Switzerland, Portugal, Slovakia

Switzerland: the bishops’ ordinary assembly The 302° ordinary Assembly of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference (CES), held December 2-4, was dedicated to Pope Francis’ first apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. In a statement released at the end of the meeting, the bishops underlined the “programmatic force” of the Pope’s document and the challenge, highlighted by the Holy Father, of Church renewal on the wake of the Second Vatican Council, understood as “the opening of a permanent reform in faithfulness to Christ”. During the Episcopal conference the bishops addressed also other themes such as CES visita ad limina to the Vatican and the audience with the Holy Father scheduled for February 20-22 2014, during which will be addressed “pastoral, ecclesial and social issues” along with themes such as “Church-State relations, faith transmission, liturgy, role of the laity, ecumenism and new evangelization”. Another item of reflection of the CES Plenary was the special Synod on the Family called by Pope Francis for October 5-19 2014. In particular, Swiss bishops focused on the questionnaire contained in the Synod’s preparatory document. To this regard, CES pointed out in a note: “To complement the questionnaire, aimed at providing an outline of the ‘status quo’ of the Church, and in agreement with CES, the Sociology Institute in St. Gallen compiled a survey collecting the thoughts of the participants in the Synod”. Both consultations, due to end in December, said CES, “triggered major public interest”. The results will be transmitted to the Secretary of the Synod. The Swiss bishops have also discussed the new translation of the liturgical Bible, drawn up by the French bishops’ Conference, with the contribution of all French-speaking episcopates. The Bible’s translation, which took 18 years, presented in Paris at the end of November, will be followed, in 2016, by the publication of a new Roman Missal for liturgy. It should be pointed out that the revised edition contains a variation in the Pater Noster, which no longer states “lead us not into temptation” but “do not let us fall into temptation”. Finally, CES announced that the pastoral year 2014 will be dedicated to the theme: “United in faith”. Portugal: Fatima’s manuscript showcased The Shrine of Fatima has inaugurated the exhibition “Secret and Revelation”, a temporary exhibit evocative of the apparition of July 1917″, which showcases the original manuscript on the third part of the secret of Fatima, written by Sr. Lúcia. “The initiative evokes the third apparition of the Holy Virgin, considered the most important in terms of content and for its universal bearing for the world and for the Church as a whole”, said Monsignor António Marto. The bishop of the diocese of Leiria-Fatima, explained that the purpose of the exhibit is to transmit, through a highly symbolical language, a fundamental aspect, namely: “in which ways the love of God has been bestowed upon a humanity that risked falling into an abyss”. The exhibit, open until October 31 2014 falls within the annual program of the Shrine, aimed at “presenting, disseminating and delving into the meaning of Fatima through artistic language” with a view to the celebration of the centenary of the apparitions in 2017. The director of the Museum of the Shrine, Marco Daniel Duarte, made known that the exhibition seeks to provide “a pedagogical itinerary”, by bringing together the reactions and the expectations of the time of the secret. In the last part, visitors will “discover a martyr Church, led by a bishop dressed in white, with particular reference to Pope John Paul II”. Slovakia: Caritas against law on social servicesThe Caritas Slovakia along with the Association of Providers of Social Services object against the approval of the amendment of act on social services. In a letter addressed to the members of the National Council of the Slovak republic they ask the law to be returned to the Ministry of Work, Social Affairs and Family for reconsideration. According to Caritas, the government has failed to keep its pre-election promise that it would “eliminate injustice in funding of social services”. “The municipalities don’t have enough money to cover expenses of care for socially dependent persons in other than state-run institutions”, explains Radovan Gumulák, general secretary of Caritas – one of the biggest private provider of social care services in the country. He thinks it’s a disadvantage comparing to funding of state-run institutions , neverthless to say that the demand of clients is much higher that their capacities. The government plans to cover the difference from Eurofunds but – according to Gumulák – the problem needs “more systematic solution in a form of fair amendment of the existing law, not just a single shot measure that would leave a hole in the system”. Development of demography shows that the number of seniors will gradually grow and the authorities in charge should seriously take this fact into account. Caritas Slovakia provides charitable, social, health-care and educational services to about 30,000 people in need every year.

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