Thursday, November 29, 2012
Catholic Bishops of the European Union call for Unity
COMECE Autumn Plenary Assembly
‘We have united for the better’. This sentence from the Berlin Declaration of March 2007 was recalled by Cardinal Marx, COMECE President, on the occasion of the opening event of the Autumn Plenary Assembly of the COMECE bishops, which took place from 21 to 23 November in Brussels.
In his Speech dedicated to the ‘Current Challenges for the EU and the Contribution of Christians’, Cardinal Marx called for the reinvention of the European project: ‘We Europeans are united in peace, to pursue happiness and prosperity for ourselves and for the whole world. It is necessary, not only to assert this but to win over the people of Europe to it and to venture and seek a new start.’
In the current crisis, the COMECE bishops are aware that the reforms that have been undertaken in many Eurozone States should be considered as a way for Europe to maintain its role in the 21st century. Sacrifices imposed by governments on the population must not however go against social justice. The bishops also call on all citizens to stay united and in solidarity in facing the current crisis.
In order to make their mark, the COMECE bishops wish to send a strong signal of European solidarity, especially towards men and women of the countries who are particularly hit by the current economic crisis. They have therefore decided to reflect in the coming months, in partnership with Caritas Europe, on reinforcing the intra-European aid provided by the Church.
Furthermore, in order mark these bonds of solidarity at the spiritual level, the Austrian delegate Mgr Egon Kapellari has been asked by his COMECE peers to develop an initiative on Prayer for Europe which could be introduced Europe wide by involving Christians from all countries as well as the religious communities.
In order to overcome the many national und cultural divergences and in working towards greater unity in their own work as well, the COMECE delegates of the Bishops’ Conferences from the EU Member States are committed to promote - by means of their exchanges and collaboration - the conscience of belonging to one Church in Europe : the Ecclesia in Europa to which Pope John-Paul II referred. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation of the same name, COMECE will organise a series of events in Brussels next year.
This Plenary Assembly was also concerned with reforming the internal functioning of COMECE. Through renewed and more efficient working methods, COMECE will become better equipped to address the new challenges which emerge from a Europe in crisis, and will also be better able to be a partner - adding its socio ethical reflections - in the process of European integration.
Finally, the COMECE bishops during their Plenary Assembly nominated a new General Secretary for a 3-year mandate. Fr Patrick H. Daly, 61, a priest from the diocese of Birmingham (UK) who will take up his new post in January 2013. On this occasion, a reception will be organised to honour both the outgoing and the new General Secretaries. In this way, the Bishops wish to thank Fr Piotr Mazurkiewicz for the work he has accomplished during his 4 years. The Austrian Deacon, Dr Michael Kuhn is tasked with heading the Secretariat in the interim period.
 A press conference will be organised on this occasion, in january 2013, to present the new COMECE General Secretary