Europe must be a true family of peoples
Meeting of Representatives of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Central and Eastern Europe
Budapest, Hungary, October 18-19, 2017
We receive and forward this final message of the meeting of representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Central and Eastern Europe (Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Czech Republic) which was held in Budapest (18-19 October 2017). The meeting was sponsored by CCEE.
The meeting was sponsored by CCEE.
For more information:
Final Message of Representatives of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Central and Eastern Europe
The representatives of the Bishops’ Conferences of the Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, gathered in Budapest, having visited the historic city of Visegrád, the place where the leaders of our peoples have met many times since the Middle Ages, and having prayed in the Basilica of Esztergom at the altar of Saint Adalbert, martyr and bishop of Prague, our common Patron Saint, had discussions about the current challenges which our local Churches must face.
With affection we make our own the desire of the Holy Father Francis to work for “a new and courageous step forward for this beloved continent”, that is, for Europe. With joy we unite ourselves to the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) in stating that “the Church loves Europe and believes in its future: Europe is not just a land, but a spiritual task” (Final Message of the CCEE Plenary Assembly, Minsk, 28 September – 1 October 2017).
European identity, more than geographical factors, is above all a cultural identity. One of the most inspirational strengths of this culture has been and still is, despite all its secularisation, the Christian religion. The presence of a great number of peoples and nations who have their language, their culture, their own historical experiences, their own genius in tackling the challenges of individual and community life, is a characteristic trait of European identity.
In this multiplicity we recognise a richness of creation, a gift of God, a gift we must preserve, protect, develop and make evermore operative on behalf of the whole of humanity. National adherence cannot be a motive for hostility, for contempt for others, but rather a help to understand and respect other peoples and other cultures, too.
Europe must be a true family of peoples where members are esteemed, know each other and seek to work hard for common values. For this we believe it necessary for the peoples of Europe to know each other better so as to be able to understand each other, respect each other, love each other and feel themselves to be members of the same family. Information technology can open very many possibilities for this mutual knowledge.
We pray and work:
- for a Europe which respects human life from the moment of conception up to natural death and which is a welcoming place for families;
- for a Europe which respects the individual and collective religious freedom which belongs to the person by virtue of their own dignity;
- for a Europe which also recognises people’s possibilities to respect in a just manner those religions which have mainly contributed to the formation of their culture and identity.
With a welcoming gaze we discover and see Christ Himself in all human beings, especially in the poor, in the suffering, in the homeless and in those who have been struck by war and who must leave their homeland. For this reason, we suggest concrete action on the part of our Bishops’ Conferences to help the refugees who live in the Middle East and who are awaiting the possibility of returning to their towns and their cities. We feel particularly united with those who are suffering violence and persecution for their Christian religion. Their testimony and faithfulness is a spiritual comfort also to those Christians of our nations.
The martyrs of the Nazi and Communist era, killed in our countries, teach us forgiveness, mercy and spiritual reconciliation. We ask for their intercession for peace, for reconciliation and for the authentic development of the human family.