France: from the bishops an appeal to welcome the migrants “We hereby convey our shame for the unfolding of events in the Mediterranean and in Calais” declared with strong words the French bishops, who on June 17 decided to voice their stand with a declaration signed by all the bishops and cardinals of the permanent Council, dedicated to the “increasingly tense” situation that migrants are experiencing on the border with Italy, in Calais, and in Paris. In their statement the bishops launched an appeal to the Catholics of France and to Europe. “With increasingly greater intensity – states the message – we hereby address the painful situation of migrants and refugees from Africa and from the Middle East. For various reasons, dramatic on many occasions – war, poverty, climate change – many of them are forced to leave their home countries, where they can no longer live”. The bishops recalled that a large number of Catholics are committed in the reception of their “foreign brothers and sisters” motivated by the concern to “give them decent living conditions”. “We hereby welcome this commitment and call upon all Catholics in France to change their outlook, to be close, to overcome prejudice and fears and dare encounter. We cannot be closed within ourselves, ignoring the misery of so many men, women and children from all over the world, who only want a dignified life”. The second part of the statement contains a set of appeals. “We should become aware – the bishops write – that unfortunately this situation will keep on growing worse and that the entire national community and society as a whole will have to take care of it. We urge our political leaders to intensify international cooperation that may meet these challenges. Europe in particular should assume its own responsibilities and call on its countries to give veritable answers”. Russia: learning communication, a seminar for parishes A seminar to learn to share “what happens in individual parishes and in the communities of our local Church, bearing witness to how and when people go to church, and what is offered to those seeking an encounter with God in the Catholic tradition” will take place next September 17-20 in Moscow. The invitation comes from Fr Kirill Gorbunov, chair of the Information Service in the archdiocese of Moscow and of the portals рускатолик.рф (ruskatolik.rf) and gaudete.ru. “Our parishes are hundreds, even thousands of kilometers apart, but as regards information it’s as if the distance separating Kaliningrad and Berezniki between Kursk and Murmansk were as far as the moon”, said Fr Gorbunov. Thus “there is a need for communities that are capable of finding their own voice, of speaking of themselves and of the life inside the Church”, claimed the Moscow priest. Although many parishes “already have their pages on social networks, internet, and their own newsletters” Gorbunov added, “often these are re-prints of news that can be found on other websites which aren’t always of high quality, while original information is unknown beyond the parish”. The seminar envisages workshops on the delivery of news, videos and photography, reflection on the presence in the information arena. Spain: religion classes, the dioceses intervene In a letter the bishops of the ecclesiastic Province of Madrid jointly remind parents that their children’s registration in religion classes is a right they are endowed to enjoy, starting with the next school year. “It’s important for your families, for the present and for the future of the Church of our dioceses, and for Madrid’s community that we belong to, that you choose religion as a school subject for your children, claiming it with all legal means. It’s your own right”, assured the prelates, who recalled that this subject, whose option is mandatory across all schools in Madrid’s Community, can be expressly requested by parents when they register their offspring in school. Also the bishops of Galicia called upon Catholic parents to opt for Catholic religion in all schools. “Religious education will help your sons and daughters deepen the message of Jesus and to reflect on and better understand the faith we passed onto them. In this way they will be able to understand the criteria, values and attitudes that will further their positive coexistence in life; they will learn the religious meaning of our culture, rich in traditions, celebrations and rites imbued with Christianity”. In the Principality of the Asturias, where the councillor for education largely cut religion classes, the Asturias Platform for Religion in schools, along with the Catholic Schools in the Asturias and Concapastur invite Asturias society to take part in “the reaffirmation event, with festive and familiar traits”, due to be held June 25 in Oviedo, to claim parents’ right to choose the education they want for their children.