News bulletin of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy: May 2016

News bulletin of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy: May 2016

  • Religious freedom. Reactions against the ‘anti-mosques’ law of Veneto Region
  • Humanitarian Corridors. New Arrivals foreseen on May 3rd at Fiumicino
  • Dublin system. SRM-MH: “Shortsighted the EU Commission’s reform proposals”
  • Waldensian Eight per Thousand. The 2016 campaign: ‘Where needed, with clearness’
  • Baptists. The week for human rights organized by UCEBI
  • Reformation Jubilee. The initiatives in view of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
  • Lutheran Synod. The meeting ended in Merano with motions on migrations and end of life

Religious freedom. Reactions against the ‘anti-mosques’ law of Veneto Region

(NEV), April 30, 2016 – After the approval by the Veneto Region Council of the so called ‘anti-mosques’ law – which limits the building of worship places -, the president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), pastor Luca Negro, expressed his bewilderment for the contents of the law strongly limiting the Constitution principle that recognizes the freedom of either public or private religious observances. The jurist Roberto Zaccaria – professor of Constitutional Right at the Florence University – declared to NEV press agency that the text includes rules that severely limit the possibility to open new spaces of worship and violate fundamental constitutional principles. He added that this law incorporates, with some marginal adjustments, some of the provisions that have already been declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court with reference to a similar law published by the Lombard Region.

Members of Parliament Luigi Lacquaniti and Khalid Chaouki of the Democratic Party on April 20 filed a parliamentary interpellation on this subject.

Also the Protestant Churches of Milan – Waldensian, Methodist, Lutheran and Baptist –

presented an appeal to the mayor candidates for the city of Milan, in which they express their deep concern at some of the statements and the tones of certain lines of the election campaign in terms of religious freedom and freedom of worship, specifically referring to the unconstitutionality of the recent law.

Humanitarian Corridors. New Arrivals foreseen on May 3rd at Fiumicino

Rome (NEV), April 30, 2016 – While the project continues to be presented in various circumstances (i.e.: a press conference on April 4 at the Foreign Press Centre in Rome, the intervention of the Minister of External Affairs Paolo Gentiloni on March 30 on the occasion of the UNHCR Conference of Geneva) and refugees start their programs of integration (i.e.: the guests of the reception home ‘Casal Damiano’ started their intensive Italian language course either in public schools or in courses organized by humanitarian organizations), a new group of 98 refugees will arrive on May 3 at Fiumicino Airport – Muslims and Christians, Syrians and Iraqis, from 0 to 83 years old people – with a legal and safe procedure thanks to the pilot project of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), the S. Egidio Community, the Waldensian Board and Italian Government. As soon as they arrive, they will be able to ask for asylum and then they will proceed for Turin, Milan, Florence, Terni, Rome, Frosinone and Potenza where they will be hosted in the premises put at their disposal by the promoters of the project and their local partners.

Dublin system. SRM-MH: “Shortsighted the EU Commission’s reform proposals”

Rome (NEV), April 30, 2016 – “The measures proposed by the European Union (EU) Commission referring to the reformation of the ‘European Common Asylum System’ are not only short-sighted but also illegitimate since they are not able to function as discouraging element and fail to attack the real major problems, that are human traffickers and inhuman trips to get to Europe”. This is the comment of Giulia Gori, of the Refugees and Migrants Service-Mediterranean Hope (SRM-MH) of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), on the proposal made on April 6 by the EU Commission to reform the system approved in June 2013, which includes the Dublin Regulation. In the effort to provide European countries with adequate tools to govern the humanitarian and political crisis caused by the wave of asylum seekers that hit the Old Continent, the EU Commission proposed limitations of the right to seek asylum, eroding the procedural guarantees, and sanctions to limit the phenomenon of secondary movements. Furthermore the migration projects of individual asylum seekers are totally evaded rejecting – once more – the recommendations made by protection organizations such as the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) to whom FCEI belongs.

Waldensian Eight per Thousand. The 2016 campaign: ‘Where needed, with clearness’

Rome (NEV), April 30, 2016 – “Where needed, with clearness”, this is the title of the 2016 advertising eight per thousand campaign of the Union of Methodist and Waldensian Churches showing these days on the main national newspapers and broadcasted on some Radio and TV national programs. The image chosen for posters and leaflets is focused on a group of smiling people – women and men, young and elderly people – members of the Methodist and Waldensian Churches.

“It is our way to reaffirm that our running of the eight per thousand funds has always been clear and without opacity – explained pastor Eugenio Bernardini, moderator of the Waldensian Board – and on this principle we – Methodists and Waldensians – are ready to spend our faces. But it is also a way to directly thank the more than six hundred thousand Italians who have signed for us”.

The final explicit slogan says: “The eight per thousand to the Waldensian Church, doesn’t go to the Waldensian Church. Where it’s needed, with clearness”. This is to specify that not even one Euro goes to worship expenses, to the support of pastors or to the restoration or the building of new churches. To know more

Baptists. The week for human rights organized by UCEBI

Rome (NEV), April 30, 2016 – The violence against women is the theme of the ‘Week for Human Rights’, organized by the Christian Evangelical Baptist Union of Italy (UCEBI) every year around the date of April 4, the day in which in 1968 Martin Luther King was assassinated. Pastor Gabriella Lio explained that the issues was chosen primarily to manifest that Baptists churches want to find the right words to listen and welcome victims of sexual violence and secondly to follow up the ecumenical appeal of the Christian churches against violence on women of 9 March 2015.

Four were the contributions proposed: The analysis of the biblical text of Hosea, chapters 1-3 by the feminist theologian and pastor Elizabeth Green; a Good Friday liturgy organized by pastor Lio and, for the musical part, by Musician Carlo Lella; a document prepared by Alessandra Zeppieri of the UCEBI Evangelization Department, for a working group based on the film “Mustang” by Deniz Gamze Ergüven; a biblical animation that echoes the text of II Samuel 13:1-22 prepared by pastor Carmine Bianchi, secretary of the Department of the International Churches and member of the UCEBI Commission on Male and the Violence against Women.

The innovation this year was the extension of the initiative to the Waldensian and Methodist Churches in the frame of a recently launched collaboration for the organization of the Evangelization Week (8-15 May 2016) issued by the Synod of the Waldensian and Methodist Churches.

Reformation Jubilee. The initiatives in view of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

Rome (NEV), April 30, 2016 – The initiatives that the Italian Protestant churches are offering in view of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (1517-2017), are intensifying throughout the Country.

To collect and provide an overview of the events the website was launched by a Baptist, Methodist, Waldensian and Lutheran Commission. The Commission is also in charge of organizing some events at national level, among which a happening in Milan during the week-end of Pentecost 2017 whose closing worship service will be broadcasted in Eurovision. These churches have also set up a second theological commission to prepare a document that will be presented at a public event on December 3.

Not only the churches are organizing events, also the Council of the First Municipality of Rome (Center) is getting involved in the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation: the Council has in fact unanimously approved a motion to install a plaque to the figure of the German Reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546). Christiane Groeben, Lutheran and vice president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), expressed her satisfaction for this further sign of recognition of a figure who through his works and his writings was able to show a way of life and faith. On the other side, Mario Cioffari (left wing party, SEL, and member of the First Municipality) – author of the proposal – declared that the intent of the plaque is to witness the vocation of Rome to hospitality, respect for cultures and appreciation of differences.

Lutheran Synod. The meeting ended in Merano with motions on migrations and end of life

Rome (NEV), April 30, 2016 – Witness, migration, end of life: these were the themes that most characterized the works of the XXI Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Italy (CELI). The Convention took place from April 22 to 25 at the Lichtenburg Centre of Nalles (Bozen) and started with a worship service at the Christuskirche of Merano (Bozen). In his report to the participants, the dean of CELI, pastor Heiner Bludau, referred to the ‘new walls’ which are being built in Europe as a wrong answer to the migration crisis, including the one announced by the Austrian Government at the Brenner Pass, a few kilometres from the place of the Synod. Bludau said that in Bozen members of the local Lutheran church take part in the assistance to refugees at the Railway station, when they are forced to leave the trains which would take them towards Northern Europe. A similar witness came from Gerhild Herrgesell, of the Evangelical Church of Austria and guest of the Synod, who reported of the mobilization of the church members in favour of migrants. He also said that the Evangelical Austrian Church expressed its disapproval about the closing of the Brenner Pass.

The Synod approved the host project for young Western African migrants organized by the Lutheran Church of Catania in cooperation with the local Waldensian and Methodist Churches.

For the other theme about end of life provisions, it was decided the adoption of a ‘vademecum’ in a Christian perspective. The approved text was prepared by an ad hoc commission and includes a form for those who want to leave their end of life will.

During the meeting ample space was dedicated to the events of the 2017 Jubilee of the Reformation in which will in particular be involved the communities of Venice and Milan.

The works of the Synod which brought together about fifty pastors and delegates of the churches, were conducted by the newly elected President of the Synod, Karl Georg Schedereit of the Bozen community who succeeds to Christiane Groeben. The new vice-president is Wolfgang Prader of the Merano community. Lay members of the Council are: Cordelia Vitiello (Naples) and Angelo Ruggeri (Torre Annunziata). Treasurer is Ingrid Pfommer (Turin). Remain in charge: the dean Bludau, pastor in Turin, and pastor Jakob Betz, vice-dean.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Italy (CELI) is a bilingual church in which, beside the religious and cultural German component of the origins, lives and grows the Italian community. CELI counts 7000 members divided into 20 local churches throughout the country. The relations with the CELI and the Italian Republic are governed by the Act No. 520 of 1995 (Agreement after Art. 8 of the Italian Constitution). (


** In Salerno, the Association “L’Abbraccio-onlus” opened the first ‘Social Restaurant’: the initiative organized in cooperation with the wine-and-food laboratories of the technical professional Institute “S. Caterina da Siena – Amendola”, is supported by the eight per thousand funds of the Methodist and Waldensian Churches. The restaurant is part of a project of First Social Aid and will be named ‘Elpsis’ – the Greek word meaning ‘hope’ – is located in Via Fresa 1, and will be open every day from 12.30 to 15.00. The meals will cost one euro and are offered to those who have been damaged by the economical crisis and in this difficult circumstances experiment moments of uneasiness and loneliness. Elpis, in fact, wants to be not only a place where it is possible to satisfy a physical need such the lack of food, but also a space of sharing, exchange and socialization. For more information: – tel. +39 089 301519.

** The ‘Cinemondo’ project, which consists in a film exhibition realized with refugees and asylum seeker communities living in the Pinerolo area, was conceived by the Diaconal Commission of the Waldensian Church (CSD) and received the award of the competition “MigrArti” sponsored by the Minister of Culture and Tourism. The project was classified among the 24 financed out of a total of 503 presented. The CSD hosts 86 refugees in the area between Luserna San Giovanni and Villar Pellice coming mainly from Sub-Saharan Western Africa.

** “A music can do….” sang a few years ago the Italian singer Max Gazzè. And what really can do a music can be asked to the percussionists of CARATena Edo Music Mix, the group born last December in the temporary hosting centre (CAT) of Atena Lucana (Salerno), run by the Salvation Army. Not only a musical mix, but also a mix of nationalities from Sub-Saharan Africa: people from Senegal, Liberia, Mali who have found through music a way to integration in Italy. Fifty male Asylum Seekers living at present in the premises of the Salvation Army and part of an integration path in the Atena Lucana area which aims to the development of the individual skills and interests.

** On April 24 in Scicli (Sicily), the XXIX Day of Protestantism in Sicily was celebrated with the theme ‘I was a stranger and you have received me!”. The event gathered more than 500 people of many different denominations convened from all Sicilian provinces. On the occasion a interdenominational worship service was celebrated to which participated also the operators and the guests of the ‘House of Culture’, the reception centre of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) “Mediterranean Hope” started more than one year ago in the same baroque town of Scicli, UNESCO heritage. The event was filmed by the TV Program “Protestantesimo-RAI2” and will be broadcasted on May 15, at 10 am in Eurovision, on Pentecost Sunday.