Portugal, England, Austria

Portugal: the challenges of new evangelization With a pastoral letter titled “New evangelization – a pastoral challenge”, the Patriarch of Lisbon Msgr. José Policarpo called all Christians “especially those performing pastoral missions” to place further dynamism in their activity: “Renewed enthusiasm is needed to transform evangelisation from a mere planned duty into authentic passion”. The document draws inspiration from the words of John Paul II, who used the term New Evangelization for the first time in Haiti in 1983: “Since then I always sought to translate this theme in pastoral dynamism, capable of involving all diocesan choices and structures” – declared the head of the Church of Lisbon. “Parish and diocesan structures represent a major encumbrance, to the extent that pastoral agents are often generous executors – albeit lacking the needed faithful zeal in Jesus Christ and in the Gospel. Evangelizing is not a program, it is mad love”. To the evangelizers Msgr. Policarpo asks further “fidelity, sanctity, spirituality, prayer”. “Embracing the Holy Scripture and the concrete practice of its teachings ought to become the preliminary condition for the New Evangelization for ministers who cherish and are inhabited by the Divine Word”. “This can be promoted by appropriate formation focused on Christian faithfulness, and not on technical and cultural formation only” – the primate added -. “It must consist in a pedagogy addressed to all Christians; priests, people consecrated in religious and secular families, including those who opted for the path of marriage: if a married lay person does not experience this close bond as a path of sanctity, how can he be a good evangelizer?” asks Msgr. Policarpo.England: fasting for RwandaOn Friday October 1 the English Church celebrates “Harvest fast day”, devoted to fasting and fund-collection, promoted by Cafod, the major Catholic charity for aid to the Third World. Thousands will give up their meal to donate the corresponding money value to children victims of genocide in Rwanda, to whom this year’s edition is dedicated. In 2009 almost 1.5 pounds, (approximately 1.7 million euros) were collected on Harvest Fast Day. The 2010 Campaign testimonial is Jeanne, as Cafod spokesperson Lucy Cork explained: “we support Jeanne since she was three. She saw her mother and father murdered in 1994 during the genocide that saw a million people slaughtered in 100 days. Despite her young age, the memories of that time are horrifically vivid”. Jeanne is an example of the sanctuary and long-term support offered by Cafod to people in difficulty. The website (www.cafod.org.uk) presents resources for the special activities in schools and parishes for Harvest fast day. However, the charity recalls that it’s not just money alone that changes lives. Through prayer and campaign action, everyone can do their bit to end poverty. Austria: millennium Goals, only words from the UN A few days ago the coordination office of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference for International Development and Mission (Koo) delivered a negative evaluation of the final document of the UN Millennium Goals summit. “It recycled previous documents” hailed KOO director Heinz Hödl. “It is unlikely that the millennium goals of reducing extreme poverty rate by 50% will hardly be reached” Hödl remarked, and pointed that once again concrete proposals for the implementation of development goals and relative provisions “were lacking”. In fact, “the final document is not binding and the States are not urged to comply with a juridical obligation. Beautiful words were spoken, everyone dreamt a better world”, he added. “But significant cuts to development aid adopted by numerous States – notably by Austria, along with Greece, Italy and Portugal – show that governments are unwilling to fulfil their promises”. Austria currently devoted 0.3% of its GDP to development policies – compared to the original commitment of 0.5% by 2010 -. The government announced that this percentage would be further reduced in December.

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