Sweden, The Netherlands, Portugal

Foto: Siciliani-Gennari / SIR

Sweden: map of crimes against religious communities The Swedish government has entrusted to the Council for State Aid to Religious Communities (SST) the task of mapping acts of xenophobia or discrimination against religious communities. The survey, conducted by Göran Larsson (Göteborg University) and Simon Stjernholm (University of Lund), has been carried out in close cooperation with the religious communities in Sweden that include the Council of Christian Churches. The survey involves crimes against members of the communities and against their structures. “The government already held a hearing on the issue at the beginning of the summer”, said SST coordinators, “but through the survey the intention is to collect deeper and more extensive knowledge of the problem”. The main findings of the survey were presented to a group of experts during a seminar in Stockholm past October 16. The final report will be presented to the Government next November 15. “Muslims appear to be the most vulnerable group”, said Göran Larsson, “on the basis of the fact that almost half of all Muslim associations said they have been victims of various forms of intimidation, while six in ten mosques in the Country have been the object of acts of vandalism”. As regards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the wave of anti-Semitism that swept across Sweden during the year is unprecedented, said Lena Posner-Körösi, president of the Central Jewish Council. Also Christians in Sweden appear to be victims of hatred and threats: molests at school, acts of vandalism against places of worship and physical attacks – especially against converted Muslims. A major problems in the fight against these acts of hatred is a weak interaction between the communities and the police, so too few hate crimes have been solved and too little is known of the culprits and the motivation, thereby preventing the identification of ways to face the problem. The Netherlands: in China on the footsteps of the martyr-bishop 15 Dutch pilgrims accompanied by the auxiliary bishop of Roermond, Msgr. Everard de Jong will return from China at the end of the month after a two-month stay. The journey is bringing them to the places where the bishop of Dutch origins Franz Schraven lived and was killed, burned alive with eight companions by the Japanese soldiers in 1937 for having refused to “hand over” more than two hundred Chinese women “as comfort girls”. According to the program published on the website of the diocese of Roermond, in Zhending – where Schraven served as bishop for 16 years and where twenty Dutch missionaries have devoted their service – a meeting is scheduled with the senior members of the Catholic community who cherish the memory of the missionaries and of the bishop. The delegation will visit the pagoda where the nine martyrs were tortured and set to flames, the place where the remains have been buried and the ex-residence where Mons. Schraven had sheltered over 5 thousand refugees during the invasion of the Japanese army. The pilgrimage will end with an international conference on the massacre of Zhengding to shed light on the history of this martyrdom. “It’s the first time in the history of China that a scientific public debate is held on this theme. It’s a breakthrough”, said the organizers. Bishops de Jong will deliver the opening address of the conference. Portugal: support to the project “Right to Birth” The spokesperson of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference CEP) revealed a few days ago that bishops in the Country have decided to support the legislative popular initiative in favour of “greater protection of maternity and paternity, in defense of the right to birth”. For Father Manuel Barbosa, the document drawn up and presented on the occasion of the Walk for Life, held in Lisbon October 4, is in harmony with the debate held in the extraordinary Assembly of the Bishops’ Synod on the need for greater support to the family, under all aspects and components. “Before the serious problems of low birth-rate, the permanent CEP Council welcomes this legislative initiative, supports and encourages its promoters, wishing its full success”. The new legislative proposal, called “Protection of maternity and paternity and of the right to birth”, which in order to be presented in parliament demands the collection of at least 35 thousand signatures, contains remarkable changes in the regulation of voluntary pregnancy interruption and in policies in support of births. CEP spokesperson also announced that the next visit of Portuguese prelates “ad limina apostolorum” has been agreed with the Holy See for the month of September 2015, recalling that the last visit of the bishops took place under the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.

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