COMECE, Slovakia, Portugal

COMECE: migration and elections on “Europeinfos” “Like Malta or Lampedusa, Ceuta and Melilla share the honour of being the end of the road for many”, wrote José Ignacio Garcia in an article published in May’s issue of “Europeinfos”, the monthly of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), referring to the incident that killed 15 young Africans in February headed towards Spanish territory from Northern Africa as a consequence of rubber bullets shot by Spanish security forces to discourage the migrants’ endeavour. In the tragedy, the buck was passed between Spain and the EU. The episode was severely condemned by the bishop of Tangiers (Morocco), Mons. Santiago Agrelo, quoted in the article: “The Spanish government is mute and as such is responsible jointly with the European Commission, for the suffering of thousands of people and for the deaths in the southern borders of Europe of tens of thousands of young Africans”. We must “not lose sight of the importance of considering the human rights of migrants and the protection of the most vulnerable, even when we have legitimate concerns about security”, Garcia concludes in his article. “The candidate for the post of President of the European Commission will therefore be formally designated by the heads of state and government, probably on the occasion of the European Summit of 26-27 June”, warned Johanna Touzel, COMECE spokesperson, on “Europeinfos”, in an contribution regarding the mechanisms underlying the appointment of the head of the Executive. In fact, the Lisbon Treaty stipulates that the European Council shall propose to the European Parliament a candidate for President of the Commission, mindful of the outcomes of the May elections. “Advanced democratic progress” could be spoken of only if European parties designated candidates for the post of President. However, the heads of state and government would be “reluctant to be seen to have the choice imposed on them by the ballot box”, to the detriment of “a process of internal, discreet negotiations” marking “their prerogative of nominating the future President of the Commission”. Among the themes addressed in the new issue of “Europeinfos” figure fishery policies, the consequences of the referendum in Switzerland in the the framwork of agreements with the EU in the field of free circulation of people and goods, the relations between Africa and Europe (www.comece.eu/europeinfos). Slovakia: youth, leadership as a service The volunteering school “Spring of joy” has launched a set of training courses on the theme of “Leadership from a management and biblical perspective” in Vysoká nad Uhom. Dozens of young people have already completed their training courses in areas such as psychology, project management, social skills, and teambuilding. Experts in Health and Social Sciences from the St. Elizabeth University in Bratislava and from the Catholic University of Ruzomberok will train young volunteers in the art of leadership. “Interestingly, leadership can be viewed as a concentration of power and as a service. If a larger number of people in leading positions understood this aspect, our world would be rather different”, a participant, Jana, told SIR Europe. Trainees will address themes such as mutual trust, respect, the potential of a leader and his development, leadership code of ethics and responsibility. Courses are held in the framework of the “Active citizenship and inclusion” programme. In Slovakia volunteering has increased over the past years. The survey conducted by the Volunteering Platform centres, published this year, shows that active volunteering is appreciated also by potential employers in the field of economy. Volunteering in Slovakia has increased over recent years. According to the survey carried out by the Volunteering Centres Platform, published this year, the experience of active volunteering is appreciated also by potential employers in the field of the economy. Portugal: Bishops say no to surrogate motherhood As regards the possibility of legalizing surrogate maternity under specific conditions, up for discussion at the Portuguese Parliament, the bishops publically announced their “utmost dissent”. The final statement of the 184th plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference (CEP) held in Fatima from April 29 to May 1st, states that “aspiration to maternity and paternity cannot be translated in a supposed right to have children”. “The same pregnant mother cannot be manipulated and reduced to a mere incubator, as if pregnancy didn’t involve all of her dimensions as a human person”. During the meeting, the bishops adopted three pastoral notes: “Bartolomeu dos Mártires, model for the renewal of the Church”; “110th anniversary of the Pauline Family”; “Voting for a better Europe”, and held the elections of the Permanent Council and of the various Commissions that CEP comprises.

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