When speaking of the future of Europe sometimes we‘re far too self-referential. Paolo Bustaffa (Italia) wrote in SIR Europes editorial (click here). It is right to carry out in-depth analyses of the situation, but it‘s not enough- he added -. Having acknowledged that the Old Continent is addressing a crisis caused by the eclipse of humanism and humanity, we should reflect and provide answers that will instil new hope, on the grounds of the moral, intellectual and social mission of Europe in the world. According to Bustaffa it may be viewed as a distant and risky avenue, compared to one followed so far, but the apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in Europe", which celebrates 10 years next June 28, proposes from this perspective an alternative thought compared to the unfortunate one adopted today. In short, nurturing internal solidarity prompts the growth of external solidarity. It is not an impossible task and there are many signs, especially in those areas where Christian communities live, which show that the work is in progress. The overarching reflection marked by strong topical relevance after ten years conveys the determined active will of the Church to contribute to the human and spiritual growth of Europe in full respect of the autonomy of the various players, encompassing a message to Christian faithful who often tend to engage in reductive rather than propositional views of Europe and its future.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - Young people are paying with their life chances for a crisis for which they are in no way responsible. It is scandalous that we may soon be forced to watch as a lost generation grows up in our midst, on the richest continent in the world. The president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz took the floor at the beginning of the European Council dedicated to energy and tax fraud focussing his remarks on the social issue. These young people are being cheated out of their futures, and the impact on the fabric of our societies is potentially catastrophic. We must at long last recognise the fact that young people are at least as systemically relevant as the banks. Schulz briefed the Summit about the position of the European Parliament. He called on EU Member States to take the path of investment in growth, abandoning the way of fiscal austerity (supported by his fellow citizen, German chancellor Merkel). The EP president spoke extensively about energy (improving the internal market and infrastructure, investing in renewable energies, bringing consumer prices down) and even more extensively about tax fraud. According to Schulz, the latter is not a trivial offence but rather a serious crime, one which, thanks to protracted legal proceedings and trifling penalties, can be committed virtually with impunity, but one which causes serious damage to society.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - Unemployment, which keeps rising in Europe, has deep differences between countries as well as between regions. This has been found out by Eurostat in a survey submitted today, which shows for instance that the lowest proportion of jobless people can be found in the Austrian regions of Salzburg and Tyrol (2.5%) and in the German regions of Tübingen, Oberbayern and Triers (2.7%). The highest rate can be found instead in the Spanish regions of Ceuta (38.5%), Andalucía (34.6), Estremadura and Canaries (33.0) and in the Greek region of Dytiki Makedonia (29.9). Eurostat compared 2012s figures about the 270 regions in which the EU member states are divided, and found out that 53 of all such regions show an unemployment rate under 5.2% (half the EUs average), largely concentrated in Germany, Austria, Netherlands; conversely, 25 regions have a rate higher than 20.8%, which is twice the EUs average. They are 11 Spanish regions, 11 Greek regions and the 4 French Overseas Territories. In particular, among young people the unemployment rate ranges from 4.2% in Oberbayern to 72.5% in Dytiki Makedonia. In some urban regions, the figures are: downtown Brussels (Belgium) 17.4%; Prague (Czech Republic) 3.1; Berlin (Germany) 10.6; Ile de France-Paris (France), 8.5; Lazio-Rome 10.8; Utrecht (Netherlands) 4.7; Lisbon (Portugal) 17.6; Helsinki (Finland) 6.3; Inner London (United Kingdom) 9.1%.
Evangelisation is the mission of the Church, not just of some people, but my, your, our mission, Pope Francis said in his general audience catechesis today. The Pontiff quoted the words of St. Paul - Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! -, to recall that we should all evangelise, especially with our lives. Commenting on the part of the Creed in which we profess I believe in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, Pope Francis stressed that it is the Holy Spirit who gives life to the Church and guides her steps, because without the presence and the incessant action of the Holy Spirit, the Church could not live and accomplish the mission that the Risen Jesus has entrusted to her, the mission of going and making disciples of all nations. The true engine of evangelisation in our lives and in the Church, the Holy Father explained citing Paul VI, is the Holy Spirit, who today, as in the early Church, works in every evangeliser who lets himself be possessed and guided by Him. In order to evangelise, then, it is important that we become open to the action of the Spirit of God, without fear of what He may ask of us or where He may lead us. Let us entrust ourselves to Him!, the Pope encouraged: He will enable us to live and bear witness to our faith, and will enlighten the hearts of those we meet.
An urgent appeal to help Syria locally and an urgent appeal to politicians, to do something, at last, was expressed in Vienna yesterday by cardinal Christoph Schönborn, president of the Austrian Bishop Conference and archbishop of Vienna. The cardinal described the tragic situation of the Middle Eastern country, which is affecting Christians particularly hard, as they are caught in the crossfire. Through the local Caritas network, card. Schönborn said he is sure that any aids that arrive in Syria will really arrive to the people. Along with the director of Viennas Caritas, Michael Landau, the cardinal made an appeal to help the Syrian refugees with the Nachbar in Not initiative. The humanitarian catastrophe in Syria is alarming, said Landau, who pointed out that, out of a population of about 22, 5 million, at least a quarter of them are running away. The director of Viennas Caritas spoke of the explosive situation of Lebanon, which so far has taken up one and a half million Syrians. Every day, 7,000 new Syrian refugees from Syria reach the neighbouring countries. So, he went on, now the biggest challenge is taking care of the refugees locally. This is about, he said, making people survive in the same region. So every little helps.