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Belgium, Ukraine, Slovakia, Spain
Belgium: healing and preventing abuse
The inter-diocesan Commission for the protection of children and young people, established by the Belgium’s Bishops’ Conference took full office at the beginning of July. Past January the publication of the document “Hidden suffering. Towards a global approach of sexual abuse in the Church” marked the beginning of a process of “recognition and reparation towards the victims of sexual abuse in an ecclesial or pastoral context”, states a press release issued by the Bishops’ Conference. A few months ago were also activated contact centres for abuse survivors along with the arbitration function proposed by the parliamentary commission. Abuse survivors can submit a petition for recognition, reparation and economic reimbursement to the contact centres and to the Arbitration Office. Now the new Commission has several different tasks: “to support the ten local contact centres; implement the lines of action already adopted to improve prevention of abuse and misconduct; ensure efficient communication between Church officers and the social structures working in the areas of prevention and abuse; to draw up annual reports on the complaints submitted to monitoring centers and next steps made in every single case”. The Commission is made up of two referent bishops (Msgr. Harpigny and Msgr. Bonny), two representatives of religious orders, doctors and psychologists, managers of the contact centres, coordinators of youth pastoral care. The Commission will operate in direct contact with some of the victims, their representatives or delegates. The document can be viewed on the website of the Commission: http://minisite.catho.be/abusdansleglise[>>].
Ukraine: seminarians on migration challenges
A special course on missionary pastoral care regarding migrants for 68 seminarians ended on 1 July in Ivano-Frankivsk, organized by the Pastoral-Missionary Department of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). Bishop Josyf Milian, director of the department, reminded participants that although immigrants come from their native land in search of easier bread-winning, the situation in the new country is often equally difficult. The prelate emphasized that from the beginning of the migration process, the Church, as a mother, has sent its representatives to assist people in foreign lands to “find spiritual strength”. He explained the need to have a separate structure within the Church focusing solely on migrants, adding that “a factor of migration represents not only a challenge but also an opportunity for positive changes”. Participants in the course listened to facts regarding the actual situation of the pastoral care of migrants in the exarchates of Lutsk, Odesa-Crimea and Donetsk-Kharkiv. Apart from lectures, the program included common prayers, liturgies, presentation of testimonies and experiences of missionaries from Ukraine and abroad, as well as practical workshops in groups.
Slovakia: Catholic media in the Holy Land
The Slovak Catholic media plan a joint pilgrimage to the Holy Land next year. Directors of the Press Office of the Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia, Catholic Newspaper, Radio Lumen and Television Lux have come to this decision during their regular meeting last week. The event is a response to the note for the forthcoming Year of Faith, inviting the faithful to visit places of Christian worship in the Holy Land. “We agreed to undertake the pilgrimage on 6-13 April 2013 under the guidance of the president of the Council for Social Communications of the Bishops’ Conference, Mons. Stanislav Zvolenský”, says Jozef Kovácik, spokesman of the Conference, explaining that the aim of this pilgrimage to sacred places is to “renew our roots and strengthen our faith in the Triune God”. The event will be part of the range of activities planned by Catholic media in the country during the Year of Faith.
Spain: kick off to the campaign “Aborto cero”
On July 5 the mobilization campaign “Aborto cero” (zero Abortion) was launched in Madrid. The campaign also includes initiatives throughout Spain to remind Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of his electoral commitment in favour of the protection of life and maternity. The campaign is promoted by the platform Derecho a Vivir (Right to live), which for many years has been actively engaged in the defense of new life and maternity in Spain. The date has not been chosen by chance: on July 5 recurs the second anniversary of the new law on abortion, whose adoption, recalls Derecho a Vivir, caused 230.000 abortions. The spokesperson of the platform, Gádor Joya handed in the seat of the People’s Party in Madrid the manifesto “Aborto cero”, addressed to premier Mariano Rajoy. During the summer and partly in the autumn, the pro-life movement will collect one million signatures in support of the manifesto calling for the repeal of the law on abortion replaced with the adoption of a law on human life and in support of maternity, as promised by the PP during the electoral campaign. The pro-life movement doesn’t exclude that the campaign may be concluded with a large demonstration next fall in Madrid.