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A weekly report published by Media Ecclesiastica, Athens, Greece
The Editor: Pan. Drakopoulos

7 September 2005          click for your free subscription


The Archbishop Christodoulos on “Katrina”

Archbishop Christodoulos has sent a letter of support (31/9/2005) to President George Bush of the U.S.A. “I hasten to express my human sympathy and to assure you of my sharing in the grief and pain of your people. I fervently pray that the Lord will grant rest to the souls of our deceased fellow humans and give His peace and calm to the affected areas”, wrote the Archbishop.

Moreover, the Archbishop placed “Solidarity” development and social service organisation of the Church of Greece at the disposal of the Greek Government to help victims of “Katrina”.

No Summer Holidays for "Solidarity"

“Solidarity” worked at its familiar intensive pace throughout the summer months. It sent aid in the form of food to areas of Romania which were destroyed by the floods, humanitarian aid to Georgia and two fully equipped ambulances to the hospital in Kabul, in Afghanistan.

The circulation of the weekly newspaper “Citizen”, a publication by “Solidarity”, whose aim is the increase of social sensitivity of us all, is still increasing.

Meeting to Discuss European Issues

A meeting organized by the Synodical Committee for European Issues took place in Larisa (1/9/2005), with the collaboration of the delegation of the E.U. and the office of the delegation of the European Parliament in Athens.

In his pertinent message Archbishop Christodoulos mentioned that “as far as the Church is concerned, the E.U. is not just a politico-economic collaboration between certain governments…Europe, as a cultural area, is the spiritual height of Christianity. For this reason, the protection of European unity, for the Church, is not a political action but a spiritual obligation”.
"We, as European citizens”, Archbishop Christodoulos added, “need to realize that nations are not united steadily and permanently based only on their financial or political interests. On the contrary, they are united only when they are connected by spiritual bonds. Europe can exist as a unity even if it has a variety of cultural forms, but it cannot exist without a uniform spiritual orientation”.

Von Pierer will head a 10-member council of economic advisers to Merkel

Heinrich von Pierer, who headed the German electrical giant Siemens with over 400,000 employees from 1992 until early this year, being named a top economic adviser to Angela Merkel. Von Pierer has been honored by the Archbishop of Greece Christodoulos for his social responsibility management as a Chief of Siemens.

Interchristian Symposium on Ecumenical Dialogue

[Source:VIS] The ninth Inter-Christian Symposium, promoted by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality at the Antonianum Pontifical Athenaeum in Rome, and by the Faculty of Theology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, has taking place in the Italian town of Assisi from September 4 to 7.

The inter-Christian symposia began in 1992 and are celebrated on alternate years in Greece and in Italy. The theme of this year's meeting - "The Eucharist in the eastern and western traditions, with particular reference to ecumenical dialogue" – has been introduced by Archbishop Yannis Spiteris O.F.M. Cap. of Corfu, Greece, and has been expounded by twelve scholars, six Orthodox and six Catholic.

At the opening session of the symposium, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the same pontifical council, read a message from Benedict XVI.

"The symposium," writes the Pope in his message, "represents a joyful opportunity for fraternal exchange, in which important themes from the heritage of shared faith may be reflected upon and given profound consideration. ... The search for full and visible unity among all Christ's disciples is felt as a particularly urgent need of our times."

Benedict XVI goes on to point out that this year's theme "is highly significant for the life of Christians and for the recomposition of full communion among all the disciples of Christ. ... Dialogue and discussion in truth and in charity ... will surely bring out our shared faith as well as those theological and liturgical aspects particular to the East and to the West, complementary aspects that have a dynamic effect in forming the People of God, and that represent a treasure for the Church."

Western experts now realize Islamic terrorism as the result of Muslims asccession in Europe. Read here some thoughts from a cool expert.

Olivier Roy explains why Islamic terrorism is born in Europe.
(Abridged edition)

The attacks on London point to a development that has been documented for a number of years. Islamic radicalism is on the rise, above all, in the second generation of young Muslims living in Europe. A certain form of Islamic radicalism, which one could call "Jihadism" is in fact a pathological outcome of the Westernisation of Islam; it is not the result of exporting to Europe the conflicts of the Middle East (there is not a single Palestinian, Afghani or Iraqi among terrorists acting at the international level). This violence is part of a more general transformation of Islam resulting from immigration, the fact of being a minority, and the introduction into Muslim societies of profoundly Western patterns of economic, political and religious consumption.

The radicalisation of Islam is often perceived as the cultural reaction to Westernisation by traditional Muslim societies. Thus, fundamentalism is identified as a Muslim culture that refuses to Westernise itself.

This gap between culture and religion is nevertheless wider among the Muslims of Europe. Immigration has brought with it the loss of a social framework for religion. Fasting during Ramadan in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Egypt is very easy, even if one is not very religious, because social pressures push one in that direction. But Muslims living in Europe are forced to make choices: they have to decide whether the prescriptions of religion are at the centre of their lives, which ones are essential and how to carry them out in practice. They may reconfigure their lives around these constraints at risk of complicating their social and professional lives. Or they may ignore the prescriptions of religion or fulfil them in a way that is entirely symbolic. In a word, they must decide for themselves what religion should be.

In any examination of the relationships between Islam and the West, what is important is not the theological content of Islam - since that is currently the subject of debate among Muslims.

Fundamentalism is thus not a reaction of traditional cultures that feel threatened; rather it reflects their disappearance. It is a serious mistake to associate modern forms of fundamentalism with a clash of civilisations. The young do not become fundamentalist because Western civilisation ignores their parents' cultures, but because they have lost that cultural tradition, which at the same time they tend to despise. The religiosity of the fundamentalists is individual and generational; this is a rebellion against the religion of their own parents. Many young Muslim girls of the second generation in Europe wear the veil not at the insistence of their parents, but rather to affirm their individuality: furthermore, they are not shy of taking up feminist slogans ("my body is my business").

This article originally appeared in Die Zeit in German on July 21, 2005.

Translation: Peter Bild.