COVID-19: VATICAN URGES OSCE TO PROMOTE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AMID RISING INTOLERANCE – THE CORONAVIRUS AND ITALY: SHORT TAKES

Things are moving very precipitously in Hong Kong and I am worried for all who live there, Catholic and not. The following is an excellent piece by UCAN staff and indicates the reasons why Catholics and the Church in Hong Kong are and should be worried, as we should be worried for these our brothers and sisters. https://www.ucanews.com/news/hong-kong-catholics-are-right-to-fear-beijings-henchmen/88189?fbclid=IwAR3jrncgy-8kkcCLNL2kIsZF8F00jVwMjnN96dDi9jAXuLPVirmYwP5HGMI

COVID-19: VATICAN URGES OSCE TO PROMOTE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AMID RISING INTOLERANCE

The Holy See warns that religiously-motivated hate crimes are on the rise, as the Covid-19 pandemic increases intolerance and inequality.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk took part this week in an OSCE conference aimed at raising awareness about intolerance and discrimination. The Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe focused his remarks at the 25-26 May event on the impact that intolerance has on Christians.

The OSCE is an intergovernmental organization whose members include most countries of the Northern Hemisphere and is concerned with conflict prevention and crisis management.

Religious intolerance on the rise
Hate crimes against Christians and members of other religions, said Msgr. Urbańczyk, negatively impact the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. “These include threats, violent attacks, murders and profanation of churches and places of worship, cemeteries and other religious properties,” he said.

The Vatican representative expressed “great concern” about a divide between religious belief and religious practice.

“The false idea that religions could have a negative impact or represent a threat to the well-being of our societies is growing,” he warned.

Believers are frequently told that prayer and religious convictions are a private matter that have no place in the public sphere.

Discrimination in digital space
The Internet and social media, said Msgr. Urbańczyk, often become a place to put others down or incite hatred of cultural, national, and religious groups.

The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the trend, since people are spending more time online during lockdowns.

Discrimination on social media, he noted, can lead to violence, the final step in a “slippery slope which starts with mockery and social intolerance.”

Dignity and unity
Msgr. Urbańczyk also urged OSCE member states to promote the inherent dignity of every person and the fundamental unity of the human race. He said these two principles form the basis of all truly democratic societies. National minorities, he added, should be free to profess and practice their religion.

Rising inequalities
Lockdowns to stem the Covid-19 pandemic have contributed to rising inequalities and “de facto discriminatory treatment.” “Rights and fundamental freedoms,” said Msgr. Urbańczyk, “have been limited or derogated throughout the whole OSCE area.” These include the closure of churches and restrictions on religious services.

Tolerance and freedom
In response to these threats, the Holy See’s representative urged OSCE member states to promote both tolerance and fundamental freedoms, which include religious liberty.

“Tolerance,” said Msgr. Urbańczyk, “cannot be an alibi for denying or guaranteeing fundamental human rights.”

THE CORONAVIRUS AND ITALY: SHORT TAKES

ROME: PANTHEON TO LIVE STREAM ROSE PETAL CEREMONY: Thousands of rose petals will rain down into the Pantheon on 31 May 2020 but this year the event takes place behind closed doors. The spectacular tradition of rose petals fluttering down through the oculus of the Pantheon is scheduled on Sunday 31 May from 10.00 following Mass for the Feast of Pentecost. However, due to the covid-19 crisis, this year the annual tradition will take place behind closed doors for the first time, broadcast live from the Pantheon’s official website, beginning at 10.00. The ancient ceremony involves fire-fighters dropping tens of thousands of rose petals 43 metres into the interior of the Pantheon, symbolising the Holy Spirit’s descent to Earth. Hopefully we will be able to return to witness the fascinating spectacle in person next year but in the meantime we can be grateful to modern technology and watch from afar. For full details see Pantheon website.https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/rome-pantheon-to-live-stream-rose-petal-ceremony.html

HERE’S HOW MUCH TOURISM ITALY CAN EXPECT TO GET THIS YEAR: Italy is hoping to restart tourism again from June, but how many visitors will actually come back this year? The Local spoke to the president of Italy’s National Tourism Agency to find out. Italy’s tourism sector, and its economy as a whole, has taken a major hit as visitors stay away this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. Huge losses were reported as travellers cancelled their bookings even before Italy shut down in early March, when all but the most essential travel to Italy became impossible. The resulting economic hit to one of the world’s most-visited nations is profound. Tourism employs an estimated 4.2 million people in Italy – just under a fifth of the entire official workforce. The tourism sector accounts for 13 percent of Italian GDP. Up to 420 million people visited Italy annually in the past few years, and until the coronavirus outbreak, that figure was only expected to keep growing. With Italy now planning to restart tourism in June, many hope this will be enough to keep tourist businesses afloat. But will visitors return in the same numbers? And if so, when? Giorgio Palmucci, President of Italy’s National Tourism Agency (ENIT), told The Local that hundreds of thousands of people are already planning to return to Italy in the second half of 2020 – with Brits and Americans leading the charge. “At the moment there are 300,000 reservations, a provisional figure which we hope will keep growing,” he said. https://www.thelocal.it/20200526/heres-how-much-tourism-italy-c can-expect-to-get-this-year

ITALY’S FRECCE TRICOLORI JETS GO ON NATIONWIDE TOUR: Italy cancels Festa della Repubblica parade in Rome. Italy’s Frecce Tricolori fighter jets are conducting a nationwide tour ahead of the 74th anniversary of the nation’s proclamation as a republic on 2 June. The tour, which began on 25 May with Trento, Codogno, Milan, Turin and Aosta, will fly over all the Italian regions over the coming days, culminating in an aerobatic display in Rome on 2 June, Festa della Repubblica. To celebrate Italy’s national day the jets will fly over the capital as Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella places a wreath at the Altare della Patria in the centre of Rome. The tour, which sees the jets emit plumes of the green, white and red of the Italian tricolour, is designed as a symbolic embrace of all regions during the coronavirus emergency in a sign of “unity, solidarity and recovery.” https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/italys-frecce-tricolori-jets-go-on-nationwide-tour.html

AIR FRANCE-KLM GROUP TO RESUME FLIGHTS TO ITALY: Fiumicino, May 28 – The Air France-KLM Group will gradually resume links with Rome, Milan, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Naples and Bari from June 1, the group said Thursday. By the end of the month, 78 weekly flights will be operational by Air France and KLM to Italy, a statement said.  “Resuming flights to the Bel Paese is cause for great pride for us and confirms the importance of the Italian market for the Air France-KLM Group,” the statement said.

BOY, 18, GETS NEW LUNGS AFTER COVID-19 ‘BURNED’ HIS: May 28 – An 18-year-old Italian boy had a successful lung transplant 10 days ago after both of his were ‘burned’ by COVID-19, leaving him in a life-threatening condition, medical sources said Thursday. It is the first operation of its kind in Europe. The organs were rendered incapable of breathing in a few days, medical sources said. The operation was carried out at Milan’s Policlinico Hospital, under the coordination of the National Transplant Centre, with the regional transplant…Such an operation had only been tried before in some rare cases in China, while another one was carried out in Vienna a few days after the Milan one, which took place on May 18. The boy was put on an urgent waiting list on April 30 and less than two weeks ago suitable organs were found, donated by a person who died in another region, and who was negative for the coronavirus. centre and the northern Italy transplant program. The boy, who was named as Francesco, started suffering a fever on March 2 and on March 6 was taken into intensive care at Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital. https://www.ansa.it/english/news/2020/05/28/boy-18-gets-new-lungs-after-covid-19-burned-his_c164e7c4-2e2b-41bb-8549-d96fbad9a10c.html

DAVID BACK ON SHOW JUNE 2: Florence, May 27 – Michelangelo’s David will be back on show on June 2 as Florence’s Accademia Gallery reopens after almost three months of lockdown, the gallery said Wednesday. The gallery will boast a new airing system while tickets will be discounted from 12 to eight euros, it said. Another novelty is the app The Right Distance, downloadable onto visitors’ smartphones, which will beep when they get too close to anyone else.

(Sources: Wanted in Rome, The Local, ANSA)