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Rome & the World: Portugal making 5th attempt to legalize euthanasia

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I.Media - published on 12/13/22

Also in today's headlines: Argentina's non-Catholic soccer saints • And like JPII, Francis is asking for Christmas clemency for prisoners

Every day, Aleteia offers a selection of articles written by the international press about the Church and the major issues that concern Catholics around the world. The opinions and views expressed in these articles are not those of the editors.

Tuesday 13 December 2022
1. As their World Cup team advances, Argentines call on folk saints for help
2. Portuguese Parliament in new bid to legalise euthanasia
3. Russia shuns the Vatican
4. Pope pleads for clemency for prisoners during Christmas
5. In Iraq, the dialogue between Christians and Shiites continues

1As their World Cup team advances, Argentines call on folk saints for help

As Argentina prepares to play a tough semi-final against Croatia on December 13, the Jesuit media outlet, America, looked at the important links between soccer and religious devotion in Pope Francis’ country. Shortly before the World Cup, the President of the Argentine national soccer federation visited the shrine of Difunta Correa, in the west of the country, which is named after a woman who died saving her child. There he thanked this saint for Argentina’s past victories and prayed to win the World Cup. In Argentina, this kind of religious “devotion” is very common. Along with Difunta Correa, other “folk saints,” such as Gauchito Gil or Osvaldo Pugliese, have been invoked to ask for the soccer team’s victory in Qatar.

These saints, loved and prayed to by the whole population, are not those of the Catholic Church – which, unlike popular piety, is in decline in the country (even though it is still the majority religion). The Holy See has only recognized three saints in Argentina, with two of them being recently canonized by Pope Francis. However, unlike those legitimately recognized by the Church, the saints “canonized” by the population, often marginalized people who sacrificed themselves by fighting those in power, easily replaced the official ones in stadiums and outside official institutions. Argentine soccer fans have now taken these popular heroes to the other side of the world, brandishing flags and signs from their stadium seats in Qatar with the names of these folk saints. 

America, English 

2Portuguese Parliament in new bid to legalise euthanasia

The saga concerning the legalization of euthanasia continues to agitate Portugal: For the fifth time in four years the Parliament has voted to legalize this practice. The first time the bill was discussed in Parliament, it was rejected; the second time, it was approved and then rejected by the Constitutional Court. The third and fourth times, under consecutive governments, it was approved, but the President vetoed it. After this fifth positive vote – despite the continuing objections of many relevant health professionals and the national ethics committee – the bill will again be submitted to President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, whose opposition to the measure is widely known. There are three options: he can sign it, send it back to the Constitutional Court or veto it. If he chooses the last option, he will have to ratify it if Parliament approves it a second time. Although some experts believe he could invoke conscientious objection and refuse to do so altogether, thus putting the measure on hold indefinitely, which has never been done before. The Portuguese Association of Catholic Jurists believes that the President should send the bill to the Constitutional Court. Proponents of euthanasia say they have eliminated the flaws that led the Court to void a previous version of the bill, but Rebelo de Sousa could raise objections to other aspects that were not examined last time. Faced with the possible developments, the inter-religious health taskforce, which brings together health experts from Portugal’s main religious communities, has expressed concern. At the Vatican, Portuguese Cardinal José Tolentino Mendonça, prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, lamented a “civilisational defeat that saddens and worries not only believers, but many non-believers.” Speaking to the Portuguese Catholic media group Renascença, he said that “to choose euthanasia, or to offer it as a solution for one’s life, is without doubt a diminishment of hope.”

The Tablet, English 

3. Russia shuns the Vatican

Russia cannot consider the Vatican as a place for possible negotiations between Moscow and Kiev, said the spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Holy See has offered itself as a mediator. 

Radiosputnik, Russian 

4. Pope pleads for clemency for prisoners during Christmas

Pope Francis has sent a letter to the world’s heads of state asking them to grant forgiveness to prisoners who they find “are held to be eligible to benefit from such a provision.” This is a gesture that follows in the footsteps of John Paul II in 2000. 

Vatican News, English

5. In Iraq, the dialogue between Christians and Shiites continues

Two years after Pope Francis’ historic trip to Iraq in March 2020, a conference will take place between Baghdad and the Shiite holy city of Najaf and will be an opportunity for meetings between Catholic and Shiite authorities. Two years ago, the Argentine Pope was the first Pontiff to set foot in Iraq. In Najaf he met Ayatollah al-Sistani, one of the highest figures in the Shiite world. 

Fides, English

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