Spain, Portugal, Slovakia, Czech Republic

Spain: lectionaries for liturgies in Braille The association of Spain’s Catholic blind persons (CECO) distributed materials to parishes to facilitate the participation of blind persons in religious celebrations. In this way, all those with visual or hearing impairments will be able to actively take part in the liturgy, thereby overcoming possible difficulties. As highlighted in the post-Synodal exhortation “Verbum Domini”, “they too must have a living contact with the Word of God”. The association offers lectionaries on the three liturgical cycles in Braille, for parishes or to be delivered at the home of the visually impaired person, if the disabled is an affiliate of the ONCE Foundation (National Spanish Organization for the Disabled). Moreover, all parishes that file a request will receive the lectionaries in Word-format so they may be processed via computer, enlarging the print according to individual needs. Impaired persons in fact have two reading systems, which is “totally reliable when it comes to public readings” as explained in the informative note published by CECO: Braille systems or the macro type, providing the enlargement of the print. Portugal: Catholics’ requests to the government The new government’s priorities should include “the strengthening of the social dimension of the State”. Eugénio Fonseca, president of Caritas Portugal, presenting a report compiled by several Catholic associations dedicated to the uncertain results of the recent legislative elections, drew an outline of the “concrete challenges” the Country should address. These include: “the reform of the welfare system, so as to provide greater protection to citizens, the fight against the scourge of unemployment, the restructuring of the tax system and the launch of a national strategy to uproot poverty”. Pedro Vaz Patto, president of the national Commission Justice and Peace (CNJP) underlined that structural reforms, including social security, cannot be subjected to government changes: “Instability will not benefit a Country that is yet to recover from the negative effects of the economic crisis”. The document equally calls for the enforcement of policies and legislation stipulating the protection of life in all its stages. Father Edoardo Duque, member of the national Service for Higher Education, pointed out that “the next government must be capable to put the family and its rights at the centre of development”. Slovakia: “solidarity packages” for migrants The Movement of the Communities for Christian children invited children and youths to prepare special “solidarity packages” for migrants and refugees, especially for the younger ones. “We have decided to react in concrete ways to the situations of many people in difficulties fleeing from Middle-Eastern countries”, said the promoters of the project. The project is part of the campaign “a gesture of support from children”, held each year to support families in need as well as marginalized individuals. “We call upon the leaders of our communities, in parishes and schools, to reflect on this issue also during their meetings, to pray together for knowledge and love and find a solution to this dire situation in Europe”, said Juraj Kralik, director of the Movement. The packages can be the result of teamwork, or they can be delivered by any child who wishes to help. For further information: www.erko.sk. Czech Republic: ethical aspects or urbanism “Let us consider the ethical dimension of architecture and urbanism”: the invitation is drawn from a declaration of the Council Iustitia et Pax of the Czech Bishops’ Conference. The document draws inspiration from the recent developments in the field of urbanism in the Czech Republic, where private entrepreneurs design urban projects, often neglecting the lifestyle of the local population and the environmental aspects of their profession. “Enterprises behave according to what society allows them to do”; wrote bishop Vaclav Maly, president of the Iustitia et Pax Council, highlighting the need to establish clear rules that should be respected in the field of “environment, community and for the continuity and preservation of cultural heritage”. The declaration signals a lack of transparency in urban architecture, and underlines that the general public is uninformed of urban planning. The Council called upon public authorities and policymakers to ensure transparency, taking into account not only the profitability of the projects but also the citizens’ common good.

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