Relations Between Religions and Cultures

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Tens of thousands of Armenians across Europe are preparing for a huge demonstration to take place in Berlin on Sunday — Women and married men are to play a bigger role in France’s Catholic Church — A private high school in Cologne takes special care of immigrant children — Some ancient laws in Britain concerning inter-religious relations are up for change

“Save the monastery of Mor Gabriel, save Christendom in Turkey” — that is the slogan of a huge demonstration planned for Sunday, Jan. 15, in Berlin. Its aim is to help safeguard the existence of Mor Gabriel — also known as the Monastery of St. Gabriel — which is the spiritual center of Syrian-Orthodox Christians in Turkey. Founded in 397, it is the oldest surviving Syriac Orthodox monastery in the world. It is located on the Tur Abdin plateau in Southeastern Turkey, the motherland of the Syriac people. Its main purpose is to keep Syriac Orthodox Christianity alive in the land of its birth by providing schooling and the ordination of native-born monks. Throughout its long history, it has also provided physical protection to Turkey’s Christian minority. The so-called “Action Mor Gabriel” was founded by S.E. Mor Julius Dr. Hanna Aydin, the Archbishop of the Syrian-Orthodox church of Antiochia in Germany in November 2008. It unites six organizations, namely the Archdiocese of Syrian-Orthodox Churches in Germany, the umbrella organization of Tur Abdin, the European Syriac Union, the Federation of Armenians in Germany, the Federation Survoye and the Central Council of Assyrian Associations in Germany. The managing director of the “Action Mor Gabriel” is Raid Gharib, a German citizen of Turkish descent. He is a political scientist working at the university of Tübingen on a Ph.D. entitled “Nation and identity of the Syriac Christians: The quest for a feasible societal model.”

The President of the French Bishops’ Conference André Vingt-Trois launched towards the end of last year an unprecedented campaign to recruit more priests. This must be, said the Cardinal, the daily preoccupation of French churchmen and women. Even President Sarkozy has said it is a problem for his country. There were 41,000 French priests in 1965. There are half that number today. And now mass is said never or very rarely in most country churches. Although there is no sign that the Vatican is about to reform the celibacy rule or admit women to the priesthood, it is allowing women and married men to play a much bigger role — with potentially far-reaching consequences for the future.

For young people in Germany with an immigration background, one of the biggest challenges is preserving their cultural heritage, while still preparing for life as adults in German society. Over the past few years, a number of high schools have been set up with just that challenge in mind. One of them is the Dialogue Private High School in Cologne, which opened in 2007. Though its students are predominantly Muslims, the school doesn’t see itself as a religious institution. The school’s top priority is to give its students the chance to take and pass the national college entry exams.

In Britain, a new attempt is being made to change ancient laws which bans the monarch from marrying a Catholic. The Act of Settlement, introduced by King William III in 1701 states anyone who marries a Catholic cannot become king or queen. It also gives legal precedence to male heirs in the line of succession, and it is these two aspects that a British lawmaker wants to change. Dr. Evan Harris, from the country’s third political party the Liberal Democrats says this blatant religious and sex discrimination is outdated and must go.

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,3830507,00.html