Ccee, Spain, Nordic Countries

CCEE: University pastoral, meeting in Tirana “The university environment is the place of research, processing and transmission of knowledge par excellence. To be complete, such knowledge must not limited to purely scientific research but first and foremost it should aim at the quest for the source of true freedom in life”. Fr Michel Remery, vice General Secretary of the General Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) presented the theme and the programme of the meeting of national delegates of university pastoral scheduled to take place in Tirana March 23-26. Approximately thirty national coordinators for university pastoral of the European bishops’ conferences are expected to attend. The theme of the conference is “The joy of life and life as a gift to receive or a treasure to seek”, which highlights a close connection with the ministry of university chaplaincy. Fr Remery added: “The Church offers every student the possibility of reaching the true source of long-lasting, full joy that is Christ. This is the task of university pastoral today: to link purely scientific research with the quest for individual disposition and happiness”. Panel speakers include, inter alia, Professor Kaja Kazmierska (with a survey on literature on the life of university students today) and Fr José Claveria, who will “address the ways in which the Gospel enters the life experience of University students”. During the meeting, participants will have the “opportunity of referring on the situation of university pastoral in their home countries”. Spain: a law to protect life and maternity The Spanish Forum on the Family and the RedMadre (MotherNetwork) Foundation have asked the Government to include a provision for the protection of the life of the conceived child and motherhood in the reform of the law on abortion. On this matter the two bodies have submitted an eleven-page document containing integrations to the proposal of an organic law for the protection of the life of the newborn and woman’s rights to the ministry of Justice. An articulated bill on the protection of maternity is annexed to the document. The initiative was presented a few days ago by the president of the Forum on the Family Benigno Blanco, and by the general director of the RedMadre Foundation Carmina García-Valdés. For Blanco, the government’s legislative proposal meant to replace the law on abortion “is a first – insufficient albeit relevant – step geared at a fundamental goal: a Country with no abortions, a country with laws for the protection of every human life, always and with no exceptions”. The president of the Forum on the Family hopes that the legislative proposal may be improved at this stage of consultations, which is the reason why the Forum and the Foundation have submitted their proposals to the ministry. They advanced five fundamental requests. The first is that the doctors tasked with drawing up a report prior to therapeutic abortion should be civil servants; the second is the elimination of abortion from national health services. Moreover, it is necessary to eliminate from the law the request that conscientious objection must be declared by the interested party in the week following his practice, as it fails to respect the exercise of a fundamental right. Moreover, the law must include the control of maternity support policies. Finally, it is necessary to monitor the practice of abortion in public and private centres. “The family Forum and the RedMadre Foundation – said García-Valdés – have presented a draft bill in support of maternity requesting that its adoption take place alongside with the government’s legislative proposal, so as to ensure the simultaneous integration of greater protection of the life of the conceived and a greater protection of women within the country’s legal framework. In this way no woman will be facing the problems deriving from unplanned pregnancies on their own”. Nordic countries: under the protection of the Holy Virgin Seven Catholic bishops in the Nordic Countries will consecrate their peoples to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 22 in the framework of the plenary assembly of the Bishops’ Conference scheduled in Lund, Sweden, March 21-26, on the theme “Church and Mass Media”. It is a renewal of the consecration carried out by Pope John Paul II 25 years ago, when he visited the Nordic region”, the bishops said. The consecration will take place during a solemn Mass chaired by cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, followed by a dialogue session between cardinal Koch and the archbishop-elect of the Swedish Church Antje Jackelénas. Ecumenical vespers will close the event.

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