Portugal: CEP, worsening financial crisisIn the final declaration of the 176th Plenary Meeting of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference (CEP), held in Fatima November 8-11, the bishops convey their concern over the country’s worsening economic situation. In particular, the bishops criticized “exorbitant remunerations, pensions and reimburses, when many are living in dire conditions”. “The government’s austerity measures for citizens must seriously redress unacceptable economic unbalances which jeopardize social justice – states the document. These are, “illicit earnings, mere electoral profits and opportunism that are detrimental to national recovery”. For the CEP bishops, “the time has come to reconsider ethical and civic behaviour with vigorous lucidity and with the courage of putting all energies in an effort leading to a major reform of consumerist lifestyles, laying the grounds for hope in a humanism that is open to transcendence, and whose objective is a happy life for all”.Albania: three-year pastoral plan and a newspaperA three-year pastoral plan to the service of new evangelization, the project of a newspaper, the translation of the Roman Missal, the celebration of the centenary of the birth of Mother Theresa are the main themes of the plenary assembly of the Albanian Bishops’ Conference (CEA) in Tirana November 16-17. The meeting, states a message of CEA press office, opened with the prolusion of CEA President Msgr. Rrok Mirdita, who recalled “this year’s activities, carried out according to the program drawn up in last year’s plenary”, delving into “the many initiatives for the centenary of the birth of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta”. In their message the bishops inform that “Msgr. Lucjan Avgustini, bishop of Sapë, presented a three-year pastoral plan to the service of the new evangelization”. Among the questions dealt with by Albanian bishops during the assembly, figures the project of the CEA newspaper that will report on the life of the Church and also on social and political questions. The bishops also worked on the translation of the Roman Missal in Albanian and on a Catechism document “contextualized to areas, languages and age brackets”.Germany: DBK, no to pre-implant diagnostics”Life cannot be differentiated”. With these words Msgr. Robert Zollitsch, President of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK), addressed the delegates of the CDU congress in Stuttgart (November 15). Numerous members of the Federal Government were present: CDU president and Chancellor Angela Merkel along with ministers Röttgen, van der Leyen, Schavan, de Maiziere. During the opening ecumenical ceremony Msgr. Zollitsch called for the unlimited protection of human dignity across all stages of life. The bishop referred to pre-implant diagnostics, which the Catholic Church strongly opposes, while the evangelical Church and CDU are divided on the possibility of a ban, On this point, the evangelical bishop Ulrich Fischer spoke of a “highly controversial decision”. Zollitsch described “pro-life service” as the criteria of politics that claim responsible actions before the Lord, such as commitments for immigrants’ integration, and measures ensuring dignified living conditions for the poor”. To this regard, Zollitsch mentioned public social subsidies (Hartz-IV). In fact, months ago the bishop urged to increase the subsidies, given increasing rates of child poverty. Austria: the bishops’ meeting with President FischerOn the opening day of their plenary assembly (November 15-18), Austrian bishops met Federal President Heinz Fischer in the Hofburg, Vienna’s imperial palace. The meeting, which addressed themes relating to the commitment for human rights and abuse, was the expression of “mutual gratitude for good State-Church relations”, the president of the bishops’ conference Christoph Schönborn told Catholic news agency Kathpress. In his greeting to Fischer, the cardinal called for “greater truthfulness” on the part of the political realm, and presented efforts to address the problem of abuses. On his part, the President acknowledged the Church’s commitment, underlying the common commitment for human rights. As relates to asylum policy, Fischer reiterated the importance of compulsory residence rights for humanitarian reasons: “In the framework of the Rule of the Law, humanitarian claims must also play a role, as provided for by the law”. To this regard, Fischer thanked the bishops and the representatives of other religions for “their important contributions to the debate” and for “the clear positions on topical issues”.