Week in Review
e big story of the past seven days ✣ e daring speech that divided the press
POPE FRANCIS delivered a daring address to the European Parliament last week in which he told MEPs that Europe had become “a ‘grandmother’, no longer fertile and vibrant”.
The Pontiff appealed to the EU to overturn the “throwaway culture” and instead build a Europe that revolves around “the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values”, a Europe which “courageously embraces its past and confidently looks to its future”.
Francis condemned a ‘throwaway culture’
,IC K H E RTZOG
A P P H OTO
What the British media are saying What the vaticanisti are saying
Eurosceptics and proponents of further European integration wrestled over which side Pope Francis was really on.
The Guardian wrote that the Pope’s “overall message must be welcomed for the right reasons, which are about strengthening the EU, not undermining it”, while the Daily Mail reported that Francis “blast[ed] the EU for being ‘downright harmful’”, highlighting that he had urged MEPs to adopt “fair, courageous and realistic” policies on immigration.
Guardian contributor Joanna Moorhead attacked Francis for comparing Europe to an “infertile grandmother”, concluding that “the love-in with Francis is over; or at least it is as far as this Catholic feminist is concerned”.
Vatican commentator John Allen said that Francis’s words in Strasbourg were the “closest Francis has come to the kind of rhetoric associated with Pope Benedict XVI, starting with lofty and abstract principles and then working down toward specific conclusions”. Writing for cruxnow.com, he observed: “Had it been Benedict XVI who went to Strasbourg to say those things, one can only imagine the storyline would have been: ‘Pope scolds Europe for lack of values’. Instead, because it was Francis... those elements in his speeches were largely ignored in favour of his points about immigrants, labour, the environment, the arms trade and human trafficking. The headlines were: ‘Francis demands that Europe care for the poor.’”
e most overlooked story of the week ✣ A teenager who met the Pope is arrested
A Catholic youth who posed for a selfie with Pope Francis during his visit to South Korea in August has been arrested in Hong Kong. He asked the Pope about political oppression.
Giovanni Pang was one of the thousand people arrested at the pro-democracy protest site in the Mongkok district last week.
Pang takes a selfie with the Pope in South Korea
U C A N E WS
Why was it under-reported? What will happen next?
With the world’s gaze fixed on Pope Francis’s trip to Turkey last week, it is hard for a story linked with a papal visit that took place almost four months ago to compete with hot topics such as ecumenical relations and Islamic extremism. The celebrity Pope seems to excite the media so frequently that there is a constant stream of fresh news.
Could it also be that we are increasingly numb to stories of oppression that seem to flow steadily from particular parts of the world?
It is understood that Mr Pang’s diocese, which he works for as a member of the liturgy and youth commissions, has sent a representative to the police station to check on him.
Undoubtedly, the Vatican will also be aware of the situation, but the delicacy of Hong Kong’s political situation will leave the Pontiff in an invidious and perhaps rather powerless position.
Although, given the Pope’s readiness to pick up the phone, Mr Pang may receive a call if he is released.
✣Forecast for the week ahead
THE C9, a group of cardinals discussing proposals for reform of the Roman Curia, will meet from Tuesday to Thursday next week.
The cardinals will examine the pontifical councils of the Curia to find ways to make them more effective. Reports suggest that some of the councils – such as the councils for the laity and the family – may be merged.
POPE FRANCIS will make his annual visit to the 18th-century Spanish Steps on the feast of the Immaculate Conception on Monday. The Pontiff will pray before a statue of the Virgin Mary, right, in the middle of Rome’s busy shopping district.
6 CATHOLIC HERALD, DECEMBER 5 2014
PA P H OTO
CATHOLICS in England and Wales will celebrate Bible Sunday this weekend, on the second Sunday in Advent. Bible Sunday is an opportunity to reflect on how we may engage more closely with the Scriptures. Materials for parishes, generated by the National Scripture Working Group, an instrument of the bishops’ conference, can be found at wordofthelord.co.uk.