Feb 19

Protests in Ukraine. How did it all come about and where will it end?

Until today, President Viktor Yanukovych hasn’t made one single concession to the opposition or to the protesters at the EuroMaidan. Their demands were very simple. They want Ukraine to move in another direction: away from random police violence, lawlessness, bribing, corruption and state theft. In fact, Ukraine is a banana republic, a country where mobsters are in command. It is not much different from your average third world country and rather similar to the Russian Federation. Read the full text in pdf.

Jan 31

The Church and the Anti-Government Protests in Ukraine II

Today, the bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church issued a long letter (in Ukrainian) explaining their attitude towards continuing protests in Kiev and various provincial capitals. The bishops deplore “manifestations of violence, oppression and harassment of peaceful demonstrators by the security agencies” and “condemn any bloodshed and any form of violence”, while adhering to “the right to peaceful protest”. A few days ago, professor Heleen Zorgdrager (Free University in Amsterdam) returned from EuroMaidan in Kiev. She wrote an article for Het Fries Dagblad and gave some interesting details about the role of religion in the protest: article in Dutch. (The picture above shows Lutheran minister Ralf Haska, who several times prevented clashes between protesters and police officers. See: Revolution and Religion: 12 best images from Euromaidan.)

Jan 29

Quo vadis, Europa? – Quo imus? – Where are we going in Europe?

As a strong supporters and defender of the European Union I am feeling more and more embarrassed with this monster with 28 dragon heads.
Christians have remained loyal supporters and so have I, not so much because of what Europe actually is, but rather because of what Europe could (have) become: a conglomerate of states loosely sharing more or less the same ideals, an example to the world of how century old conflict was put to rest and a union ready to stand up for its rights and for those of others. Continue reading

Dec 30

The Church and the Anti-Government Protests in Ukraine I

‘Ukraine is Europe!’ demonstrators sing by tens of thousands on Independence Square in Kyiv. Since 21 November, they have been protesting their government’s failure to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union. All the main Churches of Ukraine joined in the protest with the exception of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Dr. Heleen Zorgdrager, assistant professor of the Free University of Amsterdam, recently wrote an article about the way in which the Churches give spiritual support to the demonstrators. Unfortunately, this article is only available in Dutch.

Nov 25

EU-Ukrainian Love is Flourishing

Last Friday, Ukraine decided to suspend the European Union association agreement signing. Large scale protests are now being held all over the country. The smart looking picture on the left was taken in Lviv, Western Ukraine, on Sunday evening.  It defies the political reality. In spite of what happened, EU-Ukrainian love is flourishing. Indeed, we know from Catholic Social Teaching: big things start small! The Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Major-Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk expressed his solidarity with the crowd at “Europe square” (Maidan Nezalezhnosti) in Kiev last Sunday.

Oct 28

Innovation and Tradition

Saturday 26 October 2013, Frans Hoppenbrouwers and board member Joop Wortelboer of Communicantes visited the conference “Innovation and Tradition” celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Dutch Centre for the Social Teaching of the Church CSLK. It was worthwhile to travel all the way to Vogelenzang (Bird’s song). Continue reading

Oct 28

Echoes-Network

“Is there a place for me in the Church?” is an international project of the Echoes-Network, which is now in the course of preparation. This morning, Echoes-Network coordinator Ph.D. student Mario Vukoja and Frans Hoppenbrouwers of Communicantes met at a very stormy Tilburg Central Station (Netherlands), where we discussed our respective dialogue projects. Continue reading

Sep 04

Non-Religiosity and Anti-Religiosity in Western European Countries

Research by social scientists of the Dutch Erasmus University in the review Politics and Religion reveals that the so-called ‘rationalisation theory’ (higher education leads to unbelief) is not a good explanation for (militant) atheism. In secular countries like the Netherlands non-believers or atheists are rather to be found among the lower educated, while higher educated Dutch are more likely to look sympathetic or more tolerant at religion. However, in countries with a clear-cut religious culture, like Portugal or Italy, a higher education leads to more opposition to religion. Continue reading

Sep 03

Christians in Responsibility for Europe

So, Frans Hoppenbrouwers of the foundation Communicantes recently visited the 17th Renovabis conference Free and Solidary. Christians in Responsibility for Europe in Freising, Germany (28/30 September 2013). It was an interesting gathering, meeting old acquaintances and making new friends… ‘Music to my ears’, as such he described the remarks of Renovabis’ general manager Father Stefan Dartmann SJ at the end of the conference. They underlined Communicantes’ plan to put dialogue between Christians in Europe at the heart of its activities. Continue reading

Aug 17

A Good Read

Some reading tips from our Facebook page, which we gladly republish on our web pages.
1. The most recent volume of Religion, State and Society 41 (2013) 2 (June) is devoted to the Church social teachings: “Aspects of Christian Social Thought”. Introduction and table of contents you will find at www.tandfonline.com.
2. The July-August 2013 number of Religion & Gesellschaft in Ost und West is dedicated to the Black Sea region, dealing with for example the protests in Turkey, the dachas of New Russians near Sochi and much about the Crimean peninsula. Unfortunately, however, the popular revolt in Bulgaria is missing. (See illustration from the Dutch evening paper NRC Handelsblad.) A table of contents you will find at www.kirchen.ch.
3. Several interesting articles about the new Russian law criminalising “offence to religious feelings” were published on 14 and 15 August 2013 at Forum 18. Supporters of the law call it a means of the state to maintain peace in society, while opponents denounce it as a tool of state oppression, which may backfire for the Orthodox Church.
4. The interesting website Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso. OBC is devoted to social and political change in South-East Europe, Turkey and the Caucasus.

May 20

Difficult Reconciliation

Recently, Roman and Greek Catholic bishops have been discussing reconciliation between Poles and Ukrainians, but on 14 May 2013, less than a week after the reconciliation project was announced, it fell apart. Continue reading