‘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.
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.
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
“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
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
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
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.
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
Reconciliation is a familiar theme to the various regions of Europe, where a past of extremely violent conflict still very much determines the outlook on other peoples and other nations. And reconciliation is a complicated theme for religious and less religious people alike, there is no need to explain things in great detail. This is not only true for the Balkan or Eastern Europe. Fifty years of German-French reconciliation ends in an “Aesthetic ruin park”, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung recently wrote. On 8 April 2013, F.A.Z. explained to its readers, how the exhibition “De l’Allemagne, 1800-1939. German Thought and Painting, from Friedrich to Beckmann” (Louvre, 28 March-24 June 2013) had caused outrage. Marking the 50th anniversary of the French-German reconciliation, the Paris exhibition is now subject of growing German-French controversy. Continue reading
For a certain amount of time, a new Pope becomes a kind of white screen on which we project our hopes and anxieties with great abundance. This phenomenon seems more vivid now, not the least because our newly elected Pope Francis’ personal track record is fairly unknown and limited to a specific geographical area. Moreover, a new Pope will be confronted with all kinds of wish lists, e.g. of a more political nature. What is being said in the Eastern parts of Europe? Continue reading
The Catholic Church of Eastern Europe will be somewhat underrepresented at the election of a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. If we take a look at the vast territory between the German border and Vladivostok (Caucasus and Central Asia included), no more than ten Cardinals will participate in the conclave. Four of them are Polish. Three others originate from former Yugoslav republics. Seven are ordinary bishop. The remaining three Cardinals are (former) members of the Roman Curia. Remarkably absent will be the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. With 5,5 to 6 million believers worldwide, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the largest Church of the Oriental Rite in union with Rome. Continue reading