In Budapest

The Church at the service of peace

Meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences of Central and Eastern Europe

On 24-25 October 2022, the meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of Central and Eastern Europe was held in Budapest. The event was attended by, among others, Gintaras Grušas, the Archbishop of Vilnius and President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), András Veres, President of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Michael Wallace Banach, Apostolic Nuncio in Hungary, the members of the Permanent Council of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference: Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, György Udvardy, Archbishop of Veszprém and János Székely, Bishop of Szombathely; as well as the presidents and representatives of the Bishops’ Conferences of Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and those of the International Bishops’ Conference of Saints Cyril and Methodius which unites Serbia and other states in the region.

The central theme of the two-day meeting was peace. In his welcome address, the Bishop of Győr, András Veres, offered the participants a reflection from the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council: “Peace is not the simple absence of war, nor can it be reduced merely to stabilising the balance of opposing forces; it is not the effect of despotic domination, but rather is accurately described as ‘the work of justice’ (Is 32: 7)” (GS 78).

He also recalled that the good news of the Saviour’s birth was announced to the shepherds by angels proclaiming peace: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to the men he loves”. Peace can exist when people accept Jesus, the peacemaker, and when the hearts of people of goodwill open up to others.

The Apostolic Nuncio, Michael Wallace Banach, spoke of the Church’s love for peace and its consequent efforts to embrace all dimensions of peace, and then asked the question: Church, what are you doing for peace? Pope Francis’ representative in Hungary emphasised that this question must resonate within hearts, with the hope of a peaceful conclusion to the war in Ukraine.

The Archbishop of Vilnius, Gintaras Grušas, urged us to pray for the restoration of peace in Ukraine and to find within ourselves, through prayer, the path to peace in our countries and in Europe.

On Monday evening, conference participants celebrated Holy Mass together in the Chapel of the Holy Right in St. Stephen’s Basilica (which houses the relic of the right hand of Hungary’s first holy king), with Cardinal Péter Erdő as the main celebrant.

In his report, Cardinal Mario Grech also emphasised the importance of peace and described the process by which the Church seeks to listen to God’s people. Also speaking at the conference were Balázs Schanda, Head of the Department of Constitutional Law at the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the Catholic University Pázmány Péter; Lóránd Újházi, Head of the Postgraduate Institute of Canon Law at the Catholic University Pázmány Péter and Ágnes Hornung, Secretary of State for the Family.

At the invitation of the President of the Republic, Katalin Novák, the conference ended at the Sándor Palace (the official residence of the President of the Republic of Hungary), where the President hosted a reception and greeted the participants of the meeting.

Budapest, Tuesday, 25 October 2022
Secretariat of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference