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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
“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
The word “solidarity” has an interesting history, I learned at the Sozialethik-Symposium: “Solidarität in der Krise” from 28 to 30 April 2011 in Vienna-Mödling. This conference was organised by the Institut für Sozialethik der Katholisch-Theologischen Fakultät (Vienna) and the Vereinigung für katholische Sozialethik in Mitteleuropa. Ever since the Middle Ages, one of the guest speakers explained, solidarity was the individual’s legal responsibility to pay collective debts. It meant, for example, that if two or more business partners had taken out a loan collectively, and one of them would go bankrupt, the remaining partner(s) had to repay the entire sum (“solidum”). Continue reading
In March 2011, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, visited Moscow. There, he met Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. The visit was heralded in the media as a breakthrough in Russian Orthodox-Roman Catholic relations, but it remains to be seen, as to whether we will witness a new ecumenical era soon. With Pope biographer George Weigel, for example, one can ask if this really was a defining moment. Recently, Weigel harshly criticised the Russian Orthodox Church, and, to be honest, rightly so. It is obvious that the “the Russian Orthodox leadership is functioning as an arm of Russian state power” (Weigel) and, as a matter of fact, quite willingly (see a December 2010 Wikileak with Metropolitan Hilarion).
This post, however, does not aim at the Russian Orthodox Church as such. It rather wants to look at what might lay behind this desire for cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church on various moral and ethical issues, which was proposed by Metropolitan Hilarion, last March. Continue reading