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...

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

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.