Germany, Turkey, Austria, Portugal

Germany: march in defence of Iraqi ChristiansA silent march as a sign of solidarity with the beleaguered Christians in Iraq took place in Essen in recent days. “There can be no justification for attacks on defenceless people in their own homes or on believers congregated in a church”, said Mgr. Franz Vorrath, Auxiliary Bishop of the diocese, in Essen Cathedral. Vorrath emphasized, that in spite of what has been claimed by the perpetrators of such attacks, “what is at issue here is not a religious conflict between Christians and Muslims”, given that “the two religions have lived together in peace for long periods of Iraqi history”. The bishop declared that “Christians and Muslims can together create the future of Iraq”, but only “if an independent state order prevents Islamic groups from using violence to conquer power and influence”. The march was organized by the diocese of Essen, by the local Caritas, by the Pax Christi peace movement and by the Chaldean Catholic community of Essen-Katernberg. Many Iraqi refugees in fact live in the Ruhr area; they were allowed to settle here in past years, and also in 2009, thanks to the pro-active approach of the civic authorities. Turkey: Mgr. Padovese, six months after his death”We hope for a fair trial, far from the clamour of the media, and one that is able fully to establish the truth. Only in this way can we try to heal the deep wounds caused by this death”, said Father Domenico Bertogli, parish priest of Antioch, in a comment to SIR Europe on the news story published in the Turkish press in recent days claiming that Murat Altun, self-confessed murderer of Mgr. Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, is “mentally ill”. “We have a need to mend broken ties of friendship and dialogue,” said the Capuchin Father, who has served in Turkey for 25 years. “A trial conducted out of the media spotlight could also prevent copycat episodes. There is, as we know, never any shortage of fanatics” here. Six months after the tragic death of Mgr. Padovese Fr. Bertogli remembers him as follows: “Mgr. Padovese was a generous man, an intellectual, convinced of the need for inter-religious dialogue. The best way to remember him is to continue in his footsteps by promoting dialogue. Mgr. Padovese has also left us another legacy: his love for Turkey”.Austria: pilgrimages and European integrationPilgrimages contribute to European integration, says Anton Wintersteller, director for many years of the Office for the Pastoral Care of Tourism of the diocese of Salzburg. Interviewed by Kathpress in Vienna in recent days, Wintersteller underlined the importance of pilgrimage in our time. “The journey in itself is not enough: it’s the message that goes with it that is decisive. Combining the journey with the message: that’s what the Church does”, said Wintersteller. He also pointed out that the tourist industry has begun to show an interest in pilgrimages, thus creating “important bridges between Church and tourism”. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 80,000 people go on pilgrimage in Austria each year”. Journeying on foot to new places, and meeting people on the way, plays an important role in fostering integration and contributes to mutual understanding between the peoples of Europe. This is a very positive force for Europe”. “Wherever a pilgrimage takes place, it ought to be possible to experience Christian spirituality, European culture and the ecclesiastical community”; these are “the three requisites for the pastoral care of pilgrimage that will continue to hold good in future”.Portugal: Fatima, centenary of the apparitionsThe centenary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, due to be celebrated in 2017, will be prepared by specific spiritual and cultural contents that will characterize each year preceding the official celebrations. Beginning next year an annual theme will be proposed, together with a phrase inspired by the recollections of Sister Lúcia, who, together with her young siblings Francisco and Jacinta, was the witness of the three Angel’s apparitions in 1916 and the six apparitions of the Virgin Mary, between May and October 1917. The Rector of the Sanctuary, Father Virgílio Antunes explained that “the intention is to place the spiritual and pastoral dimension of the apparitions at the centre of all the celebrations: the centenary must lead us to revisit in a clearer and deeper way the crux of the message of Fatima, through the extraordinary document represented by the memories of Sister Lucia, who died in 2005, and who was the only witness who lived to adult age”. “We are conscious that the centenary will represent a fundamental event for the Church and for the world: we will try to do our utmost to meet the expectations of the large numbers of pilgrims” who come to Fatima, added Father Antunes. “That’s why a ‘way’ will be proposed to them each year: a ‘Jubilee Itinerary’ as it is called; it will help them interiorize the real meaning of those apparitions”. The theme proposed for 2011 – ‘Most Holy Trinity, I profoundly adore you’ – thus proposes an itinerary that begins in the Loca do Cabeço, where one of the apparitions of the Angel took place, passes by the do Arneiro estate and well, site of another of the Angel’s apparitions, and ends in the Chapel of Lausperene, within the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. The preparatory events can also be accessed on an internet portal dedicated to the centenary: http://www.fatima2017.org/portal/.

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