November 2021 #4 – Apology to Sami people

Church of Sweden apologises for mistreatment of Sámi people. At a service in the Cathedral of Uppsala, the Church of Sweden delivered a public apology this week for its role in “legitimized repression” and centuries of “mistreatment and complacency” towards Sámi people. Archbishop Antje Jackelén said: “I stand before you, the Sámi, and confess that we have NOT engaged with you at eye level. We have been curved inward on ourselves, we have not stood up to racism and abuse of power… We have placed unjust burdens on you.” The Church of Sweden will allocate EUR 3.9 million to a 10-year plan to achieve eight commitments for reconciliation. These include pledges to strengthen and revitalize Sámi languages, to increase the influence and participation of Sámi people in the Church of Sweden, and to increase awareness of the church’s historical relations and abuses against the Sámi people.

Church leaders welcome new German coalition. Church leaders in Germany have welcomed news of a SPD, Green and FDP coalition with social democrat leader Olaf Scholz as the next German chancellor. Caritas leader Eva Maria Welskop-Deffaa welcomed the coalition’s environmental, social and migration policies, whilst the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ) said it was pleased about plans to reduce the voting age to 16. 

Greece introduces Covid pass for church services. In line with several other European countries, including France and Austria, Greece now requires worshippers to have proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to attend a church service.

Spotlight on Strasbourg.

Notre Dame Cathedral was once the world’s tallest building, and although parts of the church date back to the ninth period, subsequent additions and rebuilding have seen it become a towering and notable example of Gothic architecture. 

St Thomas is a hall-style church and the main Protestant church in Strasbourg. Reformationist Martin Bucer was a pastor there in the 1520s. The church contains a large, striking fresco, probably by Jost Haller, of Saint Michael victorious over demons.

St Nicholas church is a small, Gothic-style Protestant church where Reformationsist John Calvin led services in 1538, and where humanitarian Albert Schweitzer was pastor between 1900 and 1913.

Saint of the week: Charles de Foucault

Charles de Foucault will be canonized by Pope Francis on 15 May 2022. Born in Strasbourg in 1858, Charles de Foucault was a cavalry officer, then explorer, before becoming a priest and hermit in North Africa. 
“What is this peace, different from that which the world gives? This peace is the one your love gives … a peace greater than suffering, not a peace without war, but a peace in spite of war, during war, above war, the peace of the soul, having, through love, its whole life in heaven and thus enjoying the peace of heaven in spite of everything which may happen on earth around it and against it.”

Looking ahead.

Throughout the month of December, Antwerp Cathedral will hold a series of concerts on Sundays, beginning on 5 December at 16.00 CET with organist Peter van de Velde and soprano Dorine Mortelmans performing works including Henryk Gorecki’s O Domina Nostra.

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.

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