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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 20/10/2014



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Homosexuality and divorce divide synod

Pope Francis had ordered the publishing of the vote's results. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


At the end of their two-week synod in the Vatican, the Catholic bishops were unable to agree on a reform course regarding homosexuals and divorcees. The corresponding sections of the final document published on Saturday failed to achieve the necessary majority. The Church shouldn't be surprised to see more of its members turn their backs on it, some commentators criticise. Others praise Pope Francis for forcing the bishops towards greater openness.

The Independent - United Kingdom

The shepherds drive away their sheep

The bishops shouldn't be surprised if more people leave the Church as a result of its unchanging attitude to homosexuals and divorcees, columnist Stefano Hatfield writes in the left-liberal daily The Independent: "Religion risks becoming anachronistic for an entire generation. ... Whatever you think of the current Pope - at least he recognized that many in his modern-day congregation struggle with Catholicism's centuries-old prejudices, and was trying, unsuccessfully, to do something positive about it. That his bishops slapped him down helps explain that startling decline in the 'religious' in one action. Unless Britain's religious leaders listen to what remains of their flocks, they will continue to talk to each other in ever decreasing circles." (19/10/2014)

Jutarnji list - Croatia

Pope forces bishops to be open

Even if the episcopal synod hasn't changed the general stance on gays and divorcees the bishops are now forced to address these issues openly, the liberal daily Jutarnji List comments approvingly: "To convene a synod on this subject was a courageous decision. It was even more courageous to announce its lack of consensus. The Church is willing to communicate with the world of which it indisputably forms part. At the same time Pope Francis has opened the doors of the divine household. His decision to publish the synod's report immediately and in its entirety establishes a new precedent. His decision to even make the results of the vote public article by article is absolutely exceptional. Not only has it given the faithful a precise idea of the balance of power, but it has also shown the anguish and difficulties of the Catholic Church in finding an answer to today's challenges." (20/10/2014)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Francis makes transparency a priority

The openness with which the clergy addressed difficult issues such as divorce and homosexuality at the family synod holds out hope that the Church may become more receptive, Jan Turnau, the church expert of the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza comments: "God is present in the Vatican once more. Once again I can say 'Ex Roma lux'. That means: In Rome we see light. The most important aspect was the openness of the discussion. And it wasn't forced on the gathering by reformers but initiated by the pope. This in particular has encouraged my Christian hope that ecumenicalism will be strengthened in the Church. And that divorcees, who have been regarded as a kind of unfortunate accident so far, will receive better treatment. It could also be that the Church becomes more open to people of a different sexual orientation." (20/10/2014)

Die Welt - Germany

Don't regulate belief to the last detail

After the family synod failed to produce a majority for a reform course on homosexuality or divorcees who remarry, the conservative daily Die Welt calls on the Catholic Church to give up the attempt to apply its teachings uniformly right down to the tiniest details all over the world: "The Catholic Church is universal. Its teachings must be the same everywhere - that's what distinguishes it from Protestantism. The concrete inferences for daily life necessarily have to vary from Manila to New York or Berlin's [alternative] Kreuzberg district. Rome could issue general guidelines within the framework of which the national bishops' conferences can find their own answers to the questions in their respective society. ... A two-speed, five-speed, umpteen-speed Catholicism runs the risk of division. No one knows that better than the pope, who personifies the Church's unity. And yet it was Francis who wanted the voting result of the synod to be made public." (20/10/2014)


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24 Sata - Croatia

Bulls-eye against Zagreb's political mafia

Croatia's national anti-corruption authority Uskok announced that the long-time mayor of the Croatian capital Zagreb, Milan Bandić, was arrested on Sunday along with other municipal politicians on charges of corruption. At last a big fish has been caught, the tabloid 24 Sata comments jubilantly: "The headline that Milan Bandić has been arrested 'for corruption' sounds almost comical in view of the fact that his name has been practically synonymous with corruption for the past decade. Now the only question is which offences he will be brought to book for - after all, the list is endless. And it's also unclear why Bandić hasn't even been questioned once in an entire decade, never mind arrested. ... This essentially demonstrates how big and powerful his corrupt family network is. Clearing up the mess of Bandić's legacy will be much harder than his arrest was." (20/10/2014)

Iltalehti - Finland

Submarine hunt fuels Sweden's defence debate

The Swedish navy has been engaged in a major search off the coast of Stockholm since the start of the weekend, prompted by suspicions of a foreign underwater operation. Apparently an emergency signal sent from a Russian submarine was intercepted. The incident is likely to rekindle the debate over Sweden's defence, the tabloid Iltalehti believes: "The search in the islands off Stockholm brings to mind the hunt for submarines in the early 1980s. ... Of course we must react to border violations, but we must also retain a sense of proportion. ... In any case the submarine hunt will no doubt fuel debate on Sweden's defence, because a growing number of Swedes view the abolition of compulsory military service as a mistake. Furthermore power politics is still very much alive, even in Europe. And the leading guardian of morality [Sweden] cannot focus only on crisis management operations in distant regions. ... However the reintroduction of compulsory military service would be a very slow process." (20/10/2014)

Proto Thema - Greece

Greek left must get more serious

Greece's left-wing alliance Syriza continues to grow in popularity. Roughly 30 percent of the voting population would vote for the alliance, according to current polls. But instead of rashly calling for new elections the left should formulate realistic demands, the liberal weekly paper Proto Thema writes in its online edition: "It seems that only a few Syriza politicians have a clear view of the situation. Most are 'drunk' at the prospect of coming to power. But that's hardly a serious attitude to have toward the country and its citizens. ... The people can no longer carry the weight of the government's ambitious goals. But at the same time they are not obliged to bear the exaggerated recommendations of the opposition. The latter is convinced that Greece is the centre of the world, and that its recommendations would therefore be immediately accepted by the creditors. ... One can at least demand a little seriousness to prevent the people's sacrifices over the past five years from being in vain." (19/10/2014)

Libération - France

French Socialists need a clear goal

The former chair of the French Socialists, Martine Aubry, criticised President François Hollande's economic policy in an interview on Sunday. The left-liberal daily Libération supports her calls for economic stimulus measures: "Under such circumstances it's perfectly legitimate to look for alternative measures, to focus on demand as well as supply, and to demand a true tax reform. Of course one can always question whether it's possible or desirable to increase the French deficit at a time when France is being watched by the markets, and to reject any reforms aimed at making the economy more flexible. Or to suddenly change policies when the direction was fixed less than a year ago. ... But there is one thing that everyone on the left should agree on: a general direction must be fixed on - not only regarding finances - and the people must be told where their country is headed." (19/10/2014)


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Der Standard - Austria

Create new gas supply routes for the EU

According to an announcement by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday, Moscow and Kiev have agreed on a compromise in the gas dispute. This is good news but Europe still needs to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, the left-liberal daily Der Standard comments: "The EU can also breathe a sigh of relief given that several countries depend not just on Russian gas but also on the pipelines that run through Ukraine. However this reprieve is not without its price for Europe, which will effectively have to pay Ukraine's 4.5 billion dollars in debts to Gasprom. ... The only possible conclusion is that which Europe should have arrived at long ago: it must seek alternative gas routes and energy sources. ... But better late than never. So it must boost production in Europe and imports from North Africa or Norway. It must build liquid gas terminals and pull out of fossil energy. This will entail costs, but independence doesn't come for free." (20/10/2014)

Népszabadság - Hungary

Russia can compensate for drop in oil prices

In view of the massive drop in oil prices, many Western media have voiced fears that Russia could end up in big trouble. The left-liberal daily Népszabadság is convinced that the country will have no problem compensating for the loss of revenues: "Thanks to the first six months of the year in which oil prices were high, Russia was able to accrue around 450 billion dollars [353 billion euros] in foreign currency reserves. ... Russia won't have any choice but to start using those reserves, on the one hand to strengthen the rouble and on the other to plug the holes in the budget. But there are other instruments too. It wouldn't be a problem for Russia to cut its military spending next year. ... Moreover the country can take out loans. However this wouldn't be very recommendable in the current situation. ... Russia is by no means in the kind of economic trouble the global press claims it is in." (19/10/2014)

The Malta Independent - Malta

German austerity dictates boost EU extremists

The austerity policy imposed by Berlin threatens to bring extremist parties to power in several states, as happened under the Weimar Republic, the liberal-conservative daily The Malta Indeendent warns: "Countries in distress, particularly Italy, Spain and Greece but now joined by France, seem to have had enough of dictating by the Merkel clique and are insisting that fiscal flexibility must accompany economic restructuring as otherwise they will never escape the deflationary trap that will ultimately lead to default and collapse. All these countries will, in the next few years, face election campaigns (in Greece it could be as early as next year) and an electorate hurt and poisoned by austerity without a sign of redemption may well make the same decision as the one made by the German electorate in ... 1933." (19/10/2014)

La Repubblica - Italy

Italy entitled to higher deficit

Italy's government presented a so-called stability law on Thursday that foresees tax reductions and investments to the tune of 36 billion euros. Finally Rome is defending itself against Brussels' Stability Pact dictates, economist Tito Boeri applauds in the left-liberal daily La Repubblica: "One of these rules is not written in any contract but silently applied in the evaluation of national budget laws. A country is allowed to exceed the deficit limit for a year if its gross domestic product sinks or growth is four percent below its potential. With a growth prognosis of 0.1 percent for 2015, Italy is 3.9 percent below its growth potential [of four percent]. So because of just one decimal place Italy is having to argue that it faces extraordinary circumstances in order to pass its first expansive budget. Rules are inevitably stringent, and always seem idiotic to those who are forced to obey them." (19/10/2014)

Berliner Zeitung - Germany

German train drivers' strike bad for employees

The German train drivers union GDL brought railway transport to a standstill with a strike on the weekend, just when school holidays were either starting or coming to an end in nine German states. Roughly two thirds of long-distance trains and many regional trains were out of operation. The union is hurting all Germany's employees with this action, the left-liberal daily Berliner Zeitung writes: "For years the German unions have more than fulfilled their obligations. Their demands for wage hikes have been as moderate as their strike actions. And the employers appreciated this. Now, however, it seems this conduct between the bargaining partners is at an end. The train drivers' union tried to paralyse the country over the weekend, not mainly to push through justified demands for higher pay and reduced working hours, but because it wants to outdo the competing union EVG. In so doing GDL disregarded German strike law. The right to power struggles between unions is not enshrined in the constitution. This strike has wreaked huge political and social damage - to the detriment of all employees." (20/10/2014)


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Expressen - Sweden

Islamophobia does not create extremists

Sweden's new minister of housing and urban development, Mehmet Kaplan, has come under massive fire for saying that Islamophobia is responsible for radicalising Muslims and causing them to join the IS terrorist militia. The liberal tabloid Expressen joins in the criticism: "[That means] Islamophobia is the answer to every problem: the secret police is driven by Islamophobia, as is anti-terrorist legislation, media reporting and now, we learn, the IS's recruitment. Hatred of Muslims is without doubt a plague that must be taken very seriously. ... But Kaplan must have noticed how poorly suited Islamophobia is for explaining jihadism. He himself made the mistake of condemning a counter-terrorism exercise for this reason in 2007 - just a few years before a suicide bomber attacked in Stockholm." (19/10/2014)


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Respekt - Czech Republic

Press freedom needs paying readers too

The sale of shares in the publishing company that puts out the liberal Slovakian daily Sme to the investment firm Penta - which is suspected of corruption - is bad news for democracy, the liberal weekly paper Respekt believes: "Rich local businesspeople have always had enough money to influence politicians decisions to their advantage. However they wielded no influence over the media, which kept a close eye on them. But for a year now the majority of Czech and Slovakian media have been in the hands of people whose interests have nothing to do with publishing, but only with accumulating power. ... The good news is that the Sme editors who handed in their resignations now want to start a new project. ... But the time for cheap or free papers is over. In demonstrating their willingness to pay for content, readers will also play a role in shaping the future of the quality papers. And if they do, journalists and readers will jointly make sure that freedom is maintained." (20/10/2014)

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