Germany, France, England

Germany: “bringing the light across Europe”On the occasion of the Karlsfest, the traditional feast of the city of Aachen, celebrated January 31st, Msgr. Robert Zollitsch, President of the German Bishops’ Conference, called for courageous Christian witness across Europe. “Europe doesn’t need resigned pessimists but enthusiastic gold-hunters, not people who complain but people who transmit spiritual light, people capable of identifying God’s signs in the world”, said Msgr. Zollitsch in the homily delivered during the Mass celebrated in the Kaiserdom of Aachen. “Faith in God, hope, the willingness to help and the love for our neighbour are the most precious tokens that we Christians have to offer to the future development of society, to create a Europe that is worthwhile being lived and is tailored on the individual”. Msgr. Zollitsch guarded against considering Europe only a monetary and economic union. “Christian values must be highlighted and spread. When freedom is exchanged for arbitrariness, when the praise of God remains silent in the heart of society and the fundamental harmony of faith is lacking, to the benefit of finances and careers, societies risk a ‘heart failure'”. “Europe lives on Christian values”, he declared. “Too many politicians in Europe are convinced they can take and implement their decisions without God. It’s a significant step for the affirmation of a society that is increasingly inclined to promote the practice of agnosticism and religious indifference”, Msgr. Zolltish deplored. Our times, he said, “need convinced and convincing Christians, who are realistic and have faith in God”.France: the bishops’ reservations on the law on “integral veils” French bishops conveyed their reservations on the conclusions of the French parliament’s Commission regarding the ban on the integral veil for Muslim women. The effect of the law on Muslim women would be the “opposite” than what legislators expect. This is the view conveyed on February 1st in a note released by Msgr. Michel Santier, bishop of Créteil, President of the Council for inter-religious relations, on behalf of the French Bishops’ Conference. The bishop conveyed his “regret” over the fact that the parliamentary Commission “didn’t deem it necessary to listen to the view of Christian and Jewish religious leaders when other currents of thought were being acknowledged”. “The letter I wrote to the president of the Commission would at least have deserved an answer”. In the note the French bishop recalled what the president of the national Council of Muslim cult Mohammed Moussaoui declared. Accordingly, “the integral veil is not a religious sign and it is not prescribed by the Koran”. The bishop remarked, “reason should prevail” over this delicate issue. Firstly, he remarked, “very few” women wear an integral veil. Furthermore – adds bishop Santier – “provisions must not go in the direction of stigmatizing Muslim faithful”. Finally, he added, “I am very sceptical on a law which does not solve the question”. Indeed “if the bill were to be adopted, Muslim women wearing the integral veil could decide to no longer go out of their homes thus experiencing further marginalization. The end result would be the opposite, leading to an increase in the number of women wearing this particular veil”.England: the youth conference On February 27 in London, at the “Friends Meeting House”, some 700 youth leaders, chaplains, teachers and priests from all over the Country will attend the most important meeting of English youth in the past years. The Congress, organized by “CYMFed”, the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation for England and Wales, will focus in the theme “We have set our hope on the living God”. Headline speakers include the Dominican theologian Timothy Radcliffe, abbot Christopher Jamison and the archbishop of Westminster, Msgr. Vincent Nichols. Bob e Maggie McCarty, who worked in close contact with the youth in America for many years, and whose vision helped shape the creation of the CYMFed, are also among the keynote speakers. Their suggestions will guide participants during the congress. Panellists will also present a survey commissioned for “CYMfed” by the Young Christian Workers (YCW), the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. The results of the survey will provide new insights into Catholic youth’s understanding of the world and their faith. The conclusions, presented by Danny Curtin, YCW President, with Abbot Christopher, will set the grounds for youth ministry.

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