Spain, Czech Republic, Belarus

Spain: message for the Day of the holy family “The joy of the Gospel of the family” is the title of the message of the Spanish bishops, members of the Episcopal Sub-Committee for the family and the defence of life, ahead of the Day of the Holy Family, to be celebrated on December 28th. The bishops’ document opens with a central question: “How can evangelization take place and how can the Gospel of the family be proclaimed before a prevailing anthropological concept acquiescent to the dominant culture, which transforms the understanding and the feeling of love, sexuality and corporeality? “. The answer, explain the bishops, is found in the Gospel that “proclaims that it is possible to know true love, the love that is shown as a vocation, as a journey towards a fullness that fills the human heart and makes it free and happy.” Thus the “vocation to love”, emphasizes the Spanish Church, is “at the heart of the Gospel of the family” and it originates from the love of God, “a love greater than our desires and than ourselves”, which is realized “in human life”: “sexual difference – explain the bishops – is an original reality that highlights the scope of the communion of love.” “God made use of spousal love to reveal His love. The transformation of human love in the love of God is permanent and exclusive as the union of Christ with the Church.” The bishops point out that “the mission of parents is irreplaceable” and that they have a “major responsibility” in communicating to their children “the truth of the good of the family”; at the same time, public institutions are encouraged to “protect, help and defend the stability and security of families.” It’s essential, continues the text, to remember the centrality of the family unit “in the transmission of the faith”, so it may be “alive, joyful, driven by hope and charity.” This evangelizing mission belongs to all members of the ecclesial community, the bishops underline, because “we have all received a vocation to love and we are all called to be witnesses of a new love, a great joy which will be the leaven of a new culture, able to view the defence of love and life as basic goods and community for humanity “. Finally, on the occasion of the Feast of the Holy Family the prelates called upon the faithful to “experience and to witness the joy of the Gospel of the family at home, in the church, in society, especially where the material, social or spiritual poverties need a convincing proclamation of hope and salvation.”Czech Republic: support to Ukrainian seminarians Nearly half million crowns (more than 18 thousand euro) will be allocated by the Archdiocese of Olomouc in the course of this academic year to support students of theology from Ukraine. By paying all tuition and lodging fees of three seminarians, the archbishopric intends to help Ukraine’s Greek-Catholic Church that has limited means for their education and formation. “If we consider that these Ukrainian students have started their fourth year at our Faculty of Theology of Cyril and Methodius in Olomouc, mindful of the current crisis in their country of origin, which lacks the financial means to support their education, the decision comes easy,” said Msgr. Jan Graubner, Archbishop of Olomouc. According to Father Antonin Stefek, rector of the seminary, the presence of seminarians from Ukraine could be a source of inspiration also for Czech students: “Several Eastern rite priests live and work in our country. That’s why we welcome the fact that seminarians of the Roman Catholic rite have the opportunity to learn about the spirituality Eastern Christianity.” People from Ukraine are particularly dear to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Olomouc, who are traditionally involved in the charity initiative “A Christmas gift for Ukraine”, organized every year during Advent by the local Caritas. Belarus: 2015 will be the Year of Conversion The Catholic Church in Belarus will experience a “Year of Conversion” in 2015. The decision of the bishops forms part of preparations for the centenary of the apparitions of Fatima, to be held in 2017. “Last year we lived the Year of Prayer, while 2016 will be the Year of hope”, declared the press office of the Bishops Conference, in the hope that the rich program of events and activities will help prepare the faithful for a spiritual journey. “Conversion is a commitment, and all Christians, aware of their weaknesses and their limits, should try to break free from the bondage of sin, with the help of God’s mercy, open to the gift of His love,” said Msgr. Kaszkiewics Alexander, Bishop of Grodno. He added: “The call to conversion is urgent not only for people whose lives are estranged from God and for those who have lost the gift of faith and have fallen into the trap of evil, but also for the faithful who live according to the commandments of the Lord but have lost the simple joy of being Christians in their daily lives.” The Year of conversion, which began in Advent, will last until the end of the liturgical year.

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