News bulletin of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy
Number 285 – November 2012
- XLII Assembly of Baptist in Italy
- Prisons. The moderator of the Waldensian Board Bernardini writes to the Minister of Justice
- Mafia. Naples: an ecumenical march in solidarity with the victims of Camorra
- Waldensian Hospitals. The moderator of the Waldensian Board appeals to President Napolitano
- Violence against women. FDEI proposes a note book
- Ecumenism. Theologian Paolo Ricca to the CEI Conference on new evangelization
- Public school. Association ’31 October’: “To give priority to private schools is a scandal”
- In Brief
XLII Assembly of Baptist Italy
Rome (NEV), November 30, 2012 – Pastor Raffaele Volpe was confirmed president of the Christian Evangelical Baptist Union in Italy (UCEBI) by the about 100 delegates gathered in Chianciano Terme (Siena) from November 22-25 for the UCEBI’s XLII Assembly. Re-elected for a second two-years term Past. Volpe thanked the Assembly for the renewed confidence and asked for prayers, suggestions, criticism and advice to continue the journey towards the renewal of Baptist churches. The Assembly also confirmed Giovanni Arcidiacono as vice-president; the other memberof the Council are Dunia Magherini, Ruggero Lattanzio, Elizabeth Green, Giuseppe Miglio, Massimiliano Pani, Ettore Zerbinati and Manoel Florencio Filho.
The Assembly, closely following its motto – “The hour of wheat,” a reference to the Gospel parable of the growing seed (Mark 4:26-29) – especially reflected on the growth of the churches. As stated in the programmatic motion, “God calls us as individuals, churches, and ministers to a greater responsibility in the effective announcement of His kingdom, which is expressed in the growth of the church in its various dimensions”. Among the priorities for the work of the next two years, the commitment to intercultural education, evangelization, diaconal work, young people training, the confirmation of the Zimbabwe project in which, since 2006, UCEBI collaborates with the Baptist Convention of the African country. Particular attention was given to the relations between Baptists, Methodists and Waldensians, conventionally indicated by the abbreviation BMV. A path of collaboration between the three churches, which should, according to the Assembly, “recover the impulse towards unit in order to fortify the common evangelization”, through the strengthening of local cooperation and the resumption of the theological debate on the issue of baptism.
Many the guest attending: Pastor Massimo Aquilante, president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), Pastor Franco Evangelisti of the Italian Union of the 7th Day Adventist Churches (UICCA), pastors Carmine Napolitano and Michele Passaretti of the Federation of Pentecostal churches (FCP), Marianita Montresor, national president of the Secretariat for ecumenical activities (SAE). Among the many items on the agenda, relevance was given to some changes in regulations. In particular the Assembly discussed and approved the regulations of the Eight per Thousand Commission and the related office: following the Agreement with the Italian State approved by Parliament last July, from 2013 UCEBI will be included among the Agencies listed in the income Taxes declaration for the donation of the eight per thousand income taxes’ refund. The funds will be exclusively used for humanitarian, social and cultural purposes.
Violence against women, from femicide to psychological pressure, was another important issue discussed during the Assembly: “this is a spiritual and cultural problem on which specially men are to reflect on”, states a motion voted on the World Day against violence.
The Assembly further discussed about homophobia, evangelization and human rights. For more details please visit: www.ucebi.it
Prisons. The moderator of the Waldensian Board Bernardini wrote to the Minister of Justice
Rome (NEV), November 30, 2012 – The Moderator of the Waldensian Board, Pastor Eugenio Bernardini, wrote a letter to the Minister of Justice, Paola Severino, to ask for an urgent action to overcome overcrowding in prisons, in accordance with the Italian Constitution and basic human rights. While acknowledging the Minister’s repeatedly expressed attention to the problem, the Moderator emphasized the need for measures not limited to overcome the inhuman conditions of national detention centres, but aiming a the rehabilitation of those who have committed crimes. As Christians bearing witness to the gift of the grace of God which opens to the possibility of conversion for every man and woman, Bernardini asked the Government for a guideline able to influence the criminal justice system towards alternative detention, effective both in terms of ‘social advantage” and reintegration to avoid recurrence.
Mafia. Naples: an ecumenical march in solidarity with the victims of the Camorra
Rome (NEV), November 30, 2012 – “It was the first time that the several Christian Churches of Naples found themselves in a public space to launch a call of warning and conversion to the Camorra, and give also a signal of hope”. Thus pastor Franco Mayer commented on the ecumenical torchlight held last November 9 in Naples, in solidarity with the innocent victims of the Camorra. Adventists, Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Orthodox, Waldensians, Free Evangelicals and also members of other faith communities – Jews, Muslims, Buddhists – all gathered together around Psalm 37:7: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes”. A silent procession without banners, crossed the city centre and concluded with a public reading of the Beatitudes. The participants departed at the end of the event hoping that this had been the first of many.
Waldensian Hospitals. The moderator appeals to President Napolitano
Rome (NEV), November 30, 2012 – Last November 16 the Moderator of the Waldensian Board wrote a letter to the Italian Republic President Giorgio Napolitano asking him to take action against regional institutions in order to prevent the liquidation of the three Waldensian Hospitals in Piedmont, in spite of the high social value of their activity. Against the decision of the Piedmont Region to heavily resize the activity of the breast cancer department of the Turin Waldensian Hospital, 303 women patients were photographed topless, many of them were subjected to surgery. Shocking photos, shot not to cause sensation, but to defend a quality service which is to be interrupted from next January 2. The participating women posed behind a black curtain, and were photographed by an external remote control camera to respect their privacy.
Violence against women. FDEI proposes a booklet
Rome (NEV), November 30, 2012 – “16 days to overcome violence”, this is the title of the booklet proposed this year, by the Federation of evangelical women in Italy (FDEI) on occasion of the period which runs from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to December 10 (International Human Rights Day). The contents, range from femicide to sexism, from the women exclusion to gender education, from the reality of migrant women to motherhood, up to the right of work, welfare, self-determination, and even the problems of the third and fourth age.
The booklet shows a theme for each day, and offers some data, a reading, a Bible verse, a meditation, a prayer and a proposal for a positive action. “It’s the result of the joint effort of 15 Italian and foreign women, of various evangelical denominations, each with her own spirituality and sensibility – said Gianna Urizio, President of FDEI – and of the economist Mara Gasbarrone, extraordinary in transforming numbers into analysis. She guided us providing the information and the numbers of the reality of women, which we wanted to address thoroughly”. The booklet can be downloaded here.
Ecumenism. Theologian Paolo Ricca to CEI Conference on the new evangelization
Naples (NEV), November 30, 2012 – On November 21 last in Naples took place the Conference ‘The new evangelization and ecumenism’ sponsored by the National Office for Ecumenism and Dialogue of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI). The Waldensian theologian Paolo Ricca participated – together with Msg. Mansueto Bianchi, President of the Episcopal Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue and His Excellency Andrey, Bishop of Remesiana, Patriarchate of Serbia – in the round table entitled “Unity, premise of the credibility of the Gospel communication”. He stated that “ecumenism is congenial to Christianity but the evangelization of the world has yet to begin because the unity of Christians which Jesus referred to is not the unity of Christians, but the unity with Him. Christians’ task is therefore to transform the divisions into differences or diversities. Jesus is the bond which brings together all diversities”.
Msgr. Gino Battaglia, director of the National office for Ecumenism and Dialogue of CEI, also present at the Conference, affirmed that the reflection over the new evangelization cannot but take into account the religious pluralism and hence the meaning and the consequences of different presences.
Public school. Association ’31 October’: “To give priority to private schools is a scandal”
Rome (NEV), November 30, 2012 – On November 18 last took place the Steering Committee of the protestant Association “31 Ottobre – for a laic and pluralistic school”. At the conclusion of the works, Silvana Ronco, president of the Association, declared that “the continuous flow of money from State coffers to private schools is a ‘scandal’ which puts in competition public and private, cutting funds to the first in favour of the latter. It is urgent for politicians to pay attention to this issue in the respect of the Constitution. The Association will shortly organize a meeting to brief about the relationship between the public and the private sectors”.
Founded in Rome in 1999 within the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) the Association “31 Ottobre” takes its name from the “Reformation Anniversary”, which is celebrated on October 31 to commemorate the’ “beginning” of the Protestant Reformation. The association is not confessional and includes not only teachers, but is open to all those who – school staff, students and common citizens – share its objectives: to defend and promote in the Italian school and society a laic and pluralistic culture and to promote at every level the meeting between the plurality of cultures and religions (www.associazione31ottobre.it, now also on facebook).
- Last November 9, the Council of Ministers approved the acknowledgement of the legal status of two religious bodies: The International Evangelical Church and the coptic-orthodox diocese of San Giorgio, both based in Rome.
- The opening of the restored Sala Assarotti – a historical worship place of the Lutheran community of Genoa – was celebrated last November 17. Gerda Kundrat – president of the local Lutheran community – expressed the importance of the event which represents the possibility of greater visibility for the church and its activities. Further, thanks to its location in the very centre of Genoa, it represents an opportunity to welcome citizens and tourists from other confessions in the wake of the Lutheran tradition of dialogue and ecumenism.