COMECE, Portugal, Luxembourg

COMECE: debate on human trafficking “An extremely complex criminal activity” that “takes place under our eyes across the EU”: it’s human trafficking, on which the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) once again intends to attract attention with a debate that will take place in Brussels November 26, at the COMECE Secretariat. The Catholic Church is directly involved in this fight through services that provide assistance to victims of human trafficking, and by acting in support of public authorities to reduce this violation of human dignity. Nonetheless, and although “legislators, judicial authorities, police authorities and citizens throughout Europe are increasingly aware” of this scourge, “efforts carried out to date to counter human trafficking are still insufficient”, pointed out the organizers of the event. Sister Eugenia Bonetti, president of the organization “No longer slaves”, Aidan McQuade, director of “Anti-Slavery International” and Annie Morris, from the International Organization for Migrations will deliver panel speeches during the debate session that will be moderated by Maria Hildingsson, Secretary General of the Federation of Catholic Families in Europe (FAFCE). The initiative includes an exhibit on modern forms of slavery. Portugal: bishops’ plenary, the family is at the centre During the plenary Assembly of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference (CEP), that closed past November 13 in Fatima, the bishops analysed the results of the recent Synod dedicated to the family, announcing their intention to continue their reflection on this theme: “Without neglecting the various problems and difficulties for the family, priority will be given to family pastoral care, so that the Christian community may continue being a family of families”, states the final declaration of the meeting. The bishops conference has also compiled and released a Pastoral Note titled: “Inviting and bringing God’s embrace to everyone”, which highlights that “consecrated life in its various charismas and institutions, has occupied for centuries a privileged place in the heart of the Church, a decisive element of the mission, a necessary gift in the present and in the future of the people of God”. In Fatima the bishops shared their concern for religious persecution and global diseases (Ebola), with a special prayer for the victims of the epidemics of Legionella that has hit the Portuguese district of Vila Franca de Xira in Portugal, and have begun preparations for the upcoming ad limina visit that will be held September 7-15 2015. Finally, on the proposal of archbishop primate of Braga, Msgr. Jorge Ortiga, the assembly welcomed the request in support of the canonization of Blessed Frei Bartolomeu dos Mártires (1514-1590), and the opening of the beatification cause of Father Adão Salgado Vaz de Faria (1907-1990), founder, in 1945, of the Congregation of the Divine Providence and the Sacred Family. Luxembourg: “Keep religions in public schools” Representatives of the Council of Affiliated Faiths (which includes Judaism, Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Reformed Protestants), of the New Apostolic Church and the Shoura, the Muslim Community, have signed a “Joint Memorandum of understanding” stipulating their intention to “promote religion classes in public schools, in cooperation with the State of Luxembourg. In fact, last year the Bettel government proposed to introduce a unified ethics and social teaching course, thereby eliminating the possibility of availing themselves of confessional learning. The signatories of the Memorandum believe that “the teaching of religion should have a place in public schools” since religions “cannot be neglected, if we wish to know, appreciate and respect others to build a better future together”. The “religion course” proposed to the Government in the Memorandum signed on November 17 during a public meeting, would enable “to learn more of the various religions and develop an understanding of the various faiths”, it could “become the place where the quest for an answer to existential questions is enlightened by the wisdom of religions”. Students would thereby be “initiated to dialogue” and have “the opportunity to learn about the great religions, be inspired by great figures and jointly seek to find common values”.

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