April newsletter of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy

April newsletter of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy

  • Religious freedom. Judgement blocks confiscation of Pentecostal church of Gorle (Bergamo)
  • Rights. Campaign against torture, prisons, drugs: in one day 10.000 signatures collected
  • Ecumenism. Cardinal Kurt Koch visits the Lutheran Church of Rome
  • Culture. 10th Anniversary of the Protestant Cinema Association ”Roberto Sbaffi”
  • Eight per thousand. Launched in Turin the Methodists and Waldensians Campaign
  • Lutherans. Conclusions of the annual Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Italy (CELI)
  • In Brief

Religious freedom. Judgement blocks confiscation of Pentecostal church of Gorle

Rome (NEV), April 30, 2013 – On Easter eve a turning point was reached in the controversy which had long opposed the Municipality of Gorle (Bergamo, Northern Italy) and the Pentecostal African Church, ‘Christ Peace and Love’. On the basis of a regional law which precludes the change of use of buildings, the Municipality of Gorle forbade the African Congregation to use the building as ‘church’- which was regularly bought and restored by the congregation itself – and subsequently confiscated it. The Regional Administrative Court (TAR) cancelled the Municipality confiscation and gave back the building to its legal owners.

Satisfaction for the result was expressed by Pastor Massimo Aquilante, President of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), who recently stated in a Conference held in Milan on the topic of religious freedom, that the final aim is to cancel the regional law which in fact impedes the opening of new worship places in Lombardy.

Rights. Campaign against torture, prisons, drugs: in one day 10.000 signatures collected

Rome (NEV), April 30, 2013 – Italian ACAT (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture) is one of over thirty associations promoting the campaign “Three Laws for Justice and Rights. Torture, prisons, drugs”. The campaign started last April 9th in front of a number of Italian Courts, with the collection of signatures to support the three bills filed last January 30th with the Supreme Court. The three proposals, according to the promoting associations, “constitute a real government program to restore legality in the Italian justice and prisons system” starting with the introduction of the torture crime in the Penal Code, the restoration of legality in prisons, the decriminalization of drug use and the reduction of imprisonments. The signatures collected in one day amount to more than 10thousand, many of them are of young people.

ACAT Italy has just launched the fifth edition of the awards degree “A degree to stop torture” and “A degree to abolish death penalty”, financed with the funds of the Waldensian Church “eight per thousand”.

Ecumenism. Cardinal Kurt Koch visits the Lutheran Church of Rome

Rome (NEV), April 30, 2013 – Last April 19, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), participated with the Lutheran congregation of Via Sicilia in Rome to the evening worship. Stressing the excellent relations with Roman Catholicism the pastor of the congregation, Jens-Martin Kruse, explained that the event – scheduled one year ago – was a sign of vibrant ecumenism. The liturgy – strictly Lutheran and in German – was attended also by the “Knabenkantorei” of Basel (Switzerland) who gave a concert.

Culture. 10th Anniversary of the Protestant Cinema Association ”Roberto Sbaffi”

Rome (NEV), April 30, 2013 – “Cinema: Stories that change your life” was the title of the initiative promoted on April 22 in Rome by the Protestant Cinema Association “Roberto Sbaffi” on occasion of its 10th Anniversary. The “Roberto Sbaffi” was founded on the 17 of January 2003 from an idea of Gianna Urizio – for many years director of the TV Programme “Protestantesimo” edited by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) – and took its name from the first person in charge for the TV programme, a master of non-verbal communication within the evangelical milieu, Roberto Sbaffi. The association earned visibility both at national and international level having been present at the International Film Festival of Venice, where – along with the International Association INTERFILM – a “Prize for the promotion of interreligious dialogue” is conferred.

It was not a coincidence then that the event, which took place in the Great Hall of the Waldensian Faculty of Theology, had an ‘interfaith’ imprint: a panel, chaired by president Peter Ciaccio, saw the participation of Dr. Leila Kerami – researcher in Islamic civilization at “La Sapienza” University of Rome; Mons. Dario Viganò – president of the “Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo” – and Enrico Benedetto – professor of practical theology at the Waldensian Faculty of Theology.

After the panel there was the screening of the film “Wadjda” by Haifa Al Mansour, the first woman director of Saudi Arabia, awarded by the INTERFILM Jury in Venice last 2012.

Eight per thousand. Launched in Turin the Methodists and Waldensians Campaign

Rome (NEV), April 30, 2013 – A meeting full of speeches and music to present, last April 23, at the Royal Riding in Turin, what the Moderator of the Waldensian Board, pastor Eugenio Bernardini, defined the “Eight per thousand in the Waldensian way” to emphasize the scrupulous management of the funds Italian taxpayers have assigned to the Union of Methodist and Waldensian Churches. The event, directed by Sergio Velluto, focused on this year’s motto: “Wounded, sometimes killed”, in other words, violence against women which goes through psychological, economical, physical and sexual abuse. Priority will be given this year to projects combating “feminicide” and promoting equality. Tiziana Bartolini, director of the women’s monthly “Noi donne” appreciated the campaign and declared that it took years to call things by their name – at last the term “feminicide” is fully entered the civil, political and journalistic debate. Among the guests the Roma actress Dijana Pavlovic; Isoke Aikpitanyi, a trafficking victim and activist committed to the defence of gender rights; TV-journalist Riccardo Iacona; Waldensian deacon Massimo Gnone; and political expert Paolo Naso, who highlighted trends of the eight per thousand funds. A concert held by Mariano Deidda and his band enriched the evening.

This year Italian taxpayers will have three more possibilities of choice to assign their eight per thousand to the already seven existing (State, Catholic Church, Adventists, Jewish Communities, Waldesian and Methodists; Lutherans; God’s Assemblies). In fact three new churches gained access to its division: the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Apostolic Church and the Christian Evangelical Baptist Union in Italy.

Lutherans. Conclusions of the annual Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Italy

Rome (NEV), April 30, 2013 – The annual Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Italy (CELI) was held in Rome from 24 to 28 of April. The participants discussed about the true meaning of diakonia on the basis of a paper of the Waldensian theologian Paolo Ricca, with the title “Jesus, deacon of a deacon church”. The Synod reaffirmed the meaning that diakonia has for Lutherans: social works are not done to deserve recognition, justice or forgiveness nor to obtain salvation, but they are expression of a fair commitment to one’s neighbour to be accomplished with responsibility and freedom. The theme was addressed from a practical point of view, also considering the opportunity to act as a network with other churches, institutions and other faith communities. In this regard Christiane Groeben, president of the Synod, pointed out that although CELI’s diaconal work is little and limited the initiatives are rich and meaningful. A strong wish to get involved in greater projects was shown during the gathering. As an evidence to this diaconal engagement the Synod decided to support the restoration of the Conservatory of L’Aquila “Alfredo Casella”, badly damaged after the 2009 earthquake. This commitment follows in the wake of what has been done in the past with the establishment of 10 scholarships to students of the Conservatory and the organization of benefit concerts in several Italian towns.

The Synod also approved the establishment of a commission on end of life directions, or living will. Objective of the commission will be the elaboration of a subsidy for the protection of the dignity of those approaching the end of their existence.

The Assembly gave also a positive opinion to a closer collaboration with the Salvation Army and gave a mandate to the Consistory to explore opportunities for joint activities at national and local level.

Among the other important moments faced by the Synod was the signing of a new agreement with the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) which confirmed the strong bilateral relations, the common commitment to the ecumenical dialogue and the support to the church life of CELI.

The meeting also assessed the dialogue initiated with the Catholic Church for the definition of a common liturgy on Lutheran-Catholic marriages. The representatives of the CELI Commission hope that the agreement might be presented to 2014 Synod.

CELI is by statute bi-lingual, Italian and German. Lutherans in Italy are about 7,000, relations with the State are regulated by the Italian law n ° 520 of 1995 (according to Art. 8 of the Constitution).

In Brief

** On occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Council of Christian Churches of Venice, from 14 to 21 of April, a nonstop reading of the Bible was given at the Church of San Pantalon. ‘Bible nonstop” was the title given to the initiative by the representatives of CCCV, among whom the Waldensian pastor Elisabetta Ribet. The sacred texts were read by 1147 readers starting with chief rabbi of Venice Ghili Banyamin who read the first chapter of Genesis. Participants could read the bible in their own languages.

** The Italian Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities awarded the Protestant Publishing House of Turin “Claudiana” with one of the three “Special Prizes for Translation 2012”. “La Claudiana” participated in the announcement of selection with the series with parallel text: “Selected Works” of Luther, Calvin and Melanchton. The prizes established by the Ministry are assigned “to Italian and foreign translators and publishers who have contributed to the spread of Italian culture abroad and of foreign culture in Italy”.

** The moderator of the Waldensian Board, Pastor Eugenio Bernardini, last April 22, wrote a letter of congratulations to newly re-elected President Giorgio Napolitano, in which he stated that protestants strongly feel the appeal to responsibility that sometimes requires difficult and challenging choices, and regret that this fundamental attitude is not firmly rooted in the Italian political system. Bernardini then expressed to President Napolitano closeness, prayer and support for what the President will do for the rights of all citizens, for the secularity of the Italian State and the religious pluralism according to the Italian Constitution.