Spain: CEE, the Church’s commitment for the Country On April 20-24 took place the Plenary Assembly of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE). On Friday 24 the bishops travelled to Avila on the occasion of the fifth centenary of the birth of Saint Theresa de Jesús. The prolusion by the Archbishop of Valladoid, CEE President, Cardinal Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, opened the meeting. “We look at the current social scenario with concern, notably the continuing consequences of the economic crisis that despite undeniable signs of recovery severely affects the most vulnerable social groups, especially the huge numbers of unemployed and, among them, the young”, said the Cardinal, for whom “this situation contributed to the development of a complex political and social landscape”. Before this situation “the position of the Church is not that of a political opponent, as already shown by our Bishops’ Conference since the beginning of the political transition, where it played a primary role for the peaceful recovery of rights and freedoms. Its role is not of partisan but of pastoral nature, in order to enlighten, in accordance with the Gospel, the conscience of the faithful, so that they mode of action” may be “coherent with their faith”. The Cardinal pointed out that the Church intends to continue her commitment “for the right to life from the moment of conception to natural death, for true marriage and family harmony and stability, for parents’ right to the education of their child according to their beliefs”. During the Assembly the bishops worked on three documents: “The Church at the service of the poor”; the report on the distribution of the clergy in Spain; the pastoral plan for the period 2016-2020. Portugal: Caritas, increasing child poverty Presenting the annual report on the situation of the crisis in Europe – “Increase in poverty and inequalities. The appropriate social models for a solution” – the Secretary General of Caritas Europe, Jorge Nuño Mayer, denounced “a situation marked by high unemployment, poverty, high levels of public debt, and low economic growth”. The document highlights the need on the part of governments “to review their policies vis a vis social services, in the face of unemployment rates that are expected to become structural in the coming years”. According the President of Caritas Portugal the report presents “two worrying figures in particular: the increase in child poverty and social exclusion”. “The first is not isolated, since children as poor because they live in poor families, whose parents have lost their jobs, incomes and all forms of social protection”, pointed out Eugénio Fonseca. “On the other hand, all citizens have the right to take part in society and need minimum support that will ensure their survival and their human dignity”. According to the responsible of Caritas, “the term profit should be replaced by the word solidarity”. From this perspective the 2020 Agenda of the association will focus on social cohesion, with the hope that “funds are invested in overcoming poverty, benefitting the centrality of people”, with the full involvement of all institutions and civil society as a whole”. Slovakia: friends of Radio Lumen in Krakow “Join the pilgrimage of joy with consecrated persons towards the spring of the mercy of God and awaken the world”. With these words, the only Catholic radio in Slovakia, Radio Lumen, invites to one of the main events organised in the framework of celebrations for the Year of Consecrated Life. “We are organizing this pilgrimage ot the Shrine of the Mercy of God in Krakow every year with the participation of thousands of pilgrims, many of whom are listeners of our radio. This not only helps to develop and support our community and its spiritual life, it also contributes to a sort of ‘cross-border friendship’ with our Polish neighbours”, said Zuzana Szakácsová, chief editor of Radio Lumen. Il program envisages recitation of the Rosary, Eucharistic adoration, a concert of gospel music, a cultural performance on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the birth of Saint John Paul II, the presentation of the future plans of Radio Lumen’s broadcasts, and Mass, due to be presided over by Mons. Bober, metropolitan archbishop of Kosice. The entire event will be broadcast live on the frequencies of Radio Lumen. Denmark: a monastery becomes a refugees home From May the monastery of the nuns of the Most Precious Blood in Vangsgård, in the district of Birkeroed, will become a home for the temporary accommodation of refugees. This Danish farm that dates back to the early 20th century, readapted into a monastery at the end of the 1950s, has been a parish church, and a nursing home. Since the community became smaller and after the State started to supply the social and assistance services previously offered by religious orders, the municipality of Birkeroed purchased the monastery. The 6 nuns of the community continue living there waiting to find a new accommodation. The mayor, Jens Ive, has decided to use the premises to host refugees. Even the nuns are happy with this solution, said also on behalf of the sisters Anna Mirijam Kaschner, who is also Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference of Nordic Countries. “The proceeds of the sale will go to the general Home in Rome and it will be used to build a hospital and a school in South Sudan, and to buy a new home here in Denmark”, explained sister Kaschner. The Home at present has some sixty rooms, 40 of which can be used immediately. The first refugees will be accommodated in the coming weeks.