Ukraine, France, Switzerland

Ukraine: card. Husar’s appeal to unity”The main task for all of us, Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants alike is to reawaken a longing for unity, but I’m afraid that the yearning to achieve true unity is too weak”, or “it would have already been achieved”. Thus declared a few days ago the Ukrainian Catholic Major Archbishop of Kiev card. Lubomyr Husar, in his speech at the conference “Nature and manifestation of the relations between the different denominations in Ukraine”, promoted in Kiev by the Committee for national and religious affairs, the Department for religious studies of the national Academy of Sciences and by other religious, scientific and pedagogic institutions. Referring in particular to the relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine, the patriarch remarked: “We are not prepared to sacrifice ourselves enough to achieve truely Christian unity”, and this applies “to all of us Christians of both sides”. Cardinal Husar urged to overcome the stereotype that the Greek Catholic Church is the cause of a “divergence of views” between “Moscow’s Patriarchate and the Pope in Rome”. Cardinal Husar delved into the work carried out since the 1970s by the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, whose activity “involves only theologians and bishops, while it should also involve the two religious communities, namely the population as a whole”. The Patriarch underlined that “today Greek-Catholics are called to represent the position of Eastern Christians and erect a bridge between the East and the West”, whilst regretting the “unequal treatment” of Churches on the part of the State along with the hanging question of the restitution of ecclesial property “confiscated during the Soviet regime”. France: the knowledge of the Bible for the young France’s Biblical week (November 28 – December 4) was an occasion to promote the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures in an ecumenical perspective, with the joint reading of the Scriptures, from Genesis to the Book of Revelation, in nine steps. The initiative was originally conceived for local Christian communities, but as it was being developed groups committed in Gospel proclamation and Biblical reading were also involved. This year the Biblical Week was addressed to the youth. The decision springs from the yearning to present the ZeBible project which envisages for May 2011 the publication of an edition of the Bible for youth aged 15 to 25, with tools aimed at drawing young people close to the reading and studying of the Biblical texts. An online version will also be available in the framework of a Biblical discussion forum. The project was launched by the ABF (French biblical association) in conjunction with a dozen institutions that include the Union of the Protestant Churches of Alsatia, the League for Biblical reading, the Adventist Youth Foundation, the Franciscan Province in France, the Scout and Guides Association, and the Assembly of French Orthodox Bishops. In carrying out the plan, is written in a note, “we wished to meet the needs of the youth, by availing ourselves of tools and places, such as the virtual world of the internet, that are more familiar to this generations, so as to promote dialogue with new communication media, avoiding useless trivialization, and proposing instead the richness and deepness of the Bible”.Switzerland: pilgrimage and Christian Europe 500 pilgrimages and over 60 thousand participants rediscovered their faith and the Christian heritage of Europe that passes by Santiago de Compostela, Rome, Einsiedeln, the great abbeys and shrines of the Old Continent. These are the figures of the Diocesan Social Works of Lugano, established 35 years ago owing to the initiative of Catholic Action representatives who wished to pursue the commitment initiated by Msgr. Leber. A founder of the association, Carlo Franscini, told SIR Europe during a conference on the pilgrimage in Istanbul that the pilgrimage “is at the same time an old and a new tool enabling people to rediscover their faith”. It also serves “to make us feel part of this Christian Europe that is unacknowledged by politicians and by European nations”. Franscini provided a snapshot of the Church in Switzerland: “While in Ticino its presence is still strong, there are some critical aspects in the German Canton”, while in “the French Canton a tepid approach prevails”. “A light was lit by Benedict XVI, who on November 20 elevated to the Cardinalship another bishop, Msgr. Kurt Koch”. Despite the difficulties “the Swiss bishops’ Conference is always actively present in the life of the Country and when necessary it voices its claims. This was the case during the popular referendum of November 28 on the expulsion of foreign criminals (which passed with 52.9% majority, ed.’s note.)”.

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