The document on regional and social cohesion policy published by the Commission of the Bishops Conferences of the European Community together with CEC, EKD and Kath Buro, entitled The role of Church actors in the European Cohesion Policy is available in German and English at www.comece.org. The ecumenical text is intended to highlight the commitment of Christian communities to concrete solidarity. Indeed, it illustrates with concrete examples the Churchs commitment to national and trans-national solidarity in education or in areas such as culture, sport and social inclusion in favour of the most disadvantaged and excluded persons, also thanks to the support provided by Caritas, Diaconia and several welfare services. The Churches will be actively engaged in the debate carried out by the EU to review its regional cohesion policy.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - As outlined in the Treaties, the aim of the regional policy of the European Union is to reduce the structural disparities between the regions as well as to promote regional development and equal opportunities between the different regions of the Continent. Regional policy is an expression of solidarity within the European Union. For Christians, solidarity is a natural expression of their faith. For this reason Christian Churches are convinced that particularly at a time when the European unification process is facing a severe test, the European regional policy is of great importance for the cohesion envisaged in the EU Treaties. A joint statement released today by the Commission of the Bishops Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches, the Council of Evangelical Churches in Germany and the Secretariat of the German bishops, reaffirms the importance of the European cohesion policy and analyses its reform by the European Commission - in the context of the Multiannual Financial Framework - with the publication on 6 October 2011 of an extensive documentation concerning the reorganisation of structural Funds (including the Cohesion Fund, the Social Fund and the Agricultural Development Fund). (continued)
This trial - Farhard recalled - is being conducted without a lawyer defending Mgr. Padovese. Indeed, as the Catholic Church is not legally recognised here, she cannot appoint a lawyer; the same applies to the Capuchin Order, to which Mgr. Padovese belonged. If we had had our lawyer in the courtroom, he could have spoken, he could have raised objections to try to refute the arguments supporting Altun. But we can just watch the trial as spectators, seated among the public present at the hearings. We can only trust in the judges ability to deliver a just verdict. The first hearing in the trial was held on 5 October 2011; it lasted 15 minutes and was adjourned to 30 November. In the second hearing, only 4 minutes long, the defendants lawyer had asked that his client be moved to a hospital in Adana because of illness, but the judge turned down the request. The third hearing, on 22 February, during which several witnesses were called to give evidence, ended after almost 4 hours. The fourth hearing was on 18 April while the fifth hearing, on 6 June, ended just after 7 minutes.
The sixth hearing in the trial against Murat Altun, who murdered Mgr Luigi Padovese, apostolic vicar of Anatolia, on 3 June 2010, took place yesterday. It lasted only ten minutes, giving the judge enough time to listen to the requests of Altuns lawyer and to adjourn the trial to 10 October 2012. Although he was not present in the courtroom, John Farhad, one of Mgr. Padoveses closest assistants, in an interview with SIR commented on the outcome of the hearing quoting the words of a lawyer of the Church who was present in the courtroom among the public. Altuns lawyer asked the judge to check the transcripts of the phone calls between Murat and Mgr. Padovese in the six months prior to his death. According to Farhad, this request is intended to show that the murder was a crime of passion. During the hearing - Farhad explained - the murderers uncle testified that his nephew, in the month of April prior to the murder, stayed at his place for approximately 10 days, also driving him to the doctor because he was tired. For Mgr. Padoveses assistant, the requests of Altuns lawyer are intended to extend the time of the trial in an attempt to find an effective strategy to avoid a tough punishment being imposed on the defendant. (continued)
Peter‘s Pence rose from 67,704,416.41 dollars in 2010 to 69,711,722.76 dollars in 2011. The overall economic support offered by ecclesiastical circumscriptions throughout the world increased by 7.54% compared to 2010. The Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) offered the Holy Father €49,000,000 to support his apostolic and charitable ministry. The Holy See Press Office also reported that numerous cardinals expressed appreciation for the completeness and transparency of the information they had been given and recognition for the commitment to the ongoing improvement of the administration of the goods and resources of the Holy See. According to the statement a call was made for prudence and limiting costs, though while maintaining jobs. Unanimous pleasure was also declared at the generous support of the faithful and of ecclesiastical institutions, even more praiseworthy given the persistent economic crisis. The members of the Council finally expressed their profound gratitude at the support the faithful give, often anonymously, to the universal ministry of the Holy Father. The director of the IOR, Paolo Cipriani, outlined the economic position of the institution. A debate followed to provide the necessary clarifications.
The consolidated financial statements of the Holy See for 2011 closed with a deficit of €14,890,034. It was announced by the Holy See Press Office in a statement - released today - giving details about the meeting of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See held in the Vatican from 3 to 4 July, under the presidency of Vatican Secretary of State Card. Tarcisio Bertone. The most significant items of expenditure - the statement reads - were those relative to personnel (who as of 31 December 2011 numbered 2,832) and to the communications media considered as a whole. The deficit was further aggravated by the negative trend of global financial markets, which made it impossible to achieve the goals laid down in the budget. The financial statements for 2011 of the Governorate, whose administration is autonomous and independent of contributions from the Holy See, closed with a surplus of €21,843,851. The number of staff employed is 1,887. A particularly significant contribution to this result - the Holy See pointed out - came from the Vatican Museums, which produced a revenue that passed from €82,400,000 in 2010 to €91,300.000 in 2011, for a total of more than five million visitors. According to specialised rankings, these figures place the Vatican Museums among the most prestigious and important such institutions in the world. (continued)
(SIR Europe - Bratislava) - The Greek Catholic diocese of Hajdúdorog comprising the whole Hungary with the exception of one region, is celebrating its hundredth anniversary from its foundation this year. On that occasion, from 3 to 5 July, there was a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Rome, with almost 1,100 believers led by bishop Fülöp Kocsis. The programme included liturgical celebrations in the Basilicas of St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and Saint Mary Major. An interesting particular of the pilgrimage was the arrival in the Eternal City of some groups of believers by bicycle or motorcycle. The 25 cyclists started from Hajdúdorog on 18 June to cover almost 1,700 km, while on 28 June the Greek Catholic motorcyclists started their journey from the same town. In both cases, Diocesan bishop Kocsis covered the first step together with pilgrims. Within the jubilee year of the hundredth anniversary of the diocese of Hajdúdorog, a session of the European Parliament is taking place in Brussels on 18 and 19 September, while in October a meeting on the history of the diocese and commemoration of the anniversary are being set up in Vienna.
If the Synod went on in that direction, the legislation would go back to Anglican bishops, who could decide to remove the amendment in favour of believers against women bishops, postponing everything to the Synod in November 2012 or February 2013 for final approval. It is also possible that the Synod goes on to the final approval of the legislation, which would lead to the first ordination of women bishops at the end of 2013 or in the first months of 2014. On Sunday, 8 July, the Synod will also debate and approve a report on last years guerrilla warfare prepared by the Commission Mission and public affairs division in charge of the social sector, entitled Testing of the bridges. In the report, denouncing how a few convictions about disorders are groundless (importance of social networks, key role of the gangs), the role of the Church in these situations of crisis is explored. Opened as refugees during the guerrilla warfare, with pastors and believers ready to help, churches played a key role. On Tuesday, 10 July, the Synod says farewell to Anglican Primate Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, whos leaving his office at the end of December to become Master, that is, principal of the Magdalene College of Cambridge.
The synod opening tomorrow and ending on Tuesday, 10 July, at the University of York is of fundamental importance. On Monday, 9 July, the agenda includes debate on the opportunity for believers against women to be followed by a man bishop. It is exactly this exception to the general introduction of women bishops to divide the Church. In compliance with clause 5, amendment provided for by bishops, men bishops possibly required by believers against the general policy of the Church must have never ordained women, and must not believe in women bishops. The Church of England is thus trying to keep people still opposing women, either Evangelists or Anglo-Catholics, 1,500 of whom, together with 80 pastors, joined the Catholic Church in the last few months, thanks to the Apostolic constitution of Benedict XVI Anglicanorum Coetibus allowing them to keep portions of the Anglican liturgy. The presence of an area within the Church where opponents of women bishops can meet is unacceptable for those who believe update of the whole legislation should be entrusted to the Commission of bishops for abolishment of the clause. (Continued)
(SIR Europe - Strasbourg) - The international political framework is the core of European Parliament debate alongside the last plenary session day (2-5 July). The agenda includes debate on the outcome of the UN Rio+20 conference on environmental sustainability, taking place early in the morning; voting of a joint resolution about the West Bank and East Jerusalem; various cases of human rights violations all over the world (scandal of forced abortion in China; violence against homosexuals in Africa; fundamental rights in Belorussia). However, debate is also going on about current events in Romania, where the government led by Victor Ponta aims at dismissing President Traian Basescu, forcing the role and prerogatives of the Constitutional Court as well. In the country, suffering from the crisis and salary reduction, the number of protest demonstrations is increasing. Among other things, the daughter of the President, Elena Basescu, is part of the EU Assembly as member of the Peoples Party. The Commission is following Romanian events with concern. Moreover, once again, much concern is caused by Ukraine, where a new law has actually acknowledged Russian as the second official language in some countries; such law caused the protest of people considering that decision a loss of sovereignty in favour of Russia.
Spanish bishops announce the Gospel of marriage and family as a common good for the whole mankind again, before a national legislation belittling those two entities and generating the culture of death by means of abortions, divorces and exploitation of the poorest and the weakest. They do that through the document The truth of human love. Married love orientation, ideology of genre, and family legislation (click here), presented by the spokesman and secretary general of the Spanish Bishops Conference Mons. Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, in Madrid yesterday. The hope of the Spanish Church is that the civil society has been rediscovering the value of marriage and family, and several movements and associations were established. The bishops denounce that the basis of the new laws is subjective absolutization of liberty which, deprived truth, ends up making partial emotions the rule for good and morality. The bishops confirm that marriage is not simple cohabitation or life in common, but a conjugal alliance between man and woman, a bond not merely visible but also moral, social and juridical. It is fully human and total love, which has to be faithful and exclusive, fertile, and open to life.
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - The Ministry of Culture in Ukraine established an Expert Council on Matters of Freedom of Worship and Activity of Religious Organizations (ECMFWARO), with the status of a consultative and advisory body. According to an official report, it will aim to ensure meaningful monitoring, analysis and evaluation of processes in the religious environment in Ukraine and abroad; conduct professional consultations and study problems connected with the realization of the state policy in the area of religion; and to study problems related to ensuring freedom of worship and confession and the activity of religious organizations in Ukraine. The Council, composed of representatives of the ministry of culture, other bodies of the executive power, public organizations and leading religious experts, will be headed by the first deputy minister of culture, Yurii Bohutskyi.
People are looking forward to the Popes visit although the situation in and outside Lebanon, particularly in Syria, remains unstable. We believe that his presence, his voice, his words will have a positive impact on our country which expressly requested this apostolic trip. In an interview with SIR, the Apostolic Vicar of Beirut of the Latins, Mgr. Paul Dahdah, commented on the forthcoming trip of Pope Benedict XVI to Lebanon (14-16 September) on the occasion of the signing and publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops which was held in October 2010. According to the vicar, the Exhortation will call on the Middle Eastern society not to migrate but to seek pacific coexistence and dialogue. This Exhortation represents a challenge for Middle Eastern churches that have different rites: we have to bear in mind that we belong neither to Paul nor Apollo nor Cephas but to Christ. In his interview Mgr. Dahdah also expressed concern over the current situation in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, where he cannot see the sprouts, the fragrance and the fruits of what is widely known as Arab Spring.
(SIR Europe - Strasbourg) - The European Parliament confirms its strong support to the solution founded on two States, on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as capital of both the State of Israel within safer and acknowledged borders, and the Palestinian State, democratic, territorially adjacent, and independent, living side by side in peace and security. A new common resolution is to be faced in Strasbourg today, submitted by the most important political groups of the European Parliament, underlining a path to the peaceful solution for the Holy Land, fostering long-lasting life in common of Israeli and Palestinians, with mutual freedom and security. The text, rather long (8 pages) is the outcome of mediation now to be voted by MEPs. It includes a short description of recent events in Jerusalem, including negotiations deadlock, and the 12 May Israeli and Palestinian Authority joint declaration in which they state to commit themselves to peace is much appreciated. The Parliament points out that the conclusion of the conflict is of fundamental interest for the Union, of the Parties themselves, and of the Region in general, and it may be reached through a global peace agreement based on the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, the Road map and the Arab Peace Initiative.