Spain, France, Germany, Slovenia

Spain: responsible use of the earth’s resourcesAn appeal to “review the use of the earth’s resources given by God to the benefit of all mankind and not for the wealth or profit of the few” has been made by the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, in the pastoral letter he has written to coincide with the launch of a new campaign against hunger by the Catholic NGO Manos Unidas, which will begin on Sunday 14 February. “The reckless use of the goods of the earth – writes the cardinal – has an undeniably negative effect that impacts with particular force on the less developed peoples, with the result that they suffer with particular virulence the consequences of the selfish behaviour of the more developed countries”. The cardinal urges Catholics to “gain a renewed awareness of the urgent moral need for renewed inter-generational solidarity, especially in relations between the developing and the highly industrialized countries”. The defence of the Creation, observes Cardinal Rouco Varela, “cannot be consigned to the margins of the problems that beset the human person, centre of the universe, as is generally the case”. Therefore, he ends his letter, “the Pope’s words that reveal the contradiction of current positions in the field of the defence of ecology, when they are not accompanied by the defence of the human person, are particularly illuminating”.France: time of evangelization”In these tormented times”, the bishops of France, through the pen of Bishop Claude Dagens, propose “reasons to support in a clear and brotherly manner the practice of evangelization” in a world that is strongly marked by a profound search for the meaning of life. So said the spokesman of the French Bishops’ Conference, Mgr. Bernard Podvin, in presenting the publication of a text on evangelization in recent days. The document has the title “Challenges and renewal: the passion of the Gospel. Religious indifference, visibility of the Church and evangelization”. Published as basis for reflection during the period of Lent, it is the result of a long drafting process conducted by a group of bishops. Given the task by the assembly of French bishops in 2007, the bishops set about drawing up a report on religious indifference and visibility of the Church. The document was presented in instalments to the plenary assemblies of the bishops until a definitive version was finally agreed on in November 2009. What is asked of the Church is not that she should adopt an attitude dictated by what the bishops call “a hardening of identity” or its antithesis, i.e. “mimetic conformity to society”. “This text – explains Mgr. Podvin – invites each of us to heighten his own attention to the signs that attest to the birth of a world freed from evil”. We “must not shun the most essential questions, but believe they can only be fruitful if Christians are able to “bear witness to a hope that is open to God”. Germany: ecumenical booklet for athletes’ meditationJust before the inauguration of Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, on 11 February, the Catholic Church and the German Evangelic Church made known a joint appeal to sportsmanship and team spirit. In a booklet distributed to the German athletes who are going to take part in the event, Msgr. Robert Zollitsch, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, and Margot Käßmann, president of the council of the Evangelical Church, pointed out the importance of the event gathering people from lots of countries and of different cultures. “As image of God, the human being acknowledges his limits, in the same way as his responsibility for his neighbour, and the environment in which he lives”, it is written in the document. The leaders of the two Churches recall the concept of “responsibility” which athletes have to constantly recall: “responsibility with respect to the other members of the team, or one’s sports opponents, without which competitions would not exist”. The booklet includes biblical texts, prayers and meditations. German athletes will be accompanied to Vancouver by respective Olympic chaplains Hans-Gerd Schütt (Catholic) and Thomas Weber (Evangelical). The Polish team will also be accompanied to Vancouver by its chaplain, bishop Marian Florczyk, in charge of the spiritual care of sportsmen on behalf of the episcopate; he will be supported by father Edward Plen. Slovenia: the first faculty of the Catholic university”Business Studies”: it is the first faculty of the future Catholic University in Slovenia, decided by the Slovenian Bishops’ Conference (CES), which is starting in academic year 2010/2011. The announcement was made known by CES itself on 11 February, which also supplied details of the initiative. “The academic programme, lasting three years, is based on the Declaration of Bologna (1998). Operating courses will include business and economic sciences, fundamental principles of the juridical order, and skills in the communication field”. Lessons with humanistic content, emphasising ethics and social responsibility are also scheduled. The faculty will collaborate with the International Federation of Catholic Universities, in particular, with Boston College, Georgetown University, Oxford University, Lion, Navarre, and with the IESE Business School, Barcelona. Students can carry out some of their academic obligations by attending foreign universities. The training mission of the Institute includes also research & development within humanistic and technical sciences. Its task is establishing higher institutes with different courses of studies, university libraries, study centres, and halls of residence which will be part of the future Catholic University. Within the Institute, three institutes are operating: the Faculty of Business Studies, Studia Slovenica, and the Law Institute of Human Rights.

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