Zacchaeus tax initiative. The Lutheran World Federation has launched a resource toolkit called ZacTax to help churches support campaigns promoting a more equitable global tax system. The toolkit includes chapters on the Zacchaeus story and the theology of taxation, as well as practical suggestions for churches’ engagement, and a section for children reflecting on the concept of the common good. Its aims echo the urgent appeal made by religious leaders to heads of the G20 nations ahead of their Rome summit at the end of October, calling for a “reset” of the world’s current development model “founded upon fossil fuel-driven economic growth.”
Catholic bishops in Europe call for more caring economy. This week Catholic bishops in Europe (COMECE) published a reflection paper calling for an economic system centred on care as much as profit. The paper titled “A Financial System serving the Common Good in times of Systemic Change” highlights the need for new rules and regulations to make the present economic and financial system “more human and more inclusive”.
Hate crimes against Christians increase in Europe. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) released its Hate Crime Data for 2020 and found an almost 70% increase in hate crimes aimed at Christians. The OSCE received reports of 4,008 descriptive cases of hate crime, 980 were hate crimes against Christians, almost 25%, more than against any other religious group. The OSCE defines a hate crime as “when a perpetrator has intentionally targeted an individual or property because of one or more identity traits or expressed hostility towards these identity traits during the crime”.
Spotlight on Cologne.
Cologne Cathedral is Europe’s most famous Gothic cathedral, and a world heritage site. When the archbishop of Cologne acquired the relics of the Three Kings in the twelfth century, work began on a suitably impressive church in which to house them. Church officials chose a new style of design, used impressively for the cathedral in Amiens, and which became known as Gothic. A gold reliquary, parts of which are by the famous goldsmith Nicholas of Verdun, was built to house the bones of the Magi. Work began on the cathedral in 1248, but ground to a halt in the 1400s, leaving a crane on the unfinished south tower for 400 years. Building was completed in the 1800s, using the original medieval design but with modern building techniques. During WWII the cathedral took 14 hits from aerial bombs, and the stained glass window in the south transept was destroyed. In 2007, a new stained glass window by Gerhard Richter was unveiled. The innovative (and controversial) window used a pixel design in 72 colours taken from the original stained glass.
For several hundred years, St Gereon’s Basilica had the largest dome in the Western hemisphere, and it is often compared to Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia for its soaring architecture. It is one of the twelve Romanesque churches in Cologne.
The Basilica of St Ursula is designed around the relics of the 11,000 virgins who were martyred with St Ursula. The relics are contained in the Golden Chamber, whose walls are covered in bones arranged in patterns and/or letters.
Saint of the week: Cecilia.
Saint Cecilia was a Roman noblewoman who was martyred with her husband and brother-in-law in about 235 AD. She is the patron saint of music, and concerts and music festivals are often held on her feast day, 22 November. She has featured in many songs and compositions over the centuries – from Benjamin Britten’s “Hymn to St Cecilia“, to Paul Simon’s “Cecilia”, and the Foo Fighters “Saint Cecilia”.
On Sunday 21 November at 10.00 CET, the American Cathedral in Paris will be hosting a hybrid online and on-site forum looking at Luke’s gospel, which will frame Sunday lectionary readings for the year ahead.
On 13 December at 19.00 CET the Anglican Centre in Rome will be holding a webinar on “The Vision Renewed – What Is Our Ecumenical Future?” with speakers from across the Anglican communion.