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IN BRIEF


Sant’Egidio meets in Munich German Chancellor Angela Merkel told an interfaith meeting organised by the Sant’Egidio community that neither sec- ularisation nor the separation between Church and State “erase the fact that with- out a faith in God we would forget the sense of our life”. She was speaking at the 11-13 September conference in Munich of some 300 faith leaders called: “Bound to live together. The dialogue of religions and cultures”. Pope Benedict XVI com- mended the conference as an occasion for religions to “ask themselves how to become a force for coexistence”.


US priest suspended Fr Frank Pavone, one of the country’s most visible and vocal opponents of abortion, has been suspended from active ministry outside the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, over financial questions about his oper- ation of Priests for Life (PFL). “My decision is the result of deep concerns regarding his stewardship of the finances of PFL,” Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo wrote to his fellow US bishops.


Justice call after casino killings The Church has demanded the authorities fulfil the law and bring justice to the fam- ilies of 52 people killed in an attack on a casino on 25 August. Mexican casinos were condemned as “sewers” used for money-laundering in an editorial in the Archdiocese of Mexico City’s publication, Desde la Fe, on 4 September.


Religious books scrutinised The Government of Kazakhstan has set up a 30-strong agency to check all religious literature being brought into the country.


For daily news updates visit www.thetablet.co.uk


EUROPE


Churches ‘must cooperate to regain lost ground’


Jonathan Luxmoore and Robert Mickens


EUROPE’S CHURCHEScan slow secularisa- tion and make gains in evangelisation if they cooperate and pool resources, according to a senior Orthodox theologian. “While some European countries are post- modern and post-Christian, some societies aren’t so secularised, while others can be defined as post-secular,” said Fr Viorel Ionita, interim general secretary of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), this week. “It’s strongly felt now that real chances exist


for effective mission, and for winning back some of the ground lost by Churches in Europe. We should be spreading this opti- mistic message in our communities.” The Romanian Orthodox theologian was speaking after an inter-Church consultation in Budapest, which tabled recommendations for shared mission work around the continent. In a Tablet interview, he said mission had always been a “key concern” of ecumenical bodies, but had been left too much to indi- vidual member Churches, often working in competition, and should be made an integral part of joint future planning. A press release said Cardinal Peter Erdo,


Hungarian president of the Catholic Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, had told


the Budapest consultation opportunities now existed “for the discovery of a deeper unity between and among the Christian traditions” in mission work and called for “concrete steps” towards closer evangelising relationships. Meanwhile the Holy See’s “foreign minister” has voiced deep concern over an increase in discrimination against Christians in Europe, saying it could lead to full-blown hate crimes against believers. Archbishop Domenique Mamberti, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, told an OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe)-spon- sored conference in Rome on Monday that Christians were the “most persecuted group in the world”. And he warned that even in parts of Europe the Christian religion was being marginalised and religious freedom was not fully respected. “This conference will no doubt help to shed light on the incidence of hate crimes against Christians even in regions where international public opinion would not normally expect them to happen,” the Corsican archbishop said.


Some 150 representatives of the 56-member OSCE group attended the one-day meeting. It was organised by Massimo Introvigne, an Italian recently named OSCE’s representative in combating racism, xenophobia and dis- crimination, and by the Italian Government.


Minister defends religious recognition law HUNGARY


A HUNGARIAN government minister has defended a controversial new law, which removes legal recognition from all but 14 of the country’s 358 churches and religious groups, writes Jonathan Luxmoore. “We’ve tried to rebuild the state’s relations


with particular churches from their founda- tions – it isn’t a question of any special government policy towards one or another confession,” said Laszlo Szaszfalvi, deputy Minister for Administration and Justice. “The idea was to recognise the activities of religious associations according to certain


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■INDIA:The Church in the southern Indian state of Kerala is taking special initiatives to encourage Catholics to have large families, writes Anto Akkara. Among the incentives being promoted in the state, which contains India’s largest Christian population, St Vincent De Paul Forane parish


criteria – which means the so-called historic Churches traditionally acting in Hungary for centuries. But we haven’t closed the door, and if new communities meet the stated require- ments, the list of 14 recognised associations could be extended to include others.” The offi- cial was defending Hungary’s Law on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion, enacted in July with backing from premier Viktor Orban’s governing centre-right Fidesz party. The law requires de-legalised religious groups to obtain two-thirds approval in par- liament to reapply for court registration.


at Kalpetta under Mananthavady Diocese has announced awards of 10,000 rupees (£135) for the fifth child in Catholic families. “Several steps are being


taken by our commission units in the dioceses to encourage more children in Catholic families,” Fr Jose Kottayil, secretary of the


family and pro-life commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) told The Tablet. He said that the KCBC


pro-life commission units in each of the 30 dioceses in Kerala have initiated other steps such as free education for children from large Catholic families.


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