The Treaty of Lisbon wouldnt have been possible without the commitment and the leadership exercised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the current presidency of Germany: the acknowledgement was made by José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Union Commission, through a declaration following the approval of the Treaty by Germany. After Bundestag - stated Barroso -, Bundesrat has now approved the text subscribed last autumn which should come into force on 1st January 2009. I would like to thank the German parliament and government for constantly supporting the Treaty, which - added the Chief of the Executive - is now ratified by over one half of the member states of the European Union. I hope that this example will be followed by the other countries as soon as possible. Until now, the countries saying yes through their parliaments are: Hungary, France, Portugal, Poland, Malta, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, and Denmark. On the other hand, the only peoples referendum on the subject is scheduled on 12th June; it will take place in Ireland. The other countries decided to follow the ratification path through legislative assemblies.
On reflecting on the current social situation, then Benedict XVI added: If the new instruments of communication, allowing us to broadcast knowledge and information in a very quick and effective way, werent accessible to the people living in poor economic and social conditions, it would be a tragedy for the future of mankind. The Pope pointed out also that the current communication trends risk to eliminate traditional customs and local cultures, especially in relation to the family and social values, love, solidarity and respect for life. Moreover, with reference to the subject of identity of a Catholic School or University, he stated that such identity is not just a question of number of Catholic students; above all, it is a question of conviction. Then, he encouraged the present teachers by underlining their privileged roles, not just in the lives of your students, but also in the missions of your local Churches and their Pastors, to let all the people know the Word and love for God.
The different kinds of communication - dialogue, prayer, teaching, account, proclamation - and their different instruments - the press, information technology, visual arts, music, voice, gestures and contact - are all manifestations of the fundamental nature of the human person: those words were spoken by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican this morning, by addressing the participants in the Congress of the Faculties of Communication of Catholic Universities, promoted by the Papal Council of Social Communications. It is clear - he added -, that the core of every serious reflection on human nature and the purposes of human communication should include a commitment concerning the question of truth (…), since the ultimate value of every communication is its truthfulness. Then, Benedict XVI exhorted the present (about one hundred people including deacons, teachers and scholars from about fifty different countries) to nourish passion for truth and good, which is always strong in youth. Specific training - according to the Pope - should never be faced as a simple technical exercise, or as the sole desire to supply information, but should be meant to promote justice and solidarity, be respecting the value and dignity of every person under any circumstances; the person has the right not to be wounded in relation to what concerns his private life. (To be continued)
Making known the best solutions to the current energy and climate challenges to the general public: it is the objective of the Energy Globe Awards which are being given at the hemicycle of the European parliament in Brussels on 26 May. The European Union has been working on the environmental front for a long time, and confirms its interest in the subject by letting itself be represented at the ceremony by the three main community offices: the president of the parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering, the president of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and Prime Minister Janez Jansa. The awards, it is said in a note by the Assembly, are subdivided into five categories: earth, fire, water, air and youth. They are meant for local and regional projects coming from the whole world, paying a contribution to the preservation of energy, the protection of environment and supply of basic resources such as water and electricity to communities living in remote areas or in poverty conditions. Projects coming from 109 countries will be submitted to this years round. The awards will be delivered to the winners by former UNO secretary Kofi Annan and Indian actor Aamir Khan. Through their music shows, singers Dionne Warwick, Zucchero and Alanis Morissette will take part in the evening event. On the following day, at the Parliament, there is a conference on the subject of sustainable energy.
Division among the Christians and the Churches - added Card. Kasper - is in contradiction with the basic sacrament and the highest mystery of the Church. Moreover, on recalling the will of Jesus, let everybody be one thing, the cardinal wondered: Did we take this will of His seriously? Not enough, perhaps. Therefore, there is reason to pray uninterruptedly; and in every Eucharistic celebration, we pray for peace and the unity of the Church, above all; but just that is not enough, we must be active, do our best and pave the way to the recomposition of unity. The Vatican representative is in Russia from 21st to 30th May, and the journey programme includes a long series of meetings and visits, such as a meeting with His Holiness, Patriarch Alexius II, to whom Card. Kasper will deliver a message and a gift from His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.
The division of the Christians is in contradiction with the will of Christ, who prayed for everybody to be one thing just before he died. Yesterday, those words were spoken by Card. Walter Kasper, president of the Papal del Council for the promotion of Christian unity, in the homily pronounced yesterday evening during the celebration of the Corpus Domini feast in the Catholic Cathedral of Gods Mother in Moscow. The Eucharist - said the cardinal - is the sacrament of unity. It makes up the unity of the Church, and it is the sign of the unity of the Church. In his latest encyclical, Pope John Paul II recalled this old tradition of the Orient and the West. If we ponder over this truth, we realize how absurd it is for Christians to be divided in the celebration of the Eucharist; it is also absurd that they cannot eat the same bread and drink from the same chalice. (To be continued)
A human and priestly personality who was able to make a wonderful synthesis of the characteristics of the African soul and those which are typical of the Christian spirit, of African culture and identity and evangelical values: in that way, Pope Benedict XVI pointed out the figure of Card. Bernardin Gantin in the homily he pronounced this morning in Rome, during a Mass celebrated for his soul by Card. Angelo Sodano, Deacon of the College of Cardinals, together with other cardinals. The Pope described Card. Gantin as a faithful and devote server of the Church for many years. He died last 13th May (the day in which the Madonna of Fatima is celebrated) in Paris, at the age of 86. It is difficult to summarize, in short, the tasks, the pastoral duties and the jobs, said the Pope, which the cardinal fulfilled in these years. He was - recalled the Pope - the first African clergyman to have covered roles of really high responsibility in the Roman Curia, and he always played them with his typical humble and simple style, whose secret would probably be found in the wise words which his mother used to repeat him when he became cardinal, on 27th June 1977: ‘Dont you ever forget the faraway and small village we come from".
The migration phenomenon, both within the Country and outside it - said Benedict XVI - makes you tackle serious pastoral problems, which involve your bishops hearts in relation to both the believers living in your country and the believers of the diaspora. The Pope hinted at the problems of practical nature, for which the effective contributions of civil requests are also necessary, by means of proposals which do not simply respond to preoccupations of political nature, but take into consideration concrete social situations, too. Under the Catholic point of view - suggested Benedict XVI -, both in the homeland and in the context of migration, attention should be paid to inclusion in the social contexts where the people arrive, though preserving the specific identity of your people.
"Rediscovering a common grammar capable of sustaining the structure of society again" after the sad heritage of the past dictatorship in Albany, which proclaimed atheism as State ideology. Today, Benedict XVI addressed Albanian bishops that invitation. He received them through separate audiences in Ad Limina Apostolorum visit. After the dark night of the Communist dictatorship, unable to understand the Albanian people and its atavistic traditions, the Church was providentially able to resurrect, thanks also to the apostolic strength" of John Paul II, who made a visit there in 1993, "re-establishing the Catholic hierarchy in a steady way, for the good of believers and for the benefit of the Albanian people". The Pope invited Albanian bishops to support emigrants, also by encouraging their inclusion in the social contexts hosting them. (To be continued)
Suha Rassam, Iraqi physician, founder of the charity ICIN, Iraqi Christians In Need, and author of the book Christianity in Iraq was awarded the title of Catholic woman of the year. The news was made known by the organization itself located in England. The award was given one year after the establishment of ICIN, meant to support Iraqi Christians from both the financial and spiritual point of view, the ones living in Iraq as well as the emigrated and refugees now living abroad. Born in Mosul, in the North of Iraq, Suha Rassam became physician and then a teacher at the faculty of medicine, University of Baghdad. In 1990, she moved to London where she worked in several hospitals until 2005, when she retired. The Catholic woman of the year award was established in 1968 by a network of Catholic organizations, including the Union of Catholic Mothers, the League of the Catholic Women, and the National Association of Catholic Families. The spokeswoman of the award, Joanna Bogle, thus explained the motivation: This award is meant for those women like Suha Rassam who have paid an extraordinary contribution to Catholic life. The winners wont get money but just admiration and support by other Catholic women. The prize-giving is taking place in London next 10th October.
In spite of social changes and custom changes, the family may just go on being originated from marriage, which is its constituent act, and having husband, wife and children born from their union as essential members, thus making up the basic structure of society and the first foundation and pilaster of the legal and juridical order. Those words were spoken by jurist Alessandro dAvack, chairman of the National Committee for studying the principle of subsidiarity, solidarity and equality, from Leone XIII to the European Constitution, just before the meeting promoted in Bucharest on 27th and 28th May by the Committee itself and the Roman-Catholic Theological Institution Santa Teresa in the capital of Romania. The subject of the meeting is Humanae Vitae between present times and provocation: a modern response to a centuries-old problem. DAvack, who will delve into the subject of family solidarity, said: The task of the legislator is to change and adapt the rules of common feeling, as well as to educate citizens to live family relationships and impulses in a legally and ethically correct manner. Among others, the president of CCEE, Card. Péter Erdo; the archbishop of Bucharest, Msgr. Ioan Robu; the president of the Papal Academy for Life, Msgr. Elio Sgreccia; Victor Dumitrescu; and the above-mentioned Theological Institute will take part in the meeting.
First ordination of a presbyter for the archbishop whos been leading the diocese of Moscow since last autumn: Italian Msgr. Paolo Pezzi. On Saturday 24th May, in Saint Petersburg, in the Catholic Church of Assumption, Msgr. Pezzi is ordaining Deacon Nikolaj Vojtechoviè, 31 years old, with Byelorussian origins. Baptized in his home town, Ivje, in 1989, and confirmed in Czêstochowa ten years later, the future priest attended the seminar «Mary Queen of the Apostles» in Saint Petersburg. In 2007, for his bachelors degree, he submitted a dissertation on the Eucharist as origin of mercy in the spirituality of Saint Faustina Kowalska. The seminar of Saint Petersburg is the only Catholic seminar all over Russia. It was opened on 29th June 1993 in Moscow and later on moved to San Petersburg, to the building of the Catholic seminar (depending on the metropolitan see of Mogilev) closed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Today, it is attended by 19 aspiring priests and 12 friars. In Russia, from 1996 to present days, 28 seminarians were ordained priests. The current rector is Msgr. Paolo Pezzi himself. On 29th June, in Tomsk (South Western Siberia), another seminarian is going to be ordained: Deacon Vasilij Zazdravnych.
Over 100 participants representing 44 European countries are meeting in Bled in these days (21st to 24th May), in Slovenia, for the yearly meeting of Caritas Europe, on the subject From exclusion to equity in Europe. Being aware that there are several social models in Europe, said Caritas Europe, a document supplying the basic principles for a sustainable social system was recently drawn up. The most important objective - pointed out the ecclesial charity body - is social cohesion as societys ability to ensure wellness to all the people, by reducing unfairness and avoiding focusing. The programme of the meeting includes also analyses of social protection, and several models will be examined in the light of the social doctrine of the Church, taking into account social and demographic changes in different countries. The event is also an opportunity to inform participants about a deeper collaboration between Caritas Europe and European institutions. A press conference is scheduled in Bled today (at 1.30, Golf Hotel). Among others, Erny Gillen, president of Caritas Europe; Vladimir Spidla, from the European Commission for employment, social affairs and equal opportunities; and Marjeta Cotman, Slovenian minister of work, family and social affairs are taking part in it.