Plenary Assembly/2

Pilgrims at the Tomb of the Apostle Saint James

On the second day, the gathering of European Bishops

32 Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe were present in Santiago de Compostela for the annual Plenary Assembly, entitled: “Europe, time to wake up? The Signs of Hope”.

The second day of the meeting began with the Eucharistic Celebration, presided over by the CCEE President, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, and ended with the pilgrimage of the prelates from Monte do Gozo to Santiago Cathedral, to the tomb of the Apostle Saint James and the celebration of solemn vespers in the Church of Saint Francis.

A day of prayer, fraternity and reflection centred on the report by Prof. Chantal Delsol entitled: “Catholicism after Christianity”; a cultural, religious and social analysis of the current European situation. This was a strong challenge to the Bishops who, in the study groups, started from some urgent questions: how to express and announce the faith in a context profoundly different from the past? How to behave in the face of a return of “paganism”? How can we respond to the new questions that are being asked of the Church today? How to be a creative minority? The debate continued, then, with an analysis of the most significant elements that influence the ecclesial and civil fabric of Europe and, finally, recounting the signs of hope present in our continent.

There are many signs of hope, identified by the Bishops, starting with the greatest: the existence of the faith in Europe, despite the fact that the paradigms of reference have considerably changed. Among the signs of hope there is also the victory of religious freedom especially in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet regime; the greater participation of the laity in the work of Evangelisation and the growing presence of women in the Church. The presence of immigrants in Europe is also a sign of hope and is a presence that broadens the horizons of the Church itself and, concluded the Presidents of the European Bishops’ Conferences, the very person of Pope Francis who teaches us a new way of being pastors is also a sign of hope and underlines the Mercy and charity of God that touches the wounds of modern society.