Austria, Germany, The Netherlands

Austria: "no" to an anti-Islamic videogame Msgr. Egon Kapellari, bishop of Graz, took a stand against a vidoegame with anti-Islamic content put online by Austria’s Nationalistic Party FPO. The initiative "is an obstacle to inter-religious respect and must be firmly rejected", Kapellari said in a statement released by the website of Graz-Seckau’s diocese (www.graz-seckau.at). "This form of electoral campaign is a threat to the coexistence of cultures", continues the document, guarding against such practices. Widespread concerns for "rapidly-changing societal structures" require "great creativity and political will". Conversely, they will "pave the way to populism and unjustified summary judgements". Mons. Kapellari reiterated the concepts conveyed in the statement to Austria’s Radio station Ö1. "The ongoing problems with Islam ought to be addressed without taboos, but this is not the way", he said over the radio. There is widespread fear for the expansion of Islam in Austria and across Europe". But these fears, he cautioned, "must not be addressed irrationally, so as not to foment extremist positions". Criticism was conveyed also by the Protestant Church. Evangelical-Lutheran bishop Michael Bünker spoke of "an odious form" of manipulation, towards which "we cannot but raise our voices". The "Christians and Muslims Platform" equally condemned the attempt of the Stiria Party to "collect political ‘peanuts’ to the price of anti-Islamic incitement". Germany: a survey on the faith of the youth Only 44% of young Catholics consider God important in their lives, according to a Shell Youth Survey presented in Berlin September 14. According to the analysis, the 16th of the kind, 34% of young Catholics aged 12-25 believe that faith in God is unimportant. Lower figures were registered amongst Protestant youth: only 39% said that God is important, while 45% don’t. Figures registered among Catholic respondents are lower compared to 2006. The authors of the survey said the reason is the ongoing secularization. According to Dirk Tänzler, president of the Young German Youth Federation, "the fact that most young people claim that faith plays a secondary role in their lives provides the scope of the challenges that the Catholic Church in Germany is called to face. As shown in the survey, the youth seek support, values, along with social and moral rules. As a Church, we can provide the answers”, he added, and said he hopes that "also the bishop that will gather in plenary meeting at the end of September will not overlook these results". Tänzler underlined the increasing social gap among German youth recorded in the survey. "Over the past years, youth policies failed miserably. Society cannot accept this social division", he pointed out. The Netherlands: reports to the Deetman Commission According to Wim Deetman, President of the Commission for Investigation on Sexual Abuse – in an interview to Dutch daily "Volkskrant" published a few days ago – over 900 complaints of sexual abuse in The Netherlands were submitted to the Commission since May regarding the period 1945-2010. The independent Commission was set up in March 2010 by the Dutch Bishops’ Conference and by the Conference of Dutch religious. It is headed by Wim Deetman, Protestant, eminent public figure, and former mayor of The Hague. Deetman made known that in autumn the victims will be invited to private meetings, so as to protect their privacy. The main goal is "to provide information for the ongoing inquiries, and hear what the victims have to say". Even though, he added, these meetings will not address individual compensation for the abuse. Deetman recalled that the absolute priority is to provide help and assistance to the victims. Deetman referred to the tasks of the structure Hulp und Recht (Help and Law) – established by the Dutch Bishops’ Conference on the occasion of the reports – and scarcely used by the victims; what needs to be done, he recalls, is "to find an alternative". In fact it’s important that aid is granted through an institutional channel". Although most alleged abuse cases refer to many years ago, they will nonetheless be reported to the judiciary, states Deetman in the interview. The objective of the Commission, he says, "is not to hide anything" and act as an open book" for justice. The president remarked that the perpetrators themselves submitted some of the abuse reports. "What happened cannot be annulled. However, it is possible to seek to curb its consequences as much as possible. Humaneness comes first", he declared.

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