Turkey, Belgium, France

Turkey: Msgr. Franceschini CET president Msgr. Ruggero Franceschini, archbishop of Smirne and apostolic administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate in Anatolia is the new president of Turkey’s Bishops’ Conference (CET). He was appointed to the post upon the conclusion of the bishops’ plenary September 16. Msgr. Franceschini succeeds Msgr. Luigi Padovese, killed in Iskenderun past June 3. During the assembly CET bishops nominated Msgr. Georges Khazzoum president of “Caritas Turkey”. Commenting his new office to SIR, which he held also in the past, Msgr. Franceschini said he will carry out his office “with serenity”, and added: “I am fortunate to have qualified assistants. I will ask for their help along with the support of my brethren. Ours is an extremely small group but the Bishops’ Conference needs spiritual and material support”. “Our major difficulties are due to very low numbers of priests – said the prelate – If they should leave, our small community is gradually bound to disappear. We don’t want this to happen and will do our best to prevent it. We should not forget that the Church was born in Turkey and that it is here that it gave itself a deep theological reorganization, which still today inspires our choices through the Church Fathers as Irenaeus, Basil, Cyril of Alexandria, Polycarpus… We don’t want to miss out on our roots”. “The appeal for help I conveyed in the Dome of Milan for the funerals of Msgr. Padovese – Msgr. Franceschini recalls – was immediately met by Card. Tettamanzi, who summoned priests to my side. We must avail ourselves of the support of these people, like the Archbishop of Milan, who understand our distress. We recently held a political referendum in Turkey and we truly hope that this may represent a step forward for the Nation”. Msgr. Franceschini announced the participation of 5 Turkish Catholic Bishops at the Bishops’ Synod for the Middle East (Vatican, October 10-24) that Msgr. Padovese had largely helped to organize. The new CET president devoted one last thought to Msgr. Padovese and the investigations into his death which “are still under way”. “I hope that a “true trial” will be celebrated not because there is resentment in our hearts but because we do not want the case to be hurriedly dismissed. The wound must healed ad it should, not concealed. Justice must do its course. I confide in Turkey’s Minister of Justice, who promised ‘all the truth, nothing but the truth’. We’re not asking for merciful lies but truth in mutual respect. We confide in an answer”.Belgium: “don’t drag all priests in the mud” A thought to the victims and to prayer, that they may the anguish may be heald. The bishop of Liège Msgr. Aloys Jousten thus responds to numerous faithful expressing their “delusion and shock” over the abuse scandal. “My first thought goes to the victims, whose stories show much suffering. Tell them that the bishop, the priests and the laity alike sympathize with their anguish and that we wish them to heal deep inside with all our hearts. Also in our diocese there have been priests who were guilty of blameworthy conduct. I am deeply ashamed of the hurt that they caused. I also hope that they realized the gravity of their actions, all the more since it is an abuse of faith and power. May these brethren be also remembered in our prayers”. The bishop invites the faithful “not to extend suspicion on all priests”, since it would be “unjust and many could be disappointed. Your bishop and your priests want to do their utmost to ensure that relations with children, youth and adults are always marked by respect, attention and love in truth”.France: bishops, stop to the immigration law “The family is society’s fundamental unit. It plays a central role in migrants’ integration. We must oppose all measures that could jeopardize it”. Seven French bishops of the Bishops’ Commission for the mission of the Universal Church (CEMU) thus respond to the draft law proposed by Immigration Minister Eric Besson, due to undergo debate at the National Assembly by the end of September. “The State has the duty to set the rules – the bishop write in a Note -. As relates to migration, the government is tasked with regulating migration flows whilst preserving the common good”. “The draft law calls our conscience to intervene”, write the CEMU bishops. First of all the right of asylum, “which the Church has always defended. The measures that tend to decrease the support or the guarantees for a just trial are unacceptable. The intervention of the Freedoms Court is critical to listening to the word of people stripped of their freedoms. Postponing this action or limiting it violates this right, also in the context of administrative detention”. For the bishops, “humanitarian aid to migrants in difficulty should not be confused with the criminal activity of human traffickers”.

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