Antonio Vivaldis sacred music which holds a significant place in his production and is of great value, especially because it expresses his faith, is still very much unknown. Benedict XVI recalled this during the concert offered to him in the Paul VI Hall this evening by the president of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano to mark the 7th anniversary of his election to the Pontificate. The ‘Magnificat we listened to - the Pontiff said - is the song of praise of Mary and of all the humble of heart who recognise and celebrate with joy and gratitude the action of God in their lives and in history; of God who has a different ‘style from mans, because He takes the side of the poor to give them hope. The Holy Father remarked that in the two pieces of sacred music by Giuseppe Verdi (Et exultavit, Et misericordia), the register changes: we see the pain of Mary at the foot of the Cross: Stabat Mater dolorosa. And there, music becomes essential, it almost ‘clings to the words to express their content in the highest way possible, with a profusion of feelings.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - The legal protection of the dignity, right to life and integrity of every human being from conception in those areas under the EUs jurisdiction in which such protection is relevant. This is the aim of the Citizens Initiative entitled One of Us officially registered by the European Commission today. According to the promoters, which include pro-life Catholic-inspired organisations, the main objective is to stress the fact that the dignity and integrity of the human embryo deserve respect. This was stated in the ECJs judgement in the Brustle case, which defines the embryo as the commencement of the development of a human being.
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - The Slovak Day for a work-free Sunday will take place on 13 May. Organizers invite all citizens from Bratislava and other cities to participate in a March for traditional family Sundays without work. According to the Alliance for Free Sunday (AFS), the main aim of the event is to appeal for the adoption of legislative measures in support of a work-free Sunday and for public holidays generally standard for member countries of the European Union. The March is also intended to express support to the president of the Bishops Conference of Slovakia, Mons. Stanislav Zvolensky, and the general bishop of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, Milos Klatik, in their request addressed to Prime Minister Robert Fico regarding the protection of family and work-free Sunday. In April, the AFS started a petition in this regard to join other European citizens. To reach desired results, the initiative must be supported by a minimum of one million Europeans, coming from at least one third of member states of the European Union. Slovakia is expected to contribute with 9750 signatures, but the AFS hopes to achieve much better results. Currently, the country has nine days of public holidays and the Ministry of Work promised to consider widening this range.
Having witnessed yesterday‘s attacks which brought carnage to the streets of Damascus, we cannot but express our strong condemnation and the heartfelt closeness of the Holy Father and the Catholic community to the families of the victims. So begins the statement of the Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi, after yesterdays massacre in Damascus. These attacks - Fr. Lombardi added - should encourage all sides to boost and strengthen their commitment to implementing the Annan Peace Plan, which has been accepted by all sides in the conflict. Yesterdays attacks also show that the situation in Syria requires a firm and joint commitment on the part of the entire international community to implement that plan and, as soon as possible, to send further observers. The appeal made by the Holy Father on Easter Day is now more pressing than ever: it is necessary without delay to undertake ‘the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - Based on the Economic Forecasts disclosed today, on May 30th the EU Commission will submit its recommendations to each one of the member states (adjustments, reforms), which will eventually be reviewed by the next European Council on June 28th and 29th. But, urged by the journalists in the news room of the Berlaymont, where the EU Commission is based, deputy president Olli Rehn offers some clues to understand each countrys situation, after saying, once again, he is confident the governments will go on with their austerity measures, a prerequisite to revive growth. As to the difficult time the Netherlands are experiencing, Rehn thinks they must aim at reducing their deficit; as to Italy, he does not think it needs any more measures than those already taken by Montis government; he asks France to go on with its austerity measures now it has a new government. Rehn says he is worried about Greece and hopes it will form a government that may be able to abide by the engagements it has undertaken with the EU. As to the referendum that will take the Irish to the polls on May 31st to vote on the fiscal compact, the Commissioner does not say anything specific but states: It is up to Irelands citizens to decide. But the EU Commission supports the Treaty, which helps all countries keep their budgets under control. He also expresses concern for Portugal and Romania.
The time has come for a new, innovative spirit of faith: this is the opinion of card. Christoph Schönborn, president of the Austrian Bishops conference and archbishop of Vienna, who wrote an article on the magazine Thema kirche of the capitals archdiocese. As posted yesterday by the Austrian news agency Kathpress, the cardinal stated that the traditional ecclesiastic structures are no longer suitable for the future challenges and requirements, and all baptised people, not just consecrated priests, need to be involved. The common priestly call of all baptised people must be rediscovered, card. Schönborn went on. There are no signs of a trend reversal in the Austrians societys taking its distance from the Church, the cardinal went on. This means that such changes do not necessarily have to do with the peculiarities of the Catholic Church: There are different causes, which require different responses, because such trends, according to the cardinal, are not so much a crisis of the Church as the expression of a dramatically-changed existential reality.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - The reading of Springs Economic Forecasts by the EU Executive suggests there is no major margin for improvement in the employment world. Unemployment is expected to remain high at about 10% in the EU-27 and at 11% in the euro-zone (17 countries that use the single currency). Inflation instead is expected to slowly decrease, as the impact of oil price and tax rises disappears. In addition, budget recovery is expected to go on, with public deficits bound to drop to 3.3% in the EU in 2013 and just below 3% in the euro-zone. However, the continental picture is very uneven: as to Gross Domestic Product, for instance, Germany shows 0.7% per annum in 2012, bound to rise to 1.7% next year; the same applies to France, with 0.5% this year and 1.3% next year; the United Kingdom has 0.5% this year, rising to 1.7 in 2013. This year, Italy has very a negative figure, -1.4%, that is bound to go up to +0.4% next year. However, the most troublesome situations are those of Greece (-4.7% in 2012, 0.0% in 2013) and Spain (-1.8% and -0.3%, respectively). Poland bucks the trend: this years positive 2.7% will be followed by next years 2.6%.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - We are witnessing an ongoing adjustment of the fiscal and structural imbalances built up before and after the onset of the crisis, made worse by the still weak economic sentiment. Without further determined action, however, low growth in the EU could remain. Olli Rehn, Commission Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs, insisted on Europes dark economic forecasts. However, he also highlighted that with appropriate reforms and sound public finances, there might be a recovery in the second half of 2012 and a modest growth in 2013. Sound public finances are the condition for lasting growth, and building on the new strong framework for economic governance, we must support the adjustment by accelerating stability and growth-enhancing policies. He went on to add: Strong policy actions and major advancements in the EU institutional framework have brought about an easing of financial market tensions in the beginning of 2012 and a tentative stabilisation of confidence, expected to further strengthen in the months to come. Together with an expected acceleration in global growth, the recovery is forecast to set in slowly in the EU27. According to the Commission, in 2013 the growth rate is expected at 1.3% in the EU and 1.0% in the euro area.
The mission today needs to renew its trust in the action of God, the Pope continued, adding that we must commit ourselves with decision and generosity so as to inaugurate, in a certain sense, ‘a new era of proclamation of the Gospel because, after two millennia, a major part of the human family still does not acknowledge Christ, and also because the situation in which the Church and the world find themselves is particularly challenging for religious belief. Having recalled that today too the growth of the Kingdom of God in the world often comes about at the cost of its servants blood who continue to be persecuted as their Master and Lord was even if they announce hope and peace, Benedict XVI stressed that the task of the Pontifical Mission Societies is to keep alive the missionary vocation of all Christs disciples. The ‘missio ad gentes is the paradigm for all apostolic activity of the Church, which is why it is particularly important that local Churches assume, ever more generously, their share of responsibility in the universal mission of the Church.
I am pleased to support the project of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the Pontifical Mission Societies in support of the Year of Faith. Such project involves a global campaign which, by praying the Holy Rosary, accompanies the work of evangelisation in the world and helps many baptised to rediscover and deepen their faith. Benedict XVI said this today as he received in audience at the Vatican the participants in the annual assembly of the Supreme Council of the Pontifical Mission Societies. Following the greeting addressed to him by Card. Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, the Pope focused on the Churchs proclamation: Evangelisation, which is always a pressing task, requires the Church today to work even more assiduously throughout the world in order to lead all people to the knowledge of Christ. All men and all peoples - the Pope said - have the right to receive the Gospel of truth. This is why your contribution to the Year of Faith and your commitment to promoting the Kingdom of God and knowledge of the Christian faith are particularly important. (continued)
There is no doubt that the countrys main problem is the material and spiritual poverty of a major part of the population, and the situation of lots of children who were born without a family or that 60% of children born out of wedlock who have no family to properly raise or support them is worrying. This is a statement about the state of Peru (click here) made by Gina Anderson Trujillo, deputy secretary of the Peruvian Bishops Commission for the Family, that will be a member of the official national delegation at the VII International Meeting of the Families (Milan, 30 May - 3 June). In the Andean country, the family pastoral service, although uneven and inadequately developed everywhere, not least in response to such situation, is fairly dynamic and aims at spreading the family pastoral service in all dioceses, along with the parallel pro-life service. We think new creative and attractive forms of communication must be created - Anderson points out - that must fit in with the new information and communication systems, that should be especially adapted to young couples and to people who live in rural regions.
The requests put forward by the bishops include an appeal to promote fair and transparent elections and the presentation of a campaign for the ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance by all African countries. Yayi Boni also invited SECAM to preside over the Conference that is being jointly organised by SECAM, the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM), Caritas Internationalis and CIDSE on the margins of the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20 to 22 June 2012 (Rio+20).
A delegation of African bishops of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) met with the chair of the African Union (AU) and president of Benin Thomas Yayi Boni yesterday. The latter condemned religious intolerance that has taken certain political undertones in Africa. Most of the challenges confronting Africa - Yayi Boni observed - are that of lack of respect for religious and political differences, good governance, democracy and free and fair elections, SECAM reported in an official statement sent to SIR detailing the content of the meeting which took place in Cotonou, Benin, yesterday. The delegation was led by Mgr. Nicodème Anani Barrigah-Benissan, bishop of Atakpamé and chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission of Togo. The bishops requested the Observer Status for SECAM at the African Union, considering the immense contribution of the Church to the development of Africa in terms of education, agriculture, health and in other socio-economic and political spheres. President Yayi Boni assured the delegation that he would get this request put on the Agenda of the next AU Summit scheduled for July in Malawi.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - Currently, European economy is in a slight recession. Recovery is expected to arrive by the end of the year. However, the GDP will only moderately grow, and the situation differs in each member state. The same applies to employment. In some member states, the number of unemployed people is increasing, especially that of young ones. EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn presents springs economic forecasts, which unfortunately confirm Februarys interim forecasts. Some positive signs come from a rise in world trade, while credit ratings are still bad. The document presented by Rehn consists of 182 pages, with tables, estimates and figures about the 27 member states and some major world economies. For 2012 - he states -, the GDP should slightly decrease in the euro-zone (-0.3%), while it will be zero per cent in the 27 EU member states. For 2013, the figures will be growing both in the EU and in the euro-zone (about 1%). These are just assumptions - the Commissioner confirms - based on regained market and consumer confidence. Nationwide, the situations of Greece and Spain are still very negative, while positive signs are coming from Poland instead.
An Italian family, a French family, a saint, a child, and the miracle that binds them together. This could sum up the story told to SIR (click here) by Adele Schilirò, mother of Pietro, a child who is in the fourth form, who has to receive his First Communion, who plays and simply lives, even if he is used to praying the Lord. When Pietro was born, he had very serious problems with his lungs, and the doctors had given his parents, Adele and Valter, very few hopes: after some initial confusion, his parents begged the Lord, unpretentiously, for a miracle through the intercession of Luigi and Zelia Martin, the parents of Saint Theresa of Child Jesus, who had also lost four of their nine children. The miracle of Pietro, who according to science should have died and instead, amidst the amazement of the doctors, nurses and even ourselves, started breathing on his own, led to the beatification of the Martins in October 2008. One of the things that most surprised Adele Schilirò was finding out that the Martins were very much like us. Holiness is within reach: just like us, they lived their everyday life, they had our own concerns... Finding them made us find out that marriage is truly a way to holiness.
Catechists are aware of the difficulties of the current situation marked by many elements of a break with the past and secularisation, but at the same time they are enthusiastic people, passionate communicators of the Gospel. This is what emerged from the XII European Congress for Catechesis which took place from 7 to 10 May in Rome. It was attended by about 60 delegates, including bishops, experts and national directors of offices and national bodies responsible for catechesis in Europes Bishops Conferences. A press statement released today by CCEE, the body which organised the congress, highlights that a clear element emerging from the meeting is that Christian initiation is certainly a personal experience, but cannot be fully experienced if it is outside the community. It is the community which catechises!. Furthermore, catechesis is not solely addressed to children, but is an experience which involves everyone. Catechists and ‘catechising are, at the same time, protagonists and objects of catechesis. Therefore, it is not possible to think of a catechesis without caring for the catechists, families and the community in general. Participants also recalled that faith can only be communicated if the person him/herself is living the faith. This is why catechesis is the fruit of a lived faith capable of transmitting the beauty of God. It is not just indoctrination but it is above all experience of God.