Rediscovering a treasure” “

A pastoral letter on the liturgy to be published on 23 November " "

The plenum of the German Episcopal Conference ended in Fulda at the end of September. The questions discussed included Europe, the European Constitution, the protection of life, the family and the recent sentence on the “Islamic headscarf”. European Constitution and Christianity. Endorsing the concept of the EU as a “community of values”, the bishops “approve” the fact that the draft Constitution expressly recognises “the identity of the Churches” and that its preamble contains a reference “to the religious traditions of Europe and their value”. On the other hand, “due to the deep roots of European culture in Christian faith”, they consider “unacceptable the absence of any explicit reference to the Christian tradition and to God”. It is essential that Europe’s “values” be “confirmed and revived” – say the German bishops –, and the “crisis of values in which Europe is trapped” be opposed by “a new impetus that may give citizens grounds for hope”. Defence of life. The bishops reacted “with astonishment” to a report of the Commission for social questions, health and the family of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe on the question of euthanasia, in which the members of the Council of Europe are recommended to avoid in future applying punitive sanctions against active euthanasia, and appeal to German MPs to oppose in a “determined manner” “any realization and promotion of the depenalization of active euthanasia”. In a statement Cardinal Lehmann, president of the German Episcopal Commission, also recalled what he had already said in recent days about research on embryos, and once again stressed that “human embryos cannot become a ‘raw material'”. Family. Concerning the social system and solidarity between the generations, Lehmann declared that the “fundamental prerequisites for inter-generational solidarity are the family, family life and the transmission between the generations of elementary concepts and convictions of ethical, intellectual and spiritual type”. Liturgy. The Episcopal Conference announced a pastoral letter on the liturgy that will be read out in all parishes on the feast of Christ the King on 23 November. Recalling Vatican II’s Constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium” of 1963, the letter intends to exhort Catholic communities to “rediscover the treasure of the liturgy and revive its missionary significance”. “Islamic headscarf” and pupils’ rights. After its “first reaction” on 25 September to the sentence of the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe in favour of the right of a teacher – a public officer in Germany – to wear an Islamic headscarf, the Episcopal Conference has once again pronounced its view on the sentence, declaring that “in actual fact the question still remains open”. The bishops consider it essential that “thorough analysis [be devoted] to the motivations of the sentence” and hope, “at this point”, for a revision of the “legislative political tendency favoured by the sentence on the Crucifix” [which had permitted the removal of the Crucifix from classrooms at the request of non-believing parents]. The Episcopal Conference announces its own “active participation” in the “wide and open” discussion that will follow the sentence, since its repercussions also affect “the general conditions for a successful integration of those of Islamic faith in Germany”. In this regard, the bishops recall that “we must take into account not just the rights of Islamic teachers, but also those of Islamic pupils. The adoption of a view of the person that may favour equality between men and women in our society, whether they be of Christian or Islamic religion, is also needed”.

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