As many as 530 events, from January 18-25, from the North to the South of Italy that include ecumenical celebrations, thematic meetings, round tables on the challenges of dialogue, gatherings for prayer, vigils and vespers. As is the case each year, a very busy program of events has been scheduled by the Centre for the Study of Ecumenism in Italy. Programs extend nationwide, from A as the diocese of Acqui to V as in Vittorio Veneto. It’s a quiet, low-profile community of faithful that is determined and dedicated”, said Fr Cristiano Bettega, director of the Office for Ecumenism and Dialogue of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI).
Broad-based participation: all Christian Churches present in Italy are involved in the planning of events: from the Evangelic Pentacostal Church to the Orthodox Churches – in particular, the patriarchates of Constantinople, Moscow and Romania, as well as the more ancient Eastern Churches such as the Armenian, Coptic, and Eritrean Churches, along with the Valdese, Baptists, Methodists, Adventists, Anglicans and Lutherans. Catholic Action, the Focolare Movement, Sant’Egidio, Taizé, have equally responded to the invitation. Events are scheduled to take place in major historic cathedrals as well as in smaller communities and parishes, which will open their doors to Christians from all denominations. Monasteries and religious institutions are also involved, with a day – January 18 – simultaneously dedicated to a national prayer for Christian unity.
“The challenge that lies ahead – said Fr Bettega – is to do our utmost so that this commitment may become contagious and that the passion for the unity of our Churches may not be confined to a small group of people or be experienced only in small circles, but rather involve the life of the Churches as a whole.”
It’s no longer the time of the “warm embraces”, as the historic one between Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Atenagora that was the realization of a “dream” of an entire generation at the end of the 1960s. Moreover, contemporary challenges are equally urgent. Italy went from being a Catholic-majority Country until a few years ago, to a multiethnic – thus multi-confessional – nation today.
Migrants knocking on the doors of our Country call into question Christian Italy. For this reason, Christian Churches have decided to address the theme of migration in a dedicated meeting in the city of Genoa titled
“I was a stranger and you have welcomed me”.
The topic of migration will also be discussed in Padua, while in Turin the Churches have decided to devolve the sums collected in the various prayer gatherings to the “Humanitarian desk” project promoted by the Federation of Evangelical Churches and by the Sant’Egidio Community for the creation of humanitarian channels to help refugees and migrants reach our Country in complete safety. The same option was made in Venice, where offerings will serve for the reception of migrants.
However, the inflow of migrants did not remain distant from the life of the Churches. Indeed, it entered the communities, notably the Orthodox and Protestant Churches, influencing their traits, dynamics and even the spoken language.
Thus on Tuesday 19, the topic of “integration processes”, activated in a special way inside the churches, was addressed during a meeting in Parma.
Ever increasing numbers of events for young people signal a form of ecumenism that is increasingly open to the advance of what is new. For example, in Ancona, on January 18 the diocese held a meeting to further mutual knowledge between the members of different Christian denominations. A session on “devotion with young people for young people” took place in the Lutheran Church in Florence. Youths will convene in the Baptist Church in Genoa on Friday 22. A group of students from the Bossey Ecumenical Institute will attend a meeting at the Shrine of the New Martyrs and witnesses of the Faith of St. Bartholomew at the Tiber Island in Rome while
An “Ecumenical Day for children” is scheduled to take place in Turin on Saturday, January 23, with a workshop and an animated ecumenical prayer.
“I think that today – said Fr Bettega – is the time for an experience of communion, feeling at ease with those who are different from us and even rediscovering one another as brothers and sisters in faith, and jointly decide to undertake common action for the benefit of others.” “Italy has a long tradition of welcome, generosity and reception”, he added. “But people are easily influenced by current events and they erect walls of prejudice and self-defence. This plethora of events and initiatives held throughout the Country, under the banner of prayer for unity, represents a message to our Country which says that welcoming dialogue with others is not only desirable, it is fundamental, as it means meeting this historical challenge. The busy schedule of events planned for the week shows that all of this is possible. Ecumenism put into practice with prayer and encounter forms people with an open heart. And you cannot be a true Christian without being ecumenical.”
Diocesi – dioceses
Ecumenismo – Ecumenism
Immigrazione – Migration
Integrazione – Integration
Persone ed Enti
Cei – CEI
Fcei – FCEI
Italia – Italy