Plenary Assembly/1

Europe, time to wake up? The signs of Hope

3-6 October, Santiago de Compostela

The annual CCEE Plenary Assembly began yesterday in Santiago de Compostela and opened with the invitation from Pope Francis “to live these days as a journey, aimed at identifying the signs of hope that you find in Europe today”. In the message that he sent to the members of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences Pope Francis recalled that love “is the greatest antidote to the tendencies of our time, full of lacerations and contrasts. May yours therefore be a commitment to love. This is the main road of the life of Christians”.

He then entrusted a task to the European Bishops: “in embarking on this journey of closeness to our neighbours, in bending over the wounds of those who are lost, defenceless, and marginalized, the Church will renew her commitment to the building of Europe, a responsibility which has never ceased, even among many difficulties, ever since Paul, Silas, and Timothy landed on the coasts of Europe (cf. Acts 16:9). In fidelity to its Lord and to its own roots, we encourage the People of God to work for a new European humanism, capable of dialogue, integration, and generation[1]. At the same time, we encourage everyone to value what is dearest to the Continent’s tradition: the defence of human life and dignity, the promotion of the family and the respect for the fundamental rights of the person. Through this commitment, Europe will be able to grow as a family of peoples, a land of peace and hope”.

In his opening speech the CCEE President, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, showed that there exists in Europe a wealth of goodness and hope: “we believe that the true response of the Church to the Continent is Jesus Christ, the face of the Father and the salvation of man. Furthermore, we are convinced that, in the face of a social and cultural context marked by confrontations, suspicions, individualisms, and disappointments, our duty is to climb on the roofs and proclaim the lights that are there: lights of the Light that is Christ the Lord”.

And he added: “From this shrine – rich in centuries and faith – we would like to send a message of hope to a troubled Europe; we would like to mention here that to deny the origins is a premise of personal and social bewilderment”. He then addressed an appeal to all the brothers of the different Christian Confessions stating that “we can together be the leaven of Europe. We are interested in everything that concerns man! His life, his family, justice and peace, the poor and migrants, the environment and creation, fair and sustainable development, the good of the soul, the right to remain in one’s own country or to leave … eternal life! Everything belongs to faith! On these challenges, Christians have much to witness and say together”. And he concluded: “Together with all people of good will, the Lord’s disciples know they are invested in this mission as humble and generous workers. May the Apostle James help us to think about the lights that are in our people. We too see darkness, but precisely because we see it, we want to indicate the lights, knowing that evil can never win over good”.

Attached below are all the interventions from the Opening Session.