(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - A unique book of greetings and prayers signed by more than 500 bearers of the name Francis (Frantisek in Slovak language) has been given by a lay initiative to the president of the Bishops“ Conference of Slovakia, Mons. Stanislav Zvolenskż, as a gift for Pope Francis. Mons. Zvolenskż promised to pass the book to the apostolic nuncio to Slovakia, Mons. Mario Giordana. The initiative is a great demonstration of respect for the Holy Father and a sign of the warmness of heart and special closeness of all those who bear the same name as him, says Mons. Zvolenskż, praising the original idea. Its initiator, Frantisek Kyselica, invited all bearers of the name Francis from Slovakia at the beginning of April to join the project and show their support to the newly elected head of the Catholic Church. The final design of the book with the figure of St. Francis was prepared by graphic artist Denisa Bogdalķkovį. Signatories of the greeting believe that their gift placed in a wooden box reminiscent of the official state emblem of Slovakia will be delivered to Pope Francis in the following weeks.
Then the Pope wanted to recall that this is clearly seen in the decision to dedicate the coming year to the rural family, seeing it as extremely expressive. He said that it is necessary to reaffirm the conviction that every family is the principal setting for the growth of each individual, since it is through the family that human beings become open to life and the natural need for relationships with others. Then he went on: family bonds are essential for the stability of relationships in society, for the work of education and for integral human development, for they are inspired by love, responsible inter-generational solidarity and mutual trust. These are factors which can make even the most adverse situations more bearable, and bring a spirit of true fraternity to our world, enabling it to feel as a single family, where the greatest attention is paid to those most in need. At the end, he called FAO to promote dialogue and fraternity in international relations so as to have complete knowledge of particular situations, suitable preparation, and ideas which take into account every individual and every community. Only thus will it be possible to combine the thirst for justice experienced by billions of people with the concrete realities of todays world.
This, I believe, is the significance of our meeting today: to share the idea that something more can and must be done in order to provide a new stimulus to international activity on behalf of the poor, inspired by something more than mere goodwill or, worse, promises which all too often have not been kept: this was said earlier today by Pope Francis as he gave audience to the participants in the 38th Conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao). Immediately the Pope said: Nor can the current global crisis continue to be used as an alibi, as it will not be completely over until situations and living conditions are examined in terms of the human person and human dignity. Our duty - he stated - is to continue to insist, in the present international context, that the human person and human dignity are not simply catchwords, but pillars for creating shared rules and structures capable of passing beyond purely pragmatic or technical approaches in order to eliminate divisions and to bridge existing differences. What is demanded of FAO, its member States, and every institution of the international community, is openness of heart. There is a need to move beyond indifference or a tendency to look the other way, and urgently to attend to immediate needs - he then pointed out. (continued)
Some concrete issues need to be defined about some places and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land and the matter of principle in the enforcement of the Agreements, the so-called territorial applicability. According to the Pontifical delegate to Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, monsignor Giuseppe Lazzarotto, these are the two issues to be clarified to end the negotiations between Israel and the Holy Land under Article 10 §2 of the Fundamental Agreement. In an interview with Terrasanta.net, the nuncio says he is optimistic and explains that such issues need to be defined once and for all, so as to prevent the enforcement of the Agreements becoming a problem or raising new problems instead of solving them. But we are not far from an end, I do not think it will take much longer: the general guidelines have already been defined. Now, it is a matter of finding the most suitable wordings to clearly state the principles: this will take time.
Lithuania is the country that will take the helm of the Council of the European Union on 1st July, replacing the current Irish presidency. A member of the EU since 2004, Lithuania is the first Baltic country to take the presidency of the EU Council and one of the countries with the highest growth rates in Europe right now, as pointed out by Lithuanias president, Dalia Grybauskaitė. Efforts will still be made to create the Banking Union, which will give credibility back to the EUs banking sector, the president stated, and we will keep working at the Economic and Monetary Union. Other priorities include policies for the single energy market to complete the policies that have been approved in this area. Believing that the single market is the main propeller of economic growth and the source of the best job opportunities, but its potential is not fully exploited, as Grybauskaitė stated as she presented the programme for Lithuanias six months presidency, efforts will be made to strengthen partnerships with the non-EU countries of Eastern Europe and with strategic trading partners, such as USA, Japan and Canada. At a press conference tomorrow, the Lithuanian president will present the official website of Lithuanias six months presidency, www.eu2013.lt. After Lithuania, it will be the turn of Greece, on 1st January 2014.