(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - The Council for Science, Education and Culture of the Bishops Conference of Slovakia published the logo of the Year of SS. Cyril and Methodius. It will be used for all official purposes and events regarding the commemoration of the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of the two saints to the region of Great Moravia. According to the president of the Council, bishop Frantisek Rábek, the logo illustrates dominating features of their mission. It consists of a double cross as their symbol, and a book because we know what they have brought to us - the Holy Scripture and the Slavic alphabet, culture and liturgy. The final version of the logo was chosen from 20 design proposals and was approved by the bishops at their last plenary session. The Bishops Conference is preparing a special pastoral letter to mark the beginning of the Year of SS. Cyril and Methodius. It will be read out in all Catholic parishes on 1 July. The official opening of the Holy Year will be held in Nitra on 5 July and will be followed by a number of events including the publication of an anthology of poetry and prose about the Thessalonican brothers; the issue of a commemorative postage stamp; an exhibition of archaeological discoveries related to the Cyril-Methodian era; and four conferences on the life and mission of the saints. The conclusion of the Year is planned for 31 December 2013.
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - The Prague archbishopric will celebrate 450 years since its re-establishment by emperor Ferdinand I on 26 September, 1562. This was also the day when Antonín Brus of Mohelnice took over the office of the Prague archbishop, vacant since 1425. In the following years he successfully worked for the restoration of the Catholic Church in the Czech lands. This Catholic revival after the Hussite Wars will be commemorated on the anniversary of the consecration of the Cathedral of St. Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert that took place on 12 May 1929 in Prague. The holy mass on this occasion will be presided over by papal legate, cardinal Christoph Schönborn, preceeded by the conference Charity Work of the Prague Archdiocese in the World at the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on 11 May. Present at the event will be many significant guests from Czech Republic and abroad, among them bishops and archbishops from the places that are connected with the Prague archdiocese on a spiritual level.
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - The role of Catholic schools is not only informative but also formative, said archbishop Mgr. Bernard Bober, archbishop-metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Košice and president of the Commission for Catechization and Education of the Bishops Conference of Slovakia, evaluating the results of the plenary session of the Association of Catholic Schools of Slovakia (ACSS) that took place last week. We need to provide formation and prepare people for life in a Christian spirit, added the archbishop, commenting on the perspectives for the future. According to Jan Dravecky, director of the School Office in the region of Spis, the journey has not been always easy: The fact that in Slovakia we have had 15 ministers of education so far, testifies to an educational system which is not very stable. The development of legislation was slower than the development of our needs. Jan Horecky, president of the ACSS, affirmed that despite unfavourable conditions, Catholic schools often have better results in education than public schools and in the following phase they must deepen their roots in the Church, in its mission, they need to realize their identity and adjust their program in accordance with twenty years of experience.
More than schools, friends and catechesis at church, it is the family that plays a key role in the Christian education of children: parents, as well as brothers, sisters and grandparents, are the people who most influence childrens faith. Godfathers and godmothers are mentioned too, but less often. This is the key finding of a survey about Christian initiation in Europe conducted by the Council of European Bishops Conferences (Ccee) with the help of the national directors of catechesis of some Bishops Conferences: over 3,600 children, teenagers, parents and grandparents were interviewed. Findings were collected and reviewed by father Luc Mellet, director of the National Service for Catechesis and Catecumenate (France), who presented the survey at the beginning of the XII European Congress on Catechesis, which is taking place in Rome from today to 10th May. Friends are often second on the list of people mentioned as witnesses of faith or as responsible for becoming alien to it. The influence of schools largely depends on the context (on whether they are private Catholic schools or public schools). Generally speaking, private Catholic schools play a positive role. Finally, as to catechesis, many people try to find out how knowledge about Jesus and the doctrine of the Church could be attractively and meaningfully communicated.
This is - the English archbishop went on - the atmosphere young people feel, often even at home. This is the air they breathe. Yet, we know that it is not an air that fulfils the human soul. We know that many young people are full of instinctive generosity, of an intuitive feeling of hope and a longing for learning about and discovering the purpose of their lives. These aspirations are a source of great hope for all of us. They are evidence, if ever we needed any, that the truths about our humanity, as expressed in the gift of our teaching, are real and lasting. Mgr. Nichols then mentioned the Year of Faith launched by Benedict XVI and the 20th anniversary of the catechism of the Catholic Church: Catechism is a great asset and a great challenge. It is an asset, because it can and does guide our understanding of faith and its essential contents; it is a challenge, because the job of presenting faith in its fullness is upon us. The archbishop pointed out how easy it can be for all of us and for all those who work with young people to focus on what might sound like the favourite and attractive aspects of out faith, putting aside other aspects, which may be more difficult or that buck the trend. Obviously, the way we present faith should be in agreement with the recipients age and skills. But it should by no means be over-selective.
In particular, Europe is the setting that most needs a new evangelisation: new, because new life and imagination are needed; new, because many people have never heard the Gospels call. This is the realisation that marked the beginning of the XII European Congress for Catechesis, which, from today to 10th May, will bring to Rome 70 bishops and national directors of the offices and bodies for catechesis of about 25 European Bishops Conferences. The participants will reflect on Christian initiation from the perspective of the new evangelisation, with special reference to children and young people from 7 to 16 years of age, and a survey about Christian initiation in Europe that was conducted on over 3600 children, teenagers, parents and/or grandparents will be presented this afternoon. After an opening address from mgr. Mariano Crociata, secretary of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), the conference was opened by mgr. Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster. Often, Europe in particular is said - mgr. Nichols said - to be the setting that most needs a new evangelisation. Even if it is difficult to be too general about all of Europe, we realise that Europe in particular is experiencing a tension between the view of the Gospel and the proposal of a lifestyle that has grown and is experienced with no connection to Gods reality. (continued)
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - Music, plays, debates, leaflets. And, as usual, open doors for the citizens. The European Unions institutions are getting ready to celebrate Europe Day, which falls on 9th May to commemorate Schumans Declaration. On 9th May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman invited France, Germany and other European countries to pool together their domestic coal and steel production, the EU Commission says in a notice. That was the first step in the creation of what the European Union is today, where 27 countries are bound to respect freedom and the rule of law, but acknowledge and promote their neighbours diversity. All of the EU institutions in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg, in addition to the local EU premises, will be promoting all sorts of events (for a schedule, see the national official websites). The European Parliament, which will be opening a plenary session in Brussels precisely on 9th May, will hold a debate about the future of Europe, which will be opened by its president, Martin Schulz. From 10.00 am to 06.00 pm, the Assemblys buildings will be open to the public who will thus be able to meet the MEPs. Areas will be fitted out outside for children, group games and stalls. The EU Commission, the EU Council, the Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions will open their premises as wel
Dear Guards, you have the privilege to work for some years in the heart of Christianity and live in the ‘Eternal City. Your families, and those who wanted to share these days of celebration with you, added to their participation in the oath ceremony a pilgrimage to the Tombs of the Apostles: this is an excerpt of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the Vatican to the members of the Swiss Guards gathered, together with their families, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace on the occasion of the swearing-in of the recruits. The Pope recalled the role of the Swiss Guard and the long history of the security corps that has always been marked by an unquestioned fidelity to the Pope, which became heroic sacrifice during the ‘Sack of Rome in 1527 when, on 6 May, your predecessors gave up their lives. He exhorted the Swiss Guards to be firm in their Catholic faith, faithfulness and love for the Church of Jesus Christ, diligence and perseverance in daily tasks - the big and the small -, courage and humility, altruism and generosity. The Holy Father concluded by inviting those present to help and support one other in your daily work so as to grow together, maintaining a spirit of evangelical charity towards the people you meet every day.
According to mgr. Papamanolis, the parties might veto each other: Syriza and New Democracy said, before the vote, that they wont cooperate. The same applies to Pasok. However, its early days, and we will have to wait for the leaders to make their statements before we can understand what they will decide. New elections in June cannot be ruled out. The Troika has led us to poverty - the prelate denounces -. People are starving, and we have nothing left to give to those who knock on our doors. The taxes they levied on us have risen up to 48%, in just one years time. Before the recovery plan, the churches were not taxed. Our proceeds come only from our properties, nobody helps us. Last year, as the diocese of Syros, we could pay tax; this year, we cannot. The same applies to Athens and other dioceses. Under an agreement, the diocese of Corfu has been allowed to pay its tax in instalments over 60 months. And we have to pay this years tax too. People are starving, and we have nothing to do charity with. Things are a bit better for the Orthodox Church, which receives aids from the other churches. The American Orthodox churches gave 500 thousand euros to the bishop of Athens. The same amount of money was raised in Cyprus. Then, there are the shipping companies that help the Church in its charitable work. We have no shipping companies.
People are starving, and this vote might not be a good turning point. Voters passed a vote of no confidence in the two main parties, New Democracy and Pasok, that have ruled the country for years, leading it to the disaster we are in today. The fragmented political picture, in the aftermath of the Greek election, worries mgr. Francesco Papamanolis, president of the Catholic bishops of the Hellenic country (Ceg), which says to SIR new elections might be held in June. The two main parties that had supported the austerity plan of the Troika (ECB, IMF and EU), New Democracy (Centre Right) and Pasok (Socialist), have been defeated; out of protest voters have chosen leftist groups, such as Syriza, or far rightist groups, such as Golden Dawn. Now - the archbishop says -, it will be difficult to form a government. The situation is difficult, not least because in Greece we have never had a national unity government. (continued)
I would like to tell the president of the Republic: you will need everybody. I hope the president may really start working at cohesion. A work at cohesion that is much sought after. This was said by mgr. Bernard Podvin, spokesman of the French Bishops Conference, in answering the RCF TV news this morning. It is not an official statement about the presidential election - the French Bishops Conference is keen on explaining -, it is simply an answer to an interview. As to the positions taken by president Hollande about gay marriage and assistance at death, mgr. Podvin said: A debate is needed, and the Catholic Church has never hidden what it thinks about some positions taken by the man who has been appointed president of the Republic. A more thorough discussion is needed.
Announcement and new evangelisation in todays world: this is the title of a new document published by the Austrian Bishops Conference and drawn up by the bishops during their last plenary assembly last March. This was announced yesterday by the Austrian Catholic news agency Kathpress. As stated by mgr. Alois Schwarz in the foreword, this document aims at offering cues about how to call people to a ‘new evangelisation in todays world. Mgr. Schwarz is the bishop of the Austrian Bishops Conference in charge of pastoral care and catechesis who supervised the development of the document. According to Walter Krieger, secretary general of the Austrian Institute for Pastoral Care (Öpi), this document is fundamental for the forthcoming Year of Faith and is addressed to all those people who deal with the announcement: priests, religious people, deacons, volunteers engaged in different pastoral services, catechetical, liturgical and charitable workers. In addition, the document deals with trends that are comparatively new in the pastoral sphere, added Krieger, who wished pastoral service may be revised, because, he explained, today people look for commitment and for belonging to something, but not with close bonds and not in the long term.
We are at a stage that requires caution - the exarch states to SIR -. Today, AntonisSamaras, the New Democracy leader (his party is still top of the list, but with just 18.8% of votes, editors note), will be commissioned by the president of the Republic, KarolosPapaoulias, to appoint the new government. Well see what will happen. One thing for sure: this vote will not solve the problems of our country. What we see today is a Greece that has lost heart, which is divided and hopeless in front of the economic and social crisis that required taxes and austerity measures, that the EU, the ECB and the IMF troika wanted to levy. I do not know what can be done by a parliament that is fragmented into so many parties and affected by returning nationalisms. New elections might loom ahead.
A clear, neat vote for protest and, maybe even more seriously, a low turnout, which suggests a loss of affection for and confidence in politics in lots and lots of citizens: this is the first, off the cuff comment made by the apostolic exarch for Catholics of the Byzantine rite in Greece, mgr. Dimitrios Salachas, on the results of yesterdays election in Greece. The outcome showed a defeat of the two groups, NeaDimokrazia and Pasok, which had supported the austerity plan negotiated by the EU, the ECB and the IMF, in favour of the far leftist party Syriza, which earned 16.3% of votes, the far rightist group Golden Dawn (7%), the other rightist party Independent Greece (10.5%), and the Communists of Kke (8.5%). A fragmented scenario that made the Greek mass media talk of ungovernability and that endangers the recovery plan agreed between Athens and its creditors. This morning, the Greek Stock Exchange opened at minus 7,.6%.(continued)
I would like to remind you that the 7th World Meeting of Families will take place in Milan in less than a month. Benedict XVI said this after praying the Regina Cæli in St. Peters Square yesterday morning. The Pope went on to thank the Ambrosian Diocese and other dioceses in Lombardy which are cooperating in the preparation of this ecclesial event, sponsored by the Pontifical Council of the Family, headed by Card. Ennio Antonelli. I too - the Holy Father concluded -, God willing, will have the joy of participating in this event, and for this reason I am going to Milan from 1 to 3 June.
Jesus is the true vineyard of God, the true vine, who with His sacrifice of love gives us salvation and opens the way for us to be part of this vine. Benedict XVI said this during the Regina Cæli prayer in St. Peters Square yesterday morning. Just as Christ remains in the love of God the Father - he added -, so the disciples, carefully pruned by the word of the Master, can become fruitful branches which produce abundant harvest if they are profoundly united with Him. On the day of our Baptism, the Pontiff highlighted, the Church grafts us as branches into the Paschal Mystery of Christ, into His own Person. From this root we get vital nourishment to share in the divine life. Consequently, we too, like the disciples, sustained by the Pastors of the Church, grow in the Lords vineyard abiding by His love. It is essential for us - the Holy Father pointed out - to remain always united to Jesus, to depend upon Him, because without Him we cannot do anything. Each one of us - he concluded - is like a vine, which lives only if its union with the Lord is growing every day in prayer, participation in the Sacraments, and charity. Those who love Jesus, the true vine, produce fruits of faith for an abundant spiritual harvest.