Switzerland, The Netherlands, Spain

Switzerland: the Churches on referendum and immigrationThe Swiss population gave their consent to the systematic expulsion of foreign criminals. Having been called to the polls, 52,9% of Swiss electors endorsed the popular initiative titled “For the expulsion of foreign criminals”. The Swiss Federation of Protestant Churches and the Swiss Bishops’ Conference had always opposed the popular initiative. Today, in a press release, the bishops said they acknowledge the vote cast by Swiss citizens and appeal to “federal and canton authorities to implement the initiative in full respect of human rights and international law, and in agreement with the Federal Constitution”. They add: “Every single case must be closely examined”. “Facing the threat of persecutions, tortures or other human rights violations” in the Country where foreigners would be repatriated, foreigners’ “expulsion must not be taken into consideration”. For the Federation of Protestant Churches and for the bishops’ Conference “it’s important not to promote a negative view of the migrants across the population. Switzerland must remain a reliable constitutional State, where human rights remain the central point of reference of all official measures”.The Netherlands: Msgr. Van Luyn welcomes TaizéA “major event for The Netherlands and for Europe”: Msgr. Van Luyn, bishop of Rotterdam, president of the Dutch Bishops’ Conference thus described the 33rd European meeting organized by the Taizé Community that will be held from December 28, 2010 January 1, 2011 in Rotterdam, at the invitation of the Bishops Conference of the Netherlands, the General Council of the Dutch Protestant Church (PKN) and the Netherlands Council of Churches. “Young people will share, live their faith and, when they meet, will be a sign of hope and love for many. But this event will also be a breath of fresh air for the entire region – said Msgr. Van Luyn -. I hope that the gathering of so many young people who come together in the name of a common and shared faith will help to build unity among the youth of Europe, that it will be an encouragement for our parishes and our communities, who will welcome many young people”. After Poznan, Brussels, Geneva, Zagreb, Milan, Lisbon, Hamburg, Budapest and Paris, this year’s 33rd European meeting organized by the Taizé Community will take place in Rotterdam. Approximately 30,000 young people across the continent are expected in Rotterdam for five days of sharing and prayer. “With this new stage of the “pilgrimage of trust on earth”, the Taizé Community continues on the road opened by its founder, Brother Roger, to support young people searching for reconciliation and peace, not only among Christians but also between peoples”, state the organizers in a press release. “In the spirit of this European meeting, Rotterdam is rediscovering the thinking of one of its most famous citizens, the precursor of today’s Europe-Erasmus”. The young participants will be welcomed by communities and families across the region from Breda to the Hague, from Gouda to Hoek van Holland. They will spend their mornings in 150 host churches, and afternoons at the city exhibition center (Ahoy) for meals and prayer together. Some topics will be inspired by the “Letter from Chile” that Brother Alois, the Prior of Taizé, will issue following a meeting of Latin American youth led by the Taizé Community in Santiago, Chile, from December 8 to 12. Spain plenary meeting: “A dynamic Country””Reconciling faith and reason is not only possible, it is necessary in order to address the problems of modernity”, underlined cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid and president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE) in the closing remarks of the 96th plenary assembly on November 26. The CEE president recalled the recent visit of Benedict XVI to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona. “Benedict XVI came here to speak of God”, His Eminence said. “Spain is marked by widespread dynamism and strength. It is capable of addressing the contemporary multifarious challenges. Indeed, it is necessary to rediscover the originality of Christianity, based on the encounter with a Person, Christ, which gives a new horizon to life and a decisive orientation. This is the significance of the new evangelization in Spain and across Europe”. Reiterating the thought of Benedict XVI, the Cardinal pointed out that confining God to the private sphere means endangering Europe’s very survival, the survival of a democratic society, of a constitutional state”. His Eminence recalled some of the key topics of the evangelization plans approved by the Spanish bishops. Finally, he suggested three pastoral objectives for the present times: spiritual formation for children, young people and adults; the teaching of the Gospel of marriage and the family; the rediscovery of Sunday Eucharistic celebration. In referring to the publication of the post-synod exhortation Verbum Domini the archbishop conveyed his satisfaction for a happy coincidence: the official version of the Holy Scriptures in Spanish, which will be gradually introduced within liturgical texts.

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