Nev September by jennyyingdi


									NEV - a monthly press service
from the news bulletin of the
Federation of protestant churches in Italy
Via Firenze 38, 00184 Roma (Italy)
Tel. +06 48 25 120 - 06 48 37 68 - e-mail

number 205 - 30 September 2005

* Families vs. cohabitation
* Reactions to hurricane Katrina
* Criticism againt Directives of the European Commission for Migrant expulsions
* Islamic Forum
* A gathering of the different faith communities
* Fourth edition of “Turin spirituality: questions to God and to human beings”
* 17 February as “A Day for Religious Freedom”

Families vs. cohabitation

Rome, 30 September 2005 (NEV) - Prof. Daniele Garrone, Deacon of the Waldensian Faculty of
Theology in Rome, spoke out in favor of the positions expressed by Romano Prodi, leader of the
Centre-left Coalition, on the theme of “rights of couples based on ties other that of marriage” and on
the proposed legislation presented by 61 congressmen. Prodi’s position caused a reaction on the
part of the “Osservatore Romano”, official newspaper of the Vatican, defending the family and
accusing him of wanting to “change the reality of the family”. The Vatican and the Italian Episcopal
Conference have chosen the field of morality to exercise their political pressure, a pressure that is no
longer entrusted to a Catholic political party in Italy like it once was with the “Democrazia Cristiana”.
"It would be near sightedness – Garrone said - to see in this strategy a simple attempt to recover a
lost political power. What’s at stake is political autonomy and rights, pluralism of ethical convictions
that are acknowledged in a democratic pact, the affirmation of the rights of the person, freedom of
scientific research and the relationship between religion and the democratic society. We are dealing
with a fight by the Roman Catholic Church against the acquisitions of certain civil rights in today’s
changing world. The question is quite simple: acknowledging the existence of couples, both etero
and homosexual, does not go against the sacred rights of other citizens who choose to live marriage
as a sacrament where the rules are dictated by their own teaching authority. Just as the penalties of
sexual behavior, that in past times were sanctioned and have now been removed, this does not go
against the right of those who believe they should practice abstinence rather that use contraceptives
in fighting AIDS. On the other hand, to pretend that what is “natural” is in reality nothing other than
the Catholic vision of matrimony and of sexuality, means to discriminate against all who do not follow
this vision. We are not dealing with an attack on the family and its many problems which cannot be
solved waving an ideological flag. I already know the answer to this objection: we are not talking of
ideology but of truth. But the truth is not in the natural, nor in the morals that Christians have
developed through history, but in the proclamation of God’s love for all of his creatures. If the
churches worried less about making cultures all the same, of influencing politics and regulating the
lives of citizens, and more about talking of God, they would give a better service to the truth.
Witnessing is done also with the lives we lead: Christians do this through their personal example and
not trying to make everyone correspond to their own convictions, limiting rights and freedoms of
those who do not share the same convictions".

The Moderator of the Tavola Valdese Pastor Maria Bonafede, also stated that she did not understand
the strong reaction of the Roman Catholic Church in this matter. The proposed legislation would not
make it obligatory for people to seek cohabitation but would only regulate what is now a reality that is
creating some injustices. Nothing is taken away from marriage, which remains an important social
institution. Many men and women live together for many years sharing troubles and joys and
sustaining each other reciprocally. Not all have the possibility in their lives and for many and various
reasons, to be able to form a “traditional” family. It is the right and duty of the State to care for the
rights of the weakest through proper legislation.

Reactions to hurricane Katrina

Rome, 30 September 2005 (NEV) - Gianni Long, President of the Federation of Protestant Churches
in Italy wrote to Pastor Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Christian Churches
in the USA: “In the name of the Federation I would like to express our deepest solidarity and
fellowship with all those who have been hit by Hurricane Katrina. Our prayers are for all persons
suffering and in particular for those who, living already in conditions of extreme poverty, have been
hit hard yet another time. In the name of Jesus we pray for the emergency crews and for the entire
population so that they may receive the strength necessary to rebuild what has been destroyed. The
catastrophic dimensions of this disaster remind us of our fragility as humans, a fragility we all share
over and above our beliefs, ethnic background or culture but that, as Christians, calls us to a true and
active solidarity”. Words of comfort and solidarity came from the Italian Protestant Churches, but also
a call to reflect on our relationship with creation and natural resources. A word of dissent came from
the Union of Baptist Churches in Italy on the “license to kill given to police and military in answer to
those stealing from houses and stores. In answer to those who share the idea of the iron hand and
tolerance zero, almost always against the least of society, we feel we must proclaim that the future is
with solidarity.”

Criticism againt Directives of the European Commission for Migrant expulsions

Rome, 30 September 2005 (NEV) - A coalition of 13 organizations that watches over political
developments regarding migrants and their assistance - among which the Commission of the
Churches for Migrants in Europe and the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy through its
Refugee and Migrant Service Department - expressed deep concern over the measures adopted by
the European Commission on the detention and expulsion of irregular migrants or refugees that have
not been granted exile. These organizations were expecting an approach centered more on respect
for human rights, but the Commission gave priority to a presumed “efficiency” in those offices with
the responsibility of deciding expulsions and the technical aspects of how this is accomplished. This
position reflects a tendency toward restricted measures with prolonged detentions and expulsions
rather the searching for political solutions that guarantee rights and look toward integration of
migrants within the society. A document has been sent to the European Commission showing nine
principles for the treatment of migrants, among which that of considering expulsion as a final
possibility, the protection of those migrants who are most vulnerable (juveniles, the sick, victims of
the prostitution and human trafficking), respect for family unity and the setting up of independent
organizations for monitoring expulsion procedures. The coalition will put pressure on the European
Commission until unacceptable procedures are modified.

Islamic Forum

Rome, 30 September 2005 (NEV) - Twenty some exponents of the academic, cultural and religious
fields in Italy, including five Protestants (Prof. Daniele Garrone, Deacon of the Waldensian
Theological Faculty, Domenico Maselli, University of Florence and once a congressman, Paolo Naso,
director of “Confronti”, Waldensian pastor Letizia Tomassone and Pastor Giuseppe Platone, director
of the weekly “Riforma”), expressed their agreement with the Minister of Internal Affair Giuseppe
Pisanu for the proposal to create an Islamic forum. This forum could be highly representative of
Italian Islam and be a good way to obtaining direct knowledge and the possibility of meeting together
in a pluralistic society. This message to Minister Pisanu not only aims at showing agreement for this
initiative, but above all wants to stress that this forum could be “highly representative of the different
theological components of Islam in Italy”. Also, the collaboration with the forum of those in the
cultural and religious field in Italy who have matured a meaningful experience in studies on relations
with Islam could enrich and support the work of the forum. The message finishes with an appeal that
the forming of the forum might again initiate the “political and parliamentary processes aimed at
guaranteeing full rights of religious freedom and the principles of equality for all the faith communities
within the Italian State.

A gathering of the different faith communities

Rome, 30 September 2005 (NEV) - The mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, meeting with members of
the Forum of religions in Rome, proposed a great gathering of all the faith communities in Rome. In
addressing the Forum, Veltroni said "Past experiences have shown that the people want to meet
together and to know each other better. When the next meeting for the Nobel Peace Prize takes
place next November it would be a good occasion for such a gathering. The Forum, started in 2002
and presided over by Hon. Franca Coen, the mayor’s delegate for ethnic relations, has the authority
to organize such a gathering. The idea of a forum came up after 9/11 in an atmosphere that seemed
to favor the clash of cultures rather than that of meeting and dialogue. Starting the Forum we wanted
to give a different signal coming from Rome. Who has a faith has a home. But I never saw a home
without doors and without windows through which sounds and external lights enter. The idea of a
Forum is to create openings among the religious communities of the city. Opening windows does not
mean tearing the house down, but to give it light and air”. The Forum is made up of representatives
from the Protestant and Orthodox churches of the city, the Jewish Community, Islam, Buddhists,
Hindus and Christian Science. The Roman Catholic Church has never wanted to take part in this
organization. Among its programs in the near future there is a convention on religious symbols and
the publication of a photographic book on religious feasts edited by “Confronti”.

Fourth edition of “Turin spirituality: questions to God and to human beings”

Rome, 30 September 2005 (NEV) - The City of Turin organized for the fourth year a fair on “Turin
Spirituality: questions to God and questions to human beings ”. The central purpose of the fair is
inter-religious dialogue and the study of ethical and spiritual themes pertaining to the human being. A
series of meetings with scholars of different formation and orientation – philosophers, theologians,
historians on religion, writers, reporters, scientists, and figures from the political and economic fields
– faced the problems crucial to today’s world. A meeting on “religion and sports” was organized by
the Interfaith Committee with the Committee for organizing the Winter Olympic Games of Turin 2006.
The aim of the meeting was to put into dialogue the concept of body and the person suggested by
the different faith traditions in relationship to present day sports activities, with the participation of
Prof. Yann Redalie’ of the Waldensian Theological Faculty and Gianni Long, President of the
Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy. Among the workshops there was an introduction to the
Waldensian Church, starting at the Waldensian Church in via Vittorio Emanuele in Turin and then a
visit to Torre Pellice in the Waldensian Valleys.

Waldensian Pastor in Turin, Giuseppe Platone, and Director of the weekly newspaper “Riforma”, in
an editorial stated that talking of spirituality in lay terms, without tying it down to a single
denomination or confession or giving the floor mainly to church people proved to be a winning
formula. In the Carignano Theatre filled to overflowing, Michel Onfray with his original book “Treatise
on Atheistology” that in France has sold over two hundred thousand copies in a few weeks, criticized
religions in saying, for example, that the Catholic Church excommunicated the Communists but not
the Nazis, or that believers of any faith seek the divinity simply because they are afraid to die. But
more meaningful was not ridiculing or denying various beliefs, but showing the link between religions
and fundamentalism, between faith and democracy, between old and new moralities. It is also the
first time in these four years that Protestants have been invited to participate. Along with the debates
and the various shows there were also guided visits to the places of worship of Jews, Muslims,
Buddhists and Waldensians, showing Turin’s rich spiritual pluralism. The success of the fair
demonstrates an interest in the relevance of religious beliefs in the lives of people, a desire to know
where the world is going after 9/11, to understand what it means to have a lay government and that
there exists a searching for answers to a lot of questions in order to be aware and responsible.

17 February as “A Day for Religious Freedom”

Rome, 30 September 2005 (NEV) - The Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy has given its
support to a proposal by the Protestant association “Piu’ dell’oro” (More than gold) to initiate a
Parliamentary procedure to give juridical acknowledgement to the day February 17th as “the Day of
Religious Freedom”. Like the “Memorial Day” on January 27th, in the same way February 17th would
become a day for recognizing religious freedom. Every February 17th the Protestant churches
throughout Italy recall the edict of King Carlo Alberto in which he acknowledge civil right to the
Waldensian population in Piemonte. The acknowledgement of civil rights, more than a religious fact,
is a democratic victory for everyone. That date symbolically represents the start of a process going
toward full religious freedom in Italy. “Piu’ dell’oro” was founded to coordinate the Protestant
presence and witness during the Winter Olympic Games being held around Turin next year. The
recurrence of February 17th will have a strong national and international attention during that period
when the traditional bonfires lit up by the Waldensians to celebrate their religious freedom will be
alongside the Olympic flame.


nev - monthly press service of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy - via Firenze 38 - 00184
Roma - telephone 0039 064825120 or 06483768, fax 064828728 - editor: Tom Noffke -
abbonamento/subscription: 10,30 Euro - international post order to NEV, via Firenze 38,00184 Roma, Italy - e-
mail: - web site: - autorizzazione Tribunale di Roma n. 518/86 del 4/9/1986 -
direttore responsabile Valerio Papini - mensile - finito di stampare il 30/9/2005 - pubblicato in inglese

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