Hungary: Roma in Central and Eastern Europe
The Hungarian town of Eger hosted the first international conference entitled “Opening doors”, with the participation of experts from Hungary, Czech republic, Slovakia and Romania on 19-21 June. Delegates of the event, coordinated by the Hungarian Bishops’ Conference and German charitable organization Renovabis, presented projects for the integration of the Roma in the countries of central and eastern Europe. Fr. Gabriele F. Bentoglio, under secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, gave a lecture on the activities of the Catholic Church in favour of the Roma and emphasized the need of pastoral efforts based on sacraments and liturgy, as well as the necessity to associate the spiritual dimension with “the search for solutions to social questions and problems regarding living, school attendance and professional formation”. The representative of the Commission for Social Matters of the European Union, Eva-Mária Szávuj, presented possibilities to access the European funds for projects regarding the Roma. The delegates expressed the opinion that “every project and every concrete deed in their favour represents a testimony of Christians being serious about their faith and about commandment of love for their neighbours”. The Roma are currently the most spread ethnic minority in the EU and about three million of them live in Hungary, Czech republic, Slovakia and Romania.
Ukraine: exhibition about Jews and WWII
The history of Lviv is the history of a mini-state in which different peoples have lived for centuries, with their own histories and cultures, with their customs and religions. This is a brief description of the idea of an exhibition entitled “Those Who Saved the World”, due to be opened in Lviv, Ukraine, on 27 June. It was created by the Lviv Museum of History of Religion and is dedicated to actions of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) in saving Jews during the World War II. Facts tell that hundreds of Jews, including many children, were hidden in monasteries of the UGCC, and “monks, priests and laymen risked their lives to save them in accordance with the Christian principle of love”, explains the head of the Information department of the museum, Iryna Tsebenko. According to the Religious Information Service of Ukraine, a significant part of the exhibition is focused on topics related to the Holocaust. It includes documentary materials, photographs, certificates and medals of people declared Righteous among Nations. Almost 2,400 citizens of Ukraine have been awarded this title by January 2011.
Austria: European Forum of National Laity Committees
A creation of European network of committed Christians who pay attention to European legislation, are able to adopt an attitude towards it, react to various situations, evoke action in various countries, overcome prejudices and cooperate with religious communities, CCEE, COMECE and other European platforms. With these words Katarína Hulmanová, secretary of the European Forum of National Laity Committees (EFNLC), described the principal aims of this organization. Representatives of 16 member countries will meet on 29 June–2 July in Vienna, to reflect on topics regarding the 50th anniversary of II Vatican Council, under the motto: “Christians should work as human beings of the Church in the midst of the world and as human beings of the world in the midst of the Church” (Puebla No. 786). “Together we seek the ways to get involved in the Church life and in society as Catholic lay people, to help and be close to each other in the service to God, the Church and the whole world”, explains Hulmanová, emphasizing the importance of this role in contemporary times when “essential human values are questioned”. The study assembly of the EFNCL will deal with topics like vocation and mission of lay people according to II Vatican Council, calling of lay people to the service of salvation, or main tasks of the laity for the introduction of Christian values in today’s European societies.