News bulletin of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy–April 2014
A regular round-up of news from the Protestant Churches in #Italy
Number 302 – April 2014
- School. The non-dissemination of the leaflets against homophobia is a major step backward
- Europe. Ten requests to the election candidates proposed by the campaign ‘I’m Italy too”
- Eight per thousand. The 2014 campaign of the Adventist and Lutheran churches.
- Adventists. “In Chirst, today for tomorrow”: the 150 years of Adventist presence in Italy
- Lampedusa. FCEI’s president Aquilante meets the mayor of the Island, Giusi Nicolini
- Forum. The ecumenical season of Pope Francis
- Canonizations. The moderator of the Waldensian Board: they are not an ecumenical event.
- Protestant . The National Week of evangelization promoted by Methodists and Waldensians
- IN BRIEF
School. The non-dissemination of the leaflets against homophobia is a major step backward
Rome ( NEV ), April 30, 2014 – “A major step backwards in the prevention of homophobia and an insult to the secular State”. This is the opinion of Silvana Ronco, president of the Association “October 31, for a secular and pluralist school”, about the pressures of the Catholic world that prevented the spread in schools of the pamphlets “Educating to diversity in the school”. Prepared by the A.T. Beck Institute as part of a broader government strategy to prevent and combat homophobia, the texts were considered – by associations of Catholic parents, by the Italian Bishops Conference and by several Catholic politicians, including even the deputy-minister for Education Gabriele Toccafondi – a means of spreading a ‘gender philosophy’ in schools, by the ‘powerful LGBT lobby,’ to the detriment of the importance of the so-called ‘traditional family’. In the opinion of Ronco, the alarm of Toccafondi – who would see in the training kit for schools an injury to the freedom of education by families – should rather face the difficult situation of the families of the students who choose not to avail themselves of the Catholic religious teaching, or their choice, often forced by the lack of public facilities, to enroll their children in private preschools. All this stresses how laity is far from being an affirmed constitutional principle and how the Italian State continues to be the instrument for reaching the goals of a religious confession.
Europe. Ten requests to the election candidates proposed by the campaign ‘I’m Italy too’
Rome (NEV), April 30, 2014 – “I’m Italy too”, the campaign for the rights of citizenship, expands its boundaries and proposes a document with 10 requests to the next election candidates about European migration and reception policies. Among these, the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their families, the right to vote in local elections, the citizenship rights, the closing of the detention centers. The document “I’m Europe too” – which was presented at the conference “Lampedusa city of Europe” held on the 4 and 5 of April last in Sicily – was preceded by a preamble in which the associations supporting the campaign – including the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy ( FCEI ) – denounce how “in spite of a large theoretical recognition of the benefits of migration, the European Union (EU) has so far focused its attention on the prevention of migration flows, leaving in the background the process of alignment of reception and social inclusion policies”. An attitude whose failure “is tragically illustrated by the death of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean sea and by the numerous violations of human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees”. Against the “fortress Europe” the paper proposes a “multicultural Europe”, achievable also through the ten requests addressed to the European candidates.
Eight per thousand. The 2014 campaign of the Adventist and Lutheran churches
Rome (NEV), April 30, 2014 – “Who wants to do good, let him do so in excess”. This quotation from Luther will accompany the 2014 campaign for the 8 per thousand of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Italy (CELI), inviting taxpayers to sign up for “a church capable of evolving with society”. In addition to a flyer, these slogans are distributed via a downloadable video on Youtube. For the second year in a row, in fact, the advertising campaign of the Lutherans is entrusted to “social-networks” through which the video can be distributed and shared. A choice that seems to bear fruit, as the signatures in favor of the CELI increased from 49,233 in 2012 to 58,500 in 2013 – a result that is surprising if one takes into account that Lutherans in Italy are about 7 thousand .
To view the video and share it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wD4FE86hIE. To know more about the use of the funds by CELI, please visit the specific section of the site www.chiesaluterana.it
“Welcome” is the keyword of the 2014 campaign of the Italian Union of the 7th Day Adventist Churhes (UICCA). A child hugging a teddy bear and the slogan “Being welcome is…to feel at home far away from home”. Pastor Franco Evangelisti declared that to welcome others is a pleasure for human beings, so much more for Christians and remembered how the full amount of the UICCA 8 per thousand is exclusively used for social, humanitarian and cultural intervention in Italy and abroad. To know more about the projects, please visit the site: www.ottopermilleavventisti.it; a video may be downloaded on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7wQS4EMkDA .
Adventists. “In Chirst, today for tomorrow”: the 150 years of Adventist presence in Italy
Rome (NEV), April 30, 2014 – “In Christ, today for tomorrow.” This is the motto that the Italian Union of the 7th Day Adventist Churches (UICCA) choose to commemorate the 150 years of presence in the country. The program of the celebrations was presented on April 3 in Rome, at a press conference held at the Parco Massimi, which was attended by journalists and members of the Italian evangelical world.
The history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Italy was outlined by Pastor Davide Romano, director of the department of religious freedom of UICCA. Romano recalled the figures of Michael Belina Czecowsky, a former Franciscan friar who gave way in 1864 to the Seventh-day Adventist preaching in Italy, and Catherine Revel, the first Adventist Italian and European woman. Today Adventists in Italy are about 10 thousand, divided into 110 local churches; the Union has a publishing house, a Faculty of Theology, a house of rest for elderly people and, soon to be opened, a vacation home. In 1986, the church has entered into an agreement with the Italian State, which became law in 1988.
UICCA finally wanted to express gratitude to the television program “Protestantesimo” of the second national channel RAIDUE, for its commitment to give voice and visibility to religious minorities and to the Italian evangelical churches, including the Adventist one. A plaque was handed over to Marco Davite and Elisa Baglieri, respectively managing editor and editorial secretary of the program.
Lampedusa. FCEI’s president Aquilante meets the mayor of the Island, Giusi Nicolini
Rome (NEV), April 30, 2014 – “I’m back in Lampedusa with the full support of the various organs of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) to reaffirm our commitment to value what the island represents: southern border of Europe, natural bridge to North Africa, goal of the hope of, thousands of refugees; Italian and European difficulty to take charge of a host program that protects people fleeing from poverty and hunger, but also from persecution and mass violence. In this sense, Lampedusa is a symbol which binds us to fight for rights and hospitality” said pastor Massimo Aquilante , president of FCEI returning from a visit to Lampedusa.
During the visit, president Aquilante and the FCEI delegation, accompanying him on April 2, met the mayor of the island, Giusy Nicolini, and expressed deep appreciation for her repeated statements relating to human rights and the hospitality of refugees, but also sharing the idea that Lampedusa can become not only a symbol of hope for thousands of people, but also the heartland of awareness campaigns on issues such as global migration, human rights, reception policies.
On her part the Mayor expressed to NEV Press Agency her satisfaction to have met the FCEI delegation, remembering how the evangelical churches were among the first to give echo to the appeal made to Europe back in November 2012: a call for responsibility to ensure that Lampedusa is not perceived border area for Italy alone.
Aquilante concluded that FCEI decided to engage in initiatives that go in this direction. After the visit to Lampedusa, in fact, while still in Sicily, he met with representatives of various local churches and service facilities to check the possibility of a new protestant commitment in hospitality initiatives. The test was encouraging for the start of new programs with the support, hopefully, of the European Protestant Churches also invited to identify Lampedusa as a symbol of a common commitment to service and witness.
New landings are in fact continuing. Italy has given a serious response to this emergency situation with the project Mare Nostrum: in six months the Italian Navy rescued 20,000 migrants at sea. But in spite of this important humanitarian outcome, serious deficiencies in the hospitality and protection of refugees and asylum seekers still remain. Europe refuses to take the issue of humanitarian and social problems that can not be unloaded only on the countries most exposed to migration from North Africa. Pastor Massimo Aquilante, commenting on April 23 the news of the new landings in Sicily, renewed his appeal to the sister churches of Europe to act on their governments and make them understand that migrants issues test the Continent on its credibility about human rights.
Forum. The Ecumenical season of Pope Francis
Rome (NEV), April 30, 2014 – Pastor Massimo Aquilante, opening the forum “The consequences of Bergoglio” – organized by the Study Commission of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) last April 29 at the Waldensian Faculty in Rome – declared that FCEI has carefully looked at Pope Francis since the day of his election, appreciating his style and language which portends a new era in ecumenism. It is now time to understand what scenarios are actually open and which will emerge to revive the ecumenical dialogue. Lucio Caracciolo, director of the magazine Limes, stated that Francis’ papacy broadens the border of its action, aware of the global dimension of the Catholic Church and the complexity of the scenarios in which it operates. “A papacy to be analyzed with attention and participation even from us Protestants – said Daniele Garrone, professor at the Waldensian Faculty of Theology – since we are stimulated by Francis evangelical approach, his communication centered on the Word and the effectiveness of his preaching”. Going more deeply into the matter of the ecumenical issues, political expert Paolo Naso, coordinator of the Studies Commission of FCEI, stressed the importance of the ecumenical commitment of Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina and the originality of his approach to the Pentecostal world, “in his work we find words and gestures that attest the desire to understand a spiritual explosive phenomenon – he noted – overcoming the logic of competition and clash, to seek ways of dialogue and common witness”. Eagerly awaited the intervention of Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for the legal texts and strong representative of the “martinian” group, close to Bergoglio: “A pope who listens – he began – and who is genuinely interested to know and understand who stands in front of him. It is this tendency, expressed visibly in his way of being with people and in many of his gestures, that someone holds little sacred and appropriate for the head of a Church. In fact it testifies his interpretation of the pastor’s role of a church that is first and foremost a community of men and women who believe in God and Jesus. That attitude – he concluded – is a great ecumenical encouragement”. “A rich and important meeting – said at the conclusion Gian Mario Gillio, editor of the magazine Confronti and coordinator of the Forum – which gives the measure of an interesting season for the ecumenical dynamics”.
Canonizations. The moderator of the Waldensian Board: they are not an ecumenical event.
Rome (NEV), April 30, 2014 – “Canonizations are not an ecumenical fact. We look at them with respect but they don’t belong to Protestants and cannot be celebrated as an event of the whole Christendom”, stated the moderator of the Waldensian Church, Pastor Eugenio Bernardini, a few hours before the proclamation of the sanctity of the Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. “The exceptional media attention to this event – said the Moderator – does not justify the canonization of these two popes as a fact that concerns all Christians. It is not so, because our ecumenism and attention to the role played by these two popes do not erase the theological critique of Protestantism to the cult of the saints. We therefore invite journalists to a precise and accurate information, respectful of the distinction between the different Christian traditions and of the theological specificity of each Christian denomination. This is precisely because we are ecumenical and, the more in the climate of dialogue initiated by Pope Francis, we value the dialogue with our Catholic and Orthodox brothers. But always in the clarity and respect of our and others’ theological identity”.
Protestants. The National Week of evangelization promoted by Methodists and Waldensians
Rome (NEV), April 30, 2014 – Sermons in the square, bookstalls, exhibitions, continuous readings of the Bible, conferences, concerts and flash mobs. These are just some of the activities that will enliven the National Week of Evangelization, to be held from 5 to 11 May by the Italian Waldensian and Methodist churches. This is the first initiative of this kind nationwide, decided by the Synod 2013, and will have as its motto the biblical verse “God, who gives hope, fill you with joy” (Romans 15:13). “Of course, evangelization is the primary task of every church – said the Waldensian pastor Giuseppe Ficara, coordinator of the Commission for the evangelization, who has prepared the material of the Week -. The particularity of this week is that churches and single believers are invited to an explicit proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ. The idea is to get out of the churches with the Bible in one’s hand”. The main tool will certainly be the Bible, confirmed Ficara. “We printed a special edition of the New Testament and Psalms to be distributed to those who will show to be interested”.
** The Italian Baptist (UCEBI) dedicated to peace the Week of human rights 2014 (March 31- April 6) celebrated every year to remember the death of Martin Luther King (April 4, 1968). The theme was chosen first to mark the Centenary of the Great War and second because today the danger of war in the world is still present and represent a challenge to the Christian consciences. On the web site www.ucebi.it the materials proposed for the event.
** The Rifugio Re Carlo Alberto, Luserna San Giovanni (Turin) received the 2014 award of the “European Foundations’ Initiative on Dementia ” (EFID) with the project “We are with you – Ambassadors for Alzheimer”. This project was born as a result of the experience acquired from the Rifugio – a structure belonging to the Waldensian Church and dedicated to the reception of partially or totally dependent elderly people – in a process developed together with the “Workshop of the Possible”, Torre Pellice (Turin). The idea is to “celebrate the possible” in the lives of people affected by the disease, focusing the attention on the person and creating opportunities for inclusion in the life of the local community. “Ambassadors for Alzheimer” was the only Italian project awarded by EFID (www.diaconiavaldese.org ).