European Life and Family Roundup
Sweden needs a Christian Advent in schools: MPs
STOCKHOLM, November 29, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com)—Swedish education officials have told schools that children may be taken to church for Advent services, but only so long as the name of Jesus is not mentioned. Teaching children about Advent, the liturgical season leading up to Christmas observed by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches as well as many Protestant denominations, is part of the national curriculum, but lessons on it, even those that include actual church services, may not include any prayer, blessings, or declarations of faith.
The instructions have prompted a response from five Swedish politicians who have said that the attempt to erase Christianity from public view.
“Advent is a Christian festival. Paying attention to Advent with no religious element is unreasonable,” the group wrote in a public letter on a political website.
“Schools should not take a position or force anyone to practice a particular religion. Thereupon, there is a strong consensus. But it is not the same as removing religious references,” wrote Andreas Carlsson, Hans Wallmark, Lars Stjernkvist, Birgit Friggebo and Staffan Danielsson on DN Debate on Wednesday.
The authors argue that just the opposite is needed; more knowledge of both the faith and the values that have shaped Swedish society.
They write, “In the quest for neutrality, which we think is a chimera Sweden has become infinitely poorer. Should [school] principals have the confidence to find solutions locally, they must also have that confidence without unreasonable guidelines from the National Agency.
“Rewrite the law if necessary and release some of the nervousness that is associated with graduations in church,” they said.
Verona conference says ‘fight culture of death’: Italian pro-life movement picks up momentum
VERONA – The pro-life movement is alive and wants to engage in an attempt to reverse the trend with respect to the “culture of death” rampant today a conservative Christian group has reported. The Italian organisation Corrispondenza Romana reports on a conference organized by the March for Life organisation group, Libertà e Persona (Freedom and the Person) and the European Movement Defense of Life (MEDV) which took place on November 17 in Verona at the prestigious school of the Stigmata.
Especially appreciated was a talk by prominent psychologist and psychotherapist, Roberto Marchesini, who proposed a reflection on the Biblical verse “male and female he created them”. Marchesini demonstrated that the sex of every human being is “naturally determined” and influences their role in the family and society to help young people build their identity as men and women, in accordance with the facts of nature.
The conference also featured the screening of a new video, “Eggsploitation,” a documentary about practices related to the sale of human ova, an outcome of legalisation of embryonic research warned against by many in the pro-life movement in the last decade.
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The nascent group, Lawyers for Life, presented their plans for a “purely operational task force” that will work in the front lines of the law, given that - said the lawyer Gianfranco Amato – “it is evident that in recent years the issues at the beginning and the end of life have moved from scientific, philosophical, theological to the more purely legal fields”.
City of Brussels will ban Christmas trees out of fear of ‘offending Muslims’
BRUSSELS – Government officials announced this month that they would not be erecting the usual Christmas tree exhibit in the city centre due to worries over offending the local Muslim population. Brussels News reports that the city will replace both the tree and the Nativity scene this year with an “electronic winter tree.”
The 82 foot tall electronic sculpture will be built of a group of television screens, according to the blogger Brussels Expat, an Englishman who lives in the city. “During the daytime you can climb to the top of the tree where you will be able to enjoy a panoramic view of the city,” he wrote. “As soon as it becomes dark the tree turns into a spectacle of light and sound. Every ten minutes an amazing show will unfold.”
City councilwoman Bianca Debaets called it a “misplaced argument” over religious sensitivities that has moved the city to build the sculpture. “I suspect that the reference to the Christian religion was the decisive factor” in replacing the tree, she said. “For a lot of people who are not Christians, the tree there is offensive to them.”
The Right Perspective website reports that a 2008 study showed Muslims make up 25.5 per cent of the population of Brussels, 3.9 per cent of Flanders, and 4.0 per cent of Wallonia.
Two Muslims elected to the Brussels city council last month have vowed to turn Belgium into a Muslim state based on Islamic Shari’a law.
Confidence in EU leadership falling among Europeans
ROME – The International Herald Tribune, the European edition of the New York Times, has reported that since the 2008 European economic crisis, the confidence Europeans have in the European Parliament has been in “sharp decline”. Some 26 per cent of respondents in the Eurobarometer poll said they have a “negative” image of the European Parliament, an increase of nine points.
The Eurobarometer pollsters concluded, “In this context of crisis, the image of the European Parliament does not evolve positively. Neither does the image of the other European institutions, the parliaments and the national governments.”
The IHT blames “the current state of the parliament – including corruption scandals and the appearance of excessive lobbying”. They noted the decline in turnout for the European elections, which has fallen to “just over 40 percent from more than 60 percent in less than a quarter of a century”.
For the first time in the EU’s history, the parliament has set up an ethics committee in the wake of financial scandals. For the first time, the parliament has imposed an explicit ban on members taking money in exchange for amending legislation.
The paper quoted Frederik Erixon, of the European Centre for International Political Economy who blamed the growth in influence of powerful lobby groups as diminishing the connections MEPs have with constituents. “On many days parts of the parliament building have the feel of a glitzy trade show,” he said. “Business lobbies organize conferences in meeting rooms and host meals in the dining rooms at the invitation of friendly members.”