Germany: Bdkj, Catholic youth in assembly The castle of Burg Rothenfels am Main, in the Bavarian district of Upper Franconia, is the venue of the general Assembly of the Bund der Deutschen Katholischen Jugend – Federation of German Catholic Youth (Bdkj). 100 delegates and 660 thousand members of 17 Catholic associations representing Bdkj will convene in the ancient castle of Rothenfels, currently a youth formation centre, from Thursday 16 to Sunday April 19. The works will be centered on three thematic tracks, which are: the condition of refugees and asylum-seekers in Germany; the situation of federal and local policies in favour of children and youths; the analysis of the “associations theology” and the state of Bdkj. The debate on refugees’ reception and assistance policies is a topical theme in Germany, and one of the main areas of intervention of young Catholics. The theme of the theological debate is important for Bdkj to examine how organizations and other religious bodies carry out their mission in contemporary society. The assembly will also elect the new national governing board. The diocesan representative of Cologne, Fr Dirk Bingen is expected to assume the post of the current federal President, Fr Simon Rapp, who steps down after six years in office. Slovakia: national Caritas in support of refugees In the past twelve months Caritas Slovakia provided support, in many different ways, to 202 refugees in the framework of the Rafael Project, co-funded by the European Refugee Fund. “The people whom we help were forced to flee for different reasons, often because they had suffered cruel treatment, violence, acts of injustice and even death threats. Some of them were persecuted for religious or racial reasons”, said Radovan Gumulak, Caritas Secretary General, who added that most of the refugees entered Slovakia from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Eritrea. “Our goal was to help them integrate into society and support them in their new beginning”, Gumulak said. Experts in psychology, pedagogy, job placement, legal and medical issues, joined forces to provide all the needed service. “Our team provided social support to 627 people, legal advice to 107, we helped 45 clients find a job, offering language courses to 57 refugees, while several dozens were recipients of financial or material aid. “There are a certain number of difficulties that refugees must face in Slovakia in their journey towards full integration into our society. Even the apparently simple things can become very difficult to handle if they are abandoned to themselves”, said Jana Figelova, coordinator of the project, mentioning the lack of qualified Slovakian-language for foreigners or the problems regarding the legalization of previously obtained educational or professional qualifications. Portugal: Caritas, 300thousand euro for the families Caritas Portugal announced that the proceeds of the fund collection, carried out the current year in the framework of the National Week (March 5-8), devoted to the theme “A single heart, a single human family”, amount to 300 thousand euro, representing an 8.5% decrease compared to 2014. In a statement to the press, “on behalf of all needy families in the Country”, the chairman of the Catholic association expressed his “appreciation to Portuguese citizens who despite serious economic difficulties, once again showed a strong sense of solidarity”. “Last year Caritas managed to support over 160 thousand people, integrated within 63.059 family units, and even this year the collected sums will be entirely devolved to our diocesan organizations in support of the most tragic situations identified at local level”, added Eugénio Fonseca. Recalling that the Catholic organization is involved in the fight on social exclusion, notably support to ethnic minorities, migrants communities and their families living in their countries of departures, drug-addicts, HIV-positive persons, alcoholics, the Portuguese Caritas chairman referred to the words of the president of Caritas International Mons. Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa (Honduras), delivered during the meeting held during the week in the city of Fafe on the value of human dignity. “It’s not only a matter of ensuring food or a decent standard of living. It is equally necessary to ensure that the poor have full-fledged prosperity. It is important to always proclaim that for the Church the commitment in favour of the poor, rather than being cultural, sociological, political or philosophical, is a theological category”.