European dioceses, Italy, Belgium

Dioceses and the European Year for Combating Poverty In a letter dated December 10th addressed to all European bishops and European religious representatives Msgr. Adriano H. van Luyn, bishop of Rotterdam and COMECE president (Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union), and Father Erny Gillen, President of Caritas Europe, invite European dioceses to make a “symbolic and significant gesture” next February 14 or during the same week, when the Pope is expected to visit Rome Caritas centres in view of the celebration of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. The EU is promoting a public-awareness campaign at European level. To this regard, Caritas centres in Europe “are planning to seize this precious occasion to highlight the indispensable moral duty of being jointly responsible for others, notably the weak and poor brackets”, is stated in the letter. “Combating poverty is a crucial commitment for Churches and for Christians. By loving the poor they know that they are loving Christ who is lives within them”. Benedict XVI’s visit to the Caritas hostel in Rome exemplifies the intention “to ideally meet all the poor in Europe and kneel before them, setting the example for us all”. In Italy COMECE’s call was met by Msgr. Mariano Crociata, CEI Secretary general, who a few days ago sent a letter to all the bishops asking that “during the same day or week, a similar gesture may be made across European dioceses by the respective bishops, as a concrete token of vicinity and sharing of the Pope’s gesture in harmony with the European campaign for combating poverty”. Msgr. Crociata said he hopes that “our Churches will experience greater reception of the needs of our brothers and sisters in dire conditions”. The Italian Caritas is expected to hold a press conference to present the initiatives on January 21.Italy: “digital witnesses”, appointment in AprilA meeting that “will bring together the realms of communication and culture” eight years since the first edition of “Media Parables”, the meeting organized by the Italian Bishops’ Conference in 2002 which today is viewed as a “landmark” of Catholics’ commitment in the realm of communication. “Digital witness” is the theme of the encounter, due to be held in Rome next April 22-24 2010. The event, states the final statement of the 60th CEI general assembly (November 9-12 2009), lies “in ideal continuity with the similar event held in 2002. After eight years and on the threshold of the decade dedicated to education, there is the need to update contemporary understanding of communication phenomena, whose rapid development was boosted by the Internet, which innovated dated media channels such as cinemas, radio and television”. Msgr. Domenico Pompili, director of CEI’s national office Social Communication, said the term ‘witness’ “recalls an attitude that is neither prejudiced nor resigned before the changes that are taking place before our own eyes, while the adjective ‘digital’ brings to mind the new environment, marked by immediacy, multiplicity and pervasiveness”. Four panel lectures will be held during the three-day meeting that will be opened by Nicholas Negroponte, one of the most distinguished world scholars in new technologies and the Internet. In the last session, participants will be received in audience by Benedict XVI in the Paul VI Vatican hall. For information log on: www.chiesacattolica.it/comunicazione.Belgium: “in the world but not of the world””Many of our contemporaries are no longer familiar with the Gospel message. Also its wording is no longer understood. Have we perhaps returned to the early years of the Church marked by a very low number of Christians in a pagan and indifferent world? Today’s world is simply ignorant. But what can be done?”, asked Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop of Malines-Bruxelles who exhorted the faithful to “seriously take part in contemporary cultural developments, namely science, its progresses, its extraordinary technological developments, its philosophy, its art, its sensitivity. We will certainly need the gift of discernment – continued the archbishop – since not all that is placed on the market of our culture has the same value. But how can we discern if we remain on the margins”. “Christians experience this paradox – the Cardinal underlined – they are in the world but not of the world”. “However it is in this position that we can bring to the world a hope of resurrection”. It is therefore the Christians’ responsibility to speak out “firmly and unbendingly, never with superiority or contempt. We must speak like Jesus, speak with our contemporaries to serve and not to dominate”.

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