Spain, Poland, Santiago

Spain: no to “reductionist views” of sexualitySerious shortcomings in sex education for children and youth were denounced by the Most Rev. Salvador Giménez, Bishop of Minorca and secretary of the ecclesiastical province of Valencia, which comprises the dioceses of Valencia and the Balearic Isles, at the end of a meeting of the bishops of the province. In response to this situation, the bishops examined a wide-ranging integral programme aimed at parents, educators, teachers and catechists with the intention of showing to children and adolescents that “sex education should be an education for life”, by presenting its Christian, moral and human foundations. The bishops underscored the need for this programme “not only to serve as an enrichment in responsibility as called for by the new law on school education, but should also go further and reveal and shed light on sexuality in all its depth as an expression of human love, thus overcoming all reductionist views”, said Mgr. Giménez. Taking on board the views of Catholic parents’ associations, the bishops observed that “the sex education provided by schools is based on materials that take a reductionist view of the human being, and do not serve for the proper formation of children and adolescents”.Poland: Caritas initiatives for the summerDuring the summer period Polish Caritas is promoting many initiatives for disadvantaged children and young people who would otherwise be unable to enjoy a holiday as a break from the normal routine of daily life. Already in June the first group of Ukrainian children – Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants – took part in an ecumenical summer camp held by Caritas at Myczkowce in the region of Bieszczady, in the south-east of Poland. In addition, the 23 holiday centres of Polish Caritas will this year host over 6,000 children and youth from families of Polish origin resident in the territory of the former Soviet Union. These paid holidays, usually lasting two weeks, have been organized since the early 1990s and have enjoyed the participation of over 100,000 children and youth. Over the last few years the summer initiatives of Caritas have been co-financed by the Senate of the Republic, but the organization raises the necessary funds for its own activities through messages sent by mobile phones. This year over 200,000 euro have been raised in this way for the summer vacations of 1500 children from the regions devastated by the floods of two months ago. During the summer months many religious congregations especially invite the young to participate in summer camps for reflection and prayer. Thus, the Franciscans organize a week of camping, friendship and religious reflection at Kalwaria Paclawska, asking the young participants for nothing more than good humour. For several years now, in tandem with a rock music festival for young people at Kostrzyn (on the river Oder), the diocese of Zielona Gora has been holding a meeting of evangelization called “Jesus Stop” whose participants seek to share their friendship with Jesus with lovers of rock, opposing “the stereotypes of mass culture that distorts faith”. The missionary charity of the Light and Life movement founded by Father Franciszek Blachnicki, on the other hand, is organizing spiritual exercises in English for foreigners between 31 July and 16 August. Young people from China, Kenya, Pakistan and Lithuania (among others) participate in it. “We hope that our opening to other peoples may be a source of renewal and great energy for the whole movement”, says the head of the charity, Marcin Sklodowski.Santiago: meeting of Spanish and French bishopsThe major seminary of Compostela has held, in recent days, the Second Meeting of Spanish and French Bishops of the Santiago Way, invited by the Archbishop, the Most Rev. Julián Barrio on the occasion of the Compostelan Holy Year which is held each time as this year – the feast of St. James on 25 July falls on a Sunday (the last time this happened was in 2004, the next will be in 2021). This year’s meeting was a follow up to the contacts established with Mgr. Henri Brincard, Bishop of Le Puy-en-Vélay (France), and chairman of the work group on the Ways of St. James under the auspices of the French Bishops’ Conference. Its agenda was also a continuation of that of the First Meeting held at Roncisvalle, in 2009. During that meeting a common reflection was begun with the aim of defining guidelines for a future shared pastoral promotion of the Santiago Ways, to foster the spiritual dimension of these ancient pilgrims’ ways to the shrine of St. James whose roots can be traced back deep into the history of Europe. The aim of this common pastoral approach is to deepen the significance and relevance of the pilgrimage to Santiago as a means of evangelization, develop the spiritual accompaniment of pilgrims, and harmonize the welcome pilgrims receive in the various stages. The Second Meeting continued this work, planning a series of specific actions to translate this reflection into the reality of pilgrimage. The themes examined during the meeting included the sentiment of going on pilgrimage, spiritual preparation and assistance, the themes of meditation during the Way of St. James, and the religious and cultural heritage of the pilgrims’ ways.

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