Without John Paul IIs hard work in the defining years of the political and social scene and his battles for inter-religious dialogue, our Europe would not be what it is today. Italian MEP David Sassoli presents an initiative promoted by the Socialist and Democrat group at the European Parliament that will take place in the Strasbourg premises of the EU Assembly on May 11th, during a plenary session. John Paul II - the Pope of global challenges is the title of the event, organised to celebrate the beatification of Karol Wojtyla. It will be a time of reflection - Sassoli explains - about the figure of a Pontiff who left his unique mark on a long phase of contemporary history. Thats why Europe pays homage to him by commemorating his extraordinary figure, who, with as much great humanity as firmness, changed the history of the Church and the entire European and international society for the better. The president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, mgr. Vincenzo Paglia, bishop of Terni (Italia), the rabbi Alberto Piattelli, and the director of the Arab Culture Centre of Brussels, Ali Khedher, will take part in the initiative.
Least developed countries are facing difficult challenges and the EU will remain at the forefront of helping them to strengthen their resilience to crisis. EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs expressed his views on the International Conference on Least Developed Countries taking place from 9 to 13 May in Istanbul. We will work hard to address the root causes of poverty - added Piebalgs, a member of the EU27 delegation - which often lead to radicalisation and desperation of people. This is also a key to create a favourable environment for sustainable development and unlock the potential of the poorest countries on the globe. The Commissioner went on to explain: I trust that all international actors will lift up to their duties and expectations. Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are those countries held back by weak economies and weak capacity for growth. LDCs are assessed on three criteria: per capita GDP, economic diversity and quality of life. On average, 50% of the people living in LDCs still live on less than $1.25 a day and 78% on less than $2 a day.
(Kiev) - With you and for you is the slogan of the celebrations that are taking place in Kiev for the tenth anniversary of the Catholic Media Centre. This media service of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Latin rite, says the director of the Centre, father Pavlo Vyshkovskyy, means to be a tool for the announcement of the Gospel in our land, for cultural reflection on our society and a training tool for Catholic professionals. In this respect, we pay special attention to the training of young media professionals. Mgr. Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, archbishop of Lviv and president of the Ukrainian Bishops Conference, recalled that this Centre was founded on the occasion of John Paul IIs visit to Ukraine and now draws fresh enthusiasm and new strength from the beatification of Pope Wojtyla. The archbishop did not fail to mention the Christian roots of Europe that John Paul II always recalled. Paolo Bustaffa, editor in chief of SIR Europe, which has been networking with such Centre for many years, recalled the role played by the Catholic media in communicating the life of the European Churches and making a contribution to the European institutions to build the European common house together. The Centre has a website, two childrens magazines, TV and radio services, several publications.
As to immigration, the solution is not less Europe, more populism, it is more Europe in a spirit of responsibility: with a joint statement, Frenchman Joseph Daul, head of the European Peoples Party in Strasbourg, and Italian MEP Mario Mauro, closed the Study Days of the European Peoples Party in Palermo about the changes that are happening in the Mediterranean countries. The Mediterranean area - they state - is as important as Eastern Europe was after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989. We have managed to anchor our neighbours of Central and Eastern Europe to democracy, the Constitutional state and market economy; now, we have to do the same with our neighbours of the Southern Mediterranean bank. During the meeting in the Italian city, the European Peoples Party discussed the development of a new strategy that should consist in a privileged partnership open to all Mediterranean countries. Such partnership should be a model of inclusion that helps achieve the highest levels of cooperation in a very wide range of areas, Daul and Mauro explain. And they point out: Exchanges between the north and the south of the Mediterranean should also concern the protection of religious freedom, because, without it, there can be no democracy or socio-economic growth in these countries.
A debate about the role and value of volunteering in European society. It has been proposed by the EU Parliament for the Open Day of May 7th, as part of the celebrations for the Feast of Europe, which falls on May 9th, and the European Year of Volunteering. During the Day, as well as proposing guided tours of its headquarters in Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg, the Assembly will be promoting such meeting, which will take place at the Brussels premises. Also in the run-up to the Feast of Europe, the president of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barroso, gave a statement today in which he explains the meaning of the Declaration made on May 9th 1950 by the then French Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman, which started the communitys unification process. In going over the ensuing events, from ECSC to EEC, through to todays EU, Barroso stated that Schuman was a pragmatic visionary. He knew that Europe would not be built in a day, but in gradual steps, through concrete achievements. Hence the EUs commitment to make new achievements, in a spirit of mutual solidarity and responsibility and for the sake of our citizens. The EU Commission too will organise several events in Brussels on May 7th, while on May 9th the MEPs will take part in initiatives in Strasbourg, Madrid, Berlin, Milan, Ljubljana, Dublin, Sofia and Copenhagen.
From May 9th to 13th, the world will gather in Istanbul to speed up development and eradicate poverty in the poorest countries of the global community. The European Union will keep playing a leading role in this process: José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, will head the EU Delegation to the world conference in the Turkish town. The fourth Conference of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) will provide a key opportunity to make donors meet and further boost support to such countries. On the occasion, the European Commission intends to reassert its commitment to help such countries, as it is the main donor, with its 15 billions worth of aids per year. But Barroso also urges the other partners to align with the EUs goal of allocating 0.15-0.20% of its GDP to the least developed countries, making an appeal to the worlds greatest economies, such as the United States and Japan, as well as to the emerging countries, such as China, Brazil, India. The Head of the EU Executive explains: This tangible European solidarity is dictated by a feeling of justice, as well as by a strategic need; only through a renewed global partnership can we face the current challenges, ranging from political instability to food security and climate change, and offer a prospect of a better life to thousands of people.
During his meeting with the officials, the members and the new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guards, the Holy Father invited the present to turn their gaze to their glorious past, particularly to the well-known Sack of Rome, during which the Swiss Guards courageously defended the Pope, even giving their lives for him. The memory of that earthly pillage, said the Pope, should make us reflect on the fact that there exists the threat of an even more dangerous pillage, which we could call spiritual. In fact, in todays social context, many young people run the risk of falling into a progressive impoverishment of the soul, as they pursue superficial ideals and perspectives of life which fulfil only material needs and desires. May your stay in Rome be a propitious time for you to make the most of the many possibilities that this City offers in order to give an ever stronger and deeper meaning to your lives. It is rich in history, culture and faith; so, take advantage of the opportunities offered to you to broaden your cultural, linguistic, and above all spiritual horizons. The time you will spend in the ‘Eternal City will be a special moment in your lives: live it in a spirit of sincere brotherhood, mutually helping one another to lead an exemplary Christian life in accordance with your faith and with your specific mission in the Church.
Moreover - the Pope continued - from the very beginning there was a clear awareness that the theological foundations of the Liturgy had to be studied more accurately to avoid ritualism and to ensure that the reform was justified in the context of the Revelation in continuity with the tradition of the Church. Pope John XXIII, moved by a prophetic spirit, established the Liturgical Institute to collect and respond to these needs. He called it ‘Pontifical to stress its close link with the Apostolic See, added the Pontiff, before recalling the pioneers who were present at the foundation of the Faculty (Fr Cipriano Vagaggini, Fr Adrien Nocent, Fr Salvatore Marsili and Fr Burkhard Neunheuser). Benedict XVI went on to stress the role played by the Institute over the past fifty years. He observed that many of its graduates and licensees are now working for the Church in different regions of the world, helping the holy People of God live the Liturgy as an expression of the Church in prayer, as the presence of Christ among men and as a reality constitutive of the history of salvation. He also wished to recall his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, who spoke of the Liturgy as the beating heart of every ecclesial activity in his document Vicesimus quintus annus.
In the liturgical action of the Church there is the active presence of Christ: He continues to make effective what He did during his life among men through his personal sacramental action, whose centre is the Eucharist, said Pope Benedict XVI this morning at the Vatican, upon receiving in audience the participants in the 9th International Liturgical Congress on the theme The Pontifical Liturgical Institute between memory and prophecy. The Congress, which opened on Wednesday and will come to a close this evening, was organised to mark the 50th anniversary of foundation of the Institute. The Pope recalled that Blessed John XXIII, responding to the requests of the liturgical movement… just before the Second Vatican Council and during its celebration, wanted the Benedictine Faculty on the Aventine Hill to become a centre for studies and research capable of providing a solid basis for the liturgical reform of the Council. Benedict XVI went on to say that the strong pastoral need that animated the liturgical movement called for the promotion of a more active participation of the faithful in liturgical celebrations through the use of national languages and for a deeper study of the issue of the adaptation of rites in different cultures, especially in mission territories. (continued)
The world leader of Anglicans, the archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, too takes position on the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Yesterday at a press conference, some journalists asked him what he thought about the operation of the US Navy Seals in Pakistan, which ended with the death of Bin Laden. I think - he answered - that that the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling because it doesn‘t look as if justice is seen to be done, in those circumstances. I think it is also true that the different versions of events that have emerged in recent days have not done a great deal to help here. I don‘t know the full details anymore than anyone else does but I do believe that in such circumstance when we are faced with someone who was manifestly a ‘war criminal‘ as you might say in terms of the atrocities inflicted, it is important that justice is seen to be observed.
In London, yesterday, the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, announced the two appointments during a press conference. They will be in charge - he then said in a press release - of providing, through their pastoral care, the Sacraments and acting as spokesmen and advisors, of making sure that the integrity of some positions and beliefs about the ordination of women to priesthood will be acknowledged and respected by everybody. In receiving the two newcomers into the Anglican bishopric, archbishop Williams commented: They have entered a very demanding pastoral ministry in a time of dramatic disruption and uncertainty. They will need our prayers and our friendship. We are all working so that there will be full, mutual respect in the future of the Church of England. According to Rev. Jonathan Baker, the two appointments are the sign of a commitment on the part of the Church of England to make every aspect of its life of communion grow and be renewed, especially by promoting, within it, the Catholic tradition, which I know and love. Norman Banks wishes the two appointments may be viewed by the faithful of the Church of England as a gift and a sign in this crucial time that our Church is experiencing.
Downing Street, which has the last word on the appointment of Anglican bishops, announced that the Church of England has chosen Jonathan Baker as the director of the diocese of Ebbsfleet and Norman Banks as the director of the diocese of Richborough to take care of the parishes and the faithful who are against the decision of ordaining women pastors. In England, they are called flying bishops, because they have to take care of non-local dioceses, which include those parishes and faithful who do not share some positions, such as the ordination of women. The two appointments were announced yesterday to replace the bishop of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham, and the bishop of Richborough, Keith Newton, who decided to leave the Church of England late last year and become Catholic. The two bishops were re-ordained as Catholic bishops last January, and Keith Newton was appointed Ordinary in charge of the organisation provided under the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. The new organisation approved by the Pope is open to those Anglicans who are against the ordination of women and who may become Catholics while retaining some parts of the Anglican liturgy. (continued)
Deeper understanding of life and teaching of one of the most important Church Fathers of the Western Christianity, St. Augustine of Hippo, was the main purpose of the Augustinian week that took place at the end of April in Czech republic. Members of the Order of St. Augustine at the Parish of St. Thomas in Prague prepared many events and activities in this regard and for the 13th time opened the gates of their monastery and institutions for all the people interested in augustinian spirituality. Guests from Bohemia and abroad introduced topics like Friendship from the point of view of St. Augustine, Times of St. Augustine and contemporary times, Tombstones in augustinian Monastery of St. Thomas in Prague. Visitors of the Augustinian library in the monastery could see an exhibition Ancient prints of St. Augustines books. Order of St. Augustine has more than 2,800 members in 40 countries worldwide.
Fans of christian events in Slovakia can get the information about hundreds of activities of religious character in a new virtual space. Several days ago a new website www.vyveska.sk was launched with the financial and moral support of the Bishops conference of Slovakia. Many times it happened that I spent hours surfing on internet, trying to get the relevant information about some event I wanted to go to. Its my belief that with our new project it will be much easier, says one of the project coordinators Štefan Kušnír. The website offers details on the main events of national character such as pilgrimages, prayer meetings, youth projects, concerts, theatre performances, book presentations, meetings with representatives of Catholic and other Christian churches, and has an ambition to become the main provider of the information of this type in Slovakia. The project is run by the civil association Christin and all dioceses and parishes in the country are welcome to participate with invitations to local activities. Information can be sent on: email@example.com.