French elections and the Catholic Church | Bishop apologises for saying Santa doesn’t exist
December 2021 #04
Welcome to this week’s European Churches Chronicle, your premier source for weekly news on churches in Europe. Free, in your inbox, every Friday.
News in brief.
European church leaders mark the death of Archbishop Tutu. Church leaders across denominations have expressed their condolences in response to the news this week that Archbishop Tutu has died.
French elections and the Catholic Church. With France due to hold a presidential election in April, the public is keen to know if the Catholic Church will express support for any of the candidates. The Church has in recent years highlighted criteria it asks its membership to reflect on in making their choice for president, which is generally understood as a subtle indication at least of which candidates it does not support. Whilst Emmanuel Macron has a good public relationship with the Catholic Church, he is vocal about France’s commitment to the separation of Church and State. Presidential hopefuls Eric Zemmour and Valérie Pécresse pose a challenge for the Church because their campaigns have evoked France’s Christian heritage but they have been critical of the Church. The Church has so far refrained from explicitly opposing the Far Right party led by Marine Le Pen, as it did in the 1990s when the party was led by her father.
Roman Catholic bishop in Sicily apologises for saying Santa doesn’t exist. According to a church spokesman, who apologised on behalf of the bishop, the bishop was trying to illustrate the importance of charity and generosity by speaking about Saint Nicholas, but went too far in suggesting to children that Santa Claus was a fabrication associated with commercialism. Parents took to social media to express their outrage.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has tested positive for Covid. The 81-year-old leader of the Orthodox Church is reported to be in a “good” condition, and the Patriarchate at Constantinople called on people to “follow the recommendations of doctors and specialists, as well as those who have not yet been vaccinated, to do so for their own good and of society as a whole”.
Spotlight on Saarbrücken.
Ludwigskirche (Am Ludwigspl. 18) Built by baroque master, Friedrich Joachim Stengel, the Evangelical Lutheran Ludwigskirche is a more Protestant interpretation of baroque architecture than its Catholic peers. Its solid and sober exterior is in contrast to its ethereal all-white interior. The church was almost entirely destroyed in British bombing of Saarbrücken in October 1944. Restoration still continues, but the church has been able to be used for services since 1975.
John the Baptist Saarbrücken Basilica (Katholisches Pfarramt St. Johann 25). The principal Roman Catholic church in Saarbrücken, the basilica was also designed by Friedrich Joachim Stengel in typically baroque style.
The church houses a memorial for Willi Graf, who was member of the "White Rose" resistance group who opposed the Nazis.
Saint of the week: Saint Genevieve
Saint Genevieve lived in France in the fifth century and is credited with saving the people of Paris from Attila the Hun. In a later siege of Paris, she passed through enemy lines and brought grain to the city, and also interceded successfully on behalf of prisoners of war. She built a chapel to house the relics of Saint Denis, who had been bishop of Paris and martyred in the third century. Her own relics were publicly burnt at the Place de Grève during the French Revolution.
Picture credits. The Pastoral Life of Saint Genevieve, Georges-William Thornley, Art Institute Chicago | graphic design by European Churches Chronicle.
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