- Jan 18, 2020
Religious tensions in Northern Ireland are diminishing, but in a pub in one of the most Catholic neighborhoods in Belfast memories of past violence remain vivid.
European citizens living in the United Kingdom should not have to pay a fee to remain in the country after Brexit if they are “vulnerable,” according to the England and Wales bishops’ conference.
Brexit is causing “huge concern” for Northern Ireland. On the economic front, the economies of Northern Ireland and the Republic “are intertwined, most especially in the field of agriculture and food production/processing. Within the EU, the two jurisdictions have been enabled to grow together with enormous benefits for both.”
Catholic bishops across Europe largely have been making a stand in defense of continental unity, a position backed by Pope Francis. Yet in a major speech on Europe Saturday, Francis made clear he’s also no champion of the European status quo, and in fact seems to regard it as passing away. In that context, he laid out his own version of the “Benedict option” for the Church’s role.
While the Vatican hosted a major summit on Europe on Friday featuring some 350 spiritual and political leaders from across the continent, nobody seemed eager to touch the big European story of the day — Catalonia’s vote to declare independence, and Spain’s move to impose direct rule. That may reflect both the sensitivity of the issue, and the fact that the Church isn’t of one mind.
Popes generally work hard to have good relations with politicians of all stripes, but when they find one of consequence with whom they have a special rapport, history can change. Looking around the global stage today, the best candidate for such a partner of Pope Francis may well be Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who’s coming calling on the pontiff on Saturday.