England and Wales, Switzerland, Lithuania, Portugal

England and Wales: “Evangelizing with joy” An public awareness initiative for all priests, religious and laity in England and Wales on the value of “proclaiming” the joy of the Gospel, on the wake of “Evangelii Gaudium” of Pope Francis. It’s “Proclaim ’15”, the proposal of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, to encourage new expressions of “evangelization marked by joy” of which the Pope speaks of in his Apostolic Exhortation. The project will be launched in January 2015, it will involve all 22 English dioceses. “The project aims at the planning and implementation of a fruitful parish evangelization to help us all be better missionary disciples”, declared Cardinal Nichols. The project “Proclaim ’15”, among the various initiatives, envisages the supply of material and brochures for parishes along with the organization of a national Conference on Catholic evangelization (planned for July 11 2015). Switzerland: Christian Churches against torture “Swiss Christian Churches seize the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention against torture to highlight the absolute prohibition of torture according to Christian thought”, states the message by the Federation of Evangelical Churches, the Christian-Catholic Church and the Conference of Bishops, published December 9, one the eve of the Day of Human Rights. “Torture never brings justice. Our impotence is the last means we have to defend humanity”, underlines the message that invites “to take action to ban torture worldwide, wherever impotence, injustice, and lack of humanity represent the daily experience of many human beings”. Closeness is conveyed “to the victims of torture and of any form of unsupportable violence”, along with those “who are the victims of their own helpless refusal to resort to violence”. The message is accompanied by a more articulated statement of Swiss Churches, “No primacy of grace over law?” and by two petitions promoted by Acat Switzerland addressed respectively to Swiss authorities and to those of the Togolese Republic, so that torture may be enshrined as a crime in the penal codes of the two Countries. Lithuania: sale of candles for Caritas initiatives The candle as a symbol of warmth – and of home – that spreads from one candle to the next, if one draws near, like when we share goodness. Using this symbol also this year the Lithuanian Caritas have given new impetus as a proposal for the Advent to the initiative on the sale of candles. The proceeds will serve as relief in situations of poverty across national dioceses. The candles are hand-made in Caritas laboratories in Vilnius by people plagued by the scourge of addiction (alcohol and drugs). On its website national Caritas informs that the small candle costs 5 litas (1,45 euro) the large one 10 (2,90 euro). The goal is to sell as many as 110 thousand. Last year were sold 99 thousand candles, “the collected sums were used to help many families in difficult situations, lonely elderly people, day-care centres for children”. The title chosen for the campaign is “goodness unites us”, because “overcoming inequalities between the rich and the poor is the best way to have a united society. We can do it only when we realise that everything depends on us all. On me first”, said the president of national Caritas Janina Kukauskienë. Portugal: human rights, more attention to children On the occasion of the conferral of a golden medal for the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of human rights on the part of the Portugues Parliament, the president of the Institute for support to childhood (IAC) called for “a revision of old protocols applied to childhood”. Manuela Eanes explained that the agreements signed in 2002 must be updated: “Children should represent our major priority, and IAC’s major goal is their integral development, the defence and the protection of their rights, trying to be at all times the voice that attracts attention, studies, proposes and realizes actions that will help him live the period of childhood with joy”. The main area of action of the Institute founded in 1983, has always been that of “children at risk, abandoned, mistreated, disappeared and sexually exploited”, all areas in which the Church and other institutions of social solidarity have never dealt with, not even the service “SOS Child”. “The rights of children should be abstract, fixed on the walls, on the manifestos and in poems, but they should be inscribed in the hearts of mankind, and be implemented by all those who are responsible for them”; concluded Manuela Eanes.

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