In Brussels on 9-10 March 2018, members of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) exchanged views on the theme “Witness our faith in a secularized world”. The theme directly connects with the upcoming 2018 CEC General Assembly which will take place in Novi Sad, Serbia, with the theme “You shall be my witnesses”.
In the opening address Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and President of CCEE spoke about how the church needs to be outward looking and both be inspired by the world as well as to inspire hope.
In his reflection, Rt Rev. Christopher Hill of the Church of England and CEC President, suggested that the aftermath of the financial crisis, chaos in the Middle East and the related migration crisis requires a stronger witness of the Christian faith in Europe than in a long time. He presented the CEC General Assembly as one important way its 116 member churches witness their Christian faith.
When reflecting on how Christians should witness in a secularized Europe the participants saw both challenges and several opportunities to bring all the Good News into all aspects of human life and to all corners of Europe.
Nowadays, people in Europe feel disoriented. It appears that we need to redefine what it means to be human; what are peoples’ desires and aspirations? Participants noted a kind of deafness to arguments based on a full understanding of reason. In this way, the quest for truth is severely hampered in the public debate. Under such circumstances, how do we renew and reignite the appeal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
The proclamation of the mercy of God is a powerful invitation to many to look again at their lives and to recognise their desire for mercy, for compassion, for forgiveness, for healing and for a new start. This approach is the open door. It discloses some of the most radical needs of people today. We can proclaim the Lord only out of our weakness, never out of our human strength.
Also, the members of the committee were consulted on the reception of the Charta Oecumenica, which has been signed by the two organisation in 2001 and it was decided to look at how this document can be further updated and strengthened with the input from churches, National Council of Churches and Bishop conferences around Europe.
The meeting concluded with a common prayer and a word of thanks from Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco on behalf the whole CCEE delegation to Rt Rev. Christopher Hill and all the CEC Governing Board members who finished their mandate.
Rt Rev. Christopher Hill KCVO, DD, Church of England, CEC President
Very Rev. Archimandrite, Ignatios Sotiriadis, Church of Greece
Rev. Silke Tosch, Union of Evangelical Free Churches in Germany (German Baptist Union)
Rev. Dr. Sorin Selaru – Romanian Orthodox Church
Fr Heikki Hutunen, General Secretary, CEC
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, President of CCEE
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, Vice-President of CCEE
H.E. Mgr Stanisław Gądecki, Archbishop of Poznań, Vice-President of CCEE
H.E. Mgr Youssef Soueif, Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus
H.E. Mgr Anton Cosa, Bishop of Chisinau
H.E. Mgr Thomas Löhr, Auxiliary Bishop of Limburg
Rev. Fr Olivier Poquillon OP, Secretary General of COMECE
Mgr Duarte da Cunha, Secretary General of CCEE
Established in 1972, following the birth of CCEE (1971), the Joint Committee meets annually and has the role of defining and supervising the various joint initiatives of CEC and CCEE. Activities undertaken up to now include several ecumenical meetings, the three European ecumenical assemblies (Basel, 1989; Graz, 1997 and Sibiu, 2007) and the Charta Oecumenica (2001). Along with the Presidencies and the General Secretaries of the two bodies, the Committee brings together other experts appointed respectively by CEC and CCEE, for a total of eight members in each delegation.
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