Nov 23

Church Goers More Altruistic

Every two years The Netherlands Institute for Social Research ¦ SCP takes the temperature of Dutch society. How do the Dutch think about themselves? Are they happy? How do they see the future? How do they spend their free time? Are they religious? What is the quality of life? The outcomes sometimes seem contradictory. On average Dutch men and women feel quite happy. They have money to spend, and will see old age, but in the same time a mere 25 percent of the population is optimistic about the future; 60 percent has serious worries. While people who go to church more often are more socially active, Church membership is down. Continue reading

Nov 08

Germanus Incredibilis

The Incredible German. No, I am sorry, this is not an entry about pope Benedict XVI. This posting deals with the German Jesuit Father Athanasius Kircher (1601/1602–1680), a famous 17th century scholar, whose intellectual biography was recently published: A Study of the Life and Works of Athanasius Kircher, ‘Germanus Incredibilis’. It is a good opportunity for me to let you in on one of my intellectual interests. Continue reading

Oct 13

The Market for Sexual Goods and Services

In June 2011 I met with the highly motivated staff and volunteers of the programme “Aid to Victims of Prostitution and Human Trafficking” of Caritas Lithuania. This Roman Catholic organisation provides assistance to (mostly) women who have become victim of prostitution and of human trafficking, in the country itself or abroad. If they wish, clients receive psychological, judicial or practical assistance so they may kick-start a new life. Continue reading

Oct 12

Let’s go Belarus!

From 17 to 28 October 2011, project and content manager Frans Hoppenbrouwers will be visiting the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic Churches of Belarus. Since 2004 Communicantes supports Roman and Greek Catholic projects, for example pastoral care for prisoners and the training of volunteers. Furthermore, election time excepted, there’s not too much of Belarus in the news. Yet another good reason to go and have a look. Again! This will be my first visit since 2004. It will take me from Minsk to Grodno and then via Minsk to Vitebsk. (See the map.) After my return, I will let you know of my experiences. Continue reading

Sep 26

Medvedev, Putin and Ecumenism

Last Saturday 24 September, President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia announced that he will be stepping down from office next year to allow his Prime Minister Vladimir Putin a third presidential term. Russia watchers see in this Putin’s desire to prevent substantial reform, and, for that reason, predict the end of the Putin era as well. On the short-term, the Putin-Medvedev shuffle will also affect ecumenical relations, at least, this would not come as a surprise. Continue reading

Sep 01

Women Theologians

In some Roman Catholic circles feminism is considered of something suspect. Seemingly, this word denotes several evils that have come about through the re-appreciation of womanhood: a new and problematic relationship between man and woman; motherhood, rather optional than a duty, competes with various models of self-determination; the decline of male authority. Undeniably, these and other changes are positive and negative in the same time, for men and for women. When we visit our parish church on Sunday, however, we can clearly see that the Church itself is by and large feminised as well. Interestingly enough, the vast majority of church-goers is female, in Western and in Eastern Europe. Continue reading

Aug 17

“Rural Areas in Upheaval”

Renovabis – “Active solidarity of the German Roman Catholics with the people of Central and Eastern Europe” – will hold its annual conference on 1-3 September 2011. This year’s conference is devoted to the erosion of the quality of life in the Eastern European countryside. Theme: “Rural Areas in Upheaval”. Can the Churches in Eastern Europe somehow contribute to a solution? Continue reading

Jul 01

Fugetive

In the 1960s, the American television network ABC aired the serial “The Fugitive“. A man, doctor Richard Kimble, is wrongly accused of murdering his wife and subsequently condemned to death. By chance he manages to escape. While on the run from the police he is trying to find the culprit and in the final episode he succeeds in doing so.
No happy ending today, however, for refugees who got stuck somewhere on the border of the European Union. At the end of June 2011, the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe published an account of the detention of asylum seekers in Ukraine: No other options. It paints a grim picture of their life. Continue reading

Jun 30

Studiedag Oekraïne

Tijdschrift Pokrof en de Stichting Communicantes organiseren op zaterdag 26 november 2011 een studiedag over recente kerkelijke ontwikkelingen in Oekraïne. Insteek daarbij is “geloof doen”. De aandacht gaat dan uit naar de soms goede, soms slechte relaties tussen de kerken, de inzet voor een rechtvaardige samenleving, oude en nieuwe sacrale kunst (iconen) als uitdrukkingsvorm van geloof, en naar de praktijk van het alledaagse volksgeloof. Enkele interessante sprekers zijn bereid gevonden om een bijdrage te leveren. Drie van hen zijn uit Oekraïne afkomstig en een doceert ieder jaar enkele maanden aan de Katholieke Universiteit in de metropool Lviv, westelijk Oekraïnea. Zie de folder. Meld u aan: stuur een e-mail. (FH)

Jun 29

Christianity and Society

Christian faith is still very much part of Western society, though its role, prerogatives, nature and contribution have been fiercely debated over and over again. The Master ‘Christianity and Society’ of the Tilburg University (Netherlands) focuses on this relationship between Christianity and society, and between society and Christianity. The programme is open to international students, who want to investigate how ‘Christianity and society mutually shape and guide each other, with implications for the lives of people everywhere in the world.’ Continue reading

May 30

Greed is Gross

“Greed … is good”, corporate raider Gordon Gekko recites in the Oliver Stone movie Wall Street. Apparently, however, many Europeans do not view greed as something good at all. Statistics show that no less than 23% of all EU citizens aged over 15 years are involved in voluntary work. This means that some 100 million Europeans of all ages, from all walks of life, and from various religious and non-religious backgrounds are committed to offering free time and talents to a good cause; or to what they think is a good cause – opinions may differ. This year 2011 Europe celebrates the European Year of Volunteering: voluntary work and volunteers get their due recognition. Continue reading