Borderline issues

The meeting of the Secretary General of European Bishops' Conferences

The annual meeting of the Secretary Generals promoted by the Council of European Bishops Conferences (CCEE) titled “The challenges of ecclesial cooperation: internal Church relations, relations with the States and relations with the public opinion” closed Sunday June 13 in Rome. During the works, as reported in CCEE’s final statement released June 14, the Secretaries “consolidated their communion with Peter and his ministry, a source of inspiration for their work with Bishops’ Conferences. The Year for Priests was an excellent opportunity for the Church to probe into the meaning of vocation, life, spirituality and priesthood”.In communion with the Pope. Speakers include also cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, CEI President, and Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb and CCEE vice-President “who both recalled the primary role of the Catholic Church in Europe as a ‘protector’ of mankind with reference to Christ. We need to have the courage not to follow the masses, especially when borderline issues are dealt with”. Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, Undersecretary for Relations with the States of the Secretariat of State underlined “the importance of communion and cooperation among bishops conferences and ministries of the Holy See with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of pastoral actions”. “The Catholic Church”, he continued, “answers the call of the Lord by putting her service at the disposal of mankind. That is the reason for which the Church is willing to spread the message of salvation from Jesus Christ to all human spheres, and consider men and women in their entirety”.Serious discussion. The issue of sexual abuse on minors perpetrated by priests or clerics was also tackled by the secretaries, with the help of Msgr. Luís Ladaria and Msgr. Robert Deeley, secretary and member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith respectively. “During the debate” states the CCEE communiqué, “aside from acknowledging the drama of the problem, the importance of dealing with it seriously was also reinforced. In this regard, too, it is absolutely necessary to guarantee an exchange of information across Bishops’ Conferences and improve the role of the Church accordingly. The problem was faced with competence, transparency and drastic measures. All Bishops’ Conferences are willing to follow along the lines of the Pope. A few bishops conferences have even taken impressive measures to prevent further abuse from happening and support and help the victims and their families, whose suffering was unanimously condemned” is affirmed in the statement.The relations with the media. Another item on the agenda of the secretary-generals was the Church’s relations with the media and the public opinion, examined by the director of the Vatican Press Office Fr. Federico Lombardi and by the CEI spokesman Msgr. Domenico Pompili. Referring to communication in the new global cultural context, now fast and sensationalistic, Fr. Lombardi said it is important for Bishops’ Conferences to acknowledge “the “globalisation of information”. What happens locally has immediate repercussions internationally, and vice versa. According to Msgr. Pompili, the ultimate risk is to give, and let the media give, a stereotyped image of the Church: a form of actual reductionism of Christianity in a social context dominated by a “polytheism of values”, according to which Christianity is accepted and perceived as one of the many competitors in the daily battle to reaffirm certain values. Conversely, we must be strong and brave enough to reject this preset and stereotyped role, and privilege beauty and testimonies, even with the help of the new media. The works were also marked by prayers and services. In addition to the prayers with the Holy Father in St. Peter’s, the Mass on 11th June was offered up for Msgr. Luigi Padovese, vicar apostolic of Anatolia and President of the Turkish Bishops’ Conference, ruthlessly murdered in Turkey on last 3rd June. A delegation of CCEE, lead by Father Duarte da Cunha, Secretary-general, attended the funeral celebrated on June 14 in the Duomo of Milan at 10-30 am.

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