According to the CCEE Presidency, this conflict can only bring inevitable grief, destruction and serious consequences for the noble Syrian people. War - they stressed - is a dead end. Happiness can only be achieved together, never through the misuse of power by one group against another. The next few days - the statement reads - can be decisive for the outcome of this crisis. Hence the exhortation to Europes Christians to increase their commitment in prayer for peace in that region, with a view to finding a solution to the crisis, fair and constructive, respectful of everyones interests. Thus, CCEE concluded, it is necessary to find once again the room for a dialogue of peace; it is never too late to understand each other, to negotiate and build together a common future. We are sure that, with Gods help, good sense may prevail and produce peaceful living in harmony, in truth, justice, love, freedom and respect for all minorities, especially the nations Christians.
We hope that the countrys authorities, the people and all believers, of whatever religion, may look towards God and find the path which will bring an end to all hostilities, lay down arms and embark on the path of dialogue, reconciliation and peace. This is the hope expressed by the presidency of the Council of European Bishops Conferences (CCEE) in an official statement released today concerning recent developments in Syria, where the countrys Defence Minister and his Deputy and another top security official have been killed yesterday. For some months - President Card. Peter Erdo and vice-presidents Card. Angelo Bagnasco and Mgr. Jozef Michalik said - the Church and the whole international community has been following with great anxiety and profound sadness the escalation of violence in Syria, where weapons seem to have replaced dialogue. (continued)
Terrorism is a murder that hides behind a pretext. It is a plague of our times. History will keep condemning it. Thorbjørn Jagland, secretary general of the Council of Europe, firmly condemns the terrorist attack on a bus in Burgas, a Bulgarian city on the Black Sea, in which yesterday 8 Israeli tourists, many of whom were young, were killed and another 30 were injured. The CoE secretary expressed his deepest sympathy with the victims families as well as with all the people injured in the attack. Jagland then welcomed the Bulgarian authorities firm intention to find the authors of this execrable deed and deliver them to justice.
The recently concluded General Chapter of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X has addressed a Declaration regarding the possibility of a canonical normalization in the relationship of the Fraternity and the Holy See. While it has been made public, the Declaration remains primarily an internal document for study and discussion among the members of the Fraternity, the Holy See Press Office said in a communiqué released today. The Holy See - the communiqué reads - has taken note of this Declaration, but awaits the forthcoming official Communication of the Priestly Fraternity as their dialogue with the Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei continues.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - I would like culture to become one of the main propellers of growth and employment in the cities and regions of the European Union. Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, president of the Spanish region Murcia, is the new president of the Committee of Regions (CoR), appointed today by the plenary assembly of the EUs advisory board. Culture is one of the strengths of the programme of the Spanish politician, who will be at the helm of the CoE until 2015, even if, in his inaugural address, Valcárcel Siso gave pride of place to the economic crisis and support to recovery, by promoting local and regional bodies as factors of change. The new president would like to fill the gap between different levels of governance in the EU-27, increasing the local and regional bodies ability to promote growth, as well as helping strengthen the economic union. Cities, regions and other local boards are - in his opinion - the most suitable organisations to promote economic growth and assess the results of the EUs funds and projects, as they are responsible for the implementation of two thirds of public investments. Valcárcel Siso then insisted on support to culture as one of Europes aggregating factors, sports, sustainable development.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - Sprucing up tourist facilities, adopting new technology, developing tourist-boosting policies: these are some of the measures that the EU Commission thinks are needed to promote tourism in the EU, which accounts for a remarkable share of the EUs GDP and provides millions of jobs. Such position has been taken as a result of a report submitted by OCSE (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, with 34 member states mainly across Europe and North America), revealing that international tourist flows are on the rise again. Figures show that even in 2010 the OECD member states saw a 4% rise in arrivals on the previous year, accounting for 66% of the worlds tourism. The rise in tourist flows in the EU is instead 2.7%. But western tourism must reckon with fiercer competition from the emerging countries, with such sought-after destinations as Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia and South-Africa. In addition, specific challenges to European tourism are thrown for example by the customers average ageing and by the consumers new demands. A specific problem is the training of the staff working in this industry, an area in which the OECD too called its member states to take measures (academic education, vocational training).
A barbaric act, a bad sign that shows that the situation is getting worse in the Middle East; it shows the worsening of relations at a time, like the present, of deep concern for the Region. Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custodian of the Holy Land, used these words to condemn the massacre in the Bulgarian city of Burgas on the Black Sea, where a bomb blast hit a bus killing 8 Israeli tourists, most of whom young people, and injuring 30. Sadly, the Custodian told SIR, stereotypes have prevailed once again: to be Jewish and Israeli means to be an enemy, a rival, which is the most barbaric thing to me. We must strongly condemn this despicable attack, making a distinction between local political issues and acts that are unjustifiable. For the Custodian, in this critical situation affecting the whole Middle East, particularly Syria, the Popes visit to Lebanon in September may be a strong sign of hope. However, we will have to see what is going to happen over the next month that may be crucial for Syria, which is the hub of the region. I do not know if this will put at risk Benedict XVIs visit to Lebanon; this may be a possible scenario, Pizzaballa explained. The Popes trip in such a difficult time would be a sign of strong presence, but it is reasonable to wait until next month.
Israeli MP Michael Ben Ari of the opposition National Union party tore up a copy of the New Testament to protest against the members of Knesset, Israels Parliament, having been sent this book, which such MP defines as despicable. In his opinion, the New Testament would be responsible for the death of millions of Jews during the Inquisition, and thats why the text and the people who sent it should both be thrown into the litter bin of history. The Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land did not take long to condemn the deed and said they are outraged at this deed, which is disrespectful of Christians, despised in their faith. The Catholic Ordinaries Assembly condemns Michael Ben Aris deed and offensive comments. At the same time, the Catholic Ordinaries also criticise the method of the Israeli Biblical Society. One cannot send the New Testament in the post, out of respect for Gods Word and for those who do not share the same faith. Inter-religious dialogue can bear fruit only through words and gestures of mutual respect.
The German law on subsidies to asylum seekers should be repealed. This is the opinion of mgr. Norbert Trelle, president of the Immigration Commission of the German Bishops Conference (Dbk). Mgr. Trelle said as much yesterday, after the federal Constitutional Court had ruled that the amount set for subsidies to asylum seekers and tolerated refugees in Germany was unconstitutional and had to be increased. On several occasions, Dbk has criticised the law, recalled the bishop, because, in our opinion, it acts more as a deterrent than as an appropriate subsidy to asylum seekers and refugees. Such service should not only take care of their physical existence but also of their human relations and a minimum involvement in social and cultural life. According to mgr. Trelle, law-makers should completely repeal the law, because there is no compelling argument in support of the fact asylum seekers and tolerated refugees should be treated any differently from those who receive welfare subsidies. In the reasons it gave, the bishop points out, the Constitutional Court expressly mentioned the protection of human dignity as sanctioned by the German Constitution, stating that human dignity cannot be relativised based on immigration policy principles.
Huge figures about the attendance of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress (Iec 2012), which took place in Dublin from 10th to 17th June. One month later, such figures have been disclosed by Anne Griffin, the general manager in charge of the Congress staff. An event that took three years preparations and was attended by 95 thousand people registered in the official programme, plus the millions of TV viewers who followed the event on radio, TV and web broadcast, the thousands of people who flocked to Dublin to attend the events and the people who took part, instead, in the local events promoted by their parishes. On the days of the Eucharistic Congress, the website too - www.iec2012.ie - was visited over 2,500,000 times, in the 150 pages in 7 different languages provided to virtual pilgrims. In addition, 9 bloggers told about the event, going around every day to collect opinions, feelings, experiences, reflections and anecdotes. Now, the website contains pictures, video interviews, videos of the highlights of the event as well as the speakers texts. Speaking to all the people involved in Iec 2012, Anne Griffin concludes: We thank the volunteers, the sponsors, and the staff. But above all we thank the people who have been with us and who helped turn the 50th International Eucharistic Congress into such a wonderful experience.
European youth from Spain, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K., we are gathered here today with the Community of SantEgidio in Auschwitz to commemorate the horror of the Shoah. In front of the monument in memory of the victims of the Nazi extermination of millions of men and women - Jews, gypsies and others, members of unwanted groups, we want to halt today, 16th of July, to reflect and to remember. This is the text of the appeal made by 400 European young people who participated in the pilgrimage to Krakow entitled For a world without racism and violence with the Community of SantEgidio from 14 to 18 July. On Monday 16 July, the young European pilgrims visited the camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, where they launched the appeal. Participants in the pilgrimage said about the Shoah: This is not an event of a distant past that does not concern or affect us. No, we believe this tragedy concerns us very closely, for it all happened in Europe. The fear is that since it happened once, it can happen again. (continued)
Every time a foreigner suffers violence in our cities, every time a person encounters contempt due to his descent, religion or being different, a road of hatred and violence is prepared in the hearts of people, young people said. Therefore they want to tell their peers and the following generation of the importance of excluding any form of racism, discrimination or contempt against man and against life. In Auschwitz, young people walked across the tracks of the final journey of many people to salute the victims of blind violence, deprived of any human dignity and even of life. We are convinced - they said - of the absolute value of life and of the triumph of forgiveness over revenge. We want to defeat evil with good. Therefore we actively want to contribute to a Europe were everybody can live together: a world without racism! A world without violence!. We leave Auschwitz more united - young Europeans concluded -, determined to convince our peers with the force of love to do better and to turn our countries into a Europe of peace.
Laicism, gay marriage, palliative care and euthanasia. These are the points addressed during a meeting between card. André Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris and president of the French Bishops Conference, and the new president of the Republic, François Hollande, at the Elysée Palace on Tuesday 17th July. We had - said archbishop Vingt-Trois to the newspaper La Croix - a very free exchange of opinions about the general situation, and president Hollande proved to be very sensitive to the Catholic arguments. At the meeting, they discussed palliative care, because that morning president Hollande had gone to see the hospital Notre Dame-du-Lac, specialising in palliative medicine. He told me - the cardinal tells - about his respect for what he saw and how impressed he was at the intensity of the experience you have in such homes. Then, as to gay marriage, the president of the French Bishops Conference was keen on pointing out to president Hollande that marriage is not a way to acknowledge the authenticity of the bond between two people who love each other. It is a social institution that makes sure children are raised as best as possible. So, such institutes must not be confused. So, the result of the talks was a positive one. President Hollande - card. Vingt-Trois actually said - relies on the fact that we, as well as the others (Jews, Muslims, Protestants, Orthodox, Buddhists), express our opinions and say what we think is important for the future of the country.
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - Active ageing and opportunities offered to elderly people is the main theme of an educational campaign launched by Caritas Slovakia this week. The project entitled To age doesnt mean to stop living consists of several areas, taking into account that seniors are the largest group of recipients of charitable services provided by diocesan offices of Caritas. The campaign wants to point to the fact that although ageing brings worsening of health, there are many ways to cope with it. Even small changes in our surroundings can bring big improvement to suffering elderly people, explains Radovan Gumulák, general secretary of Caritas Slovakia, affirming that charitable facilities can not only help with dignified conditions of life during its last period, but also provide possibilities of living it actively. The campaign supported by the Government office of Slovak Republic wants to join initiatives associated with the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012. Caritas Slovakia provides various types of services and care to more than 5,000 seniors every year. For more information: www.charita.sk/seniori.
(Sir Europe - Brussels) - It is called The European economic crisis and its consequences, and it is the fifteenth dialogue between the churches and the institutions, promoted in Florence, Italy, in September by the European Peoples Party. It is a yearly event that follows the meeting of the bureau of the main party in Strasbourgs EU Parliament, due to take place on 6th and 7th September in Florence, with such guests as the president of the EU Council, Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barroso, the head of the EU Assembly, Joseph Daul, the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, the Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, the Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Talks with religious communities will then take place on 7th and 8th September. The event will include several reports and workshops, with Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, Jewish and Muslim leaders. The opening address will be given by the vicar general of the diocese of Florence, mgr. Claudio Maniago; the archbishop mgr. Salvatore Fisichella will give a talk about the new evangelisation; mgr. Piotr Mazurkiewicz, secretary general of Comece (Commission of the EU Bishops Conferences), will take part in a debate. Further information at www.eppgroup.eu.