The courage of Saints Cyril and Methodius can give courage to all of us, said the Archbishop of Prague, Card. Dominik Duka, in his homily for the Mass for Europe in Strasbourg. Not only was the mission entrusted to the Slavic apostles difficult, but it also took place in an unfavourable context, the cardinal explained, for the Byzantine empire was threatened from all sides and Constantinople was under siege: While the unity of Christianity was seriously threatened, people fought instead of seeking common interests and mutual help. And the two brothers headed towards the north, to give birth to a new civilisation, symbolised by the cathedral and the university. These two chairs, of faith reasoned with intelligence and of reason questioned by divine revelation are the characteristic traits of European culture. However, when Europe started to reject these two principles, the culture of death and selfishness began to flourish in its bosom. Hence the cardinal warned: The anniversary of Saints Cyril and Methodius is a serious wake-up call in a society where many people are unhappy about the current situation or are ready to sound its Requiem. Yet from Velehrad, the place symbolising the work of the patrons of Europe, the Te Deum is rising, a song of praise and freedom, a song that is not only for Catholics, because freedom is indivisible, the cardinal concluded.
(Sir Europe - Strasbourg) - Participation in this event makes us experience an open sky above Europe and strengthens our confidence in a modern Europe, capable of breathing with the two lungs of the East and the West, promoting the spiritual and cultural treasures of these two great traditions: with these words Msgr. Aldo Giordano, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Council of Europe, commented on the Eucharistic celebration for Europe which took place at Strasbourg Cathedral yesterday evening. The Mass, jointly organised by the Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, was intended to recall the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Great Moravia. Concelebrating the Eucharist were the Bishop of Strasbourg Jean-Pierre Grallet, the Cardinal of Prague Dominik Duka, and Msgr. Aldo Giordano. This provides a valuable opportunity for us to renew our commitment to Europe as a common home, reads the message read out by the Czech and Slovak delegations present. We commit ourselves to a Europe showing solidarity with other regions of the world, especially with the people plagued by violence, hunger and injustice, to a Europe that can say ‘yes to the inviolable dignity of the human person and to building a Europe of rights and duties, of freedom and responsibility, as we remain faithful to that plan of peace and harmony which since the beginning has been the essence of the unification project. (continued)
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - Youth employment and support to small- and medium-sized enterprises: these are the two topics addressed earlier today by the MEPs, as reported by their spokesman, Olivier Bailly. In the run-up to the European Council of 27th and 28th June, the EU Commission takes stock of the initiatives, proposals and measures implemented by the EU to promote young peoples education and employment. The main message of the EU Commission - the spokesman explains - is that the tools are there, financial means are not missing, so the time has come for the member states to act on them. Bailly also mentions the 6 billions specific investments in youth employment, which must however be confirmed during the negotiations on the EUs long-term budget for 2014-2020. We insist that such funds should all be invested within the next two years. Again, the EU Executive mentions the Youth Guarantee to which the European states have committed themselves, according to which every young person, within four months of the end of their studies, should be given a training or work opportunity or an internship in a company. In addition, the EU Commission should soon be signing an agreement with the European Investment Bank to make it easier for the SMEs to have access to credit. Finally, theres still the problem of the Growth Pact, for which one year ago the 27 member states had promised 120 billions funds but which is struggling to take off.
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - Ten percent of the amount collected for the organization of the National March for Life in Kosice will be donated to a project Save the lives, run by the biggest platform of pro-life institutions in Slovakia, Forum for Life. The event, initiated by the Bishops Conference of Slovakia, will be held on 21-22 September and besides the march the program will include cultural performances, workshops, the presentation of pro-life topics and holy masses celebrated by Catholic bishops from several Slovak dioceses. Financial contributions can be made through the website www.pochodzazivot.sk and the decision of using 10% of the money raised to support the project Save the lives shows that organizers want to practically help pregnant women and their children in difficult situations. The initiative was launched six years ago and since then it has helped more than 70 women in need. Thanks to the project, 61 babies were born whose mothers had considered an artificial abortion because of difficult material or family situation. Financial problems are often used as an argument for abortion. Through this project we want to help the most vulnerable future members of our society to have a chance to be born, explains Marek Michalcík, vice-president of Forum for Life.
What is the situation of ethnic minorities and religious groups in Iraq?: this is the topic that will be discussed during an audition at the European Parliament on 20th June, promoted by the delegation for relations with Iraq of UNPO, the Unrepresented Nations and People Organisation. Speakers taking part in the meeting will include two members of the inter-group for minorities of the Iraqi Council, Kamel Zozo, president of the Christian organisation for human rights of the Assyrian community in Iraq, and Delavar Ajgeiy, leader of the mission of the regional government of Kurdistan for the European Union. The goal of UNPO is to protect the human and cultural rights of its members, preserve their natural environments and find non-violent solutions to the conflicts that affect them. Usually, UNPO members are not represented by a diplomatic corps or only with a minor status, such as observers, in most international organisations. Thats why the option to take part in the international community and see their interests considered by the human rights organisations is limited. The purpose of this audition is to draw attention to the problems of ethnic minorities and religious groups in Iraq and find urgent and final solutions for the affected populations.
All united - with our weaknesses - but always united!. During his general audience catechesis today, Pope Francis used these off-the-cuff words, welcomed by the applause of the crowd, to explain that in the Church unity is superior to conflicts. In the Church, he explained, there is a variety, a diversity of tasks and functions, there is no flat uniformity, but the richness of the gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows. But there is communion and unity: we are all in relation with each other and we all form one living body, deeply connected to Christ. Let us remember this well, the Pope said: being part of the Church means being united to Christ and receiving from Him that divine life which enables us to live like Christians; it means remaining united to the Pope and the bishops who are instruments of unity and communion, and it also means learning to overcome selfishness and divisions, to understand one another better, to harmonise the variety and richness of each member. In a word, it means learning to love God more as well as the people who are close to us in our family, in the parish, in associations. A body and its members must be united in order to live, the Pope remarked, because unity is superior to conflicts.
The Church is not a charitable, cultural or political association, but a living body, which walks and acts in history. And this body has a head, Jesus, who guides, nourishes and sustains it. The Pope made these remarks during his weekly general audience catechesis today as he reflected on the Church as the Body of Christ, starting from Lumen Gentium and the experience of St Paul, one of the greatest evangelisers, who before his conversion on the road to Damascus was persecuting Christians. If we cut off the head from the rest of the body, the entire person cannot survive, the Pope said. The same is true for the Church: we must remain united ever more deeply to Jesus. But it is not just that, Pope Francis continued: Just as the body needs the lifeblood to remain alive, so we too should allow Jesus to work in us, His Word to guide us, His Eucharistic presence to nourish and animate us, and His love to strengthen our love for our neighbour. And this always, always, always!, the Pope remarked, encouraging the faithful: Let us remain united to Jesus, let us trust in Him, let us live our lives according to His Gospel and nourish ourselves on daily prayer, by listening to the Word of God and participating in the Sacraments.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - Over 100 thousand people from third countries received protection in the EU-27 in 2012. An army of refugees, mainly from the hottest areas of the globe, first and foremost Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia, but some also from Guinea, Belarus, Iraq and Russia. Such figures are contained in a long report published by Eurostat, the European Unions statistics office, which gives the exact figure of 102,700 applications granted last year by the EU member states, with Germany at the top of the list (22,200 applications for international protection accepted), followed by Sweden (15,300), United Kingdom (14,600), France (14,300); Italy accepted about 9 thousand applications, while the Netherlands and Austria granted 6 thousand applications each. The national groups that saw the highest number of applications accepted are Syrians (over 18 thousand), Afghans (over 13 thousand) and Somalis (8 thousand). In 2012, the authorities of the 27 member countries reviewed however over 400 thousand applications for protection: this means that the proportion of accepted applications (asylum, refugee status, humanitarian protection) does not exceed 28% of the applications received.