Russia, Spain, Austria, The Netherlands

Russia: Saint Petersburg, Caritas soup kitchen for 11 years Over the past days the Tatiana Soup Kitchen run by Caritas Saint Petersburg celebrated 11 years of activity. Some 110 people every day turn to Caritas to receive a full warm meal: old people, large families, disabled and whoever needs help and support. The money to purchase the food is provided by the Doris Epple and Alessandro Kilgren Fund. The venues are made available at zero cost by a cafeteria in the city that every day, from 10 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. closes its doors to customers and opens them to the poor. “Obviously, in business terms, this ‘enterprise’ brings no benefit to the owners of the cafeteria, Alexandra Stepanovna and Alexander F. Slizskie”, Caritas Saint Petersburg pointed out, thanking all those who over the past years have cooperated in the “Tatiana” initiative and who continue doing so. Spain: the faithful are still generous with the Church The percentage of tax returns devolving a fraction of taxable income to the Church has slightly increased in 2014, from 35.01% to 35.20% in the territory where the Tax Agency’s requirements are enforced, exception made for the Provincial Treasuries (the Basque country and Navarra). At national level the percentage increases were slight – from 34.87% to 34.88%, as a result of a change in legislation in the Provincial Treasury of Guipúzcoa, where taxpayers were asked to choose between the Catholic Church, other social purposes and a new opinion for the Provincial Council, excluding the possibility of multiple choices. Although the increase was limited, it remains a positive trend, considering that as a consequence of the crisis there has been a significant reduction in the amount of declared income in Spain, with a drop in the number of tax returns and of the overall sums collected by tax authorities. In this situation the total number of tax statements with the choice of devolving a percentage of their taxable income to the Church equally decreased (from 7.339.102 to 7.268.597), although it is less compared to the number of tax statements submitted. As a result also the total amount from taxes has decreased (247,6 million: 1.5 million euro less compared to the previous year – 249.1 million), while the amount in euro increased in seven communities: Madrid, Extremadura, Baleares, Murcia, Canarias, Castilla-La Mancha e La Rioja. Austria: debate on the family, mass media and the Church The Austrian Church will take part in a full day of intense debates on the occasion of the first National Day on Family-Media-Church relations, scheduled to take place April 20. Organized by the press office of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, by the Catholic agency, by the association of diocesan newspapers and by the Catholic Association of Austrian families, the Day will focus on the theme “The Family between ecclesiastic law and media world”. Starting from the message of Pope Francis ahead of the XLIX World Day of Social Communications “Communicating the family: a privileged encounter in the gratuitousness of love” and of the synodal appointment of October next, organizers intend to provide an opportunity for reflection to experts and social workers who interact in their profession with media and the family at ecclesial level. For the press officer of the Bishops’ Conference Paul Wuthe it’s necessary to reach “full awareness of the relevance of media communication in depicting the image of the family”. For Wuthe it’s important to ask oneself “what determines the media image of the family and how the Church can contribute to ensure the presence of the Christian ideal of the family in the media”. The Netherlands: Amsterdam, interreligious walk “Walking from one religion to the next” is the initiative that will take place April 19 in the Baarsjes neighbourhood in Amsterdam. “The purpose of this walk is to draw people closer and make them learn more about the different religions”, the organizers explained. Participants will convene at 13.30 at the Church of St. Augustine, and then, passing by the synagogue, two mosques, churches of other confessions, it will continue until 17 hours. The theme of the “passage, of the journey” and of its meaning in the various religious traditions will be the fil rouge of the afternoon and it will be explained in the various stops. The destination of the walk will be the Tagerijn encounter Centre where there will be a presentation of the different religions, while the afternoon program will close with “music and dinner”. All registered participants can choose between a regular, hallal or kosher meal. The website of the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam invites “residents, Turkish and Moroccan Imams, ministers, pastors and priests from the different confessions, rabbis, Hindu representatives, and all those involved in the realm of religions to take part in the walk”.

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