The Shoah - the cardinal said - is certainly one of the major motivations leading to the drafting of Nostra aetate. Koch reiterated that the declaration remains the crucial compass of all endeavours towards Jewish-Catholic dialogue, and after 47 years we can claim with gratitude that this theological re-definition of the relationship with Judaism has directly brought forth rich fruits. Over the last few decades, card. Koch went on, Nostra Aetate made it possible for groups who initially confronted one another with scepticism to step by step become reliable partners and even good friends, capable of coping with crises together and overcoming conflicts positively. Then in describing the progress made in dialogue, the cardinal spoke of the contribution John Paul IIs papacy gave to Jewish-Catholic dialogue. And he added: Against the background of these theological convictions it cannot surprise us that Pope Benedict XVI carries on and progresses the conciliatory work of his predecessor. But, while Pope John Paul II had a refined sense for grand gestures and strong images, Benedict XVI relies above all on the power of the word and humble encounter.
Today, cardinal Kochs speech was about the Councils Declaration Nostra Aetate, which is the fundamental document and the "Magna Charta" of dialogue between the Catholic Church and Hebraism. The cardinal pointed out that the Councils document has not developed in a vacuum, since on the Christian side there had already been approaches to Judaism both within and outside the Catholic Church before the Council. But - the cardinal added - after the unprecedented crime of the Shoah above all, an effort was made in the post-War period towards a theologically reflected re-definition of the relationship with Judaism. Koch went on: Following the mass murder of the European Jews planned and executed by the National Socialists with industrial perfection, a profound examination of conscience was initiated about how such a barbaric scenario was possible in the Christian-oriented West. Then the cardinal asked a number of questions to the assembly in Rome: Must we assume that anti-Jewish tendencies present within Christianity for centuries were complicit in the anti-Semitism of the Nazis?. And then: Among Christians too there were both perpetrators and victims; but the broad masses surely consisted of passive spectators who kept their eyes closed in the face of this brutal reality. Why did Christian resistance against the boundless brutality of the Nazi crimes not demonstrate that measure and that clarity which one should rightfully have expected'. (continued)
The scourge of anti-Semitism seems to be ineradicable in todays world. So, in view of such developments the Catholic Church is obliged to denounce anti-Judaism and Marcionism as a betrayal of its own Christian faith, and to call to mind that the spiritual fraternity between Jews and Christians has its firm and eternal foundation in Holy Scripture. This was said by card. Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians and the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with Hebraism, who spoke, today, in the Aula Minor of the Papal University San Tommaso dAquino, for the yearly Berrie Lecture promoted by Centro Giovanni Paolo II for inter-religious dialogue. In his long, far-ranging speech, the cardinal stated that, even today, the age-old Marcionism and anti-Judaism re-emerge with a vengeance again and again, and in fact not only on the part of the traditionalists but even within the liberal strands of current theology. Because of this, the demand by the Second Vatican Council to foster mutual understanding and respect between Jews and Christians must continue to be accorded due attention. That is the indispensable prerequisite for guaranteeing that there will be no recurrence of the dangerous estrangement between Christians and Jews, but that they remain aware of their spiritual kinship. (continued)
The commitment of every baptised to the new evangelisation is extremely important. Our homeland too needs a new apostolic and missionary impetus, Benedict XVI continued. Only a humanity in which there reigns the ‘civilisation of love will be able to enjoy authentic and lasting peace. As Church we have the duty to proclaim the good news of the Gospel in an open and unequivocal manner. Then the Pope addressed a special thought to the young. I met many of you in Madrid last year on the occasion of World Youth Day, and some weeks later in Freiburg on the occasion of the Feast of St. Vigilius. Do not be afraid to conform your lives to Jesus Christ. And help each other to grow in faith. Be witnesses of the Gospel among your friends, at school and at work. Just as Christ loves the Church, so we too want to love the Church. Identify yourselves with the Church, because the same Christ identifies Himself with the Church, and because in this way, He identifies with each of us. Benedict XVI also recalled the Year of Faith, proclaimed to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, expressing the hope that the Katholikentag may be a celebration of faith and may help people to rediscover the faith of the Church in its freshness and beauty.
Starting again means to start moving, to walk in response to a desire for change and renewal. This is the message sent by Benedict XVI to the president of the German Bishops Conference, Mgr. Robert Zollitsch, on the occasion of the opening of the 98th Katholikentag in Mainz (16-20 May), an event that has been organised by German Catholics since 1848 to reflect on the Church and the socio-political situation of the country. Pope Benedict XVIs reflection for this year is inspired by the theme: Daring a new beginning. We can start again - Benedict XVI wrote - only if we are ready to get rid of the old and welcome in the new. But what does this mean for the Christian community, which, in the words of St. Paul, is the mystical body of Christ? Christ is the head and we are the members. We cannot manipulate the head of the Church, but as members, we are all called to reorient our faith and bring it in line with the head. Renewal can only be fruitful if it flows from the newness of Christ. The Pope recalled that each of us is called to take care of their own life of faith, to live it and make it grow, bearing in mind that we are not alone in our faith, isolated from others: we believe in the community of the Church. For each baptised person, starting again means to start again in and with the Church. (continued)
Marriage is found to be a strength in its ability to take care of other people and hand down values: for example, married people scored higher (6.97 on a 0 to 10 scale) in helping people solve their problems and in any other form of care involving children or elderly people; note also that families that state they are religious scored above average in pro-social areas. The Spanish see the family as a basic asset of society, because it hands down to its members those attitudes, behaviours and aspirations that make social and political cohabitation possible. For most respondents, the original family handed down such values as honesty and respect, trust and a spirit of sacrifice, and 78% of them believe that the family contributes to the development of society. Likewise, Brazil gave a very high score to the familys ability to hand down such values as honesty, compliance with the law, trust and acceptance, the ability to help, and a spirit of sacrifice. In commenting such figures, Brazilians wrote that the family is an asset, because it is the place of gratuity and gift and, without the protection, promotion and care that the family provides to ill, elderly and unemployed people, society would break down.
The Mexican survey found that the family is regarded as the main source of relations of trust and mutual support to solve the daily or unexpected problems that may happen in life, as well as the provider of emotional support, and as the main provider of child care and education; 50.8% of respondents also consider it to be the main political socialisation space and lastly the most important source of help for young people in any problem, from school to work, home, illness or love. The Italian survey also showed that families with two or more children have a better relational atmosphere but fewer economic means than singles or childless families, and it is not actually viewed by society as a social asset. Even if the respondents proved that its ability to listen, take care and look after other people, as well as to hand down such values as honesty, trust and a spirit of sacrifice, are more marked in adults with children who have had married parents. (continued)
Is the family an asset for society? This is the question that prompted six sociological surveys proposed by the Pontifical Council for the Family, that asked the Bishops Conferences of several countries to organise some scientific work teams to work on the issue, asking questions to representative samples of the population, aged 30 to 55 (click here). Mexico, Italy, Spain, the United States, Poland and Brazil answered the call, and one of the first findings, which is quite surprising, is that a normally composed family, that is, a family composed of a father, a mother and at least two children is actually societys best asset: the value of such surveys lies in the fact that this outcome was provided by empirical figures. The purpose of the initiative, apart from the figures, is to offer a method, especially to family associations, to talk with politicians, decision-makers and media professionals that may be more based on facts than on abstract ideas. (continued)
Helping young people overcome their fear of any commitments that require stability. This is the challenge the Church is facing in Europe as a result of the drop in the number of marriages and birth rates. It was stated by card. Péter Erdő, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and president of the Council of European Bishops Conferences, in an interview with SIR Europe (click here) just before the World Family Meeting in Milan. The archbishop commented on the figures of a survey that was presented at the plenary assembly of Ccee in Zagreb, which found that the birth rate is less than 2.0 per fertile woman nearly everywhere in Europe. In addition, the number of children born out of wedlock is increasing, and in some countries of Northern and Eastern Europe it exceeds 50% of all births. All commitments that require stability - the cardinal commented - are viewed as threats by lots of young people. Maybe not explicitly but silently a mentality remains that only sees instant gratification as the most important thing and has trouble seeing itself as part of a broader life plan, to project itself into the future. The Church is therefore responsible for transmitting faith because - the archbishop said - if God exists and if human life is not a chance but is part of Gods plan, then a realistic plan for everyones life is a plan that consists of and falls within such Gods plan.
Lectures at the event will be given by president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi; Prof. Samir Khalil Samir from the Pontifical Oriental Institute; apostolic exarch of Athens, Dimitrios Salachas; archbishop of Prague, cardinal Dominik Duka; archbishop of Krakow, cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz; Prof. Christian Hannick, professor emeritus at the Julius-Maximilians University of Würzburg and many other guests. They will present materials on topics like the historical and political context of the mission of Ss. Cyril and Methodius among the Slavs; theological and pastoral questions in the light of their work; relation between translation of the Holy Scripture and development of national cultures; ecclesiological vision of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in regard to ecumenism; and continuity of Cyrilo-Methodian ideas and tradition of Slavic nations.
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - The Pontifical Oriental Institute and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome will host an international conference about the life and mission of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, on the occasion of the 1150th anniversary of their arrival to the region of Great Moravia. The event will be held on 25-26 February 2013, under the patronage of cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and archbishop Cyril Vasil, secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The arrival of Ss. Cyril and Methodius among our predecessors and the use of their language in liturgy helped extraordinarily in spreading the faith among Slavic nations and shaping their culture, affirmed cardinal Tomko, expressing hope that the conference in Rome would contribute to better knowledge of their mission and work. (continued)
A process that still goes on, that is totally open, and for which it is not reasonable to predict now the time and ways it will go on. This is how father Federico Lombardi, director of the newsroom of the Holy See, defined the case of the Lefebrians, as he explained the release from the Vatican Newsroom to the press today. It will not be a very short time or a last line, as it might have seemed, he added about the outcome of todays meeting, which was attended by 20 to 30 people. In particular, the Vatican spokesman pointed out that a distinction needs to be made between the proceedings that are going one based on mgr. Fellays reply and the review of the positions taken by individual, authoritative bishops, which, as stated in the release, shall be separately and individually addressed, before the Popes final judgement which as usual will close the matter once and for all.
As already mentioned by some news agencies, the ordinary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Church met today and discussed the Society of Saint Pius X as well. This has been written in a release from the newsroom of the Holy See, which reports that, in particular, the Congregation reviewed the text of mgr. Bernard Fellays reply, received on 17th April, and made some comments, which will be taken into account in further discussions between the Holy See and the Society of Saint Pius X. Because of the positions taken by the other three bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X, their situation shall be separately addressed, this is the other important news contained in the release. (continued)
The 98th German Catholics Day is opening in Mannheim today. The meeting, which takes place every two years, will go on until Sunday 20th May. Approximately 60,000 people are expected to come and attend over 1,200 events. They include: biblical meetings, celebrations, forums, concerts and exhibitions. Guests will include politicians and leaders, such as Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal President Joachim Gauck. Theologians, development aid experts, political commentators and economists will give lectures, and lots of German bishops and cardinals will be there too. One of the most interesting topics will be the future of the Church. The event is organised by the Central Committee of German Catholics (Zdk) and the host diocese, which for Mannheim is Freiburg. Daring a new beginning is the theme chosen for this years event. According to the secretary general of Zdk, Stefan Vesper, interviewed by the German Catholic news agency Kna, the slogan applies as much to the Church as to society.
According to Barroso, the EU is determined to promote sustainable development, improve the resilience of farming and reduce poverty, promote democratic values and the rule of law, and strengthen international stability. Also in the run-up to the G8, the president of the EU Council, Herman Van Rompuy, said, instead: This summit happens at a time of dramatic economic and political change all over the world. The remarkable preparations carried out by the US presidency will make us focus on the most pressing international issues. Economy, energy, food security, foreign policy and security issues will be the focus of our discussions in Camp David. The EU is fully committed to the G8 process and is willing to give its contribution to all the points on the agenda, especially to boost powerful growth and employment in our economies.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - At the G8 in Camp David, the European Union is going to give a proactive contribution to the search for common solutions to the most pressing international challenges, such as world economy and food security, energy and climate, regional and political developments, and security issues. Today, the president of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the president of the EU Council, Herman Van Rompuy, illustrated a package of effective proposals that, on behalf of the 27 member states, they will submit to the summit chaired by US President Barack Obama. The general topic of the meeting will be Joining forces, and a few hours later it will be followed by the NATO summit in Chicago on 20th and 21st May and one month later by the G20 in Mexico City. José Manuel Barroso stated: I cannot wait to attend the next G8 in Camp David. The EUs message will be loud and clear: Europe is firmly determined to keep to its roadmap in its global strategy to get out of the crisis and start growing again. Our response is mainly based on two factors: healthy public finances and growth-boosting measures, because this is the only way to reinstate confidence. We will also talk about climate and energy - the president of the EU Executive added -, food security and such key international issues as Afghanistan and the Arab Spring. (continued)
In our prayer we often ask God to free us from physical and spiritual suffering, and we do it with great trust, Benedict XVI continued. However, we often get the impression of not being listened to, and when this happens, we run the risk of losing heart, of not persevering. Actually, no human cry to God goes unheard, assured the Pope, who pointed out that prayer does not exempt us from trial and suffering, but enables us to face and endure them with renewed strength, with the same trust of Jesus. Prayer inspired by the Holy Spirit makes us live every day our lifes journey, with its trials and suffering, with full hope and trust in God, the Holy Father remarked. According to the Pontiff the prayer of the faithful also opens up to the dimensions of humanity and the whole creation because it is never closed in upon itself; rather, it is open to sharing the suffering of our time, thereby becoming intercession for others, a channel of hope for the whole creation.
Freedom can never be identified with licentiousness or the possibility to choose evil. The Pope said this during his general audience catechesis today, focusing his remarks on prayer in the Letters of St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, a tireless evangeliser, who teaches us that prayer encompasses and permeates all the situations of life, both personal and that of the communities to which he writes. Through prayer - Benedict XVI explained - we experience the freedom given by the Spirit: true freedom, which is freedom from evil and sin for the good and for life, for God. For St. Paul to let the Spirit dwell in us, so that He may pray with us and in us and impress Christs face on our being means to become truly free from any form of slavery which constricts our hearts; it means to become able to live in love for God and for others. (continued)
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - Before the next parliamentary election, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) will address the believers with a call to make a conscious choice for the sake of implementation of the Christian values, said His Beatitude Sviatoslav Schevchuk, the head of the UGCC, in regard to the election due to take place in Ukraine on 28 October 2012. As he recently stressed in a TV interview for the Ukrainian Channel 5 http://5ua/ , the election is an important, non-ordinary event and the future of each citizen depends on it. We know that Ukrainians are tired of democracy. But we are calling on them to make their choice and not to escape from it. For not to make a choice is a great evil, a manifestation of civil immaturity, affirmed His Beatitude Sviatoslav, inviting people to vote for the implementation of Christian values in public and social life. Afterwards, he emphasized that the UGCC will not allow its clergy to participate in the election campaign: We want to help to build the insitute of civil society and be active not in political but in public life.
On 30th May, the EU Commission will submit its economic recommendations for the 27 member states. On 31st May, a referendum will be held in Ireland about the ratification of the austerity treaty. The EU Commission said it expects a positive outcome. June will see elections in Greece as well as legislative elections in France (10th and 17th June). From 20th to 22nd, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will host the UN conference on sustainable development called Rio+20. After a number of EU ministerial meetings and parliamentary sessions, a European Council will be held on 28th and 29th June to take decisions about economy.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - The European and international agendas are being reshaped by the latest international events while the EUs political agenda is getting busier. First and foremost, Greeks shall go back to the polls because of the failed attempts at forming a government after their parliamentary election: they should be voting again on 10th or, more likely, on 17th June. But the first international event is the one of 18th and 19th May with the EU delegates (EU Council and EU Commission) attending the G8 in Camp David. The main topics are four: economy, security, energy and climate, food security. On 21-24 May, Strasbourg will be hosting the plenary session of the European Parliament while on 23rd May Brussels will host the meeting of the heads of state and government of the 27 member states for a special European Council: economy and Greece in the foreground again. As to this a shared position was taken by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the new French president François Hollande who met on 15th May for their first bilateral summit and confirmed the need for budget austerity as well as the will to add growth to the fiscal compact; respect was expressed for the Greeks will to go back to the polls. The two leaders also discussed Eurobonds and confirmed their commitment for Athens to stay within the Euro-zone. (continued)