quarta-feira, 15 de agosto de 2018

Basta!

Anthony Esolen
Que não ouçamos mais vozes de padres, prelados e autores católicos, a dissentir da verdade – da razão, da Escritura, do constante e claro ensinamento da Igreja no que diz respeito à criação da humanidade, homem e mulher; da união carnal desejada por Deus desde o princípio; da educação de rapazes para serem homens e de meninas para serem mulheres, criadas um para o outro; da bondade e da realidade do sexo e das suas expressões naturais na cultura humana; da natureza criada do casamento que era tão óbvia para os pagãos como é para os cristãos; da inadmissibilidade de separar a dimensão de prazer do acto sexual do seu propósito biológico e do seu sentido corporal; da indissolubilidade do casamento e dos avisos dos mais recentes Papas; da solidão, confusão e tristeza que resultam de todos os géneros de caricatura de casamento, incluindo a fornicação habitual e consensual.

Que não ouçamos mais palavras a menorizar a perversão dos actos que violam a própria estrutura dos sexos. Que cesse a denigração ingrata da masculinidade e feminidade verdadeiras e a submissão cobarde a todas as mentiras nojentas do entretenimento e da educação de massas, para as quais uma escola católica está apenas um ou dois anos atrás dos tempos – New York Times.  

Não queremos ouvir mais sobre pronomes da parte de padres, prelados e autores católicos, que praticaram ultrajes sobre as almas e os corpos de jovens padres e seminaristas, nem de quem os encobriu, por razões que só vocês conhecem, mas que não servirão para vos desculpar nem para evitar que façam o que é digno. Se está numa posição de autoridade, e nada fez, deve demitir-se. Pode ser substituído, não é indispensável. Basta.

Há vários anos o bispo da diocese canadiana onde vivemos no verão foi apanhado numa inspeção de rotina no aeroporto. Tinha na sua posse imagens pornográficas com crianças. A imprensa canadiana não foi mais específica do que isso. Resignou em desgraça e cumpriu uma curta pena na prisão. Agora, segundo ouvi dizer de um padre respeitável, vive com outro homem. Nada que nos surpreenda. Ele tinha o hábito de viajar para destinos peculiares no mundo, que nada tinham a ver com as características étnicas ou culturais da sua diocese, maioritariamente rural. Lugares onde a carne é barata.

Se é verdade que agora está a viver uma velhice confortável de pecado, não é tanto um exemplo de arrependimento, mas de contumácia e de desafio. Não há vergonha? Não estamos a falar de uma diocese recheada de padres homossexuais atrás de rapazes adolescentes, embora houvesse alguns, e as paróquias, que já não eram propriamente ricas, foram reduzidas à penúria pelo custo das indemnizações. Ele já sabia que assim era, e ainda sabe. Uma senhora idosa da nossa aldeia ofereceu 165 mil dólares para ajudar a manter aberta a igreja local e os paroquianos fartaram-se de trabalhar para restaurar o edifício, em vez de contratar um empreiteiro. Todo esse dinheiro foi esbanjado. 

As paróquias faliram todas e o seminário diocesano está vazio, e mesmo assim não vemos vergonha na chancelaria.

Não quero insinuar que os fiéis não têm também pecados. Em parte, recebemos líderes e pastores muito piores do que merecíamos, mas não merecíamos grande coisa. Toda a gente tem sido queimada e conspurcada pela devolução sexual. Todos tinham o hábito de piscar o olho e virar a cara. Não há quem não tenha culpa. “A Igreja está este bordel porque eu contribuí para que assim fosse”, é o que todos os cristãos deviam dizer, por ser a verdade.

Mas alguns cristãos, alguns católicos romanos, têm estado a combater uma luta desigual não só para se arrependerem do que fizeram mal, mas para sarar aquilo que feriram e reconstruir o que ajudaram a demolir.

É agora que precisamos de pastores que possam liderar-nos nesse combate e não que nos repreendam a cada passo e que nos carreguem com o peso da sua verborreia burocrática, não para sorrirem para aqueles que sabem o que se passa, assegurando-lhes calmamente que nada vai mudar. Não estou em luta contra o episcopado, que em larga medida tem culpa pelos escândalos dos últimos quinze anos e que não se sujeitou a qualquer sanção, preferindo cobrir as suas almas episcopais colectivas de elogios.

Eu quero acreditar nos bispos. Deus sabe que aceito a autoridade dos seus cargos. Mas digo-vos que se não querem travar o combate que temos pela frente, então é melhor que saiam da frente e deixar passar quem esteja disposto a fazê-lo. Chega de brandura e de chazinho. Todos os bispos, padres e autores católicos que sabiam sobre o incesto espiritual e as perversões macabras do anterior bispo da nossa capital, agora caído em desgraça, e que nada fizeram, têm a obrigação de, pelo menos desta vez, admitir o seu falhanço e partir.

Por favor, vão-se embora. Resignem, rezem, leiam, pensem, façam o que entenderem e que seja agradável ao Senhor, mas não continuem a obrigar a Igreja a carregar o vosso peso morto. São uma vergonha tanto para o crente como para o infiel. Vão-se embora.

E dêmos uma chance aos verdadeiros, bons e jovens sacerdotes de Deus, suficientemente novos para não terem qualquer ilusão sobre o que se passou na geração anterior à deles. Será possível serem piores do que os seus eternamente infantis superiores?



Anthony Esolen é tradutor, autor e professor no Providence College. Os seus mais recentes livros são:  Reflections on the Christian Life: How Our Story Is God’s Story e Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. 

(Publicado pela primeira vez na quarta-feira, 8 de Agosto de 2018 em The Catholic Thing)

© 2018 The Catholic Thing. Direitos reservados. Para os direitos de reprodução contacte: info@frinstitute.org

The Catholic Thing é um fórum de opinião católica inteligente. As opiniões expressas são da exclusiva responsabilidade dos seus autores. Este artigo aparece publicado em Actualidade Religiosa com o consentimento de The Catholic Thing.

sexta-feira, 10 de agosto de 2018

Suecos contra escolas religiosas e boas férias!

Ameaça perigosíssima ao bem-estar sueco
Ontem e hoje publiquei os últimos dois artigos sobre liberdade religiosa. Ontem vimos como um pastor baptista foi perseguido e expulso da Rússia, com a aparente conivência da Igreja Ortodoxa Russa e hoje vemos como o partido do Governo na Suécia quer acabar com todas as escolas religiosas no país.

Para a reportagem de hoje falei com Daniel Szirányi, da administração de uma das únicas três escolas católicas na Suécia, e a transcrição integral pode ser lida aqui.

Publiquei também as transcrições das conversas com o padre Jakob Rolland, sobre tentativas de proibir a circuncisão na Islândia, e com o Lorde David Alton, sobre a liberdade religiosa em geral, e no Reino Unido.

Já ouviu falar do Pálio de Cidadelhe? Não vai querer perder este tesouro escondido da Igreja portuguesa!


O Actualidade Religiosa vai de férias e volta apenas em Setembro. Claro que, se houver alguma notícia urgente, podem continuar a contar comigo e estarei também pelo Facebook e pelo Twitter.

“If this goes through, it’s equivalent to North Korea”

This is a full transcript, in the original English, of my interview with Daniel Szirányi, member of the board of the Catholic school of Notre Dame, in Gothenburg, Sweden, regarding the Social Democrat Party’s proposal to close all religious schools in Sweden.

Esta é uma transcrição complete, no inglês original, da minha entrevista a Daniel Szirányi, do Conselho de Administração da escola católica de Notre Dame, em Gotemburgo, Suécia, sobre a proposta do Partido Social Democrata sueco de fechar todas as escolas religiosa naquele país. A reportagem pode ser lida aqui.


What is going on exactly?
The current situation is that Sweden organizes its school system mainly based on state schools and there are 71 confessional schools. 59 of these are Christian, 11 are Muslim and there is one Jewish school. Three of them are Catholic schools. The one I represent has been present in Sweden for approximately 150 years and it is the biggest in the Nordic countries.

We have a very good relationship with society and it has been ongoing for a long time, and the current government, which consists of the Social Democrat Party and the Greens... On the 9th of September we have elections in Sweden, so there is a heated political debate. The Social Democrat Party, which is the major party in the Government have made a new proposal which means they want to close down confessional schools altogether. The reason behind that is mostly because in recent years we have had major immigration into Sweden and there are different issues with Muslim immigrants, and maybe also from other confessions, and there is a party called the Sweden Democrats, which opposes immigration, and they are taking loads of voters from the Social Democrat Party, which has been the traditional big party in Sweden. This is a typical move to try and gain back some of the voters.

Unfortunately, this affects all confessions and religions, and the Christian schools would all be hit by it. If the law goes through we would cease to exist. This is the major problem.

Fortunately, currently there is no political majority in Parliament. The only parties which are interested in this type of radical legislation is the Social Democrats, supported by the former communist Left Party and also the Liberal Party, which is a smallish socialist-liberal party. But the three do not have a majority currently.

Nevertheless, it is a little problematic for us, currently, working with schools and children and education, being in the press, in the center of a political election campaign is not what we would like. Unfortunately, prejudices are up in the air, which we always have to, somehow, fight back against.

We do have the legislation on our side, so it would not be possible to close the school, nevertheless people, and our teachers and employees, are obviously nervous, and nobody knows what will happen.

So this decision seems to be a way to gain back voters from the Sweden Democrats, but this is not a cause espoused by the Sweden Democrats, is it?
When the Social Democrat congress decided this we began inviting politicians to our schools to show them that we are a normal school, with about 450 pupils, nothing to be afraid of. But they told us, unfortunately, that they wanted to close the school. So after that we called every party and had dialogue with every party to understand what position each party had. The Sweden Democrats are not planning to close any Christian or religious schools, what they told is that they would like to elaborate if there is a possibility to limit the creation of new religious schools. But it is a vague definition. After the elections they would like to see if that is possible, but that would not affect the current existing Christian or Catholic schools.

You said there have been concerns about immigration. Have there been any problems with Muslim schools?
I cannot tell you if there have been... I have not heard of that.

Obviously there are the classical problems that we see in other countries with segregation in the big cities, and of course people might be skeptical against schools where children are dressed in a certain way, but I cannot point out any specific incident.

But the background of what the socialist ministers are saying is that they want to avoid further segregation, they believe that when you have religion based schools people do not integrate into Swedish society, and that increases segregation. The problem is that we would, from our point of view, say the opposite. We are actually helping a large part of the Christian immigrant community to help them into Swedish society, so it is the exact opposite. For example, our Catholic School of Notre Dame, in Gothenburg, has about 80 to 90% immigrant families, from the Middle East, but also South America, Africa and Eastern Europe, from different nationalities, and this is a perfect way to understand how Swedish Society works and help them on their path into higher education.

We have been in the media several times now and our main point is that the main argument the socialist government has for this proposal does not make sense, because we actually help to defuse segregation. Our school is in the middle of the city, it is a wealthy area, and people from all around the city are coming to the school, so it is the exact opposite of segregation.

In our case we are helping society to diminish segregation.

Do you have non-Catholic students also at your school?
We have a small majority of Catholics and a large minority of Orthodox. Then we have a few Muslim families also.

We have very good relations with them. In many of these Muslim countries they have Christian schools which are considered to be strong schools, which is why they are happy to have their children with us, even though they are Muslims. So in our case we have a very mixed population.

Just to clarify... The Social Democrat Party is left of center, correct?
Yes. We have three parties to the left...

The Left Party is the Ex-Communist Party, which is out of Government, but they are supporting the government. The Government consists of the Social-democrats, which are around 30%, they are historically the largest party, classical socialists and members of the European Socialist movement, and then we have the Green Party, which is between the communists and the socialists. Those three are on the left side.

Then we have three small center-right parties, the Christian Democrats, the Center Party and the Liberal Party, and then we have the larger Conservative-Liberal Party, which is moderate and has about 25%.

Finally, we have the third group, which is the Sweden Democrats, which are difficult to position as left or right, and it looks, from the polls, like they are going to win the election.

The big question that everybody asks is who will dare to join them in a coalition if they win.

When they say they want to close down the school, does that mean to literally close it down, or just remove public funding?
The rhetoric in the media is that they don't want to allow us to exist.

And keep in mind that the Swedish legislation is already very tough on religion and schools already. It is a very secular society, and we are, for example not allowed to have any religious impact during school hours in our Catholic school. So the only time we are able to have a morning mass, is before or after school hours. This is very important to understand, if you compare to a Catholic country such as Portugal, for example.

Regarding Public funding, being on the board, and based on my conversations with the principal and the management, that is actually what we are afraid of, that this particular legislation might not go through, but we will have limitations on funding, this and that, or other restrictions, and that obviously could impact our activity in a negative way.

Sweden has a state religion, the Lutheran Church...
Yes.

Some years back once you were born you were automatically considered a member of the Church, but now that is not the case.

But there is a relationship. I imagine many of these schools are Lutheran, have they spoken out?
Yes, and we are collaborating very well with each other. And what is nice to see is that many of these Christian schools are really strong schools, top schools in Sweden, and it is difficult to argue that they should close down, when their performance is so strong. So the clergy from both sides have spoken out together and we, in the schools, have helped each other out.

Do you know about any other country in Europe which has no confessional schools?
We did some research; it might not be complete... My family is from Hungary and I suffered under a communist dictatorship, but the only countries we have found which have these sort of limitations, they are very few in the world, and these are all dictatorships. We have not found any European country which has a full prohibition against Christian or religious schools.

What is important for the Swedish public, regardless of your opinion on religion, is to understand that if this goes through it is a very radical decision, equivalent to North Korea. People need to understand how severe this topic is. And I am not sure people are aware of this.

You seem to be confident that you have legislation on your side. You mean European legislation as well, correct?
Yes. The European Convention grants the freedom of each family to choose the school and the education of the Children, based on their faith. That is written in law, and Sweden has signed this Convention also, so it is valid in Sweden.

Now obviously, as you know, the national legislation can always be twisted back and forth, and this is what we hope they will not do, but keep the hard line and keep the European legislation alive in Sweden too.

But we are not there yet. Now we have a political campaign in Sweden, and that is why this topic is heated. I am not sure... I really hope it will be less important later on, once the elections are done, but obviously, if we are still threatened, we definitely will need to take legal action and get legal help, jointly with other Christian schools.

Obviously this is a threat to religious freedom in Sweden. Is it one of many? Are there other acts of hostility, or is this a unique situation?
This is the major topic when it comes to issues against religion, nevertheless a few months ago there was an attempt against a Synagogue in Gothenburg... There are some negative activities going on, but I would not say that there is a significant religious threat, other than the discussion about the schools.

It is not so easy to be a religious person in Sweden, because it is a heavily secular and atheistic country, even though we have a State religion. It is difficult to defend the faith, but this is how we live, and this is why it is so important to have confessional schools that provide an alternative for families which are not convinced by atheistic education.

quinta-feira, 9 de agosto de 2018

“Many Icelanders don’t have a clue about religion”

This is a full transcript, in the original English, of my interview with Fr. Jakob Rolland, of the Catholic Church in Iceland and chairman of the Icelandic Interfaith Forum, in which capacity I spoke to him about recent attempts to forbid circumcision for religious reasons in that country.

UPDATE: Since publishing this transcript it was brought to my attention that the proposed bill has been scrapped. Although good news, this in no way makes the interview less interesting, especially in respect to growing ignorance of religion and its importance among Icelanders. The interview was, naturally, recorded months ago, before the proposal was scrapped.

Esta é uma transcrição integral, no inglês original, da minha entrevista com o Padre Jakob Rolland, da Igreja Católica na Islândia e secretário-geral do Fórum Inter-religioso islandês. Foi nesta capacidade que conversei com ele sobre a possibilidade de se proibir a circuncisão por motivos religiosos naquele país. A reportagem pode ser lida aqui.

What are the Jewish and Muslim communities in Iceland like? And how did they react to this proposal?
There is a very, very small Jewish community, we don't know exactly, because this community is not registered, there is no organised community of Jewish people, so the figures go from 35 to 200, we do not really know how many. But it is a very small community.

But they are expecting a rabbi to be nominated this year, and he will probably come to Iceland this Summer and constitute a community.

The Muslims are more numerous, maybe around 2000 in Iceland, and they are divided into five different communities. For them and for the Jews, this is a very serious issue, because for Jewish people circumcision is mandatory, they have to have the boys circumcised on their eighth day of life, and that is probably the only Jewish practice that all the Jewish people do. Other practices, like eating kosher, or keeping feast days like Yom Kippur, or Shabbat, and so on, some people follow them and others don't. But I think almost 100% have circumcision. For them it’s not an option.

For the Muslims it is not so important from a religious perspective. Almost all Muslims practice Circumcision, but it’s more cultural than religious. It has always been part of the Muslim religion, but they are not so strict regarding the age, for example, it is quite common for them to have children circumcised at five or six, or even later, but they also insist on continuing this tradition.

Have they spoken out on this issue?
There was no debate on it before. The debate started at the end of January, this year, before that one had never heard about this issue in Iceland.

But since the debate did begin, how have they reacted?
We have heard nothing from the Jewish community. Since they are not constituted as a community and they don't have any spokesman, so we didn't hear anything. But we heard a lot from the Jewish communities abroad, especially from the Northern countries, Denmark and Sweden and Finland. These are very concerned on behalf of the few Jewish people in Iceland.

And the Muslims community, three of them are members of the Interfaith Forum, that is an informal group of 18 religions in Iceland, for inter-religious dialogue and promoting religious freedom and human rights and issues which concern all the religions. And within the framework of this Interfaith Forum, they brought forward this issue at the beginning of February, to ask for a reaction. Their first intention was that the Forum should issue a statement, but it appeared that this would not be possible because most of the 18 religions represented in the Forum are against the ban, but some are in favour, or have no opinion, so there was no unanimity within the Forum, of which I am the chairman.

So we said we cannot make a statement, because some of the members are not in agreement. But then we came to the conclusion that we can organise a conference, where the Jewish and the Muslims can express their concern and publicly explain the Parliament in Iceland, and to the public, why this issue is so serious for them. And on that point we had unanimity, to organise this conference, without taking a formal position for or against, but giving them an opportunity to listen to the reasons for the bill and to express their own opinion.

When Parliament is passing a bill which concerns, first of all, the Jews and the Muslims, the least it can to is to listen to the Jews and to the Muslims.

O bispo da Islândia, David Tencer
So I take it for granted that the members of Parliament who presented this bill had not spoken to, or met with, the Muslim or Jewish community, before they presented it.
It seems not. I couldn't see any sign that they had any contact with the Muslim Community before presenting this bill, and none at all with the Jewish, we could see that when the person who presented the bill received news of the reaction of rabbis from all over Europe a few days later and said, publicly, in Parliament, that she didn't expect any reaction from the rabbis. That was a strange statement, because if anyone was going to react, it was the rabbis.

That brings up an interesting point. I have been following these debates in many countries in Europe and I have noticed that there seem to be two different cases. In some it seems to be open hostility to Muslims and Jews, disguised as care for children or for animal's rights. In other cases it seems to stem from pure ignorance or religious illiteracy. Is the latter the case here?
Absolutely, absolutely. I would say there is a lot of ignorance about religious issues.

Icelanders themselves, most of them are Christians, a third of the population belongs to the Lutheran State Church, but very few people have deep notion of their religion, and very few practice on a daily base. So for them religion is completely secondary and they have difficulty understanding that for other people religion is essential and an important part of their daily life.

Just before this conversation I was attending a meeting of the Interfaith Forum to evaluate the conference, and everybody agreed that it was a very good conference, but one of them said "I got many reactions from people who followed the conference on live stream and many of them, independently of one another, told me that they had never realised that religion can be so important for some people".

So that means that many Icelanders don't have a clue about religion, and that reflects the materialistic mentality in this country. Iceland is a very rich country, very materialistic, and unfortunately religion is not very visible and not very appreciated in the life of many Icelanders.

Could we describe it as a post-Christian country?
Exactly. You know Iceland was a Catholic country until the reformation, and then it became Lutheran by decision of the King of Denmark, and slowly afterwards, after the XIX Century, religion receded to the private sphere, at home, and nowadays has a very small impact on the public life.

Going back to the issue at hand, you mentioned that there was no reaction from the Interfaith Forum. But has the Catholic Church itself taken a position?
Yes. Our bishop wrote a letter which, right from the beginning, when the Muslims asked the Interfaith Forum to react to the bill, that same day our bishop wrote a letter to this Muslim leader, Salman Tamimi, to support his request and support the request of the Jewish and the Muslim community, that circumcision should not be banned in Iceland, by law.

He pointed out that we Christians insist more on the spiritual aspect of circumcision, like St. Paul says, first of all it is a question of conversion of hearts, and not of physical circumcision. Nevertheless, he says, it is a question of freedom of religion and we support the requests of these communities.

This is one specific threat... Are there other threats to religious liberty in Iceland? For example, freedom of conscience, issues with euthanasia and abortion?
I cannot say anything about freedom of conscience, I'm not sure what the law is. I have a friend who was working in a hospital and he was very much in the obstetrics and maternity section, and that is the same section where they have abortions, and he said this he would not do, it is against his conscience, and they respected that.

So I think there must be some law which protects freedom of conscience.

In fact we should investigate this a little bit more, because a bill on Euthanasia is also coming now. So it is important for us to know the legislative aspect.

There are other threats to religion... In the city of Reykjavik, in the schools run by the city, there is no teaching of religion anymore. It was the case until around five or ten years ago, but now it is no longer permitted. There are some classes of introduction to religion, where they talk a little bit about Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, in a very superficial manner, but there are no more religion classes in a proper sense. This leads to a generation, growing up now, which has no notion at all about religion. They would stand in front of the Pietá, in Rome, during their holidays, and ask “who is this lady, with this dead man in her hands?” They do not know anything about religion...

Are there any private schools owned by churches?
One, which belongs to the Adventist Church. And they have religious classes, but from the point of view of the Adventists, of course. But at least they teach some Bible stories, and I know that some Lutheran people send their kids to that school for that reason, because then at least they have some religious instruction and hear something about the Bible.

I saw from your website that the majority of the priests working in Iceland do not seem to be Icelandic. I would say that is your case as well...
I am French.

Could you characterise the Church in Iceland?
The Church is a tiny minority in this country, we have about 13 thousand people registered, which is not very much. The reality is probably a little bit more, because there are many people who come for a shorter or longer period of time, to work in Iceland, but they do not register in the Church, so the real number is probably 20 thousand.

I think around 90% of our Catholic Community are foreigners. They do not know any Icelandic, they do not integrate, they come to work, they have no intention to stay here, and that means that the Catholic Community is mainly Polish, around 70% of Polish origin, and the others are from many different countries, and so for us it becomes very difficult to create a sense of community.

We do not have a common language, the priests are from different countries and the Icelanders from our Catholic Community are in a minority, and for them it is very difficult, firstly to be in minority among Icelanders and then, within the Catholic Church, to be a minority again. That makes it very difficult for Icelanders, and that is really a challenge for us, to try to create occasions to bring together all these different groups.

It also means that the Catholic Church has almost no voice in the Icelandic society, or very little, because we are almost all foreigners, so nobody listens very much to the Catholic Church here.

When you were mentioning that some of the member churches of the Interfaith Forum had no opinion and some agreed with the prohibition of circumcision, just out of curiosity, I imagine the majority church would be the Lutheran... What was their position?
There are divided opinions also within the Lutheran Church, but the bishop of the Lutheran Church had a very strong statement, that she cannot agree that circumcision should be forbidden, and especially with a punishment of six years of imprisonment.

In other countries where these issues have been discussed we have seen that they produce a side effect, in that they bring the different religious communities together. Has that happened in Iceland?
The Interfaith Forum has existed for almost 12 years, and interreligious dialogue has never come to such a deep level of friendship and dialogue. Today some people even used the word love. We have never experienced that as much as until now.

"We need to be willing to take a hit for Religious Freedom"

Lord David Alton
This is a full transcript, in the original English, of my short interview with Lord David Alton. It took place in September 2017, at a reception at the Houses of Parliament, which he hosted for participants of the Alliance Defending Freedom Press Symposium.

Esta é uma transcrição integral, no inglês original, da minha curta conversa com Lorde David Alton. Decorreu no passado mês de Setembro, 2017, durante uma recepção no Parlamento Britânico, que ele organizou para os participantes no Simpósio de Imprensa convocado pela Alliance Defending Freedom. A reportagem portuguesa está aqui.


Is religious liberty and freedom of conscience under threat in Western Europe and in the UK specifically?
Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights insists that it is every person's right to believe, not to believe or to change their belief, and all three elements are under attack both here in countries like the UK, where people are discriminated against, or outright persecution in countries like Saudi Arabia, or China, where it is impossible to follow your beliefs in the way you would wish.

So there is a sort of hierarchy. It would be absurd to suggest that in countries like the UK that it is as difficult to be a Christian as it is in North Korea, obviously that is absurd, but nevertheless we should be careful about the erosion of our fundamental freedoms.

The attacks come in a slightly different way. The devil comes in carpet slippers, in a society like this. So you see a harbinger in the dismissal of two catholic nurses, midwives, in Scotland, who refused to collaborate in an abortion. They said they are called to deliver babies, not to take their lives. As a result of that they lost their jobs. If they had been doctors they would have been protected under a conscience clause. But because they are not doctors they weren't, and I think we need to strengthen our laws so that conscience prevails in situations of that kind.

There is one case I know affected you personally, to do with the Catholic adoption agencies, at the time of gay adoption legislation. Are these the types of situation which are mounting up to pose a threat to conscience protection?
Yes, and society loses a great deal when it discriminates against religious communities because it can't accept that they are entitled to have a different view about something such as adoption or marriage. These are fundamental questions that affect people in a very personal way, and people have got to learn to live and let live.

Forcing the closure of adoption agencies hurts children, it becomes part of an ideology, the latest of which is gender ideology. And I think we have got to stand firm against these things and say that you must learn to live alongside us respectfully, and we must learn to live alongside you respectively. Its the dignity of difference.

You mentioned Tim Farron and Reese Mogg in your speech... Is it in fact becoming increasingly difficult, or even impossible, to hold public office and espouse religious beliefs?
Well, it goes up and down. If you think, here we are standing on the terrace of Parliament. If you think back 200 years, there was a young man who was the youngest member of the House of Commons, who was criticised for trying to impose his Christian views on the House of Commons. His name was William Wilberforce. He was opposed to slavery. It took him 40 years to challenge people's belief that it was their right to choose to own another human being as a slave, merely because of the colour of their skin. If he had accepted the criticism that he had no right to argue his beliefs in our House of Commons, we would probably have slavery with us to this very day.

So in every generation you have to be willing to take a hit. People don't like what you have to say, that doesn't mean it is wrong. The beauty of democracy is that you have to win the argument. Why are they so frightened of even hearing the arguments? Why are they saying that someone like Tim Farron shouldn't be able to lead a political party because of his Christian Faith? Why are they saying that someone like Jacob Rees-Mogg shouldn't be a Conservative member of Parliament because he opposes abortion? If they are in favour of choice, let them also be in favour of also hearing alternative views, and let people then choose which one they happen to want to support. It shows a fear, I think, on the part of people who are opposed to things that men like Tim Farron and Jacob Rees-Mogg stand for.

In terms of conscience protection and traditional values, is Brussels an obstacle or a help in this situation?
I think it very much depends on the issue. You take an issue like human embryology, our laws, which permit the destruction of human embryos over the first 14 days of their life, has led to the destruction of 2 million human embryos. We've even permitted the creation of animal human hybrid embryos. This is something that is prohibited in most EU countries and not facilitated by the EU.

Take things like the abortion laws. We allow abortion up to and even during birth, on a baby with a disability, and up to 24 weeks gestation in other circumstances. The EU average term limit is around 12 weeks. So who'se laws are more liberal, and who's are more conservative? But take euthanasia, and in Holland and in Belgium they have permissive euthanasia laws. In Holland more than 4000 people die every year from Euthanasia, 1.000 of which are without the consent of the patient. In this country, the UK, we have prohibited that. So this is a debate which is running at different levels in different jurisdictions. This isn't about left or right, its about right or wrong. Its not about being European or British, its about standing four square in the belief that every human being is made in the image of God, that they are therefore unique and worthy of our protection.

quarta-feira, 8 de agosto de 2018

Faça você mesmo? Nem religião, nem circuncisão!

Mãos no ar se tens prepúcio!
O artigo de hoje sobre a liberdade religiosa na Europa volta-se para a Islândia, o mais recente país a tentar proibir a circuncisão por motivos religiosos. Porque isto das ameaças á liberdade religiosa não afecta apenas os cristãos, e temos de nos unir contra quem simplesmente não percebe a importância da religião.

O Papa Francisco criticou hoje a religiosidade do “faça você mesmo” e, na audiência geral, recebeu o cantor Sting e a sua mulher.

Monchique está a arder e o bispo do Algarve questiona a forma como se tem feito o combate ao incêndio enquanto pede que se minimize a burocracia para ajudar quem perdeu os seus bens.

Ontem escrevi e divulguei um artigo em defesa do bom nome de um amigo. É sempre uma questão difícil. Há quem ache que fiz bem, que estas insinuações e boatos se combatem com a verdade; há quem tema os efeitos de amplificar boatos que provavelmente não chegariam a muitas pessoas não fosse a minha resposta. Admito que é um dilema. Acabei por retirar o artigo e aqui explico porquê.

Sofre ou já sofreu de cancro? Conhece alguém nessa situação? Calculo que sim. Então não deixe de ler este tocante artigo de Brad Miner no The Catholic Thing em que ele explica como a doença o ajudou a mudar a sua concepção de Deus e do Céu.

Em casa, seguro

Brad Miner
Num artigo do dia 2 de Abril escrevi sobre a minha “batalha” contra o cancro. Escrevi nessa altura que não considerava que me encontrava em conflito com a doença:

Se tivesse feiticeiros em fez de médicos, e se esses feiticeiros pudessem invocar e dar corpo ao cancro, apresentando-o diante de mim, de punhos em riste, então eu lutaria – se a cura dependesse disso. Mas eu limito-me a colaborar com os protocolos. E que seja feita a vontade de Deus.

Passadas algumas semanas dei por mim a dizer, “nada como ser tratado por cancro para finalmente me sentir doente”.

Antes de começar quimioterapia e radioterapia, no dia 19 de Março, não me tinha sentido de todo doente. Mas depois de sete sessões de quimio à segunda e trinta sessões de radio, de segunda a sexta, estava mais maldisposto do que alguma vez me tinha sentido em 70 anos: pior que a pior das gripes que alguma vez tive; pior que a reação adversa que tive quando recebi vacinas contra a cólera e a varíola, antes de uma viagem terrível à Ásia, em 1969.

Mas ser “curado” de cancro é uma questão difícil, porque a doença tem uma forma de se “esconder”, palavra que coloco entre aspas, porque o cancro não tem capacidades cognitivas. É desprovido de inteligência, embora continue a desafiar alguns dos melhores cientistas no mundo.

Mas tenho boas notícias, que creio que serão bem-vindas pelos muitos leitores do TCT que me têm desejado uma boa recuperação e me têm pedido que os mantenha informados. Um exame de PET feito no dia 17 de Julho não detectou mais células cancerígenas no meu corpo. Como digo, não me posso dizer curado ainda. Aliás, dentro de três meses estarei de volta ao hospital para ser visto de novo e, depois disso, com regularidade durante cinco anos. Então, caso entretanto não tenha sido atropelado por um autocarro na 5ª Avenida ou atingido na cabeça por um meteorito, e SÓ então, poderei dizer que estou curado.

Tenho muitas memórias más, porque muitas coisas más me aconteceram na vida, sobretudo antes de ter entrado para a Igreja quando tinha vinte e tais anos, e de me ter casado aos trinta e tais. Há coisas de que me arrependo e – apesar de recorrer frequentemente à Confissão – algumas delas quase me assombram. De certa forma, ter cancro está longe de ser a pior coisa que me aconteceu na vida.

Aliás, até pode ter sido uma coisa boa, uma coisa muito boa.

Soube da preocupação de amigos, incluindo leitores deste site, e isso está perto do topo da lista, embora no topo mesmo esteja a minha mulher, Sydny. Naquele primeiro artigo, escrevi que as minhas orações, enquanto estava deitado na marquesa a receber as radiações, eram pelos meus amigos, mas também por estranhos, sobretudo aqueles que eu e a Syd víamos no hospital e que claramente estavam sozinhos. Tenho uma certa reputação de durão, e sim, talvez conseguisse aguentar o último ano sozinho, mas, como disse a um dos funcionários do hospital – “é bom ser casado”. Não pensei que fosse possível amar mais a Syd. Estava errado, mas disso não me arrependo.

Mas existe um amor que ultrapassa esse. Falando da confissão, recordo-me de uma vez ter admitido a um padre que não estava certo de amar a Deus. “Amo a minha mulher, e os meus filhos e os meus amigos e o meu trabalho… mas…” E ele interrompeu-me: “O amor de Deus é uma coisa intelectual. Bom, é e não é”.

Para mim já não é. Amar Deus, amar Jesus e amar o Espírito Santo é uma questão de rendição. É isso que se pretende com a extrema unção e é disso que ouvimos falar os santos: “Deves-te render ao amor de Deus”. Essas palavras têm o seu mérito, mas aquilo que me ocorre depois deste meu encontro próximo com a morte (e com as coisas a que um moribundo se agarra quando chega o seu tempo) é que a Trindade é família. O Céu é Família. O Céu é casa.

Regresso a casa
Robert Frost disse-o na perfeição no triste e belo “Death of a Hired Hand”. Mary e Warren estão sentados na varanda a falar de Silas, um trabalhador sazonal velhote que regressou à quinta fora de época. Warren está preocupado com as suas andanças. Mas Mary diz-lhe para ser simpático, porque tem a certeza que Silas, que dorme lá dentro junto da lareira, regressou a casa para morrer.

Responde Warren e tom suavemente gozoso: “Casa…”, acrescentando “Casa é o local onde, quando não tens mais para onde ir, têm de te acolher”.

Mas Mary contrapõe: “Eu diria antes que é algo que, de certa forma, não temos de fazer por merecer”.

A nossa casa no Céu imaginada é misteriosa. Isaías, em 64,4, citado por Paulo em 1 Coríntios 2, 9, avisa que “desde a antiguidade não se ouviu, nem com ouvidos se percebeu, nem com os olhos se viu o que Deus preparou para quem o ama” (Isaías diz “que nele espera.”)

Aquilo que percebi enquanto amava e rezava, me confessava e comungava, e enquanto esperava e me confiava, deixando-me abraçar a realidade da morte… É que estou no sítio para onde vou. Em casa. Sempre estive em casa. Neste momento o meu corpo não está a morrer, mas um dia estará e, quando esse dia chegar, atravessarei alegremente esse umbral, rumo à minha casa eterna.

Sem dúvida que ainda me espantarei se der com uma cobra na relva, mas não vejo que mais possa haver de que tenha medo.

É suposto que o meu amor seja imperfeito, mas o de Cristo não é. Ele ama-me e esse amor é tudo o que preciso para me levar à prudência, coragem, temperança e justiça. E isso é amar a Deus.


(Publicado pela primeira vez na terça-feira, 6 de Agosto de 2018 em The Catholic Thing)

Brad Miner é editor chefe de The Catholic Thing, investigador sénior da Faith & Reason Institute e faz parte da administração da Ajuda à Igreja que Sofre, nos Estados Unidos. É autor de seis livros e antigo editor literário do National Review.

© 2018 The Catholic Thing. Direitos reservados. Para os direitos de reprodução contacte:info@frinstitute.org

The Catholic Thing é um fórum de opinião católica inteligente. As opiniões expressas são da exclusiva responsabilidade dos seus autores. Este artigo aparece publicado em Actualidade Religiosa com o consentimento de The Catholic Thing.

Defender um amigo, ou ampliar a mentira?

Nos últimos dias surgiram boatos maliciosos sobre um homem bom, de quem sou amigo.

Eram boatos em sites de uma tendência clara, anti-Papa Francisco, que chegam a muita gente.

Sabendo-os falsos, achei que seria importante defender a pessoa em causa.

Desde que o publiquei, várias pessoas agradeceram mas algumas chamaram-me a atenção para o facto de estar a dar ainda mais dimensão e eco a uma mentira. Sei que existe esse risco.

Este é um dilema clássico. O que fazer com as mentiras? Expô-las à luz, para as matar? Mas com isso corremos o risco de as levar mais longe.

O meu objectivo era chegar ao mundo anglófono, porque foi lá que o boato surgiu. Passado este tempo, se ainda não chegou lá não vai chegar e por isso, para evitar que a partir de agora o artigo apenas sirva para chamar a atenção de mais pessoas para as mentiras iniciais, retiro-o do blog. Está guardado no meu arquivo pessoal.

Não o retiro por vergonha, nem por achar que não é verdade, mas para não causar mais danos a quem visava defender.

Cometi um erro ao publicar? Recebi opiniões diversas. Cometo um erro ao retirar? Não sei.

Agradeço a vossa compreensão.

terça-feira, 7 de agosto de 2018

Prelados ou leigos, eis a questão

David Alton
Hoje voltamos a olhar para casos de liberdade religiosa na Europa ocidental. Neste caso olhamos para o Reino Unido onde, entre outras coisas, todas as agências de adopção católicas foram obrigadas a fechar por se recusarem a colocar crianças com casais homossexuais. Conversei sobre o assunto com o lorde David Alton.

Morreu o pastor presbiteriano Augusto Esperança que promoveu a publicação da primeira Bíblia interconfessional em Portugal, num esforço conjunto de biblistas católicos e protestantes.

Depois do ralhete, a festinha. O Papa escreveu aos bispos chilenos a elogiar as medidas que adoptaram para combater o escândalo dos abusos sexuais que tem abalado a sua igreja. A carta foi escrita à mão!

Para os EUA é que não há, por enquanto festinhas nem elogios. Os bispos discutem entre si como reagir ao caso McCarrick, que criou uma crise de confiança na hierarquia. Alguns querem uma comissão supervisora composta por bispos, outros dizem que é tempo de confiar essa supervisão aos leigos.

segunda-feira, 6 de agosto de 2018

Procura-se parteira. Se gosta de bebés, escusa de se candidatar

Esta semana vou publicar um artigo por dia sobre a liberdade religiosa, ou falta dela, na Europa ocidental. Hoje viajamos para a Suécia, onde vos apresento Ellinor Grimmark, uma parteira que foi impedida de trabalhar no seu país, por ser contra o aborto.

Esta não faz parte da série, mas podia fazer. O cardeal arcebispo de Sarajevo diz que todos os anos cerca de 10 mil católicos abandonam a Bósnia, por se sentirem discriminados.

A semana passada trouxe-vos uma entrevista com um padre sírio que trabalha com jovens e mulheres deslocados em Damasco, na Síria. Hoje, para os mais interessados, publico a transcrição completa dessa conversa,no inglês original. Não deixem de ler.


"The cities can be rebuilt. But children who have known nothing but war, that’s more difficult"

This is a full transcript, in the original English, of my interview with Fr. Fouad Nakhla, a Syrian Jesuit who works with displaced people in Damascus. Fr. Fouad was in Portugal for a conference organised by JRS - the Jesuit Refugee Service.

Esta é uma transcrição integral, no inglês original, da minha entrevista com o padre Fouad Nakhla, um jesuíta Sírio que trabalha com pessoas deslocadas em Damasco. O padre Fouad esteve em Portugal a convite da JRS - Serviço Jesuíta para os Refugiados. A reportagem que foi publicada no site da Renascença está aqui.

You told me you are from a small town North of Damascus. What Church do you belong to?
I am Greek Catholic, Melkite.

The town where you grew up, was it mainly Christian?
No. Around 10%.

So, more or less the same proportion as the country.
Exactly.

When did you feel a vocation to become a priest?
Actually, after high school I went to Aleppo, and I did my studies in Aleppo. And there I met the poor people. I was working and studying, and then I thought, well, what should I do after that? And when I met the poor I began to think about my future, what would make sense for me? I went to a Jesuit Center, Saint Vartan, which is where JRS started in Aleppo - now it is destroyed - and I started to work with the Jesuits, and there I thought maybe this way could bring more meaning for me. So I went to spend one year with the Jesuits before entering the society, in Homs, with Fr. Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in 2014, and then I decided to join the society, so I joined in 2002.

At this time Syria was in peace, nobody could imagine the Arab Spring, as it came to be known, what was life like at the time? Especially between different religious communities?
We can say that at that time we were all living together, there was no difference between religion, between rites, or even between cities. We could find work. Life was not easy, but it was stable.

You became a Jesuit, you did your training in Paris... Where were you when everything started to crumble?
I left Paris in 2012, and the last year was very hard, and then I went back to Damascus in June, 2012.

So by now, things had already started. And you had family in Syria?
Yes, for sure. All my family was in Syria.

They were not among those who left? Were they all safe?
They did not leave the country, but they left the city for about 8 months. Then they went back, and now they are safe.

When you went back, did you start working with displaced people straight away?
Yes. Because it was the main activity, and that was where I was most needed. So, when I went back, in 2012 I went straight into the project, in Damascus, and I was responsible for this project for two years, from 2012 to 2014, working in the field. A lot of change happened over these two years.

So, what is the work of the Jesuits currently in Damascus? Because we hear of them working with refugees, we imagine, normally, in refugee camps, but in your case it is mostly people who fled from other places in Syria to Damascus?
That's right, because it is very difficult to work with IDPs without camps in the city. It is very different from the work with the refugees in the camps. It was very difficult for us in Syria to work in this situation, because we were all affected, and all our team was affected also. JRS started in Syria in 2008 to help with the Iraqi refugees, and it was very difficult for us to be in the same situation and to encounter this suffering among our own population, seeing our cities destroyed, it was very hard. So, when we started, we started with people who were coming from those cities, which had been destroyed, but who wanted to help their own people, they couldn't stand to not do anything. That is how everything started in Syria, especially in Damascus.

The work with IDPs started in Damascus. When the first displaced arrived, it was from a neighborhood around Homs, and they were living in the streets. There was nowhere to go. When we started it was with the distribution of sandwiches and water, with a small team of volunteers. Then we started to organise this work. At the beginning it was only with some donations from people in Syria who wanted to help, then it grew, and grew, and we had many projects at this time. We had distribution for food or non-food items, health support, and then we began to work more specifically with women and children, running some workshops, and fortunately we had begun JRS in 2008, so in 2012 we had the structure to help them further.

Actually, at the moment, we have only one project for the psycho-social support for the children. We work mainly with children who are not attending school, but now most of them are going to school, but they had been away for two or three years, so they don't have the capacity to follow. So what we do is help them to catch up and to continue with their studies.

And you work with people from all communities?
Since the beginning we have been helping people without asking where they are coming from. We seek out the suffering people and we help them. That is what we do.

Speaking of the children, this has been going on now for almost 8 years. We have now had a whole generation of children who have not known peace. What does this mean for the future of Syria?
I think this is the most difficult situation that we have. The destruction of the cities... They can be rebuilt. But for the children who have now known anything other than war and violence, that is more difficult.

We have two groups of children. The children who grew up in the city, in the country, who suffered a lot, being displaced. They have a lot of trauma. And most of them have no education, they were out of school for many years, and they grew up with this situation. They have to work. Most of the children we are working with are working, they have jobs, sometimes very risky jobs, so they have to deal with that. Somehow they grew up too early, they take the responsibility for their family, even if they are only 10 or 11, and they try to cope with all of this.

The second group is the children who grew up in the camps. I don't have details about that, but I think it is also a very hard situation. They have lost contact with the country, with the cities, so they don't even know their cities from before. So for both groups it will be very hard for the future. And we all know that the future of the country depends on those children. What we are doing now is trying to build the future through those children.

This work is, obviously, so important. Does the regime help you? Do they let you work and not bother you? What is the relationship?
What we do is to help people, and since we are helping people we are not taking any position. That is why we can continue to work until now.

I asked about what this means for the future of Syria, how about for the Church? Has it affected vocations for example?
I don't have statistics, but even before the crisis the vocations were already in crisis. The numbers of people wanting to join the church were already very small. I think it is the same now. I think we have noticed some improvement in that respect, over the past two or three years, but it is still very timid, in terms of numbers of people wanting to join religious societies or the church.

And then, many of the Christians have already left the country. The percentage now is not the same as it was.

Do you have reliable figures?
No.

Many Christians lived in and around Damascus and Aleppo, which are now fully controlled by the regime. As you said, many others have left. There are many still living in areas dominated by the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Front. Do you have contact with them?
We have some contacts, because in the East of Syria, in this region controlled by the Kurds, we have some contacts... Well, life is difficult for everyone, everywhere. The conditions are different from area to area, but I can say that most of the Syrians inside the country now are in need, and they are suffering a lot. It is not an easy life. Now it is becoming safer, but still, the prices are very high, and there are a lot of challenges.

The Christians I have spoken to in the SDF controlled area speak of a project for Syria which would see decentralization, each community having a say, including the Christians... It seems that most of the anti-regime opposition has been defeated, and the regime and the SDF will emerge at the end. They have refrained from attacking each other, mostly, do you think there may be a conflict in the future, between them, or will they manage to work out an agreement for peace?
It is very hard to estimate and to imagine what things will be like in the future, because in this situation there is a lot of misunderstanding, and a lot of coming and going... One day you are friends and the next day you are not, so it is a little bit difficult to imagine.

But what I really believe is that if we want to build a new future for Syria, we can't do it in a federal way. I believe that we can build a future if we keep the unity of the Syrian people and the country. How it will be done, if it is possible or not, I don't know. I don't know what the future holds, but this is what we believe and we are working for that.

Do you have brothers and sisters?
Yes.

I know that before the war, at least, families with only one child were not required to do military service. Did you?
I would have had to do it, but I didn't, because I joined the Jesuits.

But your brothers?
Yes, of course.

During the war?
I am the youngest, so they did theirs before, in 1991 and 1998.

The idea that we have in the west is that most of the Christians support the regime, in these conflicts that there have been. There are exceptions, I have spoken to a few, but most tend to be guardedly in favour of the regime. Is this a correct perception?
It is always very hard to generalise. But as a Jesuit and as JRS, we are always outside of these positions. We are not in favour or against, we are with the suffering people, and we are working for that. That is our position. But still, it is very hard to generalise.

When I asked you about a possible conflict with the SDF, you said it was hard to guess the future. But now that it seems like most of ISIS has been eliminated, and even the FSA, and Al-Qaeda linked groups have been pushed away and are now in areas mostly controlled by Turkey... How do you see the future for Syria now? Is it looking better than it was a few years ago?
I don't know how to answer this question, it is too hard.

Al-Qaeda and Isis, these are ideologies. They are not only groups, they are ideologies. They could be defeated, for a while, but they are ideologies. If we don't work on the root of these ideologies, it is useless. And we can see what has happened. Al-Qaeda was defeated in Afghanistan, for a while, but the ideology is still around, and it becomes more and more general.

So it is not white and black... You have to be more delicate on this kind of position.

So we have seen them being militarily defeated, but your concern is that the ideology remains among some of the people.
Yes, and it is easily reignited. That is why it is so difficult.

I believe in peace for Syria, and we are all working for that, and it is only possible if we work for reconciliation with people. Because used to live together, and we can live together again. That is what I think, and what I believe. But it is only possible if we start to work for reconciliation.

You did a Master's in Conflict Resolution, which I imagine is very useful... Can there be reconciliation without forgiveness?
Forgiveness comes at the end, it is a process, it doesn't just happen. It could come at the end, and there are a lot of steps before forgiveness, especially forgiveness in politics, which is not something very usual. So that is why I think we have to start working for reconciliation as soon as possible, hoping that at the end we will reach some kind of forgiveness, otherwise it will be too late.

Speaking of forgiveness, is the understanding of forgiveness and its implications, the same among different religious communities?
During this crisis we have seen that what brings people together is not words, but the suffering, the pain, and when people meet each other and realise they are suffering as much as me, if not more, that makes the difference, and that makes me see the other as a Human Being, not as an enemy, or just another person, no, it is somebody who can suffer, and who suffered more than me, possibly. Experience can talk, more than words. Words can't do anything. We can make all the sermon's possible about forgiveness and love, etc., but if we are not experiencing that, it is not possible.

When the USA bombed military targets in Damascus, recently, there was a joint statement from the Patriarchs of the Christian Churches in Syria. Is it fair to say that the leadership of the different communities have the same position in their vision of Syrian and outside interference?
I don't know how to answer that. But what we can say is that it is not fair to bomb in this way. Whatever the situation. And it is not right.

The problem in Syria is that now the crisis is no longer a Syrian crisis, and that makes all the people angry.

Was it ever just a Syrian crisis? There was always outside interference, no?
But now it is too much. It is very harmful to see that everybody is bombing and they don't care about people's lives. People are dying everywhere, and life has meaning on all sides, and bombing in this way is not fair.

The division of Christian voices, is this a problem?
We don't feel that Christians are divided.

Sure, there are many rites, but we are all Christians. It is not the divisions which matter.

Now, what we have to do is to help the Christians to be part of the country, and not outsiders. That could help for unity in the future, and that could help bring them to have a role in this country.

So on the ground one does not notice this division among the different traditions?
Actually no. We have many centers and churches around, and we receive people from all rites. We don't ask, it’s not a question that matters in the country, because we are used to this, to being very different. It is somehow difficult, but also very rich. We enjoy it. When you have seven different masses, in different rites, it can be confusing, but for us it is very rich and wonderful.

What do you do among the Jesuits? Do you celebrate one rite?
Actually we have the privilege to celebrate all the rites, as Jesuits. It is a great and very beautiful privilege. I am ordained in the Melkite rite, but I can celebrate in Maronite, or in Copt, or in Syriac and in each church, so we have this privilege.

All Jesuits, or just in the Middle East?
I think in the Middle East. I have no idea if others can do the same, but at least we can.

Fr. Frans van der Lugt
You mentioned Fr. Frans van der Lugt, Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio, as well... What do these names mean to you?
Well, for Fr. Frans van der Lugt... He is a model for all of us. His example to choose to stay with the people who were suffering most, until the end, and to share their lives until his death, for me, personally and, I think, for all the Jesuits in the region, is a model, a big witness for us.

His life, and his death, give us a lot of strength to continue, and also a lot of hope, to continue and to believe that even among suffering and the darkest of situations, life is more powerful and God is present everywhere. That has helped us a lot.

Paulo Dall'Oglio is also a big voice, and also one of us. The first mission of his monastery, Mar Moussa, is to promote peace and dialogue, and it is still going until now.

Has their death and example given fruit for relations among communities?
For sure! And very often we meet people who we don't know, and they talk about Fr. Frans, his example and his way. Some new him, some didn't, but only heard about him. So we have a lot of testimonies and a lot of people are talking about him and his life.

For us, Fr. Van der Lugt is still alive, so many people talk about him, we feel that he is still with us. Because his life continues to inspire our life.



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