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Madagascar Protestant leader reported released from detention

Geneva (ENI). The head of the largest Protestant church in Madagascar is reported to have been freed after being detained on 17 March by unspecified military personnel following the resignation of President Marc Ravalomanana. Reports received by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches indicated that the president of the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), the Rev. Lala Rasendrahasina, was released after only a brief detention. The FJKM is a member of Geneva-based WARC. [450 words, ENI-09-0222]

Hungarian churches warn of social collapse amid financial crisis

Warsaw (ENI). Hungarian church leaders have warned their country faces violence and breakdown in the face of unemployment and dislocation brought by the current financial meltdown. “We were already in bad shape before this global crisis, and we are now affected more deeply than other countries in our region,” explained the Rev. Balazs Odor, ecumenical officer of the Reformed Church in Hungary, which comprises about one fifth of the country’s 9.9 million citizens. [451 words, ENI-09-0223]

In Africa, Pope Benedict praises family ‘values’ amid HIV dispute

Rome (ENI). Pope Benedict XVI has urged bishops in Cameroon to defend African family values and to protect the poor from globalisation, on his first full day of a visit to Africa, which was also marked by controversy over his remarks concerning condoms and AIDS. “The difficulties arising from the impact of modernity and secularisation on traditional society inspire you to defend vigorously the essential values of the African family,” the pontiff told an 18 March meeting of Cameroon bishops the day after he arrived in the west African country. [688 words, ENI-09-0221]

Global conference to promote solidarity with excluded Dalits

Manila (ENI). The leaders of two global church organizations have called for international solidarity with 250 million Dalits, people regarded as “untouchable” who face discrimination on the basis of their descent. “We hope to promote the emergence of an international ecumenical movement in solidarity with Dalits and other similarly affected groups, in order to break the silence, and to work for an end to this form of oppression and exclusion, and for the liberation of those under its yoke,” said World Council of Churches general secretary the Rev. Samuel Kobia and his counterpart in the Lutheran World Federation, the Rev. Ishmael Noko. They made the statement in a letter inviting 100 participants to meet in Bangkok from 20 to 24 March at a global conference to raise international awareness about the human rights and justice concerns of the Dalits.


The WCC says that there are an estimated 250 million Dalits in South Asia. The Bangkok meeting is taking place a month before a United Nations meeting in Geneva to review progress towards the goals set in Durban, South Africa, at a 2001 U.N. conference on racism. [332 words, ENI-09-0220]


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Rome (NEV) – The month of January in Italy furnished two important occasions for relationships between Christians and Jews and between Italian democracy and the Jewish people. The “Day for the Jews” and the “Day of Recollection” both give disquieting signs of regression by the Church of Rome. The re-introduction of the Tridentine Mass brought with it the adoption of a prayer for the conversion of the Jews. Inevitably and justifiably, the Italian rabbis decided – for the first time – to suspend their official participation in the initiative. The eve of the “Day of Recollection” the Pope took away the excommunication which had been inflicted upon the bishops of the fraternity of San Pio X, followers of Monsignor Lefebvre. Inevitably, justifiable, from all over the world voices of protest from authoritative Jews were raised, because among the four bishops rehabilitated there is one openly anti-semitic and who denies the existence of the Nazi holocaust. All this while the polemic aroused by the fact the President of the House of Representatives, honoring his institutional role, had recalled, in occasion of the 70th anniversary of the promulgation of the Fascist racist laws, that they did not meet with any substantial opposition for the church and from the Italians at that time, was still very much alive. It was the pure and simple truth: it is known, and not only yesterday, that the Vatican did not object to the racist laws, from 1938 to the period of the Badoglio Government, if not for that which was held as possible violations of the Concordat pertaining to matters of marriage. A similar position has come up recently regarding the proposal of an international commitment for the defense of the right to life of homosexuals in homophobic countries: to the matter of human rights the Vatican had anticipated its concern for the safeguard of “natural” marriages. The rights of the persons pass to a second level with respect to a one sided truth that is held to be valid for everyone, at any price. If the defence of the menaced homosexuals can sound like an authorization to their “disorganized” way of life, then it is more important to affirm the “natural” order. I believe that there isn’t any doubt about the fact that the “accidents” between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish people represent backward steps, disturbing signs of a return to the past. The repeated declarations of adherence to the conciliar declaration “Nostra Aetate”, point 4, that marked the end of anti-Jewish positions and the start of the so-called “season of dialogue”, are not confirmed by the facts. And unfortunately it isn’t surprising that these are the facts of this papacy, that they become more and more like a planned recovery of the past, without a break, like a slow and programmatic restauration: Trent and Vatican Council I are vigorously retouched in the name of an indisputable and monolithic authoritarian continuity; the polemics against modernity, without which we would still be in the Middle Ages, is constant; ecumenism, at least with us Protestants, is stalled, because “we are not church”. History should teach us that re-igniting Christian “identitarianism”,  betting on a monolithic truth built against everything that does not bend to it and on the reaffirmation, apologetic and triumphalistic together, of an organic vision of its own history, leads inevitably to anti-semitism. It starts with the Jews, but then there’s enough for everyone. We’ll hear and see more of it.

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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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