(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - A new Museum of Church Art was opened at the premises of the former Franciscan monastery in Pilsen, Czech Republic, today, at the presence of Mons. Frantisek Radkovskı, bishop of Pilsen, and mayor Martin Baxa. It offers exhibitions of historical paintings, liturgical vestments and documents, introducing various aspects of Christian life. The institution, open to the public daily except Mondays, is a successor of the former Diocesan museum and its layout is inspired by contemporary European expositions. One section is dedicated to the history of the Pilsen diocese and its patron, Bl. Hroznata. Among precious historical wall paintings, there is a unique cycle of St. Barbara and an oldest drawing of the city. The most valued part of the exhibition is a treasury with precious liturgical articles. The museum is under the management of the West Bohemian Museum in Pilsen and the project represents an integral part of the revitalization of the Franciscan monastery.
Obviously, the problems of the euro-zone will be in the limelight early next week: Through a firm action, state Van Rompuy and Barroso, the EU will manage to give a global response to the sovereign debt crisis, facing the challenges raised to the vulnerable countries, supporting growth through structural reforms and a differentiated, growth-boosting budget reorganisation, upgrading financial protection in the euro-zone, funding and recapitalising the banks, and improving economic governance in Euro-land. The European Union thinks that the Los Cabos growth action plan, which is to be adopted by the G20 leaders, should be a well-balanced mix of tax restructuring and structural reforms, which shall include well-balanced commitments by all of the G20 members, such as the USA, Japan and China, and which will be an effective framework in which all of the G20 countries will renew their commitment to reviving worldwide growth.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - We will repeat to the G20 partners that we are committed to protecting financial stability and the integrity of the euro-zone, and we will clearly express our will to keep Greece in the euro-zone, even if it has to keep its promises: the president of the Council of Europe, Herman Van Rompuy, and the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, will be, on behalf of the European Union, at the G20 summit due to take place in Los Cabos on June 18th and 19th, with the economic crisis, growth-boosting measures, development, food security, green growth and world trade on the agenda. We will tell our partners what we are doing to strengthen and further deepen our economic union until it is commensurate with our monetary union, point out the two EU leaders, who will also ask the other partners to admit their responsibilities and firmly boost a redressing of the world economy. (continued)
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - Solidarity is something we will increasingly need. After Haiti, I have travelled to lots of other places in which earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, draught, volcanic eruptions and landslides broke up the local communities and sorely tried the national capabilities, but quick international response saved lives and reduced sufferings and damage. With these words, the Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aids and Civil Response Kristalina Georgieva opened the Beijing ceremony for the presentation of the EU-China catastrophe risk management project. Since 1975, the number of catastrophes has increased five times, and the greatest number of victims was recorded in Asia, but no continent can be regarded as completely safe. In Europe, for example, 100 thousand people have died in the last ten years. I have been impressed at the efficiency and immediate response provided by China to the Haiti emergency, despite its remarkable distance and the lack of diplomatic relations between the two nations, so I am confident in this new partnership between Europe and China, because cooperation against catastrophes and prevention are fundamental responses for our safety and for the future. The EU-China emergency management institute has been unveiled for the occasion.
Taking action against poverty in the world: this is the appeal made by Mgr. Ludwig Schwarz, bishop of Linz, to the representatives of the Austrian government who will participate in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro on 20 June. 1 billion people suffer hunger, climate change goals are not met and the majority of the worlds population are excluded from a dignified development, reads a statement by KOO, the Coordination Office for International Development and Mission of the Austrian Bishops Conference, chaired by Mgr. Schwarz. We need to conceive a new economic model, because the current model is based on an unfair trade system and the over-exploitation of natural resources. It is the poorest in the world who bear the brunt of these practices, he declared, highlighting that we are heading towards an ecological disaster that can be prevented only if we act now. Yesterday KOO, alongside other Church and lay organisations which joined the initiative Rio+20 - Fairness in a Finite World, addressed a series of requests to Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich and State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Wolfgang Waldner who will participate in the Conference in Brazil.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - A new initiative in the run-up to the Earth Summit Rio+20 (Rio de Janeiro, 20-22 June) has been launched by Eurostat to raise public awareness of environmental sustainability. It is a guidebook called Figures for the future. 20 years of sustainable development in Europe (http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu), which discloses the EUs sustainable development indicators (Sdi). However, such results are seen through the eyes of a 17-year-old student, Anne, who is responsible for humanising the statistics provided by Eurostat by informing the citizens the world over about the breakthroughs of the last two decades. The document lists 70 indicators used by the European Union to measure sustainable development, and four videos support their contents. Through this Marta journalist character, the citizens are also led to learn more about such key issues as GDP growth, employment, energy, transport, regional inequalities, poverty and social exclusion, waste, climate change, globalisation, international community engagements, social ageing and green growth. The purpose of the publication is to make such problems accessible to all citizens, not just to specialists, through a more straightforward and understandable approach.
In an interview with a Brazilian TV, mgr. Chullikatt spoke of the role of the Church at Rio+20, mentioning three aspects of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. As to the economic aspect - the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations said -, the Church has always been interested in the problems of the poor countries. In addition, it is fully involved in the improvement of the social conditions in the world. We are also interested in the protection of the environment and we are concerned about the ecologic disaster in the Amazon region. We take care of nature, because, as Catholics, we believe in the protection of Creation. We have come above all to bring the voice of those who have no voice - mgr. Chullikatt explained -, especially the people of the poor countries.
The Holy See - through mgr. Francis Chullikatt, Permanent Observer to the United Nations - and the Brazilian Church will be at the UN Conference on environment and development (Rio+2) that is taking place in Rio de Janeiro over these days (until 22nd June), with leaders from all over the world gathered to speak of climate change and sustainable development. At the same time as the world summit, from today the Aterro do Flamengo will be hosting the Cùpula dos Povos, a social meeting with lots of events and debates, which will be attended by the archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilian Bishops Conference (Cnbb). The delegation of the Holy See is led by cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, archbishop of San Paolo. It is an important task - card. Scherer states - and an opportunity to express the position of the Church about the issues that will be dealt with at Rio+20. Today, the Peace Tent at Aterro do Flamengo will host a debate on the environment and social justice. The Church has its own thought, its own outlook on such issues - card. Scherer goes on -, a view of man, a position on economy, culture, life So, the Word of the Church, through the Holy See, can help serve and enlighten, and this is part of its evangelising mission. (continued)
Reflecting with honesty and responsibility on all the events of the past because only in this way can we heal the wounds and look to the future with optimism. This is what Patriarch Irinej, primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and Card. Josip Bozaniæ, archbishop of Zagreb, wrote in a joint statement released today following a meeting that the two prelates had with several members of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church and of the Croatian Bishops Conference on Friday, 8 June, at the Archbishops Palace in Zagreb. As Pastors of their faithful and citizens of their counties, participants in the meeting are aware that many issues of the past are still stumbling blocks. And they added: there is a need to shed light on the events because there is still insufficient awareness among the public opinion of both Serbia and Croatia. The bishops went on to express their support to the Commissions that are investigating communist crimes and working to mark the graves of the victims in a proper manner. In their statement they also called on all those responsible in political and public life, as well as everyone who has information about the people who went missing during the war in the 1990s, who have still not been found, to help find them or provide information about their graves. (continued)
This is an extraordinary act of humanity and of assistance to the families who have been living in pain - the Orthodox and Catholic bishops wrote -, some for more than two decades. To all those who mourn and suffer, the Bishops express not only their sorrow but also their human proximity, Christian solidarity and compassion. The process of healing the wounds of the past, however, has to take place in justice and equally, that is, in the light of the Gospel. At the end of the statement, the desire was expressed for the meeting in Zagreb to be a testimony to the common fundamental Christian values of both Churches. Following the meeting, the patriarch presented the cardinal with the cross that the Serbian Orthodox Church bestows on the most distinguished personalities; the Cardinal, for his part, gave the patriarch a unique work of art representing Our Lady of the Stone Gate, patroness of the City of Zagreb.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - This study points out that European integration cannot be pursued without considering the public opinion, to avoid any attempt at withdrawing onto itself, which would be harmful at a time the EU so badly needs to fit in a global context. Today, the association Notre Europe, founded in 1996 by Jacques Delors, former president of the EU Commission, published a study (www.notre-europe.eu) by Daniel Debomy, called Do Europeans still believe in the EU?, based on quantitative and qualitative analyses to measure the development of public opinion about the EU. The author lists four broad periods in connection with the citizens support and closeness to the EU integration process: A record-breaking feeling of belonging to the European project in spring 1991, that is, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall and in the run-up to the Maastricht Treaty, a drop of tension in 1997, an incomplete recovery till 2007, that is, after the accession process, and a new collapse as from 2008. The study shows that generally Europeans have understood the need for a strong, united Europe, and the majority of people are aware of the existence of a historical, cultural community that shares the same values. There are, however, some disillusioning factors which differ from one member state to another.
Bravely taking position in support of a strong Europe. This is the wish expressed by mgr. Robert Zollitsch, president of the German Bishops Conference (Dbk), in his speech in Düsseldorf yesterday, on the occasion of a conference organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Mgr. Zollitsch urged to make Europe a continent of hope. Brave, responsible Christians are needed, who translate the message of the Gospel into topical issues, so that Europe, as a Home, will be stable and weatherproofed, he stated. In this age of rescues and debt cuts, we cannot help questioning ourselves about what a sympathetic, free Europe exactly means, said mgr. Zollitsch, worried about the nationalist drift shown by some European peoples in the current crisis. On the contrary, a united Europe is the only European successful model that has given our continent not only peace and freedom but also more and more wealth, freedom and even a single currency. In addition, mgr. Zollitsch urged politicians to work harder to increase peoples acceptance of Europe: in this respect, the crisis of the euro might lead to strengthen Europes unification and the relations between the European peoples.
(From SIRs correspondents in Dublin) - A wall, in a place of prayer, blooming with hundreds of intentions written on colourful post-its and in all languages. The 50th International Eucharistic Congress (Iec 2012, Dublin, 10-17 June) is about this as well, at least as told to SirEurope by Colette Furlong, Irish national director of the pastoral service. The preparations for the Congress, Furlong explains, have offered the Irish devotees an opportunity to meet and talk about life, about what happened over the last few years in the Church and in society, as well as to share their experiences about values, what is really important in anyones life, how to resume walking. In Ireland, she adds, for such a long time we have accepted the existence of God without looking for Him. Over these days of the Congress, instead, we have seen deep, fruitful faith with our own eyes. I have been amazed at the huge number of people who went to the catechesis and to the workshops to listen, learn and share. We have learnt a lot from these stories that have made us aware of the fact that Christian life is not a private matter, but it is personal and, as such, it is also communal. We have to meet more often and publicly testify to our faith. In other words, this Congress has given us a reason and strength to resume walking.