FIACAT.News No. 81 provides information on the activities of FIACAT and ACATs during the first half of 2014.
FIACAT and the churches
Having met the World Council of Churches in Geneva in 2013, and Monsignor Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organisations, both of whom were very supportive of FIACAT’s activities, FIACAT recently began to work with Monsignor Lebeaupin, Apostolic Nuncio and Head of Mission of the Holy See to the European Union in Brussels, who is happy to pass on to the EU information on the concerns of the network and its activities, and who urged us to stress with our members the importance of human rights education and training.
In May 2014, FIACAT had various meetings with its traditional partners. It thus made the acquaintance of Eugenio Bernardini, Moderator of the Waldensian Church (Chiesa Evangelica Valdese)  and met Susanna Pietra, new Chairman of the "Otto per Mille" ("Eight per Thousand") Association. These talks were the opportunity for harmonious exchanges of views in a friendly atmosphere, with people who were familiar with and appreciated our activities.
Several visits to the Vatican have enabled us to voice our concerns and appeal to the Roman Catholic Church to call on all Christians to take a more forceful stand against the death penalty. During talks with both Cardinal Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Monsignor El-Kassis, who deals with human rights matters at the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, FIACAT requested that Pope Francis issue a declaration on these topics this year, which sees the thirtieth anniversary of the United Nations Convention against Torture. FIACAT also repeated its request that the section of the Youcat catechism for young people which deals with the death penalty be changed and more generally urged that the Catechism of the Catholic Church be revised in this regard, as well. Finally, FIACAT was delighted to meet Cardinal Etchegaray again ; during an extremely friendly discussion, this former member of ACAT France, who was President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and of Cor Unum as well as being responsible for special diplomatic missions for Pope Jean Paul II, renewed his support for all our activities and demonstrated his optimism and firm confidence in the future.
He thus endorses the meditation of Monsignor Giancarlo M. Bregantini, Archbishop of Campobasso-Boiano (Italy) for the seventh Station of the Cross in the Coliseum on Good Friday, 18 April 2014. This concentrated on the anguish of prison and torture : "… More serious is the practice of torture, which tragically is still practised in different ways throughout our world. As it was in the case of Jesus, beaten, reviled by the soldiers, tortured with a crown of thorns, cruelly flogged.
Today, as we contemplate this second fall, how truly do those words of Jesus ring : “I was in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25:36). In every prison, at the side of each person being tortured, Christ is always there, Christ who suffers, is imprisoned and tortured. Even in our greatest suffering, he helps us not to yield to fear. Only with help can those who fall rise again, aided by skilled personnel, sustained by the fraternal support of volunteers, and put on their feet by a society which takes responsibility for the many injustices which occur within the walls of our prisons."
It is in this spirit that the FIACAT network acts every day. As every year, one of the major events in the life of the ACATs will be the Night Vigil, inspired this year by the International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture instituted by the United Nations in 1987. This event will provide an opportunity for Christians all over the world to pray for those who are suffering at the hands of their tormentors.
Janette Chambonnière and Massimo Corti
Members of the International Bureau in charge of relations with Churches