Concluding the European Social Days, Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, President of the Council of the European Bishops’ Conferences, emphasised that the Church must pursue its social commitment while avoiding the risk of becoming an NGO. All modern issues must be addressed starting from our relationship with God.
For his part, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich President of the Commission of European Bishops’ Conferences, highlighted the synodal path to which the peoples of Europe are also called. Archbishop Stanislav Zvolenský of Bratislava stressed that solidarity, subsidiarity and social justice must be developed not only in the physical world, but also in the digital one.
With these three statements, the third edition of the European Social Days drew to a close. The next one will be held in five years, in 2027, for which applications are already open to be the next host. Organised by CCEE and COMECE, the days are an opportunity to reflect on Europe’s social challenges, represented this year by the themes of digital, ecological and demographic transition.
Archbishop Grušas stressed that to confront these major challenges, we “cannot simply adopt other people’s agendas, become just another NGO working for family, economic and digital equality or a self-sustaining environment “.
We cannot, said the CCEE President, become “merely an instrument of governmental programs seeking to accomplish albeit virtuous goals”, because “The moment that we lose our own identity as Church, the People of God, on its journey to the Heavenly Kingdom, we have lost everything – even if we manage to save humanity and the planet we now call our home”.
And so, “The problems that we affront at a merely human level may attempt to steal our hope, which must always be in rooted in Jesus Christ and not in our human successes or failures in any given area”. They are challenges – concluded the Archbishop – that “must be addressed together, since they all arise from our relationship to God and it is from this perspective that we must work for justice, peace, solidarity and fraternity with our brothers and sisters in the family of humanity”.
Cardinal Hollerich, who is also the general rapporteur of the Synod, stressed that “at this moment in history, it is crucial that we reconnect with Europe’s profound identity and history and rediscover the dreams that inspired Europe’s founding fathers”, and that “as Christians, we must place the human person and his dignity at the heart of the European reflection”.
Crucial to this is the listening to which the synodal path towards the Synod on synodality, which also involves the European Churches and for which Cardinal Hollerich is general rapporteur, is leading us. “If we really walk together,” said the Cardinal, “the Church of the third millennium must include all Catholics in this reflection in communion with the Pope and the bishops”.
Archbishop Zvolenský, on the other hand, pointed out that these days “went beyond expectations and took us once again beyond the significance of the international meeting”, allowing us to see all the challenges discussed in a “wider context”.
The Archbishop of Bratislava also said that “we can clearly see how family values can be relied upon in this crisis, and how important their bonds are”. Referring to the war in Ukraine, a theme present in all the reflections, Archbishop Zvolenský pointed out that we can see that “the fruits of Christian solidarity, subsidiarity and social justice are not less important, but rather need to be cultivated”.
On the event’s official website you can download the programme, speeches, contributions, videos and photos: www.catholicsocialdays.eu