A human touch, in St. Peter's Square
Franco Garelli

-Analysis-

VATICAN CITY — The pope who came from “almost the ends of the earth” continues to spread his message of hope, secure in the knowledge that the proclamation of the Gospel has much to offer men and women of our times. By no means should we believe that modernity will bring the end of Christianity, as many scholars and men of the Church have long predicted or feared.

Only the young who keep their hopes high and have not yet been oppressed by history are able to understand the true meaning and richness of the pope’s groundbreaking interview this week with the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica.

Emerging from this interview is the image of a pope who had clearly been warned that his presence would provoke the Church’s establishment, a pope who is aware of how his style of governance and public persona creates concern in some Catholic quarters. For instance, he admits that some accuse him of not talking enough, or being too hands off on condemning abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception. In warning the Church not to always seek disciplinary solutions to Christianity’s many challenges in the modern world, we see a pontiff aware that an exaggerated use of doctrinal certainty is a defense of the lost past rather than a hope for the future.

Obviously Pope Francis intends to calm his entire flock, even those who have difficulty understanding the “new” that he brings and are worried that he will preach human proximity to God rather than the truth of faith. Hence the curious passage in the interview in which Francis professes to be a “son of the Church,” to whom all the fixed points of the moral and social teaching are very well-known and not in dispute.

On gays and women

But, warns the pope, to insist too much on these is likely to erect an insurmountable wall between the Church and those who are not necessarily in tune with the Christian message. More than anything, the Catholic Church needs to heal the wounds and warm the hearts of the faithful before it can focus on the moral issues at hand.

This is the core message of the 12,000-word interview with Pope Francis. The Church should return to its vocational missions, concentrate on the essentials — that is, “warming their hearts” just like Jesus did with his disciples in the story of the walk to Emmaus. “If we don’t discover the necessary,” continues the Argentine pontiff, “the Church runs the risk of withdrawing into itself on the little things, of being perceived as an agency of guidelines rather than a source of mercy.”

Apart from its simple but effective message, what is most striking in this latest outpouring from Francis is his use of language. From his exalted perch, neither Catholics nor the rest of the world are used to a pope who expresses himself as if he were in familiar conversation. He describes the Church as “a field hospital after a battle” and considers homosexuals as the “socially injured” because they feel that the Church has always condemned them. He hopes that the question of women in the Church won’t resolve itself with a solution of “female machismo,” and he urges ministers to be pastors and not clerics of the State.

At the beginning of the interview, his fellow Jesuit interviewer dared to ask him: “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” He didn’t hesitate to answer: “a sinner, to whom the Lord has looked upon.”

Many other passages in this historic interview shed light upon what Francis himself thinks about the Church, and his ideas for renewing it. Still, it is hard to know exactly how many Catholics are in tune with a pontiff who continues to draw attention for the unprecedented simplicity of his message and approach to language.

Of course, the “younger” evangelical churches seem to be better positioned than Catholicism to react to modernity. And in the West, particularly in Europe, the fatigue of the Catholic Church is greater because of the difficulty to break out of old patterns and habits.

A few years ago, some European countries were described as having “strength on religion and weakness on faith.” Today, Pope Francis seems to have evoked the possibility that faith could take the upper hand.

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Thousands of migrants in Del Rio, Texas, on the border between Mexico and the U.S.

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Сайн уу*

Welcome to Friday, where the new U.S.-UK-Australia security pact is under fire, Italy becomes the first country to make COVID-19 "green pass" mandatory for all workers, and Prince Philip's will is to be kept secret for 90 years. From Russia, we also look at the government censorship faced by brands that recently tried to promote multiculturalism and inclusiveness in their ads.

[*Sain uu - Mongolian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• U.S. facing multiple waves of migrants, refugees: The temporary camp, located between Mexico's Ciudad Acuña and Del Rio in Texas, is housing some 10,000 people, largely from Haiti. With few resources, they are forced to wait in squalid conditions and scorching temperatures amidst a surge of migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. Meanwhile, thousands of recently evacuated Afghan refugees wait in limbo at U.S. military bases, both domestic and abroad.

• COVID update: Italy is now the first European country to require vaccination for all public and private sector workers from Oct. 15. The Netherlands will also implement a "corona pass" in the following weeks for restaurants, bars and cultural spaces. When he gives an opening speech at the United Nations General Assembly next week, unvaccinated Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will defy New York City authorities, who are requiring jabs for all leaders and diplomats.

• U.S. and UK face global backlash over Australian deal: The U.S. is attempting to diffuse the backlash over the new security pact signed with Australia and the UK, which excludes the European Union. The move has angered France, prompting diplomats to cancel a gala to celebrate ties between the country and the U.S.

• Russian elections: Half of the 450 seats in Duma are will be determined in today's parliamentary race. Despite persistent protests led by imprisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny, many international monitors and Western governments fear rigged voting will result in President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party maintaining its large majority.

• Somali president halts prime minister's authority: The decision by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed marks the latest escalation in tensions with Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble concerning a murder investigation. The move comes as the Horn of Africa country has fallen into a political crisis driven by militant violence and clashes between clans.

• Astronauts return to Earth after China's longest space mission: Three astronauts spent 90 days at the Tianhe module and arrived safely in the Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia. The Shenzhou-12 mission is the first of crewed missions China has planned for 2021-2022 as it completes its first permanent space station.

• Prince Philip's will to be kept secret for 90 years: A British court has ruled that the will of Prince Philip, the late husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth who passed away in April at 99 years old, will remain private for at least 90 years to preserve the monarch's "dignity and standing."

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

With a memorable front-page photo, Argentine daily La Voz reports on the open fight between the country's president Alberto Fernández and vice-president Cristina Kirchner which is paralyzing the government. Kirchner published a letter criticizing the president's administration after several ministers resigned and the government suffered a major defeat in last week's midterm primary election.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

€150

An Italian investigation uncovered a series of offers on encrypted "dark web" websites offering to sell fake EU COVID vaccine travel documents. Italy's financial police say its units have seized control of 10 channels on the messaging service Telegram linked to anonymous accounts that were offering the vaccine certificates for up to €150. "Through the internet and through these channels, you can sell things everywhere in the world," finance police officer Gianluca Berruti told Euronews.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

In Russia, brands advertising diversity are under attack

Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi removed an advertisement with a Black man and apologized for offending the Russian nation, while a grocery chain was attacked for featuring an LGBTQ couple, reports Moscow-based daily Kommersant.

❌ "On behalf of the entire company, we want to apologize for offending the public with our photos..." reads a recent statement by Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi after publishing an advertisement that included a photograph of a Black man. Shortly after, the company's co-founder, Konstantin Zimen, said people on social media were accusing Yobidoyobi of promoting multiculturalism. Another recent case involved grocery store chain VkusVill, which released advertising material featuring a lesbian couple. The company soon began to receive threats and quickly apologized and removed the text and apologized.

🏳️🌈 For the real life family featured in the ad, they have taken refuge in Spain, after their emails and cell phone numbers were leaked. "We were happy to express ourselves as a family because LGBTQ people are often alone and abandoned by their families in Russia," Mila, one of the daughters in the ad, explained in a recent interview with El Pais.

🇷🇺 It is already common in Russia to talk about "spiritual bonds," a common designation for the spiritual foundations that unite modern Russian society, harkening back to the Old Empire as the last Orthodox frontier. The expression has been mocked as an internet meme and is widely used in public rhetoric. For opponents, this meme is a reason for irony and ridicule. Patriots take spiritual bonds very seriously: The government has decided to focus on strengthening these links and the mission has become more important than protecting basic human rights.Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi removed an advertisement with a Black man and apologized for offending the Russian nation, while a grocery chain was attacked for featuring an LGBTQ couple, reports Moscow-based daily Kommersant.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"Ask the rich countries: Where are Africa's vaccines?"

— During an online conference, Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, of the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, implored the international community to do more to inoculate people against COVID-19 in Africa and other developing regions. The World Health Organization estimates that only 3.6% of people living in Africa have been fully vaccinated. The continent is home to 17% of the world population, but only 2% of the nearly six billion shots administered so far have been given in Africa, according to the W.H.O.

✍️ Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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