On 24 June, the Presidency of the Council of the European Bishops’ Conferences was received in audience by Pope Francis. The annual appointment with the Pope is an opportunity to take stock of CCEE’s activities and identify priorities for the Church on the Continent. Among the topics on the agenda were the presentation of the Continental Assembly of the Synod, held in Prague from 5 to 12 February, various ecumenical issues, the challenges of the war in Ukraine and the Church’s commitment to welcoming and spiritually assisting the many refugees.
At the beginning of the meeting, the CCEE President, Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, presented the Holy Father with a letter signed by all the General Secretaries of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe who wished to convey to the Holy Father their affection and closeness, together with their prayers for a speedy recovery after the operation on 7 June: “we have followed with concern the news of your hospitalisation and the surgery you underwent. We continue to pray for you so that your recovery may continue in the best way possible”, the letter reads.
The General Secretaries were gathered in Tirana from 22 to 25 June for their annual meeting entitled “From Ecclesia in Europa to the Synod on synodality: the Church in Europe on the move 20 years after Saint John Paul II’s Exhortation”.
The letter to the Pope expresses thanks for the continued calls for an end to the war in Ukraine and the request for a “just peace for the people of Ukraine”. The General Secretaries also thank Pope Francis “for the attention he is giving to Europe during his pontificate” and recall the Pope’s upcoming European journeys, namely to Lisbon for World Youth Day from 2 to 6 August, and to Marseilles to conclude the Mediterranean Days, on 23 September.
On the twentieth anniversary of the post-synodal Exhortation from Saint John Paul II, Ecclesia in Europa, they underline that this prophetic document, “which already in 2003 outlined many of the European challenges we are experiencing today, is the fruit of a synodal journey. For this reason, we decided to link it to the Synod on synodality in which the whole Church is committed, in order to reflect on the equally prophetic synodal process and walk together to testify that Christ is the hope for Europe”.
Pope Francis, who received the correspondence from the hands of President Grušas, gave thanks for the kind gesture and returned the gesture along with his blessing. The CCEE President will also attend various meetings in different Dicasteries of the Roman Curia over the course of the week.