After the “Social weeks” in Poland, Italy, France, (cf. SIR Europe 53/2010), follows an overview of Catholic laity in Austria, Slovenia, Portugal and Spain. Austria: faith transmission to the youthThe 21st edition of the “Forum Ostarrichi” of Austria’s Lay Catholics Council will take place August 26-28, as customary, at Neuhofen/Ybbs, a lively village in Lower Austria where according to historical tradition the term Österreich (Ostarrichi) appeared for the first time in 996 in a document of Roman Emperor Ottone III. For this, in the village that can be considered “Austria’s cradle”, Austria’s Lay Catholics Council decided to hold “three-day meetings” in August on topical themes. This year’s theme is faith transmission to future generations. Among the speakers figure Vienna’s auxiliary bishop Stephan Turnovszky, the responsible for religious education Christine Mann, the young Christian-Democrat Lukas Mandl and parish Fr. Gerald Gump. The themes of the “Forum Ostarrichi” range from religious to social questions. Last year’s event focused on “employment-related problems, from the respect of human dignity to human contempt”. The initiative features Catholic representatives of ex-Communist Countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The “Forum Ostarrichi” acts as a “living bridge”, linking Catholic laity across Europe. Slovenia: on poverty and social exclusionAfter the first edition held in September 2009, the second Social Week will take place September 13-18 in Slovenia and will focus on poverty and social exclusion. “To survive or start to live again?” is the theme of the initiative whose purpose – Aljoa Vodopivec, from the press office of Slovenian bishops’ conference, told SIR – is aimed at “stepping up individual skills” and increase public awareness over individual rights and duties “for a socially active and committed life”. Rights and duties “go hand in hand with societal economic development and link social and political dialogue”. A panel lecture on social and economic sustainability for the future of the country will open the meeting. A two-day workshop targeted at civil society representatives will conclude the event. Participants plan to issue a final declaration “to sensitize societal stakeholders, public bodies and institutions to implement concrete actions in order to reduce poverty and social exclusion”. Two new initiatives mark this year’s event: a photo competition for the visual transmission of the message of the 2010 Social Week and an initiative addressed to bloggers, which the organizers believe play an increasingly important role in public opinion. The latter are invited to contribute a post on the proposed themes and promote the dissemination of the message of the 2010 Social Week across civil society. Portugal: for “development in solidarity” Starting from the encyclical of Benedict XVI “Caritas in Veritate”, the 26th Social Pastoral Week in Portugal, due to be held in Fatima September 14-16 will be dedicated to the theme of “development in solidarity”. Speakers include Cardinal Peter Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. After the opening address by the archbishop of Braga and president of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference Msgr. Jorge Ortiga, Cardinal Turkson will deliver a speech titled “My personal reading of Caritas in Veritate”. “Christian anthropology and consequences for social ethics” is the theme addressed by Jorge Cunha, from the theological faculty of Porto’s Catholic University. The truth and its force in the implementation of charity; development and the social doctrine of the Church; justice as a social virtue, charity as the basic principle of social order and the fight against poverty are the themes addressed by participants during the Week. Speakers include members of the Episcopal Commission for social pastoral care along with with Msgr. Antonio Couto, auxiliary bishop of Braga; Lino Maia (Diocesan Caritas of Porto), Henrique Joaquìm (Faculty of Human Sciences of the Catholic University) and João Vila-Cnã, from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.Spain: forty editions in a century The Social Weeks of Spain began in Madrid in 1906 and for a century were periodically held across the Country’s dioceses. The 40th edition, the latest one, was held on November 2-5 in Toledo, on “Christian proposals for a culture of coexistence”. No further editions are planned.
Austria, Slovenia, Portugal and Spain (2)