The European Parliament asks European Union institutions to proclaim 2011 European Year of Voluntary Work, pointing out that the activities depending on it represent an important sector in the democratic life of Europe. The position of the Assembly was made known in Strasbourg, during the works of the plenary assembly: the session presidency announced the Auditorium the formal adoption of a declaration inviting the European Commission to go on in that direction, with the support of all European institutions. In the declaration, signed by the majority of MEPs, it is written that over one hundred million Europeans of all ages, convictions and nationalities are busy in voluntary activities; on the basis of some estimates, this sector represents five percent of the Gross Domestic Product of EU national economies. The text also recalls that the request to proclaim 2011 Year of Voluntary Work was also submitted by numerous organizations such as Caritas Europe, Scout World Movement, Red Cross, Volonteurope network, European Non-profit Organization for sport.
Income amounting to 236,737,207 euros and expenditure to 245,805,167 euros: those are the figures of the consolidated financial statements of the Holy See for 2007, communicated this morning by the Vatican Press Room. The deficit was 9,067,960 euros, while in the last three financial years (2004, 2005 and 2006) there had been positive results by 15,206,587 euros. The institutional activities (Secretariat of State, ministries, congregations, papal councils, and so on) absorbed 125.4 million euros, while financial activities produced a surplus of 1.4 million euros, in comparison with 13.7 million in 2006 (the decrease was mainly due to the dollar decrease). The result of the real estate sector was positive, on the other hand, by 36.3 million euros. The result of the media sector was in the red by 14.6 million (Radio Vaticana and Osservatore), while sectors as typography (+ 1 million), the TV Centre (+ 459 thousand euros) and bookshop (+ 1.6 million) generated surpluses. The employees of the Roman Curia are 2748, while those of the Governorship 1795. In the year 2007, 146 people were engaged. Among the most positive items, there was the increasing flow of visitors to Vatican Museums, amounting to 4.3 million. The Peters Pence achieved 79.8 million dollars: the major donors were the United States (28.29%), Italy (13.04%), and Germany (6.08%). As for diocese contributions, Germany is in the lead with 31.57%, followed by the United States with 28.31% and Italy with 18.90%.
Today, at the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI received in audience the King of Bahrein, Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa. Afterwards, the King paid a visit to Msgr. Dominique Mamberti, secretary for the relations with States. It was made known through a note by the Vatican press room, which added that during the talks, taking place in a cordial atmosphere, the Vatican authorities had the opportunity to thank the King for the welcome given to the numerous Christians. The common commitment - it was written in the Vatican note - in favour of intercultural and interreligious dialogue was confirmed. The value of collaboration among Christians, Muslims and Hebrew for the promotion of peace, justice and the spiritual and moral principles, in the Middle East and all over the world, was also confirmed. The King invited the Holy Father to visit his country.
The arrival of the Pope among the young will take place in a scenographic framework: at the Rose Bay wharf, in Sydney, the Pope will board on the ship "Sydney 2000". After a 45-minute navigation, he will arrive in the wharf of Barangaroo East Darling Harbour, Sydney. Before leaving, and at the arrival, the Pope will be welcomed by songs and dances of young Aborigines. The presence of Aborigines in this journey of the Pope - said Father Lombardi - is a quite important fact, a really present-day event. The Australian Aboriginal people was the victim of injustice and violence in history, which the Church acknowledged several times, and for which it also expressed requests for pardon. The sign of this acknowledgement - pointed out Father Lombardi - is the presence of a composition made by an Aboriginal artist on the paraments used by the Pope during the celebrations for the World Youth Day. The composition portrays a bird as symbol of the Holy Spirit. Friday 18th is the day on which the Pope is meeting the representatives of the Christian Churches and of the other religions, whose more and more numerous presence is the outcome of the long history of immigration to Australia. At half past twelve, the Pope is having lunch with a group of young people: 12 on the whole, like the apostles, one boy and one girl for every continent, plus two Australian boys. (To be continued)
In these three days, the papal retinue led by the Secretary of State, Card. Tarcisio Bertone, will pay a series of tourist and cultural visits, including one to Paramatta and another one to a village of the Aborigines. After the period of rest, on Thursday, 17th July, the Pope is going to Sidney, to the Cathedral House, which is the house of the diocese. In the morning, he is taking part in a ceremony of welcome at the Government House of Sydney, where he will greet (it will be his first formal speech in the Australian land) the federal authorities of the country. Immediately afterwards, he is going to the MaryMacKillop Memorial" of Sydney, where he will pray in front of the first Australian Blessed, beatified by John Paul II, whose canonization cause is currently going on. Still in the morning, the Pope is paying a visit of courtesy to the General Governor at the Admiralty House of Sydney, after which there will be a series of private talks with authorities. Then, in the afternoon, the Pope is meeting, for the first time, the young coming from all over the world on the occasion of the World Youth Day. According to estimates - said Father Lombardi -, there will be 125 thousand young people coming from outside Australia. He added that the organizers were happy about that. (To be continued)
It is the longest journey of Pope Benedict XVI, both as period and distance. To reach Australia, the land in which the World Youth Day is being celebrated from 13th to 21st July, the Pope is leaving on Saturday, 12th July, and will travel for over twenty hours by plane, crossing ten time zones. With that information, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press room, commented this morning, with the journalists, the programme for the apostolic journey of Benedict XVI to Sidney, on the occasion of the World Youth Day 2008. The Pope goes to Australia for the first time. However, two of his predecessors had already been to that country: Paul VI and John Paul II. The latest went there for two times in 1986 and 1995, on the occasion of the beatification of Mary MacKillop. It is the second WYD of Benedict XVI, after the one lived in Cologne in 2005. The papal flight will go on with no interruptions for fifteen hours, until refuelling in Darwin, then it will leave again and go to Sidney, where the Pope is going to be welcomed on Sunday, at 3 pm (without nevertheless any formal speeches) by political and religious authorities. Immediately afterwards, the Pope will go to a private residence supplied by the Opus Dei, where Benedict XVI will spend three days of private stay, in which he will relax and prepare for the following days. (To be continued)
The request for serious policies of solidarity, welcome and integration; the proposal for a special European citizenship for the Rom: those are the indications included in a letter sent to the president of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and to the Italian ministers of the Interior, of Foreign Affairs, and Community Policies by three MEPs. The message comes from Strasbourg, where the plenary assembly of the European Union is going on, and where a resolution on the Rom issue is going to be voted tomorrow. The text was signed by Iles Braghetto, Carlo Casini, and Michl Ebner. The goal of the letter is to pay a contribution to the current debate at the European parliament, about the orders concerning the gypsy communities in some Italian regions: Lombardy, Campania and Lazio. In the document, the accusations of racism addressed to the Italian government are rejected. Then, the duties of solidarity, respect for the weakest people, and for children, above all are confirmed. Furthermore, they launch the proposal that the Rom may be granted a sort of special European citizenship, not founded on the concepts of State and territorial belonging, but on the acknowledgement of a people which has been present in our Continent for thousands of years.
Benedict XVI accepted the renunciation to the office of prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints submitted by Card. José Saraiva Martins for reaching age limits. As his successor in the same office, the Pope called Msgr. Angelo Amato, archbishop in charge of Sila, until now secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The news was made known today by the Vatican press office, which made also known the news about the appointment of the successor of Msgr. Amato as secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of faith: it will be Father Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, teacher of dogmatic theology at the Papal Università Gregoriana, secretary general of the International Theological Commission. Born in Manacor, diocese of Mallorca, on 19th April 1944, Father Ladaria Ferrer joined the Company of Jesus on 17th October 1966. Ordained priest on 29th July 1973, he took his theology doctorate at the Papal Università Gregoriana in 1975. In that very year, he is teacher of dogmatic theology at the Papal University Comillas of Madrid and since 1984, full professor of dogmatic theology at the Faculty of Theology at the Papal Università Gregoriana. From 1986 to 1994, he was vice rector of the Gregoriana. Since 1995, he has been consultant for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Pope assigned Father Ferrer the seat of Tibica, with dignity of archbishop.
Card. Ivan Dias, president of the Congregation for the evangelization of peoples will be one of the main speakers at the Lambeth Conference, the meeting of the Anglican primates from all over the world, which this year is taking place in Canterbury from 16th July to 4th August. That meeting happens every ten years. The list of participants (coming from the ecumenical world) includes also Card. Walter Kasper, president of the Papal Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. It was made known today through a note by the Anglican Communion, spread to point out the remarkable ecumenical presence at the Lambeth Conference. As for Card. Dias, the note emphasized that the Vatican speaker was convinced about the need of a strong token of Christian faith, in every situation. In the note, made known in a particularly critical time for the destiny of the unity of the Anglican world, it is stated that the Anglican Communion is constantly pledging for the ecumenical movement, and is currently involved in dialogues, on international level, with the Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Old Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic Churches. The note recalls also the most recent ecumenical bilateral agreements, and in particular, it mentions the document Growing Together in Unity and Mission, published with the Catholic Church.
UNICEF reached the struck communities in the districts of Yangon and Irrawaddy, taking them medicines and life-saving supplies, including salts for oral rehydration, antibiotics, intravenous solutions, vaccines and A vitamin, sufficient to cure 600 thousand people, and in particular, the children with acute diarrhoea, malaria and dengue. Up to now - it is written in a note -, there have been no epidemics, though some cases have been known, which are nevertheless usual in this period of the year. Moreover, UNICEF gave assistance to the Burma government for the vaccination campaigns against measles in children under fifteen years of age. The most serious problems - explained the agency - concern the destruction of health centres and lack of medical staff in struck areas - while the assistance demand is clearly increasing - since many people died. UNICEF is tackling that problem with the national associations of medical staff, with over 130 health operators, nurses and midwives already send or going to be sent to the Laputta, Bogale and Pyapon areas.
Two months after cyclone Nargis, which caused 84 thousand dead in Myanmar (with 54 thousand people currently missing), UNICEF is going on strengthening assistance to children and families in the most seriously struck areas, by supplying medicine and nutritional aid, water and sanitation, by fostering re-opening of schools and by protecting children left alone. Cyclone Nargis had serious consequences on the lives, the integrity and the health of children: UNICEF is pledging for the children of Myanmar to go on receiving the aid which they need to overcome the serious shock which they suffered, declared Ramesh Shresta, UNICEF representative in Myanmar. We cannot forget the sufferings of children, we must do something to eliminate them. Thanks to support by several donors, the UNO agency for children operates in close touch with the Government, the other UNO agencies and partner organizations to reach the farthest places in the Irrawaddy delta by means of helicopters and boats, to take them the necessary aid. According to UNO estimates, the seriously struck people are 2.4 million, one million of whom are roofless and without means of support. (To be continued)
The young Catholics of Bangladesh are spiritually preparing for taking part in the World Youth Day in Sidney, by reflecting on the message of the Pope. A delegation of twenty-one young people will leave from Bangladesh. 142 million people of Muslim religion are living in this country (the Christians are 0.3% of the population). The delegation will be led by a Salesian nun, Zita Rema, secretary of the Youth Commission of the Bishops Conference of Bangladesh. The bishop of Santa Croce, Msgr. Mosè M. Costa, president of the Youth Commission, and Msgr. Gervas Rozario, bishop of Rajshahi, will also take part in the journey. "We set up a meeting to say that the journey to Australia is not going to be a tourist visit, but a spiritual journey", declared Sister Zita to Asian Catholic Agency Ucanews. The participants are meeting today for the last preparations and a special Mass before the flight to Australia. Sister Zita hopes the World Youth Day will offer the young of Bangladesh the opportunity to share their culture. In fact, a show of traditional Bangladeshi dances is scheduled at the Asian Youth Gathering on 16th July. The protagonists will be three girls of the delegation. "I hope I will learn much from the event, in particular, about the lives of the young from other countries", said Rosy Rongma, one of the dancers. "We are very happy to have this wonderful opportunity", confirmed Laboni Mondol.