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Marist Brothers Learn About Europe

22/11/2012: Germany

Brothers from the Province of gathered in Mindelheim, Bavaria, during the weekend of 26th - 28th October 2012 to learn about the European Union and the role of the Church in Europe. The leaders of the Workshop were the English Jesuit, Father Frank Turner SJ and the Spanish Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa, Sister Begoña Iñarra MSOLA. Father Turner works in the office of the Secretariat of the Conference of European Bishops' Conferences and Sister Begoña in the office of the Africa Faith and Justice Network. Both organizations are based in Brussels and have extensive contacts with politicians and staff of the various bodies which make up the administration of the European Union.

Much of the workshop involved an introduction to the various structures of the European Union and how these structures related to the Church and to Africa. Relations between Europe and Africa were of particular interest to many Brothers as a large number had worked in Africa for many years. Fifty Religious Congregations are members of the Africa Faith and Justice Network and they study drafts of legislation in addition to participating in consultations with the politicians and staff in the various institutions of the European Union to monitor the effects on the people of Africa. Sister Begoña said that, beneath the portrait of Africa shown by the media, there lay another portrait, that of a vibrant continent that is waking up to the modern political and technical world, but this had little interest for the media.

Two groups of Brothers discussed the impact of Islam in the Europe of today. This impact is having a major effect, not just in the religious sphere, but also in the political, economic and social legislation coming from the European Union. Father Turner said that the Church has to ensure that its voice continues to be heard.

The Workshop proved very popular with the Brothers and all agreed that the topics introduced over the weekend needed further study.

Brother Colin Chalmers

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