Yesterday afternoon the members of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences were received at the Quirinale by the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella. The meeting was opened by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, President of the CEI, who read the message of Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, CCEE President. “As pastors we have the grace of living with our communities in every corner of the continent, even the most remote ones; they may be scattered but are not lost”, wrote the CCEE President. It is a condition of honour, responsibility and joy for the European Bishops in knowing the joys and difficulties, the religious sense, the fears and hopes of these peoples. “it allows us to walk together with responsible and respectful solidarity” he added. In his greeting to the Head of State, Cardinal Bagnasco expressed the concerns of this continent, which is marked at this time of trial by the pandemic, “we are seeing that humankind is suffering from uncertainty and bewilderment when faced with the future. Christians cannot be dark pessimists since Christ is our hope”, They must look to reality through the eyes of faith and speak to the world above all using the language of the Gospel”. “The Gospel offers the criteria of real laicity speaking of God and of Caesar; it states a necessary distinction that does not exclude loyal and respectful cooperation for society’s integral good”. It is time for Europe to rediscover itself and its place in history. Cardinal Bagnasco’s reminded those present, “The world looks to Europe for reasons that are not always noble ones; In spite of this its most profound interest, albeit not confessed, concerns a renewed Europe, a “Europe of the spirit”.
In his address to those present, President Sergio Mattarella emphasised the importance of the role of the Churches in supporting the building of Europe and a growing awareness of the value of religion in creating a more just international community. “Europe must demonstrate in practice that it is equal to the civilisation it claims to represent. In all spheres of human development: social, political, economic and educational. Today – added the Head of State – we are called upon to rebuild cohesive societies capable of overcoming the social, economic and environmental imbalances that are compromising the very life of this planet of ours”.
Cardinal Bassetti presented President Mattarella with the jubilee artwork created for the 50th CCEE anniversary. The meeting ended with a guided visit to the Cappella Paolina.
Attached are the texts of the two addresses.