‘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.
Communicantes is going to move from Nijmegen to Tilburg. Yesterday, we have been packing up books at our Nijmegen office. On the shelves, we found several articles by the Dominican Father Professor Magister G.P. Kreling (1888-1973). Communicantes’ founder, Father Jan Bakker s.s.s. (1914-1982), was a student and great admirer of the famous Kreling, who in turn was a great admirer and advocate of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Continue reading
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.
Last Sunday, Frans Hoppenbrouwers of the foundation Communicantes returned from Lviv (Ukraine), where he had been discussing our plan to promote discussion and dialogue among believers in Europe (East and West). Then tomorrow, Wednesday 19 June, he will be off to Cluj-Napoca in Romania, where he will stay for several days. Hungary is next on the list. Monday 24 June Hoppenbrouwers will be in Budapest, Thursday in Szeged and then he will return to the Netherlands. It will be interesting to know the opinion of our partners about our plans and to compare these very different countries with one and another. Then it is time for some well-deserved holiday time.
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