Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Czech Republic

Poland: the bishops highlight the “way of peace” The Polish episcopate voiced concern over the “undeclared war in Ukrainian land.” “The events undermining people’s right to decide their own future trigger realistic concerns also for Poland.” The bishops released a Pastoral Letter for the 75th anniversary of World War II that “unveiled the abyss of evil of ideologies and political systems which turn their backs to God and erase His laws.” Recalling the aggression against Poland by the Third Reich (September 1st 1939) and the ensuing invasion of the Country by the USSR (September 17 1939), the prelates noted that “the number of victims of the Misterium iniquitatis that broke out on Polish territory, whose present symbols are Katyn e Auschwitz, are beyond human comprehension.”  They underlined the “obligation to pursue peace, that leads to the path of forgiveness.” The Polish bishops “expect” that “effective measures are taken geared at stopping the tragedy of the war in Ukraine.” They prelates reminded the faithful of the difficult reconciliation process between Poles and Germans, begun in 1965 with the exchange of correspondence between the respective Bishops’ Conferences, that led to the joint commemoration – on Sept. 1st – of the victims of the conflict together with the president of German bishops Cardinal Reinhard Marx.Slovakia: Bible Conference in BratislavaThe Metropolitan archbishop of Bratislava, Msgr. Stanislav Zvolenský, promoted a set of meetings for prayer and reflection on the Holy Scriptures. The fifth year of the initiative that will take the shape of lection divina, to be held from September 3 to June 3 2015, envisages ten monthly meetings, each of which will have a different theme. “The lessons will be written and delivered by Msgr. Zvolenský. In addition to their educational dimension, the purpose of the course is to promote a spirit of communion among the faithful and with the archdiocese”, stated the press office of the Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia in a release. The prayer meetings will be held in St. Martin’s cathedral in Bratislava, the guiding theme will be: “To speak of God through world images.” This year the lessons will deal with effective listening (Mc 4,3-8), the power of negligible things (Mk 4,26-32), God’s patience (Mt 13,24-30) and the value of the Kingdom of God (Mt 13,44-50). Ukraine: language and culture courses at the Catholic university  “Ukraine – in an interesting, joyful way.” It is the motto of the project “Ukrainian autumn in Lviv 2014”, that will open this week in Ukraine. The three two-week courses, titled “Hot Summer” (September 1-12), “Golden October” (September 29-October 10) and “Cultural November” (November 13-14), organized by Ukraine’s Catholic university, are not limited to language lessons with a special focus on communication methods. In fact, they also deepen Ukrainian traditions. “Foreign students will have the opportunity of cooking and tasting our typical dishes, of visiting cultural and religious sites in the Country, singing popular Ukrainian songs, learning our dances”, coordinators explained, adding that the purpose of the project is to present young people with an overview of Ukrainian history and culture. Teachers come from the best Ukrainian Universities. The courses, beginning the first week of September, offer three levels of education: beginners, intermediate and advanced. For further information: learn-ukrainian.org.ua.Czech Republic: Fr Toufar, life of a martyr Mons. Jan Vokál, bishop of Hradec Králové, has launched a project for the exhumation of the remains of Father Josef Toufar, a Catholic priest tortured to death 64 years ago (1950) by the Communist regime for having refused to lie and to participate in the fierce campaign aimed at destroying the Catholic Church in ex-Czechoslovakia. The diocesan stage of his beatification began in 2013. Now the Bishops’ Conference is awaiting approval by the Vatican. Josef Toufar was buried in a mass grave in Prague. After the exhumation by experts in medicine and religion, his remains will be given proper burial in a different site. “The history of this tortured priest should not be forgotten. I believe that the challenge of the Church is to undertake the necessary steps to ask his intercession, mindful of the fact that through his faithfulness, his courage and his humanity he will also be able to speak to the conscience of the contemporary world”, said Cardinal Dominik Duka.

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