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
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
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
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).
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.)
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