Education lays out his vision
4. Old age is not defeat, Vatican official says
5. The “gratitude” of the churches towards the King of Jordan
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1Caritas Algeria closes its doors at the request of the authorities

The Catholic Church of Algeria has published a press release announcing the “complete and definitive” closure of its Caritas branch in the country from October 1. This painful decision, taken at the request of the Algerian authorities, means the dismissal of staff and the end of charitable services to thousands of disadvantaged people. Nevertheless, according to Father Cesare Baldi, priest of the Diocese of Novara in Italy and director of Caritas Algeria from 2009 to 2019, tensions with public authorities can still be overcome and resolved through dialogue. Stating that this request from the authorities “is not a gesture of persecution against the Catholic Church”, the Italian priest argues that bureaucratic factors “could have increased tensions and misunderstandings” with the institutions. “It is important to maintain a level of care and sensitivity in countries where there is no significant Christian tradition,” he said, hoping the dialogue will help clarify contentious issues. The Catholic community in Algeria, which has around 5,000 faithful in four dioceses, is mainly made up of foreign workers, particularly from the oil sector, and young students from sub-Saharan Africa, attracted by scholarships offered by local universities. The dioceses of Algiers, Oran and Constantine are located on the Mediterranean coast. The diocese of Laghouat, on the other hand, is located in the Sahara desert and has only a few dozen baptized members, who carry on the spiritual legacy of Charles de Foucauld, canonized by Pope Francis on May 15. The Catholic community of Algeria, which also includes local converts, had attracted much attention on the occasion of the beatification of the Christian religious martyrs of the civil war of the 1990s on December 8, 2018 in Oran. Mgr Pierre Claverie, bishop of Oran assassinated in 1996, as well as the seven monks of Tibhirine kidnapped the same year, were among the newly beatified. However, after the youth protest movement and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s resignation to a new term in 2019, the regime has hardened and hopes for change and freedom have yet to translate into political action. Catholics also pay the consequences of evangelical proselytism, particularly active in Kabylia, to which the regime responds with retaliatory measures affecting all Christian communities.

SIRItalian

2Confrontation between the President of the German Episcopate and Cardinal Koch

A new storm has erupted in the German-speaking Catholic world. Cardinal Kurt Koch, Pope Francis’ “Minister of Ecumenism”, provoked the indignation of the President of the German Episcopal Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, after an interview with the German weekly Die Tagespost. The Swiss cardinal said he finds it shocking that the German synod speaks of “new sources of revelation”. He recalled that the “German Christians”, a Christian movement affiliated with Nazism, had made the same claim in the 1930s. Cardinal Koch recalled how the Confessing Church, a Protestant movement, had opposed this claim in Barmen’s Theological Statement of 1934. This document, he explains, citing his first thesis, explicitly rejects “the false doctrine that the Church can and must be a source of proclamation outside and in addition to the only Word of God” and could then “recognize powers, forms and truths as the revelation of God. Bishop Bätzing took this statement very badly and demanded that the cardinal “issue a public apology”, threatening to file an “official complaint” with Pope Francis if he did not do so. He attacked the prefect of the dicastery for the promotion of Christian unity, accusing him of trying to delegitimize the German synodal way. The Swiss cardinal replied that he would not withdraw his statement, believing that he had “not compared the synodal way to Nazi ideology” and denying that he had intended to do so. He explained that he wanted to recall the importance of the Barmen Theological Declaration, a text on which he often works, being ecumenical in nature. The cardinal also apologized to those who felt “hurt”, assuring that it was not his intention.

CNA DeutschGerman

3. The Vatican’s new Minister of Culture and Education lays out his vision

In an interview with the Spanish media Vida New, Cardinal Tolentino, new Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, believes that his role is above all to give “an identity” to the new structure created by the new Apostolic Constitution. He also said that the religious crisis experienced today is explained by “a disaffection, a distancing, an unavailability to be surprised, to be moved before God”.

Vida NewSpanish

4. Old age is not defeat, Vatican official says

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, returns to Pope Francis’ catechesis on old age and considers it “a magisterium of wisdom”.

L’Osservatore RomanoItalian

5. The “gratitude” of the churches towards the King of Jordan

Holy Land reports the magazine on the support given by the patriarchs and leaders of the Churches of Jerusalem to King Abdullah II after his speech at the UN.

Holy LandFrench

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