COMECE, CCEE, Ukraine

COMECE: three appointments in JulyCOMECE (Commission of the episcopates of the European Community) has an agenda packed with appointments in July. The programme begins on Friday 9 July with a seminar in dialogue with the European Commission on “The contribution of the Churches in combating poverty and social exclusion”, promoted as part of the European Year on the same theme. The meeting will be held behind closed doors at Commission headquarters in Brussels and will be addressed by the Commissioner on Employment and Social Affairs Lázló Andor. It will be followed, on Wednesday 14 July, by the seminar being held by COMECE in cooperation with the Brussels office of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation as part of the cycle “Islam, Christianity and Europe”. Theme of the seminar: “The role of religious actors in the fight against discrimination and defamation on religious grounds”. Lastly, on 19 July, the annual summit will be held of the leaders of the monotheist religions with the three Presidents of the European institutions: Josè Manuel Barroso (Commission), Herman Van Rompuy (Council) and Jerzy Buzek (Parliament). The theme of the meeting will be “2010 as a year of combating poverty and social exclusion”. Promoted on the initiative of the President of the European Commission, these annual meetings have been held since 2005.CCEE: pilgrimage to Mariazell”If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation”. That’s the theme of the 43rd World Day of Peace on which the pilgrimage to the Marian sanctuary at Mariazell from 1 to 5 September, promoted by the CCEE (Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe), will reflect. The bishops and delegates responsible in the various Churches of Europe for the safeguard of the Creation have been invited to participate in the pilgrimage which will start out from Esztergom and travel to Mariazell through Hungary, Slovakia and Austria, passing through Komarom, Bratislava, St. Pölten and Erlaufsee. The pilgrimage – explains the CCEE in a press release – will resume the great themes that Pope Benedict XVI developed in his last encyclical Caritas in Veritate”, but will also offer participants the opportunity “for a mutual exchange of experiences and ideas” with the aim of “intensifying relations between the delegates in Europe”. The pilgrimage will be inaugurated on 1st September by a Mass celebrated at Esztergom by the Archbishop of the Hungarian capital and CCEE President, Cardinal Péter Erdö, who will bless the pilgrims on their departure. The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Cristoph Schönborn, will celebrate the final mass at Mariazell on 5 September. A session on “Education for the safeguard of the creation and peace” is also planned to be held in Bratislava on 3 September”: the Pope’s Message for the Day of Peace 2010 will be commented on by Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, and Jan Figel, former European Commissioner for Education and Culture. A visit to one of the largest refineries of biodiesel in Europe is also planned (Komarom, 2 September). A message will be drafted at the end of the meeting. Ukraine: in memory of the victims of the Holodomor”Don’t let the candle of memory go out”: with this slogan the campaign dedicated to the tragedy of the Holodomar opened in Kiev on 19 June. The campaign is being promoted by the Ukrainian World Congress and the Ukrainian Institute for the National Memory. The term “Holodomor” (in Ukrainian “death by starvation”) refers to the terrible famine that struck Soviet Ukraine between 1932 and 1933 causing the death of several million people; according to various historians, it was deliberately caused by the policy of the Soviet dictator Stalin. In 2008 the European Parliament recognized the Holodomor as a “crime against humanity”. Some 1,500 Ukrainians gathered at the memorial for the victims last Saturday to pray and to remember: they included Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, head of the Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC), who emphasized the importance of “keeping alive the memory of this event, which reminds us of the terrible crimes we must never forget”. Following the controversies aroused in the country by the statement of President Yanukovych in Strasbourg, according to which the Holodomor was not a genocide, Cardinal Husar explained that the prayer vigil “ought not to be interpreted as a form of protest” against this declaration. A religious service officiated by Cardinal Husar himself, Patriarch Filaret, head of the Orthodox Church of the patriarchate of Kiev, and some leaders of the autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) was celebrated in memory of the victims. The campaign, which will end on the fourth Saturday of November, the day on which the Holodomor is officially commemorated in the country, is aimed at “underlining the fact in Ukraine and elsewhere that the Holodomor question has not yet been closed”, explained the general secretary of the Ukrainian World Congress Stefan Romaniv. That’s why the “candles of memory” will be sent to every region of the country and to the twenty nations in which important communities of Ukrainian emigrants reside, in particular Great Britain, Australia, USA, Canada, Russia, Spain, Argentina, Brazil and Greece.

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