Russia: EU Presidents condemn Russian sanctions against EU nationals
Russia: EU Presidents condemn Russian sanctions against EU nationals

News | European Parliament

Joint statement by the Presidents of the European Council, Commission and Parliament on the imposition of restrictive measures on eight EU nationals by Russia.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s decision of the Russian authorities to ban eight European Union nationals from entering the Russian territory. This includes the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, Vice President of the European Commission Věra Jourová, as well as six EU Member States’ officials. This action is unacceptable, lacks any legal justification and is entirely groundless. It targets the European Union directly, not only the individuals concerned.

This decision is the latest, striking demonstration of how the Russian Federation has chosen confrontation with the EU instead of agreeing to redress the negative trajectory of our bilateral relations.The EU reserves the right to take appropriate measures in response to the Russian authorities’ decision.”

Russia: Joint Statement by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the President of the European Parliament on the imposition of restrictive measures against eight EU nationals
Russia: Joint Statement by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the President of the European Parliament on the imposition of restrictive measures against eight EU nationals

We condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s decision of the Russian authorities to ban eight European Union nationals from entering the Russian territory. This includes the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, Vice President of the European Commission Věra Jourová, as well as six EU Member States’ officials. This action is unacceptable, lacks any legal justification and is entirely groundless. It targets the European Union directly, not only the individuals concerned.

This decision is the latest, striking demonstration of how the Russian Federation has chosen confrontation with the EU instead of agreeing to redress the negative trajectory of our bilateral relations.

The EU reserves the right to take appropriate measures in response to the Russian authorities’ decision.

On Religion: The year when clergy stress zoomed to a new high
On Religion: The year when clergy stress zoomed to a new high

When training pastors and chaplains, educators frequently stress the need for boundaries between work and home.

Clergy need — somehow — to find “personal” time, along with face-to-face contact with loved ones. That challenge became more difficult in the age of smartphones, texting and emails, noted Marlon C. Robinson, pastoral care director at AdventHealth in Manchester, Kentucky, and a specialist in marriage and family therapy.

Then came the COVID-19 lockdowns, and the pressures on clergy zoomed to a whole new level.

“Everything came home, all at once,” said Robinson, reached by telephone. “Pastors were spending more and more time with their families — jammed into one space. But this wasn’t quality time. Everyone was at home, but they were staring at their own phones and computer screens. There was no intimacy, and all the pressures of ministry grew even more intense.”

To make matters worse, the usual struggles with church leadership and finances were complicated by political warfare and conspiracy theories that literally began to shape how congregations handled worship, pastoral care, education and even efforts to keep sanctuaries clean and safe.

Instead of arguing — to cite church cliches — about carpet color or outdated hymnals, the faithful were fighting about whether masks were necessary to save lives or merely “politically correct” virtue signals.

Meanwhile, many people were sick, and many died, with their pastors and families on the other side of locked hospital or nursing home doors. And it was illegal to have funerals? Attendance dropped, along with offerings. More than a few members vanished.
Ministers “are inundated with phone calls, emails, texts, WhatsApp messages, and communications through a host of other platforms,” wrote Robinson in Ministry Magazine.

While it’s impossible to know how many will flee the ministry, early research indicates pastors are “experiencing intensified stress levels that … put them at increased risk for developing a mental illness,” Robinson wrote. “The current crisis makes pastors even more vulnerable to illness on account of traumatic events arising from within their personal and family situations. Clergy members are also at increased risk because of their repeated exposure to the traumatic information shared by their parishioners.”

The bottom line: Pastors are “not superhumans,” noted Thom Rainer, former leader of LifeWay Christian Resources for the Southern Baptist Convention. “They miss their routines. They miss seeing people as they used to do. They would like the world to return to normal, but they realize the old normal will not return.”

Some pastors have decided that, while they don’t want to leave ministry altogether, the “current state of negativity and apathy in many local churches” has created a poisoned work environment. “So, they are leaving or getting ready to leave,” noted Rainer at his Church Answers blog.

“Criticisms against pastors have increased significantly,” wrote Rainer. “One pastor recently shared with me the number of criticisms he receives are five times greater than the pre-pandemic era. Church members are worried. Church members are weary. And the most convenient target for their angst is their pastor.”

Workloads have increased and changed during this time, he added. Clergy are trying to serve the “way they have in the past, but now they have the added responsibilities that have come with the digital world. … Can the church continue to support the ministries they need to do? Will the church need to eliminate positions? These issues weigh heavily on pastors.”

There are no easy solutions, stressed Robinson. It’s clear that denominational leaders must seek improved pastoral care — for their clergy. Pastors need to find “ministry buddies” with whom they can privately share advice, feedback and peer-to-peer support. Also, studies indicate that exercising three times a week can lessen the risk of emotional exhaustion for clergy. It wouldn’t hurt for them to take long, smartphone-free walks with their spouses.
This isn’t a matter of being selfish, stressed Robinson.

“If I don’t take care of me, then I’ll have none of me left when I try to take care of other people,” he said. “Self-care is super, super, super important for clergy — whether they’re working in churches, hospitals, the military or anywhere else. … It’s about taking care of yourself. You have to build that into your life, so that you can do the work that God has called you to do.”

Terry Mattingly leads GetReligion.org and lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is a senior fellow at the Overby Center at the University of Mississippi.

America’s Newest Destination Restaurants Aren’t Where You’d Expect
America’s Newest Destination Restaurants Aren’t Where You’d Expect

AH, SPRINGTIME. The trees are ridiculously colorful, tulips spill out of bushels at the farmers markets, little peas take center stage and a kaleidoscope of birds is migrating. Chefs are, too. Just as WFH executives were drawn to life in the sticks as the pandemic settled in, many of the country’s notable chefs—facing restaurant closures, indefinite furloughs and notoriously thin profit margins—have heard the call of the country. Specifically, country hotels.
Last spring, when April Bloomfield first saw Mayflower Inn & Spa, the newly renovated 58-acre posh compound in Washington, Conn., she took a deep breath. “It looked so bright and airy, and it was exactly where I wanted to be at that moment,” said the chef, best known for the Spotted Pig and the Breslin in New York City. A four-month residency at the Mayflower, an Auberge Resort, that started in fall 2020 has now turned into a long-term, post-Covid gig—with a kitchen about three times as large as any she’s toiled in since she started cooking at 16 in her native England. “It’s nice for me to be able open the back door, step out and look at the colors, listen to the birds, see the sunset,” she said. “It’s a gift.”
Parker Brothers could make an excellent board game out of the exodus of city chefs to pastoral hotels—due in part to the pandemic. Call it, say, the Fork Ran Away With The Spoon. The arrangements include full-time posts, three-month residencies and one-off weekends, and they’ve opened up a whole new landscape for people who travel, in some measure, for good food.
Dan Silverman, who started his career under star chef David Bouley, spent years in celebrated New York City kitchens before leaving Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village for points north. He’s set himself up at Hutton Brickyards, a 31-cabin-and-suite hotel, spa and events retreat on 73 rolling acres in Kingston, N.Y., due to open in May. There he’ll run the River Pavilion, an open-air restaurant that relies solely on wood-burning heat sources and has views of the Hudson unblocked by crowds or tall buildings. “It’s gorgeous, right on the river,” said Mr. Silverman, from the house in Catskill that he and his wife presciently bought in 2019. It’s a 35-minute drive to Hutton Brickyards. “Before, we lived in Brooklyn and I worked in Manhattan. My commute was longer then.”
Mads Refslund, a founder of Noma in Copenhagen who is now based in New York, bounced around between resorts—foraging in Aspen, diving for clams in Cabo—before signing on to oversee the food and conduct workshops at Shou Sugi Ban House, a Japanese-influenced wellness enclave in the Hamptons hamlet of Water Mill on New York’s Long Island. “When I’m in this paradise, I realize how happy I am,” said Mr. Refslund. “When you’re in the city, you forget. I’m very connected to nature—the produce, the farmers and the fishermen. I always come up with new things and cook randomly.” Among the random creations: Mr. Refslund’s roasted lobster with green strawberries and pickled rhubarb.

Russia Bars Entry to Eight EU Citizens, Including Head of European Parliament
Russia Bars Entry to Eight EU Citizens, Including Head of European Parliament

According to the ministry, the measures are introduced in response to the EU decision to bar entry to six Russian citizens.
“Such actions [anti-Russian sanctions] of the European Union leave no doubt that their true goal is to contain the development of our country at any cost. To impose their one-sided concept of a ‘rules-based world order’ that undermines international law … This is done openly and deliberately. And, of course, with the knowledge and encouragement of the United States, which does not hide its interest in re-transforming Europe into an arena of acute geopolitical confrontation,” the ministry said in a statement.
In addition to Sassoli, Russia barred entry to Ivars Abolins, the chairman of Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council, Maris Baltins, the director of the State Language Center of Latvia, Jacques Maire, a member of the French delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Jorg Raupach, the head of Berlin’s prosecutor’s office, Ana Scott, the head of the Swedish Defense Research Institute’s laboratory of chemical and nuclear safety, Ilmar Tomusk, the head of Estonia’s language department and Vera Jourova, the vice-president for values and transparency at the European Commission.