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Quaker’s silence: Milan – 20th January h.07.00 pm-  in 8, via Carducci (subway station: Cadorna) – pls ring to “Officina della psyche – dottoressa Aloi “

 

From Silence to Action

The whole idea is this, in effect: from Silence with God, in shared worship or in solitude, to Action with humanity.

Action in a Quaker spirit, naturally, means: far from feeding exclusively on the spiritual food given by silent worship, as a pure mystic would, Quakers, as “active mystics” commit themselves, between one time of worship and the next, to socio-religious works: perhaps working in nurseries or schools of every kind and level, distributing educational texts, taking and giving courses on world religions; helping those at the edges of society, those in prison, the alienated and mentally retarded; opening dialogue between communities separated by religious, racial or national hatred without siding with one or the other; or mending the social fabric ripped up by the hurricanes of war or of revolution.

There is no need for the enthusiasm of a novice to idealise the works of Quakers in the few centuries of their existence. Well-researched religious and non-religious history books are full of accounts of their continuing involvement and service to humanity, without regard to what kind of people they are, their race or their religion.

Silence is one way to rediscover the deep roots of people’s humanity, but it is not everything: after having used it well, and having drawn from the experience of others, through the numerous business meetings, Quakers do not omit to carry out social and philanthropic activities in the field best suited to them, in line with their ideals.

Unfortunately the world is in desperate and urgent need of this, and Friends know that they are little more than a drop in the ocean.

Davide Melodia

http://www.quaker.org/melodia/silence/

FREEDOM OF CHOICE. IT IS YOUR RIGHT NOT TO AVAIL YOURSELF OF THE CATHOLIC RELIGIOUS TEACHING (CRT)

A Guide to an aware choice of the catholic religious teaching (CRT) in public schools

 

It is  right to remind that the CRT is  a confessional catholic teaching, as teachers are selected by bishops, with educational qualifications obtained in institutes authorized by the Santa Sede  and with syllabuses worked out by the Conferenza episcopale italiana(CEI).

This means a benefit to a religious confession,  even if  followed by the majority of people in Italy, often with the presence of evident catholic symbols in the Italian school that should

be  secular and public. For all these reasons we think  it useful that both parents and students/ school children should be correctly informed in order to  be able to choose in a conscious way as

 

IT IS YOUR  RIGHT NOT TO AVAIL YOURSELF

 

As a matter of fact, according  to the Italian legislation, students can avail or not avail themselves of the CRT.

      

***

 

TO AVAIL OR NOT TO AVAIL YOURSELF OF THE CRT IS A THOUGHTFUL CHOICE TO MAKE COHERENTLY TO THE EDUCATIONAL PLAN, PROPOSED BY PARENTS, REGARDING CHILDREN’S RELIGIOUS FORMATION.

 

It is important to  know that:

1.     The CRT is not compulsory.

2.     The hours per week are respectively: 1,5 in the  nursery school,  2 hours in the primary  school, 1 in the secondary school of first and second level.

3.     Students-schoolchildren who avail themselves of the CRT  have a compulsory attendance.

4.     Students-schoolchildren who don’t avail themselves of the CRT don’t have a compulsory attendance.

5.     The school must provide forms to draw up in conformity  to the ones alleged to the ministerial decree: Mod. D,  Mod. E.

 

Students/schoolchildren who don’t avail themselves must choose among the following activities:

          Educational-formative activities: that is an alternative school-subiect selected by parents or by students of the secondary school.

          Assisted individual study: students / schoolchildren often move to other classes.

          Free individual study: students/ schoolchildren don’t usually do any school-activity and are simply surveilled by the teaching staff.

          Going out of school: with an application to the headmaster (by students, if of age, by parents for schoolchildren).

The ministerial decree 368/85 provides, even in cases of registration ex officio, the right to choose every school-year whether to avail or not to avail yourself and  specifies that the  headmaster must provide the prescribed form to the people who have this right.

 

 

ILLEGITIMATE  BEHAVIOURS

 

EXAMPLES:

          Schools generally tend not to encourage alternative activities because of difficulties in  managing teaching timetables and lack of funding.

          They provide forms not corresponding to the ministerial ones.

          They often try to convince parents to change their choice after a school-year.

          They don’t allow students/schoolchildren to go out of school  during the CRT lessons.(in particular in the nursery and primary schools).

          They perform confessional/lithurgical activities inside schools (such as pastoral visits, pilgrimages, blessings).

          They  write the evaluation in CRT in the report-cards.

 

 

OPEN PROBLEMS

Fioroni ministerial decree n. 26 / 03-15-2007, repeated in 2008 assigns the students who avail themselves of the CRT some formative/educational credits to be admitted to the school-leaving examination.

But according to the section  8, paragraph 13 , even teachers of educational/alternative activities can assign the same credits. In recent times they made an appeal to the Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale (TAR) against this decree and many of the problems are still unsolved with a real risk of discrimination in the students’ evaluation.

With its ruling on the 3rd of November the European Court on Human Rights of Strasburg affirmed that “the obligatory exposition of a symbol of a given confession in places that are used by public authorities, and especially in schools, limits the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their own believes”. The ruling – welcomed favorably by Italian Protestants, as Domenico Maselli, President of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) assures – originates from a claim of an Italian citizen of Finnish origin, Soile Lautsi, that in the school year of 2001/2002 protested against the presence of the crucifix in the classroom of her children. In particular, the Court unanimously established that “the exposition of the crucifix in classrooms of public schools is contrary to the rights of parents to educate their children according to their own religious conceptions and the right of the students to freedom of religion”. “The presence of the crucifix, that cannot go unnoticed in the school rooms – states the ruling of the judges of Strasburg – could easily be interpreted by the students of all ages as a religious symbol, that would make them aware therefore of being educated in an environment that has the brand of a given religion”. All this, they continue, “could be encouraging for the religious students, but annoying to the children that practice other religions, in particular if they belong to religious minorities, or if they are atheists”. Anticipating the typical argument with which the crucifix in the classrooms is defended in Italy – for that matter not always present – the European Court affirmed that it does not understand how “the exposition in the classrooms of the state schools of a symbol that could be reasonably associated with Catholicism could serve educational pluralism that is essential for the conservation of a ‘democratic society’ just as has been conceived by the Convention (European Convention of Human Rights), a pluralism that is acknowledged by the Italian Constitutional Court”. “After the polemical debate on credits for those who choose the teaching of the Catholic religion in the public schools, and after that on ‘the teaching of Islam’, now explodes the clamorous case of the crucifix – stressed the President of the FCEI Maselli -. A ruling that we view favorably because it repeats the idea that the freedom of religion and respect for all faiths are at the basis of a peaceful and civil Europe”. The first reaction of the Minister of Public Education Mariastella Gelmini was very clear. According to her “no one, not even some ideological European court, will be able to cancel our identity”. “Those who see in the ruling the negation of Christian roots in Europe – commented President Maselli – show that they do not appreciate the great merit that Christianity has in opening the doors to liberty for every man and every woman”.

Open letter to the Italian Parliament
on the 19th day of Francesco Zanardi ‘s hunger strike

 
Dear fellow Parliamentarians,
We are writing with great concern for the health of a European citizen committed to
social justice in Italy. On the 4th January 2009, Francesco Zanardi went on a hunger strike, demanding that the Italian Parliament examine the question of legallyrecognised unions for lesbian and gay couples.
Today is the nineteenth day of Mr Zanardi’s hunger strike, as an increasing number of citizens and politicians start to follow in his footsteps. In solidarity, we are asking you to consider their plea and address this situation.
An important number of Italian associations have already urged the Parliament to address the issue of same-sex unions. Several international organisations, including ILGA-Europe, have also asked your House to address what appears to be one of the most unequal treatments of LGBT citizens in the European Union1.
We believe the Italian Parliament and its Committees have all the tools and necessary mandates required to work on the aforementioned issue.
Furthermore, we recall that in 2008 the Fundamental Rights Agency published a report urging EU Member States to adopt legislation protecting citizens from hate crimes, such as those motivated by homophobia or transphobia. We ask that your Parliament looks into this matter as soon as feasible.
We respectfully urge you to do all you can to put an end to this unfair situation for all Italian citizens.

Maurizio Benazzi

www.ecumenici.eu

www.ecumenics.org


Pls send an e.mail to:

roberta.angelilli@europarl.europa.eu
alfredo.antoniozzi@europarl.europa.eu
paolo.bartolozzi@europarl.europa.eu
carlo.casini@europarl.europa.eu
francesco.deangelis@europarl.europa.eu
leonardo.domenici@europarl.europa.eu
roberto.gualtieri@europarl.europa.eu
claudio.morganti@europarl.europa.eu
alfredo.pallone@europarl.europa.eu
niccolo.rinaldi@europarl.europa.eu
potito.salatto@europarl.europa.eu
david.sassoli@europarl.europa.eu
marco.scurria@europarl.europa.eu
silvia.costa@europarl.europa.eu
guido.milani@europarl.europa.eu
sergio.berlato@europarl.europa.eu
luigi.berlinguer@europarl.europa.eu
mara.bizzotto@europarl.europa.eu
antonio.cancian@europarl.europa.eu
salvatore.caronna@europarl.europa.eu
giovanni.collino@europarl.europa.eu
luigi.demagistris@europarl.europa.eu
herbert.dorfmann@europarl.europa.eu
lorenzo.fontana@europarl.europa.eu
elisabetta.gardini@europarl.europa.eu
tiziano.motti@europarl.europa.eu
vittorio.prodi@europarl.europa.eu
amalia.sartori@europarl.europa.eu
giancarlo.scotta@europarl.europa.eu
debora.serracchiani@europarl.europa.eu
antonello.antinoro@europarl.europa.eu
rita.borsellino@europarl.europa.eu
rosario.crocetta@europarl.europa.eu
salvatore.iacolino@europarl.europa.eu
giovanni.lavia@europarl.europa.eu
giommaria.uggias@europarl.europa.eu
pino.arlacchi@europarl.europa.eu
raffaele.baldassarre@europarl.europa.eu
andrea.cozzolino@europarl.europa.eu
paolo.decastro@europarl.europa.eu
luigiciriaco.demita@europarl.europa.eu
vincenzo.iovine@europarl.europa.eu
clemente.mastella@europarl.europa.eu
barbara.matera@europarl.europa.eu
erminia.mazzoni@europarl.europa.eu
aldo.patriciello@europarl.europa.eu
mario.pirillo@europarl.europa.eu
gianni.pittella@europarl.europa.eu
crescenzio.rivellini@europarl.europa.eu
sergio.silvestris@europarl.europa.eu
salvatore.tatarella@europarl.europa.eu
gabriele.albertini@europarl.europa.eu
sonia.alfano@europarl.europa.eu
magdicristiano.allam@europarl.europa.eu
francesca.balzani@europarl.europa.eu
vito.bonsignore@europarl.europa.eu
mario.borghezio@europarl.europa.eu
sergio.cofferati@europarl.europa.eu
lara.comi@europarl.europa.eu
carlo.fidanza@europarl.europa.eu
mario.mauro@europarl.europa.eu
cristiana.muscardini@europarl.europa.eu
pierantonio.panzeri@europarl.europa.eu
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licia.ronzulli@europarl.europa.eu
oreste.rossi@europarl.europa.eu
matteo.salvini@europarl.europa.eu
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iva.zanicchi@europarl.europa.eu

And the ship sails on: our manifesto


We are a group of Italians living in Barcelona. We are seriously worried about what is happening in Italy; we are joined in this by other friends (not only Italians).

There is of course also a critical situation here, but our feeling is that the situation in Italy is really exceptional, especially as far as culture, ethics and human relationships are concerned.

Racism is increasing, as well as arrogance, abuse of power, repression, corruption, sexism, the spread of mafia culture. No answers are emerging in response to a terrible work situation; …everything is getting increasingly more precarious. Talented and capable people, especially young people, are not valued any more. Everywhere you look there is an increase in jobs for the boys, disregard for the community, unbridled greed and a me-me-me culture.

In Spain over the last months we have seen a lot of articles explaining what is happening in Italy, sometimes in shocked tones and often perplexed, worried and disconcerted.

We have heard about the Roma camps being burnt, the process of closing the doors to immigrants, attacks, more neofascist groups, the army in the streets, loss of freedom, ad personam laws.

From abroad we have the advantage not being directly affected by constant, aggressive (mis)information.

What can we do? First we can reflect, then regroup and try to react. We are convinced that there are millions of voices supporting the resistance, in favour of protecting the land and safeguarding fundamental rights, health services and quality public services.

At the end of this process that has just begun, we would like to organize a shipload of people, departing from Barcelona and arriving in Civitavecchia (or Genova). This will be The Ship of Rights, a reminder of our Constitution and its secular and pluralist origins, with freedom and real democracy at its heart, encouraging participation and transparency: from workplaces, schools, districts, services, from all locations. We are remembering that we have only one planet, our planet. That everyone has the right to exist, to move freely, to travel, to migrate. That lies make things freeze up while the truth is always revolutionary.

We are remembering that art and culture are the very best things produced by human beings, giving happiness to whoever produces them and to whoever benefits from them. That the fact of existing, sometimes, means resisting. We need to defend our dignity and the dignity of others, without losing our capacity to be lucid or our ability to be critical and to judge.

We’d like to create bridges instead of walls.

This is a cry for help and solidarity. We know there are a lot of people looking from the outside at this difficult situation. Join us and help those who are resisting in Italy. We can not leave them on their own.

We are not a political party; we are not a foundation; we do not wave flags, especially not white ones. What we are is a group of citizens with no financing.

Contact us at the following e-mail: contatto@losbarco.org

Confession of Faith of the Baptist Churches adhering to UCEBI in Italy

 

Preamble
The Churches, that in Italy were born trough the preaching of Baptist preachers soon after the achievement of the political unity of Italy and those that in the course of time have established bonds of fraternity with them, are now parts of the fellowship of the Evangelical Baptist Union of Italy (UCEBI). Historically they link themselves in the tradition that goes back to the Apostles and that in the course of time has stressed the primitive faith as it is expressed in the Scriptures, in the terms of the renewal of the Spirit (Middle Ages), of the Reformation (XVI and XVII centuries) and the missionary effort (XVIII and XIX centuries). They today declare to undertake Christ’s discipleship, in the clarity of their identity of faith and in the ethical awareness of witness, and therefore they affirm to be willing to express this bound in the practical cooperation and in the following declarations of faith.

Art. 1
– Sola Gratia God accomplishes the work of creation, of judgement and of salvation of the world and every single person only by His grace.

Art. 2
– Solus Cristus God the Father accomplishes his work through His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, Word made man who died on the cross for the sin of mankind, who rose for the justification of every believer, and who is Lord and Saviour of the world.

Art. 3 Sola Scriptura
– The Bible is the unique authentic witness of the work of God through Jesus Christ. In so far as the Holy Spirit makes it the Word of God, it must be studied, honoured and obeyed.

Art. 4 Human nature
– Humanity, alienated from God and divided within itself can not work or even hope for its own salvation: only God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit accomplishes by grace the salvation of humanity and of the world.

Art. 5 Sola Fide
– The word of God, incarnated in Jesus Christ, witnessed in the Bible and proclaimed through the preaching of the Gospel can be accepted only by faith. Men and women, being sinners obtain justification and reconciliation through faith and repentance.

Art. 6 The Holy Spirit
– The Holy Spirit, who inspired the prophets and who witnesses the truth and sanctifies, gives the believers certainty of God’s faithfulness and manifest Himself in various gifts and in vocations to serve the Lord in the Church and in the whole world.

Art. 7 Christian Discipleship
– Whoever hears and accepts the word of Christ has to follow the Lord as a disciple. This discipleship implies to bear for love’s sake, serious responsibilities, never exempt from contradictions and dangers of compromises, yet always animated by the hope of the kingdom of God.

Art. 8 The Church
– The Church of Christ is wherever believers are gathered together by the word or the Gospel to listen to it again and again, to share in the Lord’s Supper, to strengthen the bond of love, to make disciples through the teaching and baptism, because Christ is in their midst. Each Church so gathered, organises itself in places and given times according to the word of the Gospel and under the authority of Christ alone. Each Church has equal dignity in front of the Lord, each receives from the Spirit ministries, able to answer effectively to their calling and each is required to favour the unity of the Spirit with the bond of peace. We believe that the Church of the Lord, thus characterised during history, is one in Christ, holy in the Spirit, apostolic in derivation and mission, universal in its horizon according to the Gospel that gives her life and that she proclaims.

Art. 9 Baptism
– Baptism in water of those who confess their faith is the first act of obedience of each Christian person. It is administered by the Church in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By virtue of the baptism in the Spirit, which makes effective the baptism in water, believers are born to new life and are united in the body of Christ.

Art. 10 Lord’s Supper
– The Lord’s Supper that we, united in the unique body of Christ, celebrate sharing bread and wine, is memory of the work accomplished by the Lord for our salvation and it is preaching of His death for us until the day in which the risen Lord comes. The Lord invites us to eat bread and drink wine to affirm again in the present the commitment that unites us and the promise of the time when He will gather his own in the banquet of new Heaven and new Earth.

Art. 11 Universal priesthood of all believers
– Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and mankind. Every disciple has access to God only through Christ. The mandate, entrusted to them by the Lord, to share the Gospel with their fellow men and women, constitutes them authoritative messengers of the word under the exclusive authority of Christ and by the effective working of the Holy Spirit.

Art. 12 The ministries
– In order to equip the Church with the essential gifts to make it living body of Christ, the Holy Spirit calls different believers to fulfil different ministries. We recognise that today, in the first place, they are ministries for the proclamation of the word, for Bible and theological teaching, for the ruling of the Church and for the service of the Church in the world: we are also ready to recognise any other gift that the Spirit awakes in the Church. The relationship among the ministries is not hierarchical, but organic; every one, and each for his or her part, cooperates in the life of the Church.

Art. 13 The mission of the Church
– The Church is called to fulfil the mandate of Christ. Therefore, she has to preach the Gospel of the coming kingdom, to engage in healing of the sick and in the emancipation of the oppressed. The witness that the Church as a body will offer to the love of God for all the world becomes credible when implies practical love, shown in mutual help, in reconciliation and in peace.

Art. 14 Ethics
– Ethical decisions that qualify Christian discipleship have to be taken by virtue of the strength of the love shown in Christ and with a sense of responsibility towards God, towards every person and towards creation. Such decisions are inspired and oriented by the word of God and become practical actions that may be in line with commonly recognised values, but may also become modernising and revolutionary actions.

Art. 15 Reconciliation
– Baptist Churches engage in promoting reconciliation with God and among human beings. We feel called to engage in promoting justice, peace, freedom and respect for the rights of mankind and the entire creation.

Art. 16 Church and State
– We believe that the authority established by God is ordained to enable peaceful, free and just living of every single person and all peoples. We acknowledge that the modern democratic State, even with all the contradictions proper in any human society, shows clear signs of the redeeming work of God in history. The role of the Church of Christ, distinct from the one of the State, consists in realising her own mission in coordination with State policy, but if it is the case, even in denouncing those degenerating actions that restrict freedom and corrupt justice.

Art. 17 Ecumenism
– The Church is one in Christ. The Lord calls us to realise such unity in a visible way. We are, therefore, called to work in order to abolish, in a spirit of prayer, in the common listening to the word of the Lord and in brotherly dialogue, the existing divisions among the Churches. We trust that the ecumenical engagement realised among similar Evangelical Churches, far from excluding more problematic relationships with other Churches, leads the way to full reciprocal recognition among Churches in such a way that it is both safeguard of each Church’s specificity and a step towards the day when God will be all in all.

Art. 18 Religion and religions
– Religion is the human activity universal and manifold, meant to cultivate the relationship with what one believes that transcends worldly reality in all its dimensions. Religion, as human work, is under God’s judgement. Therefore, while we realise our calling in proclaiming the Gospel of the grace of God in Christ, it is not our duty to judge, but we are called to respect each person’s freedom rights.

Art. 19 Christian hope
– The Lord Jesus Christ, according to his promise, will return to gather his Church, to judge the world, to defeat death through the resurrection of the dead and to establish his kingdom. New Heaven and new Earth await the redeemed.

congresso

It is not easy to talk for twenty minutes and resume, on one hand, the signs of hope in the dialogue between Christians and Muslims and, on the other, between Jewish people and Muslims, but I will try.
First of all, thank you very much to professor Mandel to be here and I send my best regards to the Sufi Brotherhood and to the organizing committee. The consideration and love for the edification of the peace encourage us to look for new theological paths, real projects made of commitments and enterprises of musical nature too, just to test exactly where we arrived with the quest for a common Faith which comes from Abraham. This pursuit – although in Italy they speak at least about it, and very often we find not well prepared theologians or not updated to recent works made in the not far University of Munich – risks to be incomplete. A lot of these theologians, aware of the atmosphere of prudence about religious traditions but ignorance too (the latest which produce especially every kind of prejudices), merely repeat common places.

Thesis of great theologians, like Hans Kung, can mainly be considered over in these days. I am thinking about those answers stated by the catholic Gerard Gaede in his book “They worship the only existing God like us” published by Borla Press last January. A request this one for all Catholic and Christians to improve any efforts on their way to the quest. It is not enough to be men of good will. I won’t to replace the other speakers who will follow my speech, anyway. I send a special greeting to Don Bottoni and to all of you here. The Vatican Council offered very interesting thesis in those days, although in 2006 Ratisbone marked not a very encouraging turning point. It is suitable, my dear Catholics, to leave behind us hopeful signs to future generations all over the World. Our seeds left along the path will sprout in any moments.

In 1948 Jack Harlan, an American botanist, was picking up plants in Turkey. He found a variety of corn that seemed not important to be collect: “It was the worst wheat corn I have ever seen – he explained -. It wasn’t enough productive and very often decayed before the harvest.” Jack Harlan died in 1982. Then, those seeds that he had picked up in previous years and put in the most important seed bank placed in the Svalbard Islands, North to Norway, had recently let scientists to defeat the bunt, a plant illness that brought whole American north-west agricultural areas to their knees. That corn, considered so useless and ugly, has been used by present generations to face recent food crisis, by creating new corn variety with similar marks than those ones picked up in Turkey.

Between Muslim culture and Christianity there are deep common roots: we are God’s creatures, subjected to God, to be considered responsible before God, both considering human being as God’s product or his servant, basically the need of a struggle for a better and more equitable World, the need to fight for the future generations, which attention could be captured by using love instead of selfishness or using the spirit of privation. Recently, we discovered, thanks to a mutual faith, a use of a more suitable theology and an ecological vision (God as the only real World master) more or less similar on their basis, and, on the other side, we recognize a mutual need to apply a permanent conversion. Moreover, we verified that Muslim culture and Christianity both began in a persecution atmosphere, and we must assure that we wouldn’t satisfy God’s will if people had to go away because of their Faith, and that our love for people next to us, let us discern the connatural dignity that is in every human been. And to recognize the right that who stay better has the obligation to assist the weakest ones.
The Orthodox Metropolitan Georges Khodr, at Saint-Serges renowned institute in Paris (the one who developed the “Christ sleeping in other religions” theory), not only did he claim that the Koran would be a legitimate book of meditation but he hoped for Christians to have a patient and peaceful way of acting, a secret communion with every human being, and a deep faith in God’s eschatological revelation plan. He used to remind Eastern Christians, though he also visited Bose monastery, that “Christ is no institution, but value, act, hearts transformation into sweetness, simplicity of humility, of gihad (word meaning effort, active engagement, not war just as western translators and Islamic fundamentalists often say) to the afflicted ones”.
In the ecumenical council of churches (where Protestants, Veteran Catholics, Orthodox and Anglicans are represented), the dialogue, that was hoped after the Second World War, has started after the six days war between Arabs and Israelis in 1967. Some political reasons had previously blocked its development and still today it is difficult to involve women, for example, in a higher level discussion. In fact in Italy there is an “informative exile” between Jews and Muslims during a Jewish culture day or in a meeting occasion with Islam. As the person in charge of Ecumenici Newsletter (www.ecumenici.eu ) I did not hesitate to write that we are dealing with a structural boundary of the dialogue itself. It being understood that we acknowledge it. The very little is far better than nothing and the debate still remains “a love chant pleasantly sung” (Ez.32,22).
Every synthesis scheme is limited but the objective analysis of Reinhard Leuzer, an Evangelical theologian from Munich, seems interesting to me: first the Koran is reckoned as a revealed scripture as much as the bible is, although the concept of revelation is different in Christianity and Islam, that is taken as an ordinary way of salvation. The prophet Muhammad consciously places himself in the traditional belief of monotheism and the message he announced would be revealed from the same God of Jews and Christians; in other words he would have been assigned by God. Thus there is a unitary subject in the history of salvation. The Koran is the earliest amongst divine revelations and it is also seen as a temporary conclusion of the history of revelation. The reason for that other revelation after Jesus Christ can be found today in such ways of popular devotion which look like semi-pagan syncretism no longer depending on the inconceivable and transcendent God, but most of all on the conversion of entire pagan peoples to Christianity. I point out that Christians have not adopted the whole Law of Moises and despite that we carry on considering the whole Bible as Holy Scripture and Word of God, because it is interpreted as the Old Testament. For us Protestants the Word of God is the human witness inspired by God and it is still living thanks to the Holy Ghost whispering in the believer.
Actually in the Bible there are contradictions as well as historical and scientific mistakes (let us take the thickness of Jericho’s walls for example, or the thickness of the Ark of the Covenant or else the fact of including the hare among ruminant animals) which do not compromise the Word of God. In that way we can understand the Koran and consider its single statement being opposite to Christianity as the word of God that does not necessarily contradict Christian belief. Whoever may consider the Bible as dictated by God word by word is the non -protestant evangelical , namely Pentecostal , who never accepts a dialogue with Islam. That is why in many protestants’ opinion and mine Islam has a privileged place amongst religions. It is no doubt that only a person filled with the Holy Ghost can notice that Ghost already acting in the religious multiplicity men are heading to. In fact the spirit has been given to all mankind and “logos” only goes to where “pneuma” already stands. (Luke 1,3) A Zwinglian has been knowing those thesis since the Sixteenth Century, under various forms and directions. That is why I can call you brothers having in common a perspective of ecumenical and eschatological fulfillment. Where God has the last word as regards final Revelation.
By reading Eb. 1,1-2 I maintain, as Catholic theologian Gaede does, that “God, who had already talked to fathers in ancient times and in different ways (we can add: AND HE WILL TALK MANY OTHER TIMES TO OUR DESCENDANTS BY THE MEANS OF PROPHETS) lately nowadays he talked to us through the Son”. Who can witness God’s mercy, if that witness is true then it can only be the Word of God for Faith is asynchronous by nature. To us the Christians Jews always prove God’s Alliance with his people and they still keep on proving and pronouncing the Word of God nowadays. Besides Christ is already ”inside” the Koran and not out of it! Christ exists “inside” the Jewish canon through the prophecy.
In 1956 Druse Kamal Jumblatt used to ask to Christians of his country: can they take Islam as their own, can they assimilate it without being assimilated, without giving up their own identity? And he used to ask Muslims symmetrically: can Islam find its openness skills like it used to in the first 150-200 years, during a phase of cultural creativity when it used to assimilate a huge part of Greek and eastern Iran-Indian heritage? Today we think we can answer yes, despite Italian censorship and ignorance I did mention.
After those words of hope, which are the projects of hope? Ecumenici newsletter will keep on living by following a theocentric vision thanks to a noahic reading (Gen 8,15-9,17) in Tanakh: the pact of faith between God and whole mankind, through Noah, has not been revoked. This is also a pact which links Islam to Judaism directly. We are conscious of what Jesus says in John 8:58 “I tell you the truth: before Abraham was born, I am!” and just because of that we dare confide in his Word, which is going to be clear in latest times.
Some of the events we pointed out: last year in November in Verona in a Catholic church, there was a concert of Jewish Chassidic and liturgical music performed by Ensemble Shalom. The new-born Lutheran community of Verona- Gardone was the organizer. Please note that one of the main aspects in Chassidic spirituality (Jewish mystical current inspired by Cabala) is:
The most direct way to join God is by the means of music and songs. Sing though you cannot sing. Sing for yourself. Sing in the intimacy of your home but sing!
Another well established sign of hope is promoted by Confronti magazine which organizes a series of events such as flowers for peace, seeds for peace, notes for peace.
Flowers for peace. It is a program that requires the invitation of young Israelis and Palestinians in Italy. After a period of getting to know one another, they would be inserted either in summer experiences with Italian teenagers (such as summer camps promoted by churches, associations and institutions) or in activities during the scholar year. A series of psychological studies shows how difficult the Israeli adolescent condition is, being constantly threatened by suicide bombing terror; on the other side Palestinian teen-agers’ situation is well documented as stuck between occupation violence and the most extreme and militarized factions propaganda. In that context, it is hard to talk about peace. The educational programs are then important to make everyone meet directly, out of the current schemes and prejudices, in a soft environment that makes meeting and friendship much easier. This project has been made more than once thanks to the former funds of the Municipality of Rome, the Municipality of Genzano and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Seeds for peace. It is a meeting program between adult witnesses of peace, Israelis and Palestinians, who come to Italy either to get to know one another better or to share their experiences and analysis with Italian audience. The particularity of this event is that, after an orientation period about Italian reality, “witnesses” divide in couples, an Israeli with a Palestinian, and put themselves to use in groups, associations, institutions who invited them. Confronti has been carrying on this project from eight years, the same project could be successful also in the region of Lazio. Moreover some travelling seminars are organized in Israel and in Palestinian territories. The seminar schedules meeting with political and religious representatives from both sides, with Israeli and Palestinian social and cultural realities, but most of all it is a meeting with men and women who believe and work for peace, though in extremely difficult situations. Confronti has been promoting such kind of seminar from eleven years.
A very convincing and moving sign of peace in which I took part in Milan is “notes for peace”, an event promoted by Lutheran Church with the participation of its inner Zwinglian reformed community, under the silence of Italian media. Italian journalists haven’t been giving information about it from years. And yet we send our newsletter to hundreds of editorial units. Not to mention the efforts of promoter’s press agency in each city where young musicians (aged 14 to 17) hold their concerts. Normally there are five young Palestinian musicians from Bethlehem Lutheran School Dar Al Kalima and five Israeli partners from Sasa’s Regional High School in High Galilee. Those teenagers, who are not professionals, have chosen to share their passion with “the other”, with the one generally conceived as enemy; by the means of knowledge and sharing of music. There are also several meetings in Italian high schools.
And now I am about to resolve by pointing out the initiatives of the group whose members are Rabbi Roberto Arbib, an Italian conservative rabbi living in Tel Aviv, and several Israeli professors who have been developing interreligious dialogue with local Sufi Chekim since 2000. A dialogue born from the mutual will of learning and developing the spiritual tradition that connects Islam to Judaism under prayers, study and meditation in order to build a bridge of peace between both spiritual traditions. The group gathers every week to study the scriptures of both traditions. In 2008 gatherings were dedicated to the study of El Kushairi, who had probably influenced Jewish philosopher Ibn Pakuda in his central work “Hearts’ duties”.
Rabbi Arbib, who knows Confronti magazine very well, has never quit his activities with Sufi brotherhoods in Israeli capital city and beyond the Green Line, not even during the war, when bombs were falling in Israel “in the name of God to the world”. Last January he held conference in Milan Reform Synagogue Lev Chadash. The prayer ceremony with Sufi is objectively an element of considerable interest. By praying the ninety-nine names of God with the zicher (consisting of ninety-nine beads divided in three parts, with a small minaret signaling the following thirty-three beads) as well as with psalms does witness visibly, sonorously and symbolically that we can pray together the Only God. Not only through silence, breath, music, Jewish mantra – namely sounds – and other techniques (Persians often use this until they reach trance).
Neve Shalom – Wahat as-Salaam has also been involved under intifada times. It is the village built because of political intentions where Israelis and Palestinians live together, all Israel citizens. They often started from cabalistic meditation but went on with great and incomparable Sufi mystical tradition (having it also women as important representatives) in order to achieve a common study project. From the jewish side we noticed that Sufism would be compared to several aspects (elements, bodies) of Chassidic movement: the meeting-point is represented by those two mystics and more precisely by the connection of the human being to God and the love of God. It is best to recall that during Persian poet and mystic Gialal al-Din Rumi’s funerals there were lots of Jewish people honouring his coffin.
From the jewish side a new-born self-criticism is also remarkable. Arabs know Hebrew, whereas Jews do not know Arabic (except for the ones in the Israeli Intelligence, so this proves “the other” is considered as enemy). Moreover, Jews seem to have forgotten how to pray with the body, by the means of hands, by bowing down, composure, putting things in order in the Temple itself, etc… In short Jews should learn again from Islamics who have never given up the fulfillment of prayers. The same prayer Jewish prophets used to practice. It is then clear that a big reform is necessary in Judaism. Today more than ever.
After a mosque was bombed, Rabbi Arbib apologized and expressed regret, asking to pray for peace with Islamics. Answers were not all positive (there are orthodoxes in Islamic world, too, not only in jewish world) but when that invitation was accepted, Arabs and Jews were bewildered, incredulous, “speechless” . they were astonished of what was going on.
Rabbi Arbib points out that Sephardic Spanish prayer for Yom Kippur ( jewish religious day of atonement) would use language and terms borrowed from Islam. Sephardic Jews always have a relationship of hate (because of the wars suffered) and love towards Islam in the meantime. Sephardic Jews used to say: “when we come back from a small battle, so says the wise (in reality that wise was Islamic but it was not right to say it clearly), we have to fight the great battle”, that war against ourselves, against our evil instincts.
After Moshe Ben Maimon’s death (known in Italy as Mosé Maimonide) Judaism has been constantly influenced from Islam for about 200 years.

And with those dialogues of peace I wish you the joy of common quest. I feel enthusiastic and I hope to have sent you an encouraging message.
Thanks for the attention.
Maurizio Benazzi in Milan/Italy

(transation by Roberto Pavan from italian to english)

Italian Protestants on immigration and racial violence

Rome, 30 May 2008 (NEV) – “A wrong and dangerous path”, this is the opinion of Pastor Maria Bonafede, Moderator of the Tavola Valdese (executive board of the Methodist and Waldensian Churches in Italy), referring to the Italian government’s planned actions on the Roma people. “As Christians, but also as citizens of a democratic state, we express all our concern for the measures that have been announced by the new government. These measures penalize an entire community, they feed social prejudice and arouse real hate campaigns against a population that in European history has already been hit by tragedies of racial persecution and extermination camps. The establishment of legal guarantees does not pass through pogroms; it passes through the application, even severe, of the existing norms and for a plan of integration and social inclusion of thousands of Roma people that do not steal or commit criminal actions. As citizens we must stress that the laws must be equal for everyone, for Italians like the Roma people. But as Christians we must affirm and witness that even the Roma people are our neighbors”, concluded Bonafede.
Pastor Domenico Maselli, President of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), also said he was very concerned and perplexed about the new manoeuvres against illegal immigration. “Some of the hypotheses that have been going around are absurd and ineffective” declared Maselli, maintaining that the hunt for boats filled with possible migrants outside Italian territorial waters is impracticable. “Besides, the eventuality of making illegal immigration a criminal offence would risk filling up our prisons without solving the problem of returning them to their homelands. We feel that any measure that discourages legal immigration would end up by aggravating the phenomenon of illegal immigration run by the mafias. In reality we believe that it would be necessary to ease the process of entrance into the country of those in search of work on the condition that they would be sent back if work was not found within set time limits. It concerns us moreover that eventual limitations posed on the entrance of families of regular immigrants would end up reducing the possibility for finding work of persons equipped for fundamental social services, like that of home care, who cannot certainly be hired without the direct knowledge of the people involved and without the necessary guarantees. In closing, in the moment in which international politics feels a greater need for cohesion in the European Union it does not seem opportune, besides being unjust, to create initiatives for limiting the entrance of citizens of EU member States”.
In a letter sent to the Minister of Interior, Roberto Maroni, Doris Peschke, Secretary General of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), gave a sharp “no” to the special measures taken for immigrants by the Italian government. “We maintain that every person deserves dignity and equality before the law”, says the letter, which was also sent to the attention of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe. The CCME expresses its concern for an indiscriminate repressive action against the Romanian and Roma communities, justified on the basis of some serious incidents of the past few months. The letter continues: “If a person is found a criminal – as may or may not be the case for the young Roma woman in Naples cited a week ago – has to be determined by the competent courts in European countries, also in Italy. It cannot be tolerated that a group of people takes the law into their hands and raids a whole settlement and destroys their homes. We would have expected a very clear positions against the looting rather than a general discourse on ‘illegal migration’. Of course we are aware that Italy has received a high number of Romanian immigrants over the past years, among them also a number of Roma. There may be criminals among them, but that does not make all of them criminal. There may be some who have entered illegally, and yet, they are persons with fundamental rights. They may have committed an offence, for which a fine may be appropriate. However, the current discussion on restricting migration laws and increasing penalties and administrative detention is in our view disproportionate. Particularly, as this discourse generally alleges that every Romanian and Roma is a potential criminal”.
Great concern about the climate of violence that arose in the Italian society was expressed by Pastor Holger Milkau, Dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Italy (CELI). He stated that “in the face of dramatic violence like the killing of a 14 year old girl in Sicily and a youth at Verona, we can no longer tolerate indifference, nor can we limit ourselves to acknowledging our inability to act in the face of the loss of every sense of humanity and morality. As Lutherans we feel it is our duty to reaffirm and witness the value and the dignity of life in each and every man and woman, created in the image and likeness of God. At the same time we condemn the irresponsibility and the light manner in which ‘monsters’ are created on whom we can unleash our fears and our social uneasiness. today it’s the Roma people’s turn against whom was unleashed a dangerous and unjust hate campaign that does not make any difference between the great majority of the honest persons and a criminal minority. For this, as the Lutheran Church, above all for the youth, we intend to commit ourselves with always greater energy to the witness and promotion of a culture for life and trust, in which all can identify themselves, feel gratified and loved in a Christian way.”
“The violence of a band of youth against their peers; torture, rape, homicide; the violence against the Roma, the fires, the evacuations and the deportations”: Pastor Anna Maffei, President of the Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Italy (UCEBI) says she is “shocked” by all this news. She tells of “an endemic social disease, blind and acute with the involvement of the public institutions. Search and seizure, mass arrests, ‘cleanup’ of the State, human beings treated like garbage; all has led to a climate of ‘zero tolerance’, making illegal immigration a criminal offence: a monstruosity even to have thought of it! Security is the new idol to which all is sacrificed: democratic principles are set aside, the rights of individuals downtrodden, injustices and violence are justified. We feel secure when we force the enemy away, eliminate him. The enemy takes the names of those useful to those who manoeuvre: they are terrorists, they are non-members of the European Union, they are Romanians and Gypsies, they are Muslims, they are…”
“I do not fear the words of the violent, but the silence of the honest”. By recalling this citation of Martin Luther King, Anna Maffei concludes: “The people are made up of citizens. The crowd, the people, go where those who manoeuvre them wants them to go. The ‘crucify him’ of the Gospel story of the assassination of Jesus serves as a perennial warning. We Protestants believe in the truth that makes us free. For this we must abolish widespread prejudice and take on the burden of giving a critical and plural information. We must seek to understand the reality that surrounds us in all its complexity. It is the time to believe in the creative strength of nonviolence and seek every possible alliance to affirm the biblical principle of equality and the rights of each and everyone to life, to the future”.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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