(Sir Europe - Brussels) - The slowdown in migration into OECD countries caused by the global economic crisis seems to have come to an end. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (bringing together 34 states, mainly in Europe, North America and Oceania) released its report entitled International Migration Outlook 2012 today. The extensive report points out that although migration flows to OECD countries have dropped significantly between 2008 and 2010, now arrivals are on the rise. In fact, immigration into OECD member states started to increase again in 2011. And the number of people coming to the OECD to study is also growing. With the recovery still fragile, and public opinion sensitive to migration issues against a backdrop of continuing high unemployment, many governments - experts from the Paris-based Organisation explained - have introduced more restrictive migration policies. Jobless young migrants are also a particular cause for concern, requiring targeted policy action from governments. The Report also presents - in perspective - the link between population aging in OECD member states and the phenomenon of migration flows.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - One thing for sure: tax evaders rob ordinary citizens and deprive the member states of precious resources. This practice must be eradicated if we want to have fair, effective tax systems: the words of Algirdas Semeta, commissioner for taxation and customs union, resound loud and clear in the newsroom of the European Commission. The European Council actually commissioned the EU Executive to develop a strategy to fight tax evasion and tax frauds, which will be submitted to the 27 heads of state and government during the summit of the next two days. Semeta emphasises the need for the political will to fight what he and the EU Executive regard as a robbery of their fellow citizens and the states. The EU Commissions proposals range from the establishment of common minimal fines for tax crimes to the launch of an international tax ID number; then, a EUs taxpayers charter and stricter rules against tax havens (some member states and some of the EUs neighbouring countries have already expressed doubts about the latter). After the presentation at the summit, by the end of 2012 the EU Commission will outline a policy against tax evasion, containing specific measures to be quickly developed. In addition, an initiative about tax havens will be presented as well.
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - The history of Lviv is the history of a mini-state in which different peoples have lived for centuries, with their own histories and cultures, with their customs and religions. This is a brief description of the idea of an exhibition entitled Those Who Saved the World, due to be opened today in the afternoon in Lviv, Ukraine. It was created by the Lviv Museum of History of Religion and is dedicated to actions of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) in saving Jews during the World War II. Facts tell that hundreds of Jews, including many children, were hidden in monasteries of the UGCC, and monks, priests and laymen risked their lives to save them in accordance with the Christian principle of love, explains the head of the Information department of the museum, Iryna Tsebenko. According to the Religious Information Service of Ukraine, a significant part of the exhibition is focused on topics related to the Holocaust. It includes documentary materials, photographs, certificates and medals of people declared Righteous among Nations. Almost 2,400 citizens of Ukraine have been awarded this title by January 2011.
According to the Custodian, it is an initiative that makes it harder for us to run the place, because, based on Unesco rules, before the UN agency, such a place is run by the government, not by the owner of the place. Father Pizzaballa fears that the oly places may be used for political purposes. We do not want to be exploited for issues the holy places should have nothing to do with. Mgr. Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio to Israel and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem, took position on this issue as well. The holy place of Christianity is, by definition, heritage of mankind - the nuncio explained to SIR -. From a strictly religious point of view, for no other political or cultural reasons, the holy places, that is, the places the are in this region and that historically tell us about the Lords life and work or about salvation-related events, are in themselves heritage of mankind, and no other additional definition is needed. And this is the point that perplexes the three Christian communities that are part of the status quo for Bethlehem. We will always claim that a holy place is heritage of mankind as such, regardless of Unescos seal. The Custody guards the holy places, so that they may be open to all of mankind. We are in a universal religious dimension that we want to protect and have respected.
The 36th session of the Heritage of Mankind Committee of Unesco, the UN Organisation for Education, Science and Culture, opened in St Petersburg, Russia on 24th June (to last until 26th June. The Committee will review the nomination of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the pilgrimage road to the church for Unesco Heritage of Mankind. If the application submitted by Palestine, that became a full member of Unesco on 31st October 2011, is accepted, then the Nativity will be the first site in the Palestinian region to make it into the list. The basilica, one of the destinations most frequently visited by pilgrims and tourists in the Holy Land, dates back to emperor Constantines time and needs to be restored, and thats why the application will be reviewed by the Committee on an urgent basis. However, such nomination perplexed the Custody of the Holy Land, the Greek Patriarchate and the Armenian Patriarchate, that run the basilica of the Nativity. In an earlier statement to SIR, the Custodian of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, had said: we have no problems about proclaiming the city of Bethlehem a Unesco Heritage site, but we are not too happy about the Nativity.
How can one rejoice before a by now impending death sentence? From where, or better, from whom does Saint Paul draw the serenity, the strength, the courage to meet his martyrdom and bloodshed'. These are the questions the Pope asked himself at the start of the catechesis, reminding people that, in the last chapter of the Letter to the Ephesians, there is a string call to joy, a fundamental feature of our being Christians. Rejoicing in front of the impending risk of martyrdom and bloodshed - Benedict XVI answered at the end of the catechesis - is possible only because the apostle never moved his eyes away from Christ, to such an extent that he conformed to Him in his death. Benedict XVI urged, in particular, to rediscover the gesture of genuflection, that expresses the attitude of adoration in front of God, with ones body as well, and that it is important to make, not out of habit or hurriedly, but in perfect awareness.
On 29 June the European Councils work will continue with a presentation by Van Rompuy of the challenges lying ahead of the EU, the commitments of the European Council, and approval of the conclusions of the Summit. In the afternoon, there will be a meeting of the leaders of the 17 euro-area countries. In the meantime preparations for the Summit are in full swing at the Justus Lipsius building, where a press room is being set up to accommodate more than 1,000 permanently accredited journalists, as well as those who will come just for this event.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - The challenge for this European Council is, more than ever before, to signal, in a clear and concrete manner, that we are doing everything required in response to the crisis. Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, sent a letter to the 27 heads of state and government of the European Union who will meet in Brussels on 28 and 29 June for the European Council Summit. In his two-page letter, Van Rompuy outlined the agenda for the meeting that, given the critical situation, will last longer than usual. It will start tomorrow early afternoon and will end on Friday late afternoon. Consequently, there will be more time for the members of the European Council to meet the president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and have an exchange of views with him after his speech. The meeting will continue - EU Council President explained - with an ample discussion on the Multiannual Financial Framework of the Union (budget proposal for 2014-2020); then discussion will focus on the economic crisis, governance, and the most pressing foreign policy issues. The quartet, including Van Rompuy himself, Barroso (Commission), Draghi (ECB) and Juncker (Eurogroup), will present a seven-page document on response to the crisis and growth, whose main points are: a solid economic and monetary union; more financial and fiscal integration; and more political union. (continued)
Jesus Christ is the only Lord of our life, amidst the many ‘rulers who want to steer and guide it, and thats why one must have a scale of values in which God comes first. This was reiterated by the Pope, in the catechesis during todays general audience, about the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians, a sort of Saint Pauls spiritual will and one of the oldest hymns or songs of the Christian tradition. The human logic - Benedict XVI stated - often looks for self-accomplishment in power, in ruling, in powerful means. Man keeps wanting to build Babels tower with his own strengths, to reach Gods height, to be like God. The incarnation and the Cross remind us, instead, that full accomplishment lies in conforming ones human will to the Fathers, in emptying oneself of the self, of ones own selfishness, to be filled with love, with Gods charity, and thus become truly capable of loving other people. The encounter with the Resurrected - the Pope said, speaking of Saint Pauls life - made him understand that He is the only treasure for which it is worth spending ones life. (continued)
With an unexpected phone call to the diocese of Milan early this morning, Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, who arrived in Milan yesterday, expressed the desire to visit the citys cathedral, the online international magazine of the Jesuits Popoli.info reported. The request was immediately accepted and the Dalai Lama was welcomed by the archpriest of Milan, Msg. Luigi Manganini, and by vice-archpriest Mgr. Giordano Ronchi (Card. Angelo Scola was not in the city). During his visit to the Ambrosian cathedral, the Dalai Lama paused in front of the main altar. There he was told about the architectural features of the religious building and about the meaning of stained glass windows and light in the Gothic style. At the end of the explanation, the Tibetan leader presented the archpriest with a white scarf, the Kata, asking him to lay it down on the altar. The Kata is an auspicious symbol. We have welcomed the Dalai Lama - Mgr. Manganini explained at the end of the visit -, in a spirit of interreligious dialogue, of which the Dalai Lama is a strong supporter. In fact, apart from some small groups of extremists, Buddhism has always been open to dialogue with other faiths. The presence of the Dalai Lama at numerous meetings organized first by John Paul II and then by Benedict XVI clearly demonstrates it. Today at 2.30pm - before one of the conferences the Dalai Lama will hold at the Assago Forum - the Buddhist spiritual leader will meet the vicar general of the diocese of Milan, Mgr. Mario Delpini, who will greet him on behalf of Card. Angelo Scola.
For the first time in the history of Christianity, the patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Kirill I, will be visiting Poland from 16th to 19th August; on 17th August, along with the president of the Polish Bishops Conference (Kep), mgr. Jozef Michalik, he will sign a joint message of the two Churches for their respective peoples, the Russian and the Polish one. Mgr. Michalik is waiting for the epoch-making event with great hope, since the document will concern the prospects of deeper brotherhood between the Christian devotees of both peoples. According to the president of the Polish Bishops, the signing of the document is, above all, a brave gesture of obedience by the Russian Orthodox Church and by the Polish Catholic Church to Jesus words on the duty to be brothers. The spokesman of Kep, Jozef Kloch, already said that the message will contain a reflection on the history of the two peoples through the centuries, an appeal to mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, as well as a call to continue their dialogue and give a joint testimony, especially because of the challenges of the modern world and todays Europe. In Poland, Kirill, the patriarch, will meet the metropolitan bishop Sawa, leader of the Polish Orthodox Church, and will visit some religious centres. In addition, he will be received by the president of the Republic, Bronislaw Komorowski.