News bulletin of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy-January 2014
Lampedusa. The Campaign “LasciateCIEntrare”* in defence of 16 migrants unlawfully detained
Rome (NEV) January 31, 2014 – On December 27 several associations and members of the Campaign “LasciateCIEntrare” (*) – including the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) – have filed a complaint at the European level to denounce the paradoxical situation of 16 Eritrean and Syrian nationals, unlawfully detained since over two months at the Centre for relief and initial reception (CSPA) of Lampedusa. The 16 foreigners survived the tragic sinking of last October and are waiting to be heard by the court in Agrigento as people briefed on the facts against alleged smugglers. However, their detention in Lampedusa “in inhuman and degrading conditions” and devoid of any “legal justification”, as reported by the representatives of “LasciateCIEntrare”, contradicts their status as victims and witnesses of serious crimes, to whom safeguard and protection should be recognized.
Always on December 27 the associations belonging to the Campaign launched a call asking for “the immediate end of the detention of refugees still languishing in the CPSA Contrada Imbriacola in Lampedusa and the immediate conversion of the centre to its original destination as ‘first aid and reception structure’ where migrants should remain for up to 48-72 hours”.
“We have been denouncing the situation of the Identification and Expulsion Centers (CIE) since 2011 as unconstitutional and degrading, a symbol of disrespect for a country that names itself democratic – said Franca Di Lecce, director of the Refugee and Migrant Service (SRM) of FCEI -. As members of the Campaign we have now decided to accelerate the process. Either the complaint and the appeal can be shared by other associations, institutions, civil society groups and individuals”.
Meanwhile, LasciateCIEntrare welcomed with great satisfaction the recent news about the official closing of the CIE of Modena and asked the Government and the Minister of the Interior to urgently proceed in the same way for all the other still operating detention centers.
* “LasciateCIEntrare” (National Campaign against the administrative detention of migrants) is born as a result of the ban on information in the CIE and in the C.A.R.A. (Reception centers for asylum seekers).
Prisons. The FCEI Working Group on Prisons sets its targets for 2014
Rome ( NEV), January 31, 2014 – “We have much to say about issues such as decriminalization of certain offenses , amnesty and pardon, life imprisonment and death penalty”, this is what Pastor Francesco Sciotto – coordinator of the “Prisons Working Group” of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy ( FCEI ) – declared at the meeting held in Rome at the end of last year to finalize the objectives for 2014. In an interview given to the magazine “Riforma”, pastor Sciotto tracked work priorities which include the mapping of the experiences with detention institutions collected by the churches at local level; the protection of prisoners’ right to receive adequate spiritual assistance; the removing of as many obstacles as possible in order to ensure the fulfillment of the pastoral work in prison; the targeted training of ministers and volunteers working in prisons. To this end, as Sciotto explained, the program foresees three training sessions to be held in Florence between March and September 2014, about legal and administrative issues, penitentiary rights, prison ministry and theology , interreligious dialogue and not least the “migrants’ issue”. The idea, however, is not only to work with and for the churches, but to enter the public debate on the issues of justice and penalties. Through the years churches produced a lot of material on the living conditions of prisoners: the hope of the FCEI’s “Prisons Working Group” is to cooperate to a broader action on the prisons’ emergency in the Country. Click here for more information.
Culture. The heritage of Giorgio Spini gives life back to the Library of Aulla
Rome (NEV), January 31, 2014 – On November 25, 2011 the town of Aulla (Northern Tuscany) was struck by a devastating flood which, among many other damages, destroyed the public library.
On Saturday January 11, a little more than three years later, the new library “Arturo Salucci” was reopened. An event made possible mainly due to the historical and literary legacy of Giorgio Spini (1916-2006). Soon after the flood the children of the eminent Italian Historian decided to donate to the town 8 thousand books belonging to their father library. “We were deeply impressed by the flood that ravaged the lands which are very dear to us – declared Valdo Spini -. My sister, my brother and I are convinced to offer, with this donation, a useful contribution for the town’s new start”. The Spini Fund includes volumes about the history of Tuscany, of the United States and the history of religions in Italy and Europe.
Giorgio Spini was also an active member of the Methodist Church in Italy.
Among the guests to the open ceremony, the vice-president of the Tuscany Region, Stella Targetti, and the representative of the Municipality of Aulla.
Ecumenism. The Week of prayer for Christian Unity
Rome (NEV) , January 31, 2014 – “Has Christ been divided?” This is the verse taken from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians (1:1-17) which led the meetings and reflections of the Week of Prayer for Christians’ Unity 2014.
In Italy, as it is customary, the booklet accompanying the ecumenical event, prepared by the Christan Churches in Canada, and was jointly presented by Bishop Mansueto Bianchi, president of the Episcopal Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI), by the Metropolitan Gennadios Zervos, Orthodox Archbishop of Italy and Malta and Exarch of Southern Europe and by Pastor Massimo Aquilante, president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy ( FCEI ). Together, the three Christian leaders complained that “to be divided in the name of Christ is the paradox and the scandal of Christian life” and, starting from Paul’s letter, remembered how “we cannot be Church on our own, but in communion with all those who confess the name of Jesus”.
Many, in every part of the Peninsula, were the events organized either by individual churches or by local Christian Councils the Boards of town and regional churches emerged in recent years: prayer vigils, pulpit exchanges, conferences, concerts, theatre performances, meetings for children and young people.
Memorial Day. FCEI’s president writes to UCEI’s president
Rome (NEV), January 31, 2014 – On occasion of this year Memorial Day, pastor Massimo Aquilante, president of the Federation of protestant churches in Italy (FCEI), wrote to the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), Renzo Gattegna, recalling the path of friendship and cooperation which binds the Jewish Community and the Italian Protestant, “a source of mutual enrichment both in terms of faith and of culture”
As for the specific anniversary of January 27th, Aquilante wrote: “The invitation to exercise memory comes directly from the Scriptures we share: it’s a training in hope which drives us to critically look at the society where we live and belong to. For this reason, the Memorial of the Shoah must continue to shake our consciences and make us attentive against any populism and intolerance unfortunately spreading nowadays in Europe towards those who are considered different”.
Religions. Increasing pluralism in Rome and its province thanks to migration
Rome (NEV) January 31, 2014 – On the territory of Rome and its province migrants faith communities and places of worship and prayer are increasing. There are 293 faith realities due to immigration, 37 more than in 2011, as shown in the 2014 Caritas Migrants Guide “Migrants in Rome and province. Meeting places of worship and prayer”, presented in Rome last January 20.
Most of the 293 places of worship (or community of faith composed by migrants who rely on existing structures) are intended for Catholics – about 172 -, while Orthodox have 53, Protestants 27, Muslims 25, Jews 7 , Buddhists 7. The Hindu and Sikh communities have each one.
Among the speakers at the guide presentation, Baptist pastor Silvia Rapisarda who spoke about the evangelical presence in the area, pointing out the curious coincidence by which, thanks to the very migrants presence, Italian Protestants enjoy a greater visibility. “The Guide – she affirmed – launches a strong political signal: it affirms the existence de facto of religious pluralism, not obvious in Italy”. On the occasion she also recalled the urgent need for a law on religious and conscience freedom.
Rights. The Christian churches of Parma launched a call in favour of a mosque
Rome (NEV), January 31, 2014 – A call in favour of an adequate place of worship for the Muslim community of Parma was launched on January 28, during a press conference, by the Council of Christian Churches of Parma (CCCPR). The appeal – signed by the representatives of the Catholic, Greek and Romanian Orthodox, Seventh-Day Adventist and Methodist Churches, and addressed to political forces, local institutions and to the Mayor Federico Pizzarotti – asks for the full application of the constitutional right to the profession of worship in adequate spaces. Since many years the Islamic Centre of the city is located in a warehouse in the industrial area. Back in 2012 the CCCPR already urged the Mayor to find a solution to the problem; after a year and half without an answer, the Council – reiterating its closeness to the Islamic community – repeated the appeal for a speedy and definitive solution.
** Waldensian Giorgio Gardiol died at the age of 71, on 19 January in Pinerolo (TO). Gardiol was Member of the Chamber of Deputies in the left wing party from 1996 to 2001 and the first editor of the weekly magazine of the Baptist, Methodist and Waldensian Churches “Riforma” which he directed from 1993 to 1996. From 1999 to 2007 he held the position of secretary of the Press, radio and TV Service (SSRTV) of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI). In a message of condolence to the family, Pastor Massimo Aquilante, on behalf of the entire FCEI wrote: “Let us give witness to the evangelical passion always united to civil commitment that Giorgio lived and conveyed into many areas at various levels, including the Federation of Protestant Churches. Our hope and our firm trust are in the Risen Christ, the first fruits of those who sleep in the Lord”.
** The Council of the Protestant Churches of Rome launched the project “Committed to the right to work”. Considering the critical situation of the labor market, the initiative aims to offer the Protestant Churches of Rome and their members, guidance tools and training opportunities offered by public institutions operating in the area – among those the Work orientation centre of Rome and the Employment Centres of the Province of Rome. Two operators, Francesca Agrò and Carmen Hernandez, will prepare a monthly newsletter with practical information, offer individual counseling, meet the congregations for further information. The project, supported by the contribution of the 8 per thousand funds of the Waldensian and Methodist churches, provides for the possibility of small financial support to attend the training courses. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
** On January 29 the second edition of the project “Pink Roses” was presented in Naples. Planned by the Lutheran Women’s Network and the Lutheran congregations of Naples and Torre Annunziata, and supported also by the Salvation Army and the Seventh-day Adventist church, the project collaborates with the Evangelical Hospital “Villa Betania” (Ponticelli, Naples) and the Medical Center of Torre Annunziata. Aim of the initiative is to promote and disseminate the culture of prevention and to support women in terms of family and social discomfort. “Pink Roses” creates a real ‘friendly space’, offering services such as counseling, diagnostic tests and free specialized visits.