One of the most important challenges of our time - Mgr. Mamberti stressed - is to promote a recovery of jobs and production. This is a precondition for growth. It seems that there is no easy solution to the problem; however, it is not an impossible mission. Its positive outcome will largely depend on the willingness of each one to make their own contribution. There is a need to rethink the whole European structure, beginning with its guiding principles. A European Union with markets as its only unifying element is doomed to failure; a Union that puts man first together with the principles flowing from his rich and healthy tradition is likely to succeed. No one, in fact, will make sacrifices without having an ideal, a clear reason and purpose. According to the prelate confidence, solidarity and responsibility are the key concepts to which Europe should draw its attention, today more than ever. These concepts should guide the internal relations of Europe, the relations it has with other actors on the global scene as well as its relations with the neighbouring countries which are seeking accession to the Union itself.
The current historical time reveals that the unification process in Europe needs an ethical foundation. Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, said this in his address to the ambassadors of the European countries accredited to the Holy See on the occasion of the end of the six-month Dutch presidency. The meeting was held in Rome on Monday, 11 June, but the full text of his address was published in todays edition of LOsservatore Romano. The way to come out of the crisis - Mgr. Mamberti said - cannot just be based on the search for technical and innovative solutions, but it must be inspired by a common European background viewing the human person and mans responsibility as irreplaceable resources. Thus Europes development cannot disregard the centrality of the person. It is not a question of introducing a religious principle, but of acknowledging, as De Gasperi did, that ‘Christianity is at the root of our European civilization. According to Mgr. Mamberti to resume its journey with enthusiasm, Europe must start afresh from the person, rather than from markets or institutions. And starting afresh from the person means supporting life and the family. (continued)
(Sir Europe - Strasbourg) - I hope that the outcome of the elections in Greece on 17 June will lead to the formation of a pro-European government committed to the stabilisation of Greece both within the EU and the euro area. British MEP Andrew Duff is one of the signatories of the appeal issued by European Citizens for the Greek Vote ahead of the parliamentary elections next Sunday. It follows the appeal made in early May which did not result in a majority capable of giving Athens a government. The appeal was backed by several MEPs as well as by personalities like Commission President Barroso. Mr. Duff added: the siren voices of those who in these days advocate anarchy or nationalism in Greece should be strongly resisted by those who want the good of Greece. What is needed at this critical time for all Europe is a demonstration of solidarity and financial responsibility. President Barroso welcomed the initiative stressing the high stakes of the elections in Greece. Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout added: There is too much at stake to leave the crisis response to skeptics, egoists or the short-sighted. Responsibility, solidarity and mutual understanding are in the interest of the Greek people and of European citizens.
(SIR correspondents, Dublin) - The Holy Land delegation led by the auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem, Msgr. William Shomali, reached the International Eucharist Congress (IEC 2012 - Dublin, 10-17 June). The pilgrims, about thirty, come from Jordan, Palestine and Israel, representing parishes with Latin, Melkite and Maronite rites. For us Christians, the Eucharist Congress is an important chance - said Franciscan Feras Hejazin, parish of Jerusalem and spiritual director of the Legio Mariae in the Holy Land -. A world event like this is consoling for both participants and people at home. It lets us feel part of the universal Church, and gives us the opportunity to reflect and delve into the theme of the Eucharist. In the afternoon, the delegation of the Holy Land will visit the world seat of the Legio Mariae, founded exactly in Dublin, in 1921. We have 700 members in the Palestinian and Israeli territories, recalled Father Hejazin: We are present in Catholic parishes with Latin and Melkite rites, as well as Orthodox parishes.
The Holy See Press Office released the calendar of liturgical celebrations to be presided over by the Pope in the summer season and confirmed in a statement, released today, that the Pope will make an apostolic trip to Lebanon from 14 to 16 September. According to what was reported by Mgr. Guido Marini, the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, Benedict XVI is to make a Pastoral visit to Frascati on Sunday, 15 July, during which he will celebrate Mass at 9.30 am. One month later, on 15 August, Solemnity of the Assumption, the Pontiff will celebrate Mass at 8 a.m. in the parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova. Then in September, Benedict XVI will make an important apostolic trip to Lebanon (14-16 September) whose focus will be on the promulgation of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East, which was the fruit of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held in the Vatican from 10 to 24 October 2010.
I am here - he added - with the precise intention to seek the victims and Gods pardon, for the serious crime of sex abuse over children, made by clergymen. During the last decades, we learnt how much pain and despair abuses caused to thousands of victims. We also learnt that the response to those crimes provided by some authorities of the Church was often inadequate and inefficient in halting crimes, in spite of the clear indications included in the Code of Canon Law. In the name of the Church - went on the representative of the Pope in Dublin - I apologise to the victims once again, some of whom I met here in Lough Derg. Here I repeat what the Holy Father has said to the victims in his Letter to the Catholics of Ireland: ‘One may as well understand that you find it difficult to forgive, or to be reconciled to the Church. In its name, I openly express the shame and remorse all of us are feeling. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. The cardinal repeated that the tragedy of sex abuses on minors, above all, if made by members of the clergy, is the source of great shame, and the scandal is huge; and he confirmed the commitment of the Catholic Church to create a safe environment.
During his pilgrimage to Lough Derg, Co Donegal (yesterday and today), Card. Marc Ouellet, papal legate for the celebration of the 50th International Eucharist Congress - IEC 2012 (Dublin, 10-17 June), met a group representing victims of abuses on minors in the Church. The Cardinal said to be deeply moved about his meeting with the survived of abuses, and that he would tell Pope Benedict XVI about the meeting, on his going back to Rome. Women and men were present, the victims of abuses in the ecclesial and institutional field, coming from different parts of Ireland. According to a press release of the Irish Bishops Conference, the meeting lasted two hours, during which every survived talked about his personal experience of abuse, and of the impact on his life. The Cardinal has also celebrated a Mass in the Basilica of St. Patrick, and during the homily he said: Pope Benedict XVI asked me, as his papa legate, to come to Lough Derg and ask God for pardon, for the times in which the members of the Church abused children sexually, not only in Ireland but everywhere in the Church. (Continued)
(Sir Europe - Strasbourg) - A country alone cannot stand up to international competition, to global challenges. Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, from Germany, alongside president of Peru Humala, spoke on the theme of political integration between states. I can give an example, he told SIR Europe. The population of the world is expected to reach 8 billion by 2040; by that time, Germany, the country with the largest population in Europe, will have reached 76 million, that is, less than one hundredth of the worlds total population. It is evident that in this context no state - the only exception may be China - can stand up to global challenges alone. We will have to promote regional integration especially in Europe. The meeting with president Humala was significant and I would like to meet with other heads of state from other regions of the world, Schulz continued. Europe needs more integration to play an active role on the international stage, as well as to strengthen its co-operation and collaboration with other regions of the world, to overcome the economic crisis and financial speculation. Mr. Humala in his speech recalled that next year there will be a EU-Latin American Summit in Chile, a good occasion to continue this debate.
A demagogic move, made to gain votes. According to the bishop of Arundel and Brighton, Kieran Conry, in charge of the evangelisation sector of the Bishops Conferences of England and Wales, the decision of Prime Minister David Cameron to introduce gay marriage within the next 2015 elections depends on the search for higher political popularity. It is surprising that Cameron behaves like that, taking into consideration that at the beginning of his mandate he committed himself to protecting the family and marriage, said bishop Conry to SIR Europe (click here). The government opened a consultation process ending tomorrow on the question, and it is in difficulty; in the last few weeks, it has already changed its mind two or three times on taxes and judicial matters. It is not excluded that Cameron changes his mind, added bishop Conry. The law on gay marriage was definitely a very rash decision, not included in the speech of last May, with which the Queen announced new laws for next year, which avoided the usual legislative process based on a green or white paper, that is, a report of the government followed by parliamentary debate.
(Sir Europe - Strasbourg) - Latin America is not the earthly paradise. We have many natural resources and two languages, Spanish and Portuguese, that enable us to understand one another quite easily. But we also have major structural problems, beginning with inequality, the worlds most glaring inequalities. This is why we should work together to address them. Ollanta Humala, president of Peru, is now in Strasbourg as part of his journey to Europe. He already met with EU representatives in Brussels and with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. In Strasbourg Mr Humala addressed the members of the European Parliament. Interviewed by SIR Europe on whether people in South America look with interest at the process of political integration, Mr Humala explained: We Peruvians have strong relations with Brazil, but we are aware of the fact that in order to face the challenges lying ahead, we must build a more united regional space. The Organisation of American States has already dealt with some local conflicts; it intervened in the case of Honduras; and it can also be useful to better face the problems of indigenous peoples. I think that we need to unite to pursue together the path of development, addressing climate change and the problems related to the exploitation of natural and mineral resources.
(Sir Europe - Strasbourg) - My question for all European Member States is the following: are we prepared to work together politically or do we want our choices to be dictated to us by the financial markets?: Joseph Daul, leader of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, called on the 27 Member States to define a common strategy against the crisis. The European Parliament is dealing with the most pressing issues concerning Greece and the elections on 17 June, Spain and the €100 billion bailout granted by the EU, and the role of the ECB. In the run-up to the Summit of the EU heads of state and government later this month, Daul added: It is clear that no European country can, on its own, cope with global challenges, whether they are economic, social, demographic, military or political. Yet national leaders are more concerned with national interests and they only turn to Europe in case of need. States should make a choice, the choice of a stronger political integration via the community method. Then he put an indirect question to national leaders about economic and financial issues: Can you still pretend to exercise that national sovereignty you no longer have?. Then a remark on the functioning of the EU: the President of the European Parliament should have his place in the European Council.
Politics is responsibility, not a show, said Msgr. Hippolyte Simon, archbishop of Clermont and vice president of French bishops, while commenting for SIR Europe last Sundays voting abstentions in France, at the first round of legislative elections, reaching the record level of 43%. We are sorry that there are many people thinking that voting is not a duty, though I understand voting is difficult, because often one does not know how to make a choice. These elections - he says - determine the people sitting in the National Assembly. People locally known. Therefore, the vote comes after an effort, a will. After a choice. But in this period, says the archbishop, great importance was given to the media show, in a superficial way, revealing that there is no real training in the civil society. Msgr. Simon points out that the political debate focuses on pension age limit and how many school days per week, either four or five. Those are actually decisions on the ordinary aspects of life. They are practical decisions, though important decisions. And he says: It is also difficult when you dont have all information available. You get the impression that something is always missing. And that is not responsibility of the media only, but also of associations, of politics itself. I wonder what political parties do to train their militants.
(SIR Europe - Strasbourg) - Rules, reforms, investments. The recipe of José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission for the delicate moment of the European Union is to be faced in the European Parliament during the debate on the 28 and 29 June summit, and for defining the MFF, the Multiannual Financial Framework, the EU budget for the period from 2014 to 2020. It is time of strong commitment for the monetary and economic union, to be built up in the medium and long run, which nevertheless needs immediate decisions by member States. The European Council at the end of June should launch an initiative for growth, necessary to overcome the current recession, which needs re-planning of structural funds to foster investments through the European Bank of Investments, project bonds, and the strengthening of the single market. In the parliament, the speech of Barroso is more political than technical: A greater integration is necessary, a budget, bank, or above all, political integration to safeguard the euro and the EU on the whole. As for the MFF, the head of the Commission says: It is not a budget for Brussels, but for citizens, the unemployed, farmers, youth, researchers… The States intending to decrease funds for the budget will not save anything; they will diminish funds for growth.
I would like to ask you to join spiritually the Christians of Ireland and the world, praying for the works of the Congress, for the Eucharist to be always the beating heart of the life of the whole Church. That was the invitation made by Benedict XVI to about 8 thousand participants in todays hearing, before greeting Italian believers, as usual, at the end of the Wednesday appointment. I am now thinking, greeting and blessing - said the Pope - the Church in Ireland; in Dublin, in the presence of Cardinal Marc Ouellet, my legate, the 50th International Eucharist Congress is taking place on the subject: ‘The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and Amid Us. Several bishops, priests, anointed persons and lay believers originating from different Continents are taking part in this important ecclesial event, said the Pope, defining the initiative a precious chance to reconfirm the central role of the Eucharist in the life of the Church. Jesus, really present in the Sacrament of the Altar with the supreme Sacrifice of Cross love, gives Himself to us, becomes our food to get us similar to Him, to let us get in communion with Him; the comment of the Holy Father: Through this Communion, we are united among us, too; we become one thing with Him, members of one another.
Yesterday, the German Bishops Conference (DBK) and the Council of the German Evangelical Church (EKD) made known a joint press release on the imminent United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) Rio+20, scheduled in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20 to 22 June. In the document, the two German Churches made an appeal to the Federal government and MEPS to take action and foster sustainability and development in a juridical framework for the development of green economy. 20 years after the first climate summit in Rio, DBK and EKD stated that more actions would be necessary to face environmental and climate problems. Moreover, the necessary change of trend in favour of sustainable development has still to be accomplished, said the Churches. In this respect, industrialised countries are particularly responsible since they use more resources than the ones available. Finally, the document recalls responsibility of politicians as well as single individuals, with respect to sustainable development: As Christians, we must take actions to firmly connect the principle of sustainability to social action and personal lifestyle.
It is God who works wonders through our weakness, our inadequacy for the mission, said the Pope speaking off-the-cuff during his weekly general audience today. The focus was on the theme of prayer in the second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, in which the apostle shows that power is made perfect in weakness. Paul would have preferred to be freed from the trial described in the Letter - Benedict XVI observed - but the Lord told him: My grace is sufficient for you to resist. The Lord - the Holy Father explained - does not free us from suffering, but helps us to grow in suffering, difficulty and persecution. Faith - the Pope continued - tells us that if we remain in God, although our outer nature is wasting away, although there are many difficulties, our inner nature is being renewed day by day in trials. We too are weak, but we will live in him, Benedict XVI said, explaining that prayer does not separate us from the world; rather, it gives us the strength to do what we should do in the world.
When I am weak, then I am strong. St. Pauls words in the second Letter to the Corinthians were the main focus of todays general audience catechesis, dedicated to the personal experience to which St. Paul refers in chapter 12, where with great modesty he described the moment in which he had the extraordinary experience of being caught up to the heaven of God, fourteen years before the Letter was sent. To keep him from being too elated by the abundance of revelations received, a ‘thorn in the flesh was given to him, - Benedict XVI observed -, a suffering, and he begged the Risen One that He might free him from the messenger of Evil, from this painful thorn in the flesh. According to the Pope, St. Pauls response to this trial shows that he has understood what it means to be a true disciple of the Gospel: I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ - the second Letter to the Corinthians reads-; for when I am weak, then I am strong. This attitude of deep humility and trust before Gods revelation - the Pope said - should also be an essential feature of our prayer and daily life. (continued)
All our difficulties in following Christ and bearing witness to His Gospel can be overcome if we open ourselves with trust to the action of the Lord, Benedict XVI declared, stressing that St. Paul has clearly understood how to deal with each event, particularly suffering, difficulty, persecution: when we are weak, then God reveals His power that does not abandon us, that does not leave us alone, but becomes our support and strength. The greater our union with the Lord and the more intense our prayer - the Pope continued -, the more we will understand that it is not by our powerful means that the Kingdom of God is built, but by the power of God who works wonders through our weakness. For this reason, we should be humble enough not to rely on ourselves, but to work in the vineyard of the Lord, entrusting ourselves to Him as fragile clay vessels. Only our faith, our confidence in the action of God is the guarantee that we will not work in vain, the Holy Father said: In a world in which we may be tempted to rely only on the effectiveness and power of human means, we are called to rediscover and bear witness to the power of prayer, he concluded.
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - Minsk will become the ecumenical capital of Europe in 2014, the website of the Roman Catholic Church of Belarus reported. The decision was made during the III Catholic-Orthodox Forum held in Lisbon on the invitation of Patriarch Filaret, metropolitan of Minsk and Sluzk and patriarchal exarch of all Belarus. We see the choice of Minsk as the venue for this prestigious Forum, that many cities wanted to host, as an acknowledgement of the good relations between Catholics and Orthodox in Belarus at the European level, and a sign of respect towards our country, said Mons. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, metropolitan archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev. The exact date and main topic of the IV Catholic-Orthodox Forum are yet to be confirmed.