Hungary, Austria, Germany, Portugal

Hungary: in the frontline against the toxic sludge A week after the gravest ecological disaster in Hungary’s history, caused by the tide of toxic sludge that swept from the broken wall of a reservoir for the storage of slurry in a plant for the production of aluminium which invaded seven villages in the West of the country on Monday 4 October, causing some 150 injured and so far eight fatalities, the Catholic Church is continuing to assist the stricken population through Caritas. Meanwhile a second dam has been completed to protect the inhabitants of Kolontár from a possible new inundation, while Fr. Miklós Mód, parish priest of Kolontár and Devecser, has created an information centre in the parish of Devecser where the situation is being constantly monitored. The parish priest and the regional director of Caritas, Richárd Zagyva, are working to help the people who need food and emergency accommodation because their homes have been damaged and won’t be repaired before the winter. The Maltese Charitable Service has also arrived on the scene. “I have come to share your grief”, said the Apostolic Nuncio Juliusz Janusz to the homeless being temporarily lodged in the palace of sport at Ajka on 9 October. Many young volunteers are also helping in providing emergency relief.Austria: church fair dedicated to the Creation”Responsibility for the Creation”: that’s the slogan of the church fair (organized by the “Gloria” ecclesiastical sector) due to be held at Dornbirn from 14 to 16 October. Especially aimed at church workers to inform them on products and services for churches and convents, the event is intended to attract representatives of the Catholic, Evangelical, Neo-Apostolic and Old Catholic Churches and comprises some 100 exhibitors – firms and institutions from six countries. Some 8,000 visitors are expected to visit the fair from Switzerland, Germany, Liechtenstein and Austria. This fair “means for us a forum for meeting and solidarity”, said Benno Elbs, vicar general of the diocese of Feldkirch during the presentation of the event in recent days. “And if we recognize also our responsibility for the Creation, we must ask ourselves: How can I live without the Creation being destroyed?”. The pastor of the Evangelical community of Dornbirn for his part emphasized the ecumenical aspect of the event, which “promotes mutual growth and maturation. We can participate in the life of other Churches and contribute with our faith”. The fair also includes opportunities for discussion, round tables and an exhibition dedicated to the Bible. Germany: role of the Churches and fall of the WallThe role of the Christians in Central and Eastern Europe in the political transformation of Europe in the 1990s was emphasized in recent days by Robert Zollitsch, Archbishop of Freiburg and Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK). Speaking during a ceremony organized by the Commission of German Bishops in Berlin, he said: “It was people in the former Eastern bloc countries who launched the transformation. And a leading role in their protests was played by many committed Christians. The transformation was preceded “by decades of struggle for reconciliation. The Churches too have always championed and encouraged efforts in this sense”, added Zollitsch before an audience of representatives of the political and media worlds. The chairman of the DBK also praised the “successful reconciliation between Czechs and Germans”, calling the presence of Archbishop Dominik Duka of Prague at the event “a positive sign of hope for Europe and for our Church” and announcing a forthcoming visit to the Czech capital. Intervening on the presence of religion in a secularized society, Mgr. Duka for his part talked of the significance of rationality for theology and emphasized its role, because by “expressly renouncing rationality”, in an age of radical change, Christianity cannot conduct a wide and necessary dialogue with the world”.Portugal: Pro-Life Federation condemns “abortion spiral”The Portuguese Pro-Life Federation, with the backing of the Algarve Pro-Life Association, recently held a public meeting at Albufeira to present the findings of a survey conducted by its own research department on the situation of abortion in Portugal. The findings show that in 2009, the year in which the total number of births remained below 100,000, no less than 19,456 voluntary abortions were carried out. The study also showed that, again in 2009, the repetition of the interruption of pregnancy by the same woman represented 21% of this total. The representatives of the Pro-Life Federation consider that “the picture that emerges [from the survey] shows that abortion is giving rise to irrational forms of behaviour characterized by personal irresponsibility and indifference to human dignity. Many women who enter into this ‘abortion spiral’ completely lose control of their own life, as demonstrated by the fact that even cases of 10 consecutive voluntary interruptions of pregnancy have been registered”. During the meeting, various models of education in sexuality were debated, in particular the programme “Protect your heart” being run by the Family and Society Association, and the programme “DIP3 Integral Development of the Person”, created by Teresa Tomé Ribeiro at Porto.

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