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Portugal, Germany, Belarus, Slovakia
Portugal: renewed pastoral action for sick people
In Fatima the archbishop of Braga, Msgr. Jorge Ortiga, denounced "profit-geared concerns" as well as "exaggerated red-tape" characterising Portuguese health apparatus. During the Mass celebrated a few days ago on the occasion of the 24th national Health Pastoral Care meeting, Msgr. Ortiga reiterated that "Christians should not ignore other’s people’s suffering" and that "what may appear as the signs of a drifting away from God should be compensated by gestures of affection and care". The head of the Commission for Pastoral Social Care and Human Mobility said that Church support must go beyond the sacraments administered by priests: "A lot has to change in the pastoral care of the suffering ones; also lay people can and should save the sick by means of what can be summarised as the virtue of compassion". Having reminded that "solitude is the most painful social disease", Msgr. Ortiga conveyed his sorrow and said he regrets that "such a great number of men and women give in to their impairment, indisposition or disease. They cease believing in their own capacities and in God". Before such resignation "Church action in the area of health should become a path for a new evangelization, notably a dedicated tool capable of conveying the beauty of the love of God".
Germany: Catholic literature prize for the youth
The 23rd Catholic Prize for Child Literature was awarded on May 3rd in Hamburg. The German Bishops’ Conference (DBK), in the words of the president of the Publications Committee, Msgr. Gebhard Fürst, nominated French writer Anne Laure Bondoux as the winner. Anne Laure Bondoux is among the most appreciated writers of books for children in France and according to the bishop, "with his book ’the time of miracles’ has left a wonderful trace to address the small and big questions in life". Msgr. Fürst underlined the meaning of religious formation for children as an opportunity "to experience what it means organizing one’s life with others on the basis of one’s religious belief". "The book, conceived for children under the age of 12", continued the bishop, "is a novel that opposes hope to contempt for human beings and desperation". In a message to DBK and to the jury, the author of the novel, unable to attend the ceremony for the presentation of the prize, said she is "very touched": "I didn’t imagine that the book itself could become a kind of miracle, but that’s what happened".
Belarus: the meeting of the Commission for families
The "spiritual adaptation" project, the National pilgrimage of families, preparations for the World Meeting of Families in Milan: these were among the topics discussed at the second meeting of the Commission for the Family of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Belarus at the end of April. Under the guidance of Mons. Antoni Dziemianko, executive bishop of the Minsk-Mohilev Archdiocese, participants summed up the results of a prayer initiative in favour of the protection of life entitled "spiritual adaptation" in Belarussian dioceses, and finalized the program of the 4th National pilgrimage of families to the sanctuary of the Mother of God in Gudogayi. The Commission for the Family will mark the 10th anniversary of its establishment on 11 June and participants in the meeting discussed how to celebrate it. They also decided to hold a two-day symposium on the theme "Divorce and security of the family unit" in October. Details are to be discussed at the next meeting of the Commission, planned on 5 September in Byaroza.
Slovakia: formative role of Catholic schools
"The role of Catholic schools is not only informative but also formative", said Mgr. Bernard Bober, archbishop-metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Košice and president of the Commission for Catechization and Education of the Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia, evaluating the results of the plenary session of the Association of Catholic Schools of Slovakia (ACSS) that took place last week. "We need to provide formation and prepare people for life in a Christian spirit", added the archbishop, commenting on the perspectives for the future. According to Jan Dravecky, director of the School Office in the region of Spis, the journey has not been always easy: "The fact that in Slovakia we have had 15 ministers of education so far, testifies to an educational system which is not very stable. The development of legislation was slower than the development of our needs". Jan Horecky, president of the ACSS, affirmed that despite unfavourable conditions, Catholic schools often have better results in education than public schools and in the following phase they must "deepen their roots in the Church, in its mission, they need to realize their identity and adjust their program in accordance with twenty years of experience".