Portugal, Cyprus, Austria

Portugal: after the Pope’s visitThe bishops acknowledge the mobilization of Portugal’s population that with warmth embraced the Pope in the visit of past May 11-14. “We convey our gratitude to the Portuguese population for their closeness to and affection for the Successor of Peter, for celebrating with him the mysteries of the faith and for having carefully listened to his message of hope” – states the document “Jubilee and Responsibility”, issued a few days ago by the Permanent Council of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference, (CEP). The bishops underlined the “profound and deep humanity that drew so many people together in fraternal unity, marked by the desire for knowledge and by the quest for serenity before the serious concerns for the future”. As relates to the Pope’s messages, the Council made known that “the appeals regarding various sectors of pastoral life will be the object of thorough reflection and will be followed up in content and form aimed at the renewal and restructuring of ecclesial organization” the bishops add in their statement. “Already in June’s special Plenary meeting CEP will report on the guidelines for a synodal itinerary focused on reconsidering pastoral care in terms of national unity, notwithstanding the peculiarities of each diocese. This analysis will produce a Pastoral Program which will constitute, until the end of 2011, an efficient response to the new challenges pertaining to contemporary social challenges”. The bishops made clear that “the feast celebrated by the Catholics with their Pope wasn’t directed against or in competition with others. Its only purpose was to praise God and renew communication between brothers, devoting special thoughts to those that are most hit by the negative economic situation”.Cyprus: “the Papal visit will make us stronger””We give a warm welcome to the Pope. We are looking forward to his visit with all our heart. He is a man of dialogue, peace and justice. The visit to our island will step up these values that our society is in dire need of”. The Maronite archbishop of Cyprus Youssef Soueif, general coordinator of the visit for the Cypriot Catholic community launched the appeal 10 days before the apostolic visit of Benedict XVI to Cyprus (June 4-6). In an editorial published by “O Typos ton Maroniton” the archbishop draws a balance on the preparations: “there is great expectation and we’re enthusiastic about the upcoming arrival of the Holy Father, and the parishes are directly involved in the preparations. This is a historic event. For three days Cyprus will hit front news across the world, which is highly positive”. Everything appears to be ready, although help is needed especially in the youth sector. We need young people that can help those who will be arriving for the celebrations”. In this framework Msgr. Soueif said “we expect from 5 to 6 thousand people to arrive in the gathering at the elementary school of St. Maron in Nicosia (June 5), 6500 to the Elefteria Sport palace in Nicosia (June 6) and several thousands will be following the event on maxi-screens. 3-4 thousand will attend the ecumenical ceremony due to take place in the archaeological site of the Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitissa Church in Paphos (June 4)”. A similar appeal to reception was conveyed by the Orthodox Church in Cyprus: “it’s a sign of love and brotherhood – states Msgr. Soueif -“, a response to a number of negative articles on the papal visit published on the press and on wall posters. “In this visit – concluded the Maronite archbishop – we will bring our long experience of multiculturalism by showing that Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims can live together despite the religious differences”.Austria: May 28 “the long night of the Churches”The bishop of St. Pölten Klaus Küng and the evangelical superintendent Paul Weiland jointly presented “The Long Night of the Churches” program, due to be held May 28. Over 85 churches will be opened for the event, with 500 initiatives across Austria. “At times darkness enables us to see the light. At times we need to rid ourselves of our external senses to develop our internal ones”, Küng said. “The Long Night will give people the opportunity to rediscover the Church”, he added. Weiland described the event as “a story of successes”, referring to the past editions, held since 2005. “In this night the Churches are open, welcoming and alive. The Churches offer their inner richness even to those who are distant”. In the western regions of Lower Austria the Catholic, Evangelical, Old Catholic and Methodist Churches participate in the Long Night of the Churches. Some 20 000 visitors attended last year’s event.

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