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Portugal, Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine
Portugal: celebration of the Day for Africa
Celebrating the “Day for Africa”, inaugurated on May 25 1963 with the Organization for African Unity Foundation, the responsible of the Congregation of Consolata missionaries in Portugal invited the to Church step up efforts for disadvantaged communities in the continent. “Many populations are still excluded, and others’ very survival is at risk – said father António Antunes -, we must accompany their daily lives by sharing their moments of happiness, hope, sadness and worries. There can be no mission without presence”. According to the Portuguese provincial of the Consolata, whose charitable works are carried out across nine countries – Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, south Africa, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire and Gibuti – “it is important to enhance the peculiar features of each African community. “Very often the tendency to view this reality from a European perspective prevails. Conversely, it is crucial to preserve knowledge, experience and autochthonous cultural richness”. A missionary is called to be “the voice of those who have no voice, since in Africa a large part of the population is not considered, nor are they recognized their fundamental rights” father Antunes added. In the message for the “Day”, also the president of the Republic of Capo Verde, José Carlos Fonseca, pointed out that “as regards democratization and the respect of human rights, to date the continent has made little progress”.
Austria: Churches and religious communities’ platform
The religious communities recognized in Austria have created a “Platform of Churches and religious communities”. It was referred by Austria’s Catholic press agency Kathpress. The platform, established in Vienna on May 24 in the seat of the Austrian Bishops’ conference, marks a further step in the cooperation between religious communities, especially concerning themes of political and juridical nature. The platform is open to all 14 Churches and religious communities recognized by the Austrian state. The meeting focused on an exchange of views on the political and legal developments that have repercussions on religious communities. Participants addressed the question of religious freedom, while the encounters scheduled to take place on a regular basis will be devoted, inter alia, to the contribution of Churches and religious communities to peaceful coexistence in Austria. The inaugurative session for the launch of the platform was attended among others by the Secretary General of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, Peter Schipka, evangelical Lutheran bishop Michael Bünker, the president of the Islamic faith Community Fuat Sanac, rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister for the Jewish Community and the president of the Buddhist Community Gerhard Weißgrab.
Slovakia: a Forum of Christian institutions
A cooperation among Christian institutions of Belarus and Slovakia was the main topic of the panel discussion organised by the Forum of Christian Institutions (FKI) in Bratislava on 22 May, with participation of civil activists and representatives of non-governmental organizations. The FKI presented a project of partnership with renowned publishing house and lay institution Pro Christo from Minsk. “Our main aim is to provide the Belarussian activists to adopt necessary skills and experiences needed for organization of civil activities. Thanks to this project, the Catholic faithful will get acquainted with our know-how on the procedure of transformation of their religious motivation into a civil engagement”, explained Katarina Hulmanova from the FKI, adding that there is an opportunity to cooperate in three concrete areas – agenda of human rights, family and social matters. Representatives of the Pro Christo publishing house will visit Slovakia at the beginning of July to discuss the details.
Ucrainw: Ugcc and development strategy until 2020
The Secretariat of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations is concerned over the information that all religious organizations should confirm their registration in the registry offices and over the recent legislative initiatives in this regard. The matter was discussed at a session in Kyiv held under the chairmanship of protopriest Oleksa Petriv of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on 16 May. According to the Institute for Religious Freedom, the representatives of the denominations decided to forward a letter explaining their attitude towards the state registration of religious organizations to the Ministry of Culture and State Registration Service. In their opinion, the procedure “should not be made more complicated in order not to burden tens of thousands of religious communities with requirement of repeated registration”. The Secretariat of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations also expressed its concern over the Bill No. 10221, stressing that it envisages contradictory alterations to the Law On Freedom of Worship and Religious Organizations.