France, Ukraine, Poland

France: The bishops invite Europeans to go to the polls An veritable information campaign to encourage European citizens to go to the polls on May 25 and take part in the building of Europe was launched by French bishops. “This vote is crucial- states a long document released by the French Bishops’ Conference titled ‘Europe in 12 points ‘ – which will directly affect European policies in the next 5 years and will determine for the first time, the election of the new president of the Commission. Nonetheless risks of high abstention-rates are predicted. Moreover, underestimating the importance of the EP elections, citizens will cast their votes on the bases of criteria that are different from European ones”. That’s why the bishops have decided to promote a set of appeals to encourage French citizens to go to the polls. “For 70 years – wrote the archbishop of Strasbourg Jean-Pierre Grallet, representative of French Bishops at COMECE – the European process has consolidated peace among peoples that once were enemies”. This “European fraternity however is still fragile. It’s up to us to protect it and develop it. We’re all responsible for it. It would be a shame if we gave in to scepticism and passivity”. The next European elections “are an opportunity for us to convey our gratitude to Europe, along with our dissatisfaction, our expectations and our commitment”. Europe has brought us great benefits”, wrote the archbishop of Strasbourg, recalling in particular peace among peoples, mutual understanding, scientific cooperation, free circulation of people and goods, cultural and religious dialogue, the single currency. But he admits: “there is still is much to be done”. The archbishop thus highlighted the need to “bring institutions closer to the citizens” and reiterated that the European project depends on each and every citizens since – he wrote – “every European citizen is essential. Voting is a right. Let’s try not to steal it. Let’s debate, propose, act and vote”. Ukraine: seminar on family policies in Lviv  “Family policies in Ukraine and in the European Union: the challenges for Ukraine” will be the theme proposed to participants in a seminar scheduled to take place May 20 at the Ukrainian Catholic University of Lviv. The event is organized by the Institute for Marriage and Life, in conjunction with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Ukraine. According to the coordinators of the project, participants will acquire “familiarity with the essential elements of family policies in the European Union, with the EU approach towards family policy at international level, with modern trends of lobbying on issues regarding the family”. The list of speakers includes Zoreslava Romovska, author of the Family Code of Ukraine; Luca Volonté, from the Novae Terrae Foundation in Rome; Bohdan Osadchyi and Yuryi Pidlisnyi from the Marriage and Life institution of the Catholic University of Lviv. Registration is still open. For further information: http://www.family-institute.org.ua/. Poland: vocations, focus on the youth “Every vocation, especially the vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life is not a professional choice. Rather, it means to follow the calling of God”, said the archbishop of Warsaw Prague Monsignor Henryk Hoser on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Vocations, that opened on May 11. The prelate said: “vocational commitment is aimed at raising the awareness of the youth in particular on the calling of the Lord, to enhance their capability of listening and understanding Him b For Msgr. Hoser, in addition to prayer, personal vocation can be recognized through the “faith witness of all those near us, especially our relatives and friends”. The President of the Council for vocational pastoral care, Fr Przemyslaw Tyblewski, pointed out that “many saints recalled discovering their own vocation thanks to the religious atmosphere inside the family, to lively prayer and sacramental life”. In Poland each year there are some new 500 priests. The highest vocations are registered in the dioceses of Opole and Tarnow while only few are formed in the seminaries of Lodz, Stettino and Koszalin. According to the latest statistical directory of the Polish Church, at the end of 2012 there were almost 31 thousand priests in Poland. A third of them is aged 41-50, while a quarter of them is over 60. 65% of Polish priests have a university degree while 8% has a PHD. The directory, that refers to the period 1990 – 2012, registers a drop in the number of members of women religious congregation: from 25 thousand to slightly over 21 thousand.

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