On Tuesday 4th June, 58 Syrian refugees from Lebanon will safely arrive at Fiumicino airport, thanks to the Humanitarian Corridors promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian Table, in agreement with the Ministries of the Interior and of Foreign Affairs. With them, more than 2,500 people have been welcomed and integrated in Europe throughout a full self-financed civil society project, which started in Italy and has been adopted by many different countries.
In times where helping those in need appears to be increasingly difficult, the model launched by Sant’Egidio and the Protestant Churches – and replicated by other associations – proves it is possible to save those fleeing from war and dangerous situations. Since February 2016 over 2,000 have already arrived in Italy (more than 1,500 from Lebanon, another 500 from Ethiopia), with other 500 who arrived in France, Belgium and Andorra.
Schools including All Hallows’, Loreto College at Coorparoo, St Rita’s College Clayfield and Stuartholme are stamping out traditional terms such as Lord, Father and Son.
“As we believe God is neither male or female, Stuartholme tries to use gender-neutral terms in prayers … so that our community deepens their understanding of who God is for them, how God reveals Godself through creation, our relationships with others and the person of Jesus,” a spokeswoman said.
Students at All Hallows’ make the sign of the cross in the name of “The Creator, Jesus and the Holy Spirit’’, instead of the traditional “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.
Loreto College in Coorparoo has stripped the word “Lord” from its prayers, as it is regarded as a “male term”.
St Rita’s tries to use gender-neutral terms for God, but still uses traditional prayers such as the Our Father. “Context is important,’’ assistant principal Richard Rogusz said. “We strive to use gender-neutral terms for God, for example ‘God and God’s people’ rather than ‘God and His people’. ‘Spirit’ is also gender-neutral.”
Even St Joseph’s College – the city’s top Catholic boys’ school has replaced the term “brothers” with “sisters and brothers” and switched the term “brotherhood” with “international community”.
A source in Xuwan village of Xiantao city, in Hubei Province’s Hanyang Diocese, said the government forced the community to tear down the older building, as local policy dictates that no Chinese city is allowed to have two churches. The officials warned them that if it were not razed, no license would be issued for the new church. Local Catholics complied and the older building was bulldozed on April 12.
However, the government is still refusing to provide a license for the replacement unless they agree to another provision: in exchange for the license, they must also remove a convent for nuns in the neighborhood.
“They told us the convent was dangerous from a structural standpoint,” the source said, on request of anonymity. “But we don’t believe they had any basis to make such a claim. It was just a ruse.”
“The convent has played witness to the development of our diocese (over the decades), so we cannot accept its loss,” the source said.
“But if our new church is demolished (in addition to its predecessor), our community of 2,000 parishioners will definitely suffer (as we will have nowhere sanctified to pray and hold services),” the source added.