Plenary Assembly/3

The final communiqué of the work

Don Antonio Ammirati is elected as new CCEE General Secretary

The Plenary Assembly of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, entitled “Pilgrims of Hope. For a Synodal and Missionary Church”, was held in Belgrade between 24 and 27 June at the invitation of H.E. Msgr. Ladislav Nemet, Archbishop of Belgrade and CCEE vice president.

The proceedings, which began with greetings from the Archbishop of Belgrade and the Apostolic Nuncio to Serbia, H.E. Msgr. Santo Gangemi, continued with an examination of the current situation in Europe, elaborated in reports by H.E. Msgr. Mariano Crociata, Bishop of Latina and President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE); H.E. Msgr. Noël Treanor, Apostolic Nuncio to the European Union; and Msgr. Marco Ganci, Observer for the Holy See to the Council of Europe. These were followed by speeches from the Presidents of the CCEE Commissions who presented their respective activities and programmes.

In his introduction, H.E. Msgr. Gintaras Grušas, Archbishop of Vilnius and President of CCEE, recounted the opening of the new CCEE headquarters in Rome, designed to strengthen the collaboration and exchange of European bishops with each other and with the Holy See and to give a new pastoral impetus and ecumenical momentum, especially in the Jubilee year and during the synodal journey.
In preparation for the second session of the Synod on synodality, President Grušas addressed the role that continental bodies and bishops’ conferences can play in living and growing synodality. He also presented the initiatives in the ecumenical sphere that CCEE is pursuing: the update of the European Ecumenical Charter, signed together with the Conference of European Churches (CEC) in 2001, which in its new version is expected to be signed on Divine Mercy Sunday 2025, the year in which the date of Easter coincides for all Christians; and the first meeting with the Governing Council of the Permanent Conference of Eastern Orthodox Churches in Europe (OCE).
Finally, he called on everyone to prepare for the approaching Jubilee so that “it may be an event of grace for our communities and countries and an opportunity to witness that Christ is the only hope for mankind”.

H.Em. Card. Robert Francis Prevost, Prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, gave a talk on “The evangelising and missionary dimension of the Church in Europe” taking as his starting point the events of recent weeks, beginning with the European elections and the worldwide crises, which includes the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East.

The key, for the Prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, starting from the Augustinian vision of the times, is to look at the Incarnation of Jesus, to be lived in the Eucharistic celebration, and to be carried into everyday life, taking care of the poor, migrants, those in need, but above all “putting into practice Jesus Christ’s own way of loving”.

The Rev. Prof. Josef Sayer, pastoral theologian, gave a talk on Praedicate Evangelium. Consequences and Implications for Bishops’ Conferences and Continental Organisations. Analyzing the text of the new apostolic constitution promulgated by Pope Francis in 2022, which regulates the functions and tasks of Curia bodies, Prof. Sayer presented the new role of Bishops’ Conferences, with which curial dicasteries would be called to interface more regularly, even incorporating some of their initiatives.

During the proceedings, the bishops elected Rev. Antonio Ammirati, until now vice-general secretary and spokesperson of CCEE, as the new general secretary of CCEE for a five-year term. He takes the place of the Rev. Martin Michaliček, secretary general since 2018. To Fr. Martin, the bishops expressed gratitude for his availability and work over the years at the service of the Churches that are in Europe.

Also, an important moment was the meeting of the CCEE members with the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Porfirije.
On 21 September 2024, the International Day of Peace, the bishops call for a day of prayer for the victims of the war as well as to invoke peace in Ukraine, the Holy Land and Sudan.
The next Plenary Assembly will be held in Lisbon from 8 to 10 October 2025.

Belgrade, 27 June 2024