(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - An international scientific conference entitled II Vatican Council: Gifts of the Holy Spirit - Church Mystery - Human Testimony will be held on 31 May-2 June at the premises of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the II Vatican Council. According to the Information Department of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, participants will be addressed by a direct witness of the Council, bishop Andrii Sapeliak. They will also have the chance to discuss the main documents, resolutions and ecumenical character of the II Vatican Council, as well as its influence on the development of the theological tradition of the Church, liturgy, ecumenical relations and dialogue as a strategy of inter-religious relations. The event is organized by the UCUs Institute of Ecumenical Studies, the UCUs Institute of Religion and Society in Lviv, and the UCUs Institute of St. Clement the Pope in Rome.
I think keeping such bonds is a good thing - card. Tukson insists - to encourage the Syrian government to abide by the point of view of the international community. We must find a diplomatic way to peace, because in any war bombs will indiscriminately kill both military and civilian people. I pray that Kofi Annan may be successful in his attempts at mediation. The symposium, that brought to Vatican City about fifty people from different parts of the world involved in peacekeeping work (Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Somalia, D.R. of Congo, Colombia, Myanmar, Uganda, Philippines, etc) is part of the initiatives for the 50th anniversary of John XXIIIs encyclical Pacem in terris, due to be celebrated in 2013. The purpose of the meeting - card. Turkson explained - was to share methods to fight violence, reconcile groups and build peace, not least through inter-religious dialogue. Michel Roy, secretary general of Caritas internationalis, placed emphasis on the importance of joining forces worldwide. Now more than ever, all the components of the Church need to join forces to promote peace, which must not be imposed from above but must be born from the ground.
Protecting the population is a governments main duty. I pray that the Syrian government may listen to the UN special envoy, Kofi Annan, who is working hard to try to bring peace to Syria. We cannot risk another international war again, as in Libya. This was said to SIR today by card. Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on the occasion of the press conference that marked the end of the symposium New challenges for peace-building Catholics, organised in the premises of the Vatican ministry along with Caritas internationalis, the Catholic Peace-building Network and the Kroc institute for international peace studies of the University of Notre Dame (Usa). Card. Turkson spoke of the Popes grief about the recent massacre at Hula, in which 180 people died, including lots of children. We have to do all we can to avoid another international war, pointed out the cardinal, who is from Ghana like Kofi Annan. And then, speaking of the expulsion of the Syrian ambassadors from some Western countries: This is not the time to cut down diplomatic relations. Those involved in mediation work are aware of the great value of keeping the bond alive, otherwise how can one send a strong message to the government?. (continued)
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - We looked deep into the situation of the member states, and now we propose an effective treatment to boost growth, competitiveness and employment, stated Barroso, as he presented the recommendations to the EU member states. There are recommendations for every single country, but they are part of a common vision and approach to overcome the crisis. The States have taken last years recommendations seriously, and the results begin to be seen, but there is still a long way to go. Barroso speaks in particular of measures for the completion of the single market, for services, digital technology, research, for launching EU businesses and products on the international markets. He calls for investments in infrastructure and training, so as to defeat youth unemployment, that has reached dramatic, unsustainable levels. The president of the EU Commission then makes three requests to the council of the heads of state and government that will be convened in late June: Firstly, we ask you to fully subscribe to these recommendations. In addition, we must find agreement on a growth-boosting initiative, that must include project bonds, more credit from the EIB, and an optimisation of the structural funds. Finally, a fact needs to be accepted: the EU budget must grow so that more investments may be made in specific projects for economic development and employment.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - There is no magic wand, and solving problems takes time and determination. But the EU Commission thinks that Europe can overcome the current crisis; a process needs to be firmly started with a view to increasing economic and financial integration. And the euro needs to be protected, as so far it has brought benefits and can bring in more, in the future. José Manuel Barroso, president of the EU Executive, presents the recommendations to the 27 member states and a specific one about the euro-zone to reduce budget deficit, implement reforms to improve competitiveness and employment, and boost growth. Then, such recommendations will be reviewed by the EU Council in late June and eventually launched in July. The situation of the national deficits is getting better, but a lot more needs to be done, says Barroso, who gives a political interpretation of the documents submitted today, consisting of over 1,500 pages. In addition to the recommendations, the EU Executive has drawn up a number of documents about the 12 states that have the greatest macroeconomic imbalances and others about excessive deficit procedures, which, we can say, will not concern - Barroso explained - Germany, Bulgaria and Hungary. First and foremost, we have to build confidence in the markets, the citizens, internationally, for growth to come true. (continued)
According to Robert Fico, the government is exploring the relation of an intrastate law with the Basic agreement between Slovakia and the Holy See, according to which several Catholic feast days have been established as regular public holidays. Decision about cancellation of some public holidays as work-free days is yet to be made. Another topic discussed was the issue of Church financing. Last proposal in this regard was made by former minister of culture Daniel Krajcer who suggested financing Churches and religious associations through the model of tax assignation, which was considered unacceptable by the representatives of the Catholic Church.
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - The current development of society, proposals for consolidation of public financing, and possible reduction in the number of state holidays were among the topics discussed yesterday during the meeting between prime minister of Slovakia Robert Fico and the delegation of the Bishops Conference of Slovakia led by its president, Mons. Stanislav Zvolensky. The premier informed representatives of the Catholic Church about the suggestion of employers to reduce the current number of state holidays in Slovakia. The prelates expressed their disagreement in regard to this matter, emphasizing the importance of holidays for the life of society. We understand them as spiritual roots necessary to the actual existence of society, as a great opportunity to motivate people who gain spiritual energy during work-free days to be able to cope with the difficulties of everyday life, explains Mons. Zvolensky. (continued)
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - The tenth Open days, the European Week of Regions and Cities, jointly organised by the Committee of Regions and the EU Commission, is set to be a record-breaking one. The event will take place in Brussels from 8th to 11th October, and 219 local boards from 33 countries have already joined in. Every year, the Open days attract 5 to 6 thousand people, and this figure might be even higher, this year. In addition, the organisers pointed out that the participants include 50 large municipalities, including 21 national or regional capitals, and 169 regions that are representative of Europes diversity: cantons, counties, self-governing regions, departments, districts, länder, provinces. In the ten-year-long history of this event, the one that is being planned now will therefore be one of the most crowded. The calendar (www.opendays.europa.eu), which is being developed, includes lots of events: an opening session at the European Parliament at the same time as a plenary session of the Committee of Regions; over one hundred meetings, such as workshops, workgroups and debates; the Meeting Point, with workgroups on participatory local development; an exhibition on Interreg IV C; a TV studio; several events for people to get to meet each other.
(Milan, from SIR correspondent) - When families are destroyed, then the country is destroyed, which is why I am here in Milan, because I believe that only families and education can change the situation in our country. At the 7th World Meeting of Families that is taking place in Milan, SIR news agency (click here) interviewed Mons. Martin Igwe Uzoukwu, bishop of Minna (Nigeria), who witnessed the death of 43 people and the injuring of many others on Christmas day when a bomb blasted near St. Teresas church in Medalla at the end of Mass. On the same day, other bomb attacks were carried out against Christian churches, all of which were claimed by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Since then, the bishop has been committed to the healing of persons and families: I am raising funds to rebuild St. Teresas church although the most important thing is to rebuild the Church-People of God. I wrote a prayer in several local languages, and every day priests read it out during mass to remember what happened and the victims. Mgr. Uzoukwu emphasised that there are many problems in the country, due to a raising corruption but it is positive that Nigerian people have strong family values: in the family love grows and people ‘blossom. There is then a pro-life culture in Nigeria which rejected, for instance, the legalisation of abortion.
The rejection of all forms of violence is a pre-condition for a Syrian-led political process which is an integral aspect of the Annan Plan, said the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which met today in Paris under the chairmanship of Pietro Marcenaro (Italy, SOC). In a statement issued at the end of the meeting, the Committee reiterated its strong condemnation of the massacres perpetrated last weekend near the town of Houla, where more than a 100 people, mainly women and children, were savagely and summarily executed. There is clear evidence that the Syrian government bears the responsibility for these massacres which were condemned by the United Nations Security Council and by many European and other like-minded states that are expelling Syrian ambassadors as a result. We believe - PACE Committee continued - that it is still possible to make the Annan Plan work, even if, after the acceptance by all parties of the ceasefire, more than 1,000 persons have been killed and the other key points in the plan have yet to be implemented. How many more ‘last chances should be given to Mr Assad' Time is running out. This afternoon the Sub-Committee on the Middle East will discuss the situation with Ambassador Hitti, Director of the Mission of the League of Arab States in Paris.
As part of the VII International Meeting of the Families, tomorrow (at 01.00 pm), at Milans Fair, the Council of European Bishops Conferences (Ccee) will present the new book published by Cantagalli, called I vescovi europei su: demografia e famiglia in Europa (The European bishops about demography and family in Europe), edited by Giancarlo Blangiardo and Simona Maria Mirabelli. At the presentation, Ccee will be represented by card. Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and deputy president of Ccee, whose opening speech will be followed by the presentation of the book by one of its editors, Giancarlo Blangiardo, demography professor and director of the Department of Statistics at University of Milan-Bicocca.
Do not let yourselves be discouraged by difficulties and trials but live every situation united to Christ, who takes upon Himself all the suffering and sin of the world to bring light, hope and redemption, giving us comfort amidst the storms of life, despite our unfaithfulness and denials. The Pope made this invitation today during his general audience catechesis, focusing his remarks on the theme of consolation and on dialogue between the faithful yes of God and the trusting amen of the faithful. Reflecting on the second letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, which was sent to a Church that had questioned his apostolate many times, Benedict XVI remarked that God, through Christ, comforts us in our trials, so that we too may comfort those who are suffering: the example to follow is that of St. Paul who never lost heart despite the countless trials, difficulties and sufferings he had to face. To proclaim Christ, he had to suffer persecution and was also arrested and put in prison, but he always felt inner freedom.
Card. Antonelli did not forget to mention the current, difficult social scenario: The current crisis, which is not just an economic crisis but also a relational, cultural and religiousone, is the source of a malaise that had been dormant for some time, it challenges us to revise the market dynamics and lifestyles, it calls us to acknowledge the primacy of the human being and solidarity, of good relations and cooperation, despite the dangers that threaten society nowadays. In this scenario, he concluded, the VII International Meeting of the Families aims to send a message of hope, based on lots of positive phenomena that can still be found even now and on Gods triple blessing, accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all men.
The theme chosen by the Pope for the VII International Meeting of the Families (Milan, 30 May - 3 June), The family: work and celebration, concerns three human values that the Scriptures present, since the beginning, as Gods three blessings, related to mans origin: three gifts that are original, fundamental, essential to man and society. This has been mentioned this morning by card. Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, as he opened the International Theological Pastoral Congress as part of Family. Only man - the cardinal said - makes a family, because he is the only one who can freely love. Only man works, because he is the only one who can reason, plan and choose. Only man knows the meaning of celebration, because he is the only one who can be pleased at the beauty of being, of living, and of living together. This is, card. Antonelli explained, about three areas of communication and inter-human relations that concur to define peoples identity and build their happiness. (continued)
It is in the relation between family and work that rest comes in, which promotes balance, gives a pace to affections and work, because it is the space of re-generation, of re-creation, and it is accomplished when it turns into a celebration, that is, rest, a free, communal and joyful break. The archbishop of Milan said that the Holy Fathers choice to convene us from all over the world to reflect on the fundamental aspects of human experience tells a lot about the irreplaceable resource that the family is, for anyone and for the entire society. The Congress will enable us to understand the meaning of the family in the many cultural ways it has come to express itself. Actually, this VII World Meeting of the Family is, first and foremost, an event of testimony, to each other and to all of our human brothers.
Welcome to Milan. Our city, the Milanese diocese and all the regional dioceses welcome you and thank you wholeheartedly for being here. For centuries, our city has naturally been generous and friendly. I am sure all of you will find that out, over these days. With these words, card. Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, officially opened the International Theological Pastoral Congress as part of the VII International Meeting of the Families (Milan, 30 May - 3 June). The archbishop mentioned the successful intuition of the title - The family: work and celebration - that blends together the main aspects of everyday life for all of us, for anyone, that is always related, connected, with other people. The family makes it possible to understand and develop the two fundamental differences of man: the sexual difference between men and women, and that of the different generations of children, fathers, grandfathers. By guarding these two differences in unity, the family is the first, irreplaceable school of communion. Work is the sphere in which every man, every woman tells about themselves and cooperates with their own skills, not least with their efforts, to the creative action of the father and the redeeming action of Jesus. (continued)