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Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia
Portugal: “life week” just opened
The new “Life Week” opened in Portugal yesterday (until 20th May) and, with it, the country’s Bishops Conference aims at calling families to “political involvement in defence of their own rights and duties”. Quoting the appeal made in 1991 by John Paul II, the National Department of the Family Pastoral Service (Dnpf) issued a document, which states that “awareness raising and common ethical efforts are needed to promote an effective pro-life strategy. We must join forces to build a new culture of life”. Focussed on the “Committed to Life” theme, the Life Week revolves around John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium vitae”. Speaking to “families as the protagonists of social change”, Dnpf’s document calls for a “reflection on the culture of life that currently prevails in individual Christians, within families, groups and diocesan communities, to promote a serious, extensive cultural debate”. This year’s theme must be “a basis for an essential investigation, consisting of moments of individual prayer, praying in groups, in families and in communities. Everyone is responsible for having life, as God’s gift, worshipped, loved and promoted”. The Week’s documents can be consulted at www.leigos.pt/semanadavida/2012/index.html[>>].
Czech Republic: bishops on family institution
“The family institution has no alternative”, affirm Czech and Moravian bishops in their pastoral letter written on the occasion of the forthcoming VII World Meeting of Families in Milan. According to their words, family is a place where people adhere to the “sense of responsibility”. Indeed, “the freedom, justice and tolerance” of our civil society depend on the level of education given to children by their parents. “Individualism and desire for personal benefit, typical of our times, make our families fragile”, write the prelates, emphasizing that the first victims of such attitude are children, lacking positive examples of behaviour. In spite of this tendency, the members of the Bishops’ Conference of the Czech Republic see hope in the fact that according to recent statistics, 90% of citizens in the country declare finding a suitable partner for a lasting relationship to be “the highest value of their lives”. The problem is that not many of them are “willing to undertake the journey leading to this goal”. The bishops express gratitude to all those who “are not afraid of marriage and having children”, accepting all challenges associated with it. “Family becomes fruitful by balancing work and rest, providing tenderness and love, effort and unselfishness”, concludes the letter, inviting the faithful to support the institution of family with prayers and initiatives.
Slovenia: burning of the cross, “provocation of hatred”
“An act of public incitation and provocation of religious hatred and intolerance through desecration of religious symbols of Christianity”, “an attempt at stigmatization of Christians in our society” and “an effort to deliberately offend religious feelings”. The Commission for Justice and Peace of the Slovenian Bishops’ Conference (CES) described in these words the “christianophobic” burning of the cross at Strunjan, on 10 May 2012, by Dean Verzel, an artist who set the same cross on fire ten years ago and was prosecuted for this act, but acquitted. The cross was erected by seamen and fishermen in the year 1600 to fulfill a vow and obtain divine protection on the sea. Last year, it was restored by the local residents in preparation for this year’s celebration of the 500th anniversary of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Considering that the same person set the same cross on fire ten years ago – the statement signed by Mgr. Marjan Turnšek, metropolitan archbishop of Maribor and president of the Commission, reads – we see this as a blatant despicable act, morally and legally unacceptable in the cultural space of Slovenia”.
Slovakia: pilgrimage of Radio Lumen
“We like Slovak people and Slovakia”. With these words the archbishop of Krakow, cardinal Stanis³aw Dziwisz, welcomed 20.000 participants of an international pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland, organized by the only Slovak Catholic Radio Lumen. Eucharistic celebration on 12 May was presided over by the auxiliary bishop of Košice, Mons. Stanislav Stolárik. He exhorted all believers to “transform the world” with everything that rises from their faith and culture. “As a part of preparation for this pilgrimage I asked you to pack all your hardships, sufferings, hopes, pains and requests, and empty your ruksacks here to be able to take in a great amount of divine mercy”, said Mons. Stolárik. From this year’s 8th edition of the pilgrimage of Radio Lumen, the Slovak chapel of the sanctuary in Krakow will preserve the relics of St. Andrew Zorard and St. Benedict, given by the bishop of Nitra, Mons. Viliam Judák.