Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Turkey

Czech Republic: green light to the agreement on the Cathedral The agreement between the Catholic Czech Church and the Czech Republic on the joint use of the Cathedral of Prague dedicated to the Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert was ratified May 24. The solemn declaration was signed in the cathedral by the archbishop of Prague Msgr. Dominik Duka and by the Presdient of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus. For the occasion the archbishop highlighted the fact that “the Cathedral has experienced blossoming periods when the Church and the State were co-responsible for its maintenance and whenever the Cathedral served the higher purposes of either parties. It is my belief that the agreement is the product of our joint wish to ensure the reliable and harmonious cooperation for the care of the Cathedral and to preserve it for the next generations”, Duka concluded.Austria: the “week of the Mission” On May 24 a Vesper Celebration in St. Steven’s Dome inaugurated the “Week of the Mission” promoted by the archdiocese of Vienna. A variety of events are scheduled for the coming days that will address faith and life themes with people seeking to deepen the faith. In the homily delivered during the religious service, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn called upon all participants in the initiative to proclaim the Gospel with “courage”. The archbishop acknowledged a “certain resistance” in Austria to speak of Jesus and of his message. “On the one side there are many visible testimonies of faith, starting from the St. Steven’s Dome and the many Churches, and therefore many don’t see the need to bring the message of Christ. On the other, His Eminence continued, “most people believe in God, or in an Almightiness”. But “calling the name of Jesus and bearing witness to Him is evidently more difficult”, he remarked, complaining about the absence of “the specific Gospel message”. This restraint to speak about God but not of Jesus “has a simple explanation. Jesus is a very concrete person. He has a face, a name, he lived and spoke and offered his friendship: this is something very personal”. “Proclaiming Jesus calls upon people to change their mentality and their outlook, since Jesus placed children, the poor and the sinners at the centre. He spoke to ‘simple people’. Austria needs this perspective”, concluded card. Schönborn. Germany: Pentecost, appeals to renewal An appeal to Church renewal, bearing in mind also the cases of abuse are the themes broached by Catholic bishops in their Pentecost homilies. The prelates acknowledged the loss of credibility, hoping in a new development. The bishops also addressed the protection of life and social justice, and exhorted the faithful to greater missionary involvement. “As we have sadly admitted over the past weeks, the Church is not a human élite. The Holy Spirit is present in what is perhaps an excessively human faith community and wants to shape the Church”, cardinal Joachim Meisner said in Cologne. A “new beginning” was also called for by the bishop of Essen Msgr. Franz-Josef Overbeck, who pointed to the need to “be vigilant towards those who abused of their authority”. Msgr. Karl-Heinz Wiesemann, bishop of Spira, spoke against the “tendency to resignation in the Church and across society”. “The spirit of God ought to remove the negativity in the Church”. Cardinal Karl Lehmann, archbishop of Magonza, guarded the Church against the risk of self- closure. “The missionary commitment in the world must always be remembered. The Church is a developing community of people. It doesn’t isolate itself in the corners”, he reiterated. Turkey: no more entrance-tickets for the church of Tarsus After the announcement, anticipated to SIR Europe on May 24 by Msgr. Luigi Padovese (read), President of the Turkish Bishops’ Conference (CET), on Ankara’s authorities’ removal of the obligation of early booking of the Masses held in St.Paul’s Church-Museum in Tarsus, on May 26 it was made known that “pilgrims will no longer need to pay the entrance-fee”. According to a CET statement transmitted to SIR Europe, this decision is the result of Msgr. Padovese’s talks with Turkey’s authorities and of “the policy of openness of Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoðan and the effective intervention of its ambassador to the Holy See Kenan Gürsoy, who is especially sensitive to the problems of the Church in Turkey”.

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