Wednesday, December 31, 2014

personal message, 2014: Preparing a new Way

Isaiah 43:19See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

2014 was a year of change and several challenges lied ahead of us. Several reports on Christian values were launched in the European Parliament such as the protection of life and family, freedom of religion, conscience and expression. In my articles, I write on the challenging times which may be faced through Jesus’ teaching, ‘the way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love and endurance’ (2 Timothy 3: 1-10)

For the 2014 message, I was inspired by the Bible verse from Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland”. I felt like this verse relates to both ECPM in Brussels and my personal life.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Background information: EU Policy on Trafficking in Human Beings – Then and Now

Trafficking in human beings constitutes a grave violation of individual rights, freedom and dignity as well as being a serious form of crime. The implications of this phenomenon are beyond what individual countries can address on their own.[1] It is this compelling reality that first led to the development of EU policy on combating trafficking in human beings.

Read here the background information
(By Anca de Jong Bulica for the ECPM)

ECPM welcomes the 8th EU Anti-Trafficking Day

The European Christian Political Movement (ECPM) welcomes the 8th EU Anti-trafficking Day aimed at raising awareness of one of the most serious forms of violation of human rights and dignity of our times. Trafficking in human beings is modern day slavery and a complex form of transnational crime which can only be combated if states work together to eradicate the problem. The ECPM calls on member states which have not already done so to implement the EU Directive on combating human trafficking and cooperate with international actors in addressing this serious phenomenon.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Christians as Peacemakers: My speech and contribution to the 9th edition of the Romanian National Prayer Breakfast

On the 25th of September, the Romanian National Prayer Breakfast took place in the monastry of Putna. The theme of the Breakfast and the debate that followed was: "State and Church: a common mission for peace and reconciliation. The participants were parliamentarians and other politicians, business leaders, professors, clergy from different church denominations and representatives of NGOs.

During the Prayer Breakfast I read two Biblical passages: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (reconciliation man with God) and Psalm 85:9-14 (reconciliation brings peace and righteousness). I finished with the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (Make me an instrument of your Peace).

During the debate that followed the Prayer Breakfast, I discussed deeper about the theme where talked first about the role of the church and then the role of the state to promote peace and reconciliation also reflecting the Biblical passage I read during the breakfast. On request of some participants,you can find the text of my message here

Friday, June 6, 2014

Trend Continues in Central and East Europe: Slovakia Defines Marriage in Constitution as a Union between a Man and a Woman

Slovak flag
Yesterday, the 5th June 2014, a large majority of the Slovakian Parliament voted to define marriage as "a unique bond between a man and a woman". With this decision, the Slovak Republic followed Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Hungary and Croatia. It is becoming clear that more and more Central and Eastern European countries choose to protect the definition of marriage and do not succumb to influenced exerted by large LGBT pressure groups. Interestingly enough, however, mainstream international media like Euronews do not mention these developments at all, which only proves how biased the press is.

The Slovak decision reiterates, once again, that the definition of marriage should never be an EU competence, but that the member states should always decide this for themselves. It is also interesting that this issue seems to increasingly divide West Europe from Central and Eastern Europe. I am curious to see whether Western countries who advocate for same-sex marriages will respect the freedom of these countries to amend or establish their national constitutions based on the will of their people: a freedom they have fought for 25 years ago.

The amendment was supported by Social-Democrats (SMER) and Christian Democrats (KDH) and was passed with an impressive majority in the chamber: 102 parliamentarians voted in favor of the constitutional amendment, while 18 voted against.

According to the website Turtlebay and Beyond, the Constitution was amended to make attempts to re-define marriage less likely in the future and that this amendment seeks to go further than banning same-sex “marriages”. Its explanatory referendum specifies that “it will be impossible for the rights and duties associated with marriage to be conferred in any way other than a legally recognized union between a man and a woman". Although only in an explanatory memorandum, the statement seeks to outlaw any form of union for same-sex couples."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What went wrong with Europe? About the roots of the EU

The European Parliament; the European Commission; Brussels... What kind of thoughts cross Christians’ minds when they hear these words? Bureaucracy and costly? Unnecessary legislation that goes against freedom of religion, belief and conscience?

Sometimes I wonder what has happened in Brussels over the last few decades. What has become of the Christian mindset that was so instrumental in the formation of the European Project? Where is the real problem? Maybe the problem is not with the European Union. Maybe the problem lies with the successors of the founding fathers of the EU. And how will Christian politicians be able to make their faith more visible in European politics?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Disinformation against One of Us reviewed

On the 28th of May, the European Commission has to give an answer to the European Citizens Initiative "One of Us". Nearly 1.9 million signatures were collected to ask the European Union could stop funding the embryonic stem cell research and abortion in developing countries

The left-liberal opposition against the "One of Us" was fierce and many arguments were used to neutralize the concern of so many European citizens. Main arguments were:
  • One of Us is piloted by ultra-conservative, religious, anti-choice organisations
  • One of Us is actually not a Citizens’ initiative but orchestrated by the Catholic Church and the East Orthodox churches
  • One of Us” is the latest in the series of recent attacks on gender equality, women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe“One of Us” is  imposing their religious beliefs at any cost
  • One of Us will be responsible of the death of thousands of women in developing countries
  • One of Us wants to block scientific research based on their ideology. Science should be neutral
  • One of Us wants to abolish essential EU support for maternal health care, prenatal and voluntary family planning services.
  • The “One of Us” campaign is at odds with the EU’s longstanding development aid policy and its international commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)
It is surprising that not only these arguments are not true or that they are based on biased information, but also that many of these arguments try to frame the Initiative instead. Please find here the disinformation against theEuropean Citizens Initiative reviewed. The information is taken from different resources which are mentioned in the footnotes.

1. One of Us” is piloted by ultra-conservative, religious, anti-choice organisations[1]

Opponents claimed “that 96% of the total € 159,219 declared to fund One of Us came from organisations controlled by two MEPs and that an initiative orchestrated and driven by MEPs being heard in the European Parliament is hardly true to the intended spirit of a citizens’ initiative”.

This criticism is not only untrue, but also discriminatory. It is completely clear that the funding of the petition, which has been disclosed to the Commission is perfectly in line with what is foreseen by Regulation 211/2011. Therefore, there is no valid ground for drawing in question the legitimacy of the petition, which is based on the signatures of nearly 1.9 million EU citizens, of which 1,721,626 have been officially validated.

These criticisms are not only unfounded but also betray a discriminatory and profoundly anti-democratic attitude; they stand in open contradiction to fundamental EU values. Should “religious” people be treated as second-class citizens and not be allowed to use the instrument of participatory democracy provided by the European Citizens’ Initiative or (if they do) not be listened to? 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

European Elections 22-25 May, but.. how to vote Christianly?

Next week, the European Elections will take place. Over 413 million citizens of 28 EU-member states have the opportunities to elect 751 Members of the European Parliament. 

Each member state has its own electoral laws and each one decides on what day its citizens will go to the polls during the four-day election person from 22 to 25 May 2014. The results will be announced on the evening of Sunday 25 May.

But the interesting question is: who should we vote for? I got many questions like: I do not know which party or candidate in our country supports Christian values in Europe, I would like to know how my MEP who is running again voted on key issues like the protection of life, priority for the family (based on a union between a man and a woman) and freedom of religion or belief.

Some interesting tools had been developed to give you some insight in these questions: 

  • First of all, all the candidates of the ECPM supports these basic values as they are also mentioned in the ECPM manifesto. You can find these candidates here
  • To find our what parties or independent candidates support these values, go here. Click on your country on the map and we find the party/parties that we recommend
  • To find out how your current MEP (who is running again) voted on some important Christian issues, click here. Here you find five important reports that were voted in the previous European Parliament period. You can easily click to the voting results for each of these reports, select your country and find the results of your MEPs
Last but not least: pray for guidance, for Europe and for these candidates. I wish you a successful vote next week!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ECLJ calls UN Special Rapporteur to investigate on children born alive after late abortion

In an “urgent appeal”, the ECLJ has called the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to investigate on children born alive after late abortion, and on methods of late abortion, especially in the United-Kingdom and Canada: in Canada, between 2000 and 2011, 622 babies born alive after an abortion were left to die, and 66 in the United Kingdom in 2005. Some cruel methods of late abortion constitute torture, especially the one called dilatation and evacuation: the foetus, still alive, is dismembered to be pulled out of the womb in pieces. (Source ECLJ)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Personal Easter Message

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53: 3,4) 

At Easter, Christians all over the world are celebrating the core of their faith: the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus as atonement for our sins and His Resurrection from His death.

For me, Easter represents a time of reflection on the events that unfolded that weekend about 2000 years ago, the weekend that has changed the world. Based on the roots of Judaism, Christians believes that a New Covenant had been made. Not a religion that should be based on a certain people, or one that is focused on earthly power or repression.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Human embryos should be protected, because they are “One of Us”

Hearing about the European Citizens Initiative “One of Us” in the European Parliament was a success

Human Dignity and the protection of life are not political values but are inviolable and must be respected. “The issue is a simple and logical one: human life exists from conception and therefore should be respected. The European Court of Justice also defined that human embryo starts at conception. 

The European Commission should be more consistent with this fact ”explained Gregor Puppink Director of the European Center for Law and Justice and leader of the European Citizens Initiative “One of Us” at the hearing which took place in the European Parliament last Thursday, 10 April. The hearing in the European Parliament had as main target to create a dialogue between the representatives of the Citizens Initiative that collected almost 2 million signatures and the Members of the European Parliament under the supervision of the European Commission that will give an answer on the Citizenship Initiative before the 28th of May. 

See the video of the hearing here
See the rest of the article here

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Register Now for the Conference on Human Trafficking and Family Values 2 April, Romania

The European Christian Political Movement (ECPM) together with the Group for Combating Trafficking in Persons of the Parliament of Romania, the Ecumenical Prayer Group of the Romanian Parliament is pleased to invite you to our conference on Family Values and Human Trafficking in the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest, Romania, on April 2nd, 2014. This conference will be organized in collaboration with and the  Federation of Catholic Family Organizations in Europe (FAFCE). 

On this day we wish to formulate and discuss a balanced view on marriage inspired by Christian values and relevant for the postmodern society.

Therefore experts from Croatia, Slovenia, France, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom will come to give their views on how and why the family should be supported in the 21st century. Key lecturers will be Luca Volonté (Italy) and Antoine Renard (FAFCE) among others.

ECPM believes that stronger and healthier families are an important factor in fighting human trafficking. As this one of the most imminent problems in Europe today, ECPM will also address this problem on the 2nd of April and look for solutions inspired by Christian-democratic values and facilitated by European cooperation. Several experts will give their opinion on this among members of Parliament of Romania, Tamme de Leur (from the well-known documentary on Prostitution: “Behind the scene”) and others.

It is a pleasure to invite you to our event and we are looking forward to hear your contribution on the 2nd of April in Bucharest!

Click here for more information and registration

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Controversial Bill on Euthanasia for Children in Belgium is rushed and will be voted this Thursday: an Analysis

In a previous post I wrote about the vote that is expected to extend Euthanasia to children in Belgium. In December I participated to a debate about this issue and I was shocked but also impressed about the studies Alex Schadenberg (International Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition) showed there. 

The current euthanasia legislation showed so much shortcomings (for example the number of unreported cases on euthanasia is still quite high and more analysis you find in the link below). 

Moreover, legalizing a legislation also changes a mentality. Despite of the big number of unreported cases in Belgium, there are not a lot of cases that are legally persecuted. In the Netherlands, the ChristenUnie plans to organize a hearing on euthanasia because a person was euthanized because he was afraid not be able to live without his work after his pension. 

In a letter signed by 160 pediatricians signed a letter calling the Belgian Members of Parliaments not to vote for this controversial law. (see also in the analysis below) 

Also the Council of Europe showed its serious concerns on the Belgian Bill on euthanasia for children as their written declaration shows

Despite of all of this, the Bill seems to be rushed through the different Chambers of the Parliament even without a throughful analysis of the current legislation and the consequences of this new legislation. The government is blind for all these concerns and  may be fast-tracking the bill to stop the euthanasia debate that has led to information about how the euthanasia law is out-of control becoming known by the public.

It seems that the Christian-Democrats in the coalition do not choose for an openly resistance to this law and will loose its credibility which is not smart a few months before the next elections.

Please find a detailed analysis here about the situation concerning euthanasia in Belgium and an analysis of the proposed Bill on euthanasia for children here (also with interesting links for further information)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Council of Europe concerned about the proposed legislation on euthanasia for minors in Belgium. What will the Governmental Christian Democratic Parties do?

Next week, Belgian House of Representatives (lower house) will vote on the euthanasia of young children. The bill which has already been supported in the Senate, allows to extend mercy-killing to children found to be terminally-ill. “This ‘symbolic dossier’ which has not been negotiated by the ruling coalition seems to be pushed through at a tremendous pace. 

A great responsibility rests on the shoulders of the governmental Christian Democrat parties, which were surpassed by their governing partners in this issue of life and death”, Kris Vleugels, the chair of C'axent, the Belgian movement for more Christian values in politics and former vice-President of the ECPM, was quoted as saying. According to him, long term social commitment is rooted in deep moral convictions, while the contemporary culture is self-centred and indifferent to the principles of human dignity.' Kris Vleugels is also worried that the Belgian case might create a precedent that will be pushed in several other EU member states. 

His concerns were shared by a written declaration by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) which stated that this vote in the Belgian Senate concerning euthanasia for children "betrays some of the most vulnerable children in Belgium by accepting that their lives may not longer have any inherent value or worth and that they should die; mistakenly assumes that children are able to give appropriate informed consent to euthanasia and that they can understand the grave meaning and complex consequences associated with such a decision and that it promotes the unacceptable belief that a life can be unworthy of life which challenges the very basis of civilised society."

The key question is: What will the Govermental Christian Democratic Party do? How will they value the protection of life? How will they value the concerns expressed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe? With the upcoming elections in Belgium I believe it is of utmost importance for them to focus on the basic Christian Democratic values instead of betraying them during the last months within this Government. Therefore they should do their utmost to block this dangerous legislative proposal and eventually ask more research by experts on this issue. This issue even had never been part of the Governmental Coalition agreement!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Controversial “Lunacek-report” discussed and voted in the European Parliament next week

We want to have Human Rights for All, Not Special Rights for One

Shortly after the Estrela report was defeated, a new initiative has been introduced, the “Lunacek Report” officially known as “EU Roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity” (2013/2183). Adopted by the European Parliament Committee for Civil Liberties (LIBE), the European Parliament will vote on this report next week on 4 February.

I agree when the Report asserts that LGBTI persons should have the same human rights as everyone else. This is an assertion that can be fully supported. The very purpose of Human Rights, the European Convention and other international human rights documents is to grant a minimum level of protection of the integrity of every person because everyone has equal worth and dignity.

However, the Lunacek Report turns this fundamental equality upside down by claiming that specific LGBTI rights should now be considered as human rights. By “Queering fundamental rights”, the EU Parliament creates a new fundamental rights strategy by according special rights and privileges to a group of citizens because of their individual and sexual behavior. By this report, the European Parliament intends to mainstream homosexuality as a new global societal norm and public policies in the EU. This disrespects the principle that human rights should be fully and equally enjoyed by all citizens. Besides it exceeds EU competences and also seeking to impose an obligation to legally recognized same-sex marriages on all Member States.

What can we do?

Friday, January 10, 2014

No Respect for Democratic Decision-making in Europe and the principle of Subsidiarity: Estrela is back!

Despite the adoption of a resolution on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights on 10 December 2013 by the European Parliament (EP), there is currently a new attempt to push through what has become known as the “Estrela Agenda”: abortion on demand, restriction of freedom of conscience, compulsory sex education at primary and secondary school etc.

Source: Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe