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Speaking of God to Europe
40th Annual CCEE General Secretaries´ meeting, Edinburgh
In almost every way we can say that the agenda for the 40th Annual meeting of the General Secretaries of the Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae (CCEE) was given to us by the Universal Church. The recent attention given to the New Evangelisation, the forthcoming Synod of Bishops and the imminence of the Year of Faith all directed us towards making these the central and guiding themes of our meeting. We were directed in our deliberations by Professor John Haldane of St Andrews University, by Monsignor Aldo Giordano (Holy See), Monsignor Piotr Mazurkiewicz (COMECE) and Monsignor Ronny Jenkins (USCCB). All of them emphasised the need for the Church to engage with the world, to challenge prevailing trends when they are at odds with the Gospel and to seek to draw the eyes, minds and hearts of the men and women of our time, whether they be believers or not, to the Person of Jesus Christ and to announce to them once again his message of truth, freedom, salvation and hope.
People give many reasons for refusing to pay heed to the Church when she seeks to speak to them about Jesus but these reasons should never sway us from carrying out our mission. In societies where the new orthodoxy attempts to privatise religion, proposing that freedom of worship is acceptable while all the time freedom of religion is being eroded, the Church needs to stand up for the values which will allow her to remain true to the reason for her divine institution, for her very existence – to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them and teaching them to keep the commandments of the Lord.
The reassurance which comes from knowing that, in those nations to whom the Gospel has been taken, we share similar problems and challenges but also hold fast to the same truth and hope, is one of the great fruits and graces of our gatherings. To realise that in all these different places the Church is seeking to teach people to keep the Lord’s commandments, is a great consolation. When public opinion, voices in the media and even legislatures seem to be clamouring against the values we uphold and preach, it is important to know we are at one with God, with the Church and with each other. We need to be prayerful, creative, imaginative yet always faithful in the task of restoring and renewing minds and hearts and cultures. A deep appreciation of our unity and our communion is one of the graces by which God sustains us and gives us hope for the future.
In some small way, our coming together over these few days in Edinburgh, has contributed to that sustenance which gives us the energy to redouble our efforts to do what Christ asks us to do for his sake and for the sake of the Church in an era of great challenges but of even greater opportunities and grace.
(*) general secretary of the Scottish Bishops’ Conference
11/07/2012 - Paul Conroy - Scotland (*)