Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands

Spain: a new appeal from the bishops for the protection of life “Defending human life is everyone’s responsibility”. It is the title of the statement released by the permanent Commission of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference at the end of a meeting held in Madrid a few days ago. “The right to human life is non-negotiable”, the bishops said. The release refers, in particular, to the “Draft bill on the protection of the rights of the conceived child and of the pregnant woman” which was withdrawn a few days ago by the Government, sparking off many polemics. Before the political debate was sparked off by the Government’s decision, Spanish bishops reiterated that “human life is sacred and inviolable and it must be protected from the moment of conception until natural death”, since “science itself has proven that since conception there exists a new, unique and irreplaceable human being, distinguished from his/her parents”. “A democratic, free, just and peaceful society cannot be created unless the civil rights of all human beings are respected in their inalienable dignity, in particular the right to life, a priority among all other rights”. The Spanish Church underlines that “protecting human life is everyone’s task, especially governments” and it defines Spain “a sad exception”, marked by the intention to “consider abortion a right”, attacking all institutional representatives that owing to political interests have renounced the protection of the life of the newborn, despite the commitments taken with their constituency. Naturally, the bishops added, “human existence is not without difficulties” and they reiterated that “the Church is well aware of the suffering and flaws of many people, to which she offers her help worldwide, practising charity”. In fact, “numerous volunteers and organizations in support of life and for the protection of women, for solidarity with those in need” wish to “extend the civilization of love and the culture of life” to all those “living in social and existential peripheries”. At the same time Spanish prelates call upon public bodies to make “a generous effort in the implementation of effective policies to support pregnant women and families”. The statement ends with an appeal “to accompany pregnant women so that before any kind of difficulty they will not choose death but rather opt for life”. Portugal: the Church intervenes on social issues At the end of the first meeting of the Bishops’ Commission on Social Pastoral care and Human Mobility, president Msgr. Jorge Ortiga welcomed “the increase in national minimum wage, now amounting to 505 euro”. “Although the twenty euro increase is scarce, given the difficult social situation we are experiencing, the numerous personal and family needs, we can consider the government’s decision as a good measure”, he said. The provision that involves some half million workers until the end of 2015, although it represents a further expense for enterprises, does in fact “promote equal pay”. The Commission said it hopes that the 2015 national budget will envisage “greater protection for individuals and their dignity” with “support for education, for the poor and the needy, and for families, especially as relates to problems regarding birth and old-age”. The archbishop of Braga invited the Church to focus attention on the evangelical attitude of charity, as it is not enough to give a voice to those who don’t have one, denouncing socially unjust situations, “it is necessary that all Christians bear witness with their own life and with actions to authentic acts of charity, with attention and material or spiritual response to the needs of others”. The Netherlands: a competition for the best Christian websites Until October 23 it will be possible to submit candidacies for the “2014 Webfish Awards”, in recognition of “the most successful efforts aimed at attracting attention on Christian faith” on websites, social media or applications (in Dutch). This year three categories will be competing: churches, organizations and individuals. The winners will be proclaimed and awarded on November 8 in Utrecht during the national missionary Festival. Candidacies are listed on the website http://webfish.boomvis.nl/; internauts can vote and will represent the sixth element of the ecumenical jury. Webfish Awards 2014 is a joint initiative of the Catholic portal Katholiek.nl, of the Protestant Church, of the Council of Churches, of Tilburg University and of the Protestant Theological University. “The websites will be judged according to the following criteria: idea, content, design, technology and facility of use”, organizers explained. “With this award we want the creators of Christian websites to be challenged to improve their work in a continuative and professional manner”, said Marloes Keller, communications expert for the Dutch Protestant Church.

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