October 2021 #3 – Combating antisemitism

News in brief.

Church of Sweden highlights steps to combat antisemitism. This week the archbishop of the Church of Sweden, Antje Jackelén wrote an open letter to the prime minister of Sweden ahead of the Malmö International Forum for the Commemoration of the Holocaust, in which he noted that religious organisations had a crucial role to play in combatting antisemitism. The archbishop highlighted programmes within the Church of Sweden aimed at combatting antisemitism, such as a symposium on anti-Jewish church art. He noted too that the Church of Sweden was active in working with other faith bodies supporting the right of religious expression and practice for all faiths in Europe. 

Climate pilgrims on the way to COP26. The 5th Ecumenical Pilgrimage for Climate Justice from Poland to Glasgow travelled by ferry from IJmuiden in the Netherlands to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK this week, where they were met by local school children and members of parliament. The 5th Ecumenical Pilgrimage for Climate Justice began in August in Poland and reaches Glasgow, Scotland on 29 October for the World Climate Conference. It is supported by regional Protestant churches, Catholic dioceses and church aid organizations in Germany, as well as church organizations in Poland, the Netherlands, and UK.  

New Dutch language bible. On Wednesday this week, the Dutch-Flemish Bible Society (Nederlands-Vlaams Bijbelgenootschap)(NVB) presented the king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander with the first print of the revised new edition of the Dutch language bible. The new bible contains 12,000 revisions to the 2004 edition, based on recent insights and reader feedback.

Passe sanitaire for church services in France.  France is about to join Switzerland and the Vatican in requiring a Covid vaccine certification for church services. From 24 October, the Covid vaccination pass (passe sanitaire) will be required for all church services in France. A vaccination pass has been required to enter the Vatican since 1 October. Vaccination passes were also required for attendance at the pope’s recent visit to Slovakia. In some countries in Europe, the state has decided against requiring Covid passes for church attendance, often in response to lobbying by faith groups. In Greece, Poland and Moldova, priests have been part of vocal opposition to vaccination certification. In the UK, in April this year over a thousand church leaders signed a petition arguing that the  “introduction of vaccine passports would constitute an unethical form of coercion and violation of the principle of informed consent.”

Image of Ljubljana canal and buildings in the sunshine

Spotlight on Ljubljana.

Situated close to the Tivoli gardens, Sts Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church (Prešernova cesta 35), is a Serbian Orthodox Church, built in the 1930s, that is noted for its vivid frescoes, which were painted later, between 1986 and 1997. 

Cathedral of St Nicholas (Dolničarjeva ulica 1). With its green dome and twin towers, the cathedral is an instantly recognised feature of the Ljubljana landscape. The architecture and interior is predominantly baroque, but the cathedral is also noted for its bronze door reliefs which commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II. The doors depict 1250 years of the history of Christianity in Slovenia, and the figures of six bishops represent the history of the Ljubljana diocese. 

Franciscan Church of the Annunciation (Prešernov trg 4) is a Roman Catholic Church in central Ljubljana, which was built in a baroque style in the mid-1600s. 

Alongside the church is a Franciscan monastery that dates back to the thirteenth century. Following an earthquake in Ljubljana that damaged the ceiling, new frescoes were painted in the 1930s by Impressionist Matej Sternen. 

​​Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovenia (Lutheran) Church (Gosposvetska cesta 9). Although only a small percentage of Slovenians are Lutheran, the Lutheran Reformation played a significant role in the history of the Slovenian nation and language. The gothic revival Evangelical Lutheran church in Ljubljana was built in the 1850s and holds services for the Lutheran church, as well as the Anglican church, which is part of the Chaplaincy of Christ Church, Vienna, and holds services once a month in the church hall. 

Saint of the week: Saint Teresa of Ávila

Saint Teresa on a gold background with part lace border

Saint Teresa was a sixteenth century nun and mystic, who was renowned within her lifetime for her meditations, visions and levitation. She was a prolific writer, leaving a valuable account of the life of a religious woman during this period. She was also an articulate exponent of contemplative prayer. This is all the more remarkable because St Teresa at times had found prayer difficult. Contemplative prayer, she wrote, “is nothing other than a close sharing between friends. It means frequently taking time to be alone with Him whom we know loves us.” She left us this beautiful prayer:
“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.”

Looking ahead.

On Sunday 17 October (10.00-11.00 CET) the American Cathedral in Paris is hosting a joint online and in-person forum on the subject “Was St Paul a Male Chauvinist Pig?”. 
The Church of England’s Diocese in Europe is holding an eco event on “Caring for our Climate” on 29 October at 17.15 CET. The event will be livestreamed on the Diocesan YouTube channel with a link on their Facebook page.

Picture credits. St Theresa by E.G. May,  KU Leuven, Belgium | Photo of Ljubljana by Martino Pietropoli | Graphic design by European Churches Chronicle.

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