Germany: Jewish-Christian fraternity week
A solemn ceremony that took place on March 11 in Leipzig marked the opening of the 60th Jewish-Christian fraternity week in Germany. For the occasion, some 1000 initiatives aimed at deepening the dialogue between Christians and Jews are planned nationwide. The ceremony was attended by representatives of civil society, politicians and Church dignitaries amongst whom figured Msgr. Heinrich Mussinghoff, president of the Sub-Committee for Religious Relations with Judaism of the German Bishops’ Conference, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Dieter Graumann, and the president of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany Aiman Mazyek. At the inauguration, the president of the Council of the German Evangelical Church Nikolaus Schneider, was awarded the “Buber-Rosenzweig” medal by the German Coordinating Council of Societies for Jewish-Christian relations, in recognition of Schneider’s “relentless commitment” for a “rethinking and a reappraisal of Jewish-Christian relations”, states the Council’s motivation for the prize. Schneider urged the Churches to speak out against racism and anti-Semitism: “The ideal place to do so is the market, the public realm, the work with the youth, not the protected realm of the Church”, he said. The Archbishop of Berlin cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki called for “thorough inter-religious sharing”. “The youth and children in particular, can no longer count on a homogeneous social or ecclesiastic environment as they did in the past. It is no longer possible to proceed along traditional ways”.
Portugal: Caritas Lisbon in difficulty because of the crisis
The diocesan Caritas in Lisbon announced a situation of great difficulty and a shortage of tools to respond to increasing aid requests. “We are confronted with ever more critical cases, and we don’t have the means to provide relief to all of them”, said the president José Frias Gomes: “The reality of those whom we meet on a daily basis sharply worsened, and now the greatest problem is their suffering and the risks run by entire families”. Aid is provided by resorting to the funds collected by the diocesan Caritas, to which in this period is added also the Diocesan Solidarity Fund, representing the donations of the “Lenten renunciations”, while families in need are identified with the help of parish bodies, social services, and movements for the support to the poor. “After the most serious cases are reported by these bodies, Caritas sends customized aid and financial support”, explained the Caritas officer. “Our reception service takes place in the seat of the diocesis, where is located a ‘solidarity shop’ for the distribution of clothing, toys and schoolbooks to the needy”. The Catholic institution in Lisbon also runs a “social canteen for the elderly” in the municipality of Cascais, in conjunction with social and community centres, linked to an “old age home, recognized as an example by local public services”. Ultimately, in the framework of the “Caritas Week” that has just ended, the association held a meeting of all volunteers. “In this difficult situation – underlined the Caritas chair – it is a necessary initiative aimed at stepping up fraternity also among those who devote their time to others, despite their profession and the commitments of their family”.
Ukraine: new soviet documents about Patriarch Josyf Slipyj
A two-volume book entitled Patriarch Josyf Slipyj in Soviet Security Services Documents (1939-1987) was presented on 7 March at the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv. Compiled by the professor Volodymyr Serhiichuk of the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, it is the first publication of documents of the Soviet Security Services regarding the life and activities of the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). Director of the Institute of Church History of UCU, Andrii Mykhailenko, stressed that it represents a great contribution to the source base with regard to the study of the figure of Josyf Slipyj. “As we analyze the documents we can see the conflict of two absolutely different and irreconcilable worldviews. Slipyj used normal terminology clear for the Church and Ukrainian environment, and the other side viewed it as espionage and treason”, commented the historian. According to the author, the book includes protocols of interrogations, reports, arrest warrants, lists of confiscated property and other documents, showing the true attitude of the Bolshevik regime to the UGCC and its efforts to destroy it.