Apr 17

“On Germany”

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

Mar 22

The New Pope and Eastern Europe

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

Feb 12

Church of Eastern Europe Soft Voice at the Conclave

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

Jan 10

‘Religionless culture’ in Poland

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Benno Jacob, Katharina Staritz and Edith Stein, what is the legacy of these four theologians for us? This was a central question during a discussion at the Edith Stein House in Wroclaw. About twenty participants discussed on 13 December 2012 about how the Lutheran Bonhoeffer, the Jew Jacob, the evangelical Staritz and Catholic Stein looked at culture. How did these thinkers, who were all born in Wroclaw (Breslau), view the relationship between culture, society, civilization and religion? Continue reading

Jan 10

‘Religieloze cultuur’ in Polen

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Benno Jacob, Katharina Staritz en Edith Stein, wat is de boodschap van deze vier theologen voor de 21ste eeuw? Deze vraag stond centraal tijdens een gespreksavond in het Edith Stein Huis in Wroclaw. Ongeveer twintig deelnemers bespraken op 13 december 2012 de cultuurvisie van de lutheraan Bonhoeffer, de jood Jacob, de evangelische Staritz en de katholiek Stein. Hoe zagen deze in Wroclaw geboren denkers de relatie tussen cultuur, maatschappij, beschaving en religie? Continue reading

Nov 04

Conference “Women in the Roman Catholic Church of Eastern Europe”

Opposition against notions such as “feminism”, “gender” or “political correctness”, either shallow or profound, cannot be an excuse for inaction, when sensitive issues like trafficking of women, inequality, typecasting, discrimination of women, prostitution or domestic violence are being discussed. Similarly, moral indignation or feelings of moral superiority can never justify passiveness, when sins are committed against women. These were the key findings of our Communicantes conference last 3 November 2012. At castle Hernen, an audience of about twenty listened to three guests from Eastern Europe: Caritas Lithuania’s Kristina Mišinienė, Romanian journalist Márta Bodó and Sister Rebeka Anić from Croatia. Read the introduction to the conference by Communicantes President Professor Nico Schreurs and the lecture of Sister Rebeka Anic. For the work of Kristina Mišinienė, see www.anti-trafficking.lt (with pages in English language as well). Read also the announcement of the conference and some background information at http://communicantes.nl/?p=5066 (in Dutch).

Oct 19

How to Survive the Idyll?

Well, for those of you who read Dutch, I would like to draw your attention to a nicely written article by Paul Baars in the Netherlands review Pokrof. Through the eyes of the local parish priest Father Artemi, Baars vividly describes the idyllic yet harsh conditions under which people on the Russian countryside try to make ends meet. The article sums up neatly how many people in Eastern Europe, outside and inside the European Union, stay afloat economically. Paul Baars (see picture – on the right) is president of the section “Church” of the town twinning Nijmegen-Pskov (Russia). Read: Hoe een Russisch dorp overleeft. (Pokrof, 59, 4, September/October 2012.)

Sep 18

Women suffering as Christ

In the past, the idea of a likeness between the suffering of women and the suffering of Christ was not something straightforward and even today it is sometimes perceived as something offensive. After all, was it not Eve, a woman, who had opened Pandora’s box and thus brought sin, sickness, death and eternal doom over humanity? And was it not Christ, a man, who saved mankind from the very same sin, sickness, death and eternal damnation? Obviously, the ideal role model for women was the Virgin Mary, not Christ. Visitors of the exhibition “Women in the Spotlight” in the Utrecht Museum Catharijneconvent, however, will be tempted to change their mind a bit. Continue reading

Sep 14

Elections 2012 Mark the End of Dutch Christian Democracy

Voters in the Netherlands have come out on Wednesday 12 September 2012 to vote in favour of Europe, against the populism of a Geert Wilders and against the defamation of emigrants. Shocking, however, was the enormous blow dealt to the centrist Christian-democratic party. The Christian Democratic Appeal CDA lost two thirds of its seats in less than three years time and was reduced to 13 seats in the 150-member lower house. All together, Christian parties now hold 21 seats. In 1963 their number was 80. Last Wednesday, we witnessed the breakdown of Christian democratic politics in the Netherlands. Continue reading

Sep 12

God does not exist, therefore He exists

People worldwide seem to think that in the Netherlands God is dead, metaphorically speaking of course. But in spite of that, the Dutch philosopher Emanuel Rutten has come up with a new argument backing His existence. On 20 September 2012, Rutten, a logician who researched modern day arguments in favour of the existence of God, will defend his conclusions at the VU University Amsterdam. Recently however, his doctoral thesis A Critical Assessment of Contemporary Cosmological Arguments: Towards a Renewed Case for Theism became available online . Continue reading

Sep 07

Off Their Rockers

Since the turn of the century, the topics of women’s emancipation and feminism have more or less disappeared from public discourse, in church circles as well. At least, this is what happened in the Netherlands. Feminism and women’s emancipation fell victim, so to say, to their own success. In Eastern Europe, however, things are more complex, as was clearly shown at the biennial regional conference of the European Society of Woman in Theological Research that took place in Split, Croatia, from 2 to 5 September 2012.* There, it became apparent that women’s issues have not been given any priority whatsoever within the Orthodox, Protestant or Roman Catholic Churches. And what is more, they are considered with great suspicion or the study thereof is merely tolerated. Continue reading