Comece, England and Wales, Austria and Luxembourg

Comece: Europeinfos, alarm on anti-Semitism “An old spectre is haunting Europe: anti-Semitism”. The alarm comes from the bishops of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of the European Community (COMECE) in May’s editorial of Europeinfos, available online. The presence of other religions in Europe characterizes the latest issue also with contributions that delve into the questions on whether “interreligious dialogue can help combat radicalism”, or whether Islam will be able to choose to be “European Islam” in dialogue with Western culture, or “Islam in Europe” tout court. The reflections on environmental issues go on ahead of the end-of-year summit in Paris, with an interesting overview of the initiatives of Catholic organizations to address climate change. Europeinfos also features an op-ed by the regional superior of the Jesuits in Ukraine, David Nazar, who explains the meaning of the presence of the Catholic Church in the “revolution of dignity” on Maidan in Kiev last winter. England and Wales: How to live the Year of Mercy The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales welcomes the Holy Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis with a statement suggesting how to celebrate it in the best way. Suggestions include: to set up a Holy Door outside the London cathedral of Westminster, mother church of English Catholicism and some shrines chosen for this purpose: pilgrimages as steps of a journey of conversion and special celebrations. On March 4-5 next year, it will be possible to do confession and adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament. The statement invites the faithful to “show a special attention for priests, who show us the merciful face of the Father, administering the sacraments to the persons entrusted to them”, and to “explore, in a creative way, how to reach out to other people, notably the needy, through merciful deeds”. For the bishops of England and Wales the Year of Mercy is also a “fruitful way of dialogue with other Christians, other religions and non-believers” and a way to “show tenderness towards the world that God has created”. Austria: the book of chants and prayer in braille The new book of prayers and chants of the Austrian Church, the “Gotteslob” (Praise to God), will be used also by the blind and visually impaired. The edition in Braille print for the blind is planned for publication along with the digitally re-mastered version that will be compatible with electronic notebooks used by the blind. Blindenapostolat, the Austrian Apostolate for the blind, is in charge of the entire project and the investments. Gotteslob will soon be available also in print – A4 format – with extra-large typeface for the visually impaired. Blindenapostolat has also announced that a woman will chair the association for the first time in the Austrian Church: sixty-year-old Henriette Etzenberger, a former primary school teacher. Blindenapostolat is a social and pastoral association providing assistance on diocesan and federal grounds, whose only purpose is the formation of the laity in religious services for the blind, the visually impaired, and deaf-blind people, with dedicated liturgical events and aids to parishes and institutions for social work. Luxembourg: the grand duchy, the Church and migrants “Today 46% of residents doesn’t have Luxembourgish nationality”, but “all these people are part of our society, of its life, richness, beauty and diversity”. In the past days the Archbishop of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Hollerich released a letter to the faithful titled “together, responsible for the future of our Country and our society”, that draws inspiration from the above-mentioned figures. “Without our migrants Luxembourg couldn’t live nor survive”, wrote the archbishop, whose main concern is that this population bracket “isn’t truly integrated into the political life of the Grand Duchy”. On the background the referendum of June 7, and the question of whether to give non-Luxembourgish residents the possibility of voting in the national elections, registering in the local constituencies. For the archbishop “other initiatives need to be developed to ensure that these residents acknowledge their social and political responsibilities”. “A Country should not exclude from its political realm those who daily contribute to its economic, social, cultural and religious life”. The bishops thus invited the faithful to inform themselves ahead of the vote.

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