Steps, thoughts and prayer

European pilgrimage from Esztergom to Mariazell (September 1-5)

In the years 1999-2004, with a series of meeting on the protection of the Creation, the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) played a central role, providing an important contribution to raising the European bishops’ Conferences awareness on themes related to the environment. This led to the establishment of ad hoc national structures tasked with addressing these themes through specific theological, spiritual and biblical reflections, with the contribution of experts. CCEE scheduled a similar event for next September. Experiences and ideas. The bishops and delegates responsible in the various Churches of Europe for the safeguard of the Creation have been invited to participate in the pilgrimage which will start out from Esztergom, Hungary to Mariazell, Austria from September 1 to 5. The pilgrimage will proceed in 5 stages, dedicated to the theme indicated by Benedict XVI for the World Peace Day 2010 “If you want to cultivate peace, protect the Creation”. “The spiritual destination of the pilgrimage isn’t only the shrine where we will ask God to grant us His help and forgiveness through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and contemplate God by means of His works, it is also an occasion for an exchange of experiences and ideas. The purpose is to contribute to the development of the relations amongst the delegates in Europe”, the organizers explained.The reflection-pilgrimage will start out from Esztergom after the Eucharistic celebration presided over by CCEE President Card. Peter Erdö. The delegates will reach Bratislava by travelling down the Danube river and will discuss the themes of water and electricity (a visit to the bio-diesel factory in Komaron is on the agenda). A panel discussion on formation for the protection of the Creation will take place the next day, followed by bus transfer to St. Polten, Austria, where an ecumenical celebration will be officiated in the cathedral. The following day participants will travel by train from St. Pölten to the “Erlaufsee” lake and walk the remaining 10km of the pilgrimage up to Mariazell.The outlook of the Church. The organizers explain: “Often these themes are centred on the scientific, political and ethical aspects. It is necessary to recover also the spiritual and anthropological vision. An important objective of the pilgrimage will be that of presenting to the world the outlook of the Church on the gifts of the Creation. This vision, which is always keen to seek a wholesome picture, considering all elements and the centrality of man within the Creation, will be helpful to those called to make important decisions in this area, in order to propose a lifestyle which takes into account the protection of the Creation according to God’s plan”. For this reason also 10 journalists from different countries are invited, so they may voice participants’ reflections. A final statement on the reflections which emerged in the course of the pilgrimage will be released upon the conclusion of the Eucharistic celebration presided over by cardinal Christoph Schönborn on Saturday September 5 in Mariazell. Ecumenical commitment. In the years that have passed since the last consultation, CCEE continued its commitments for the protection of the Creation both through on the website www.cefe.ch, and notably, through its ecumenical commitment, in cooperation with the Conference of the European Churches (CEC). During the 2007 Assembly in Sibiu, the delegates broached the theme of contemporary lifestyles. Past November CCEE and CEC Secretariats drew up a joint letter on climate change: “ethics, culture, faith and religion are substantial elements of our lifestyle which we must consider in order to effectively address climate change whilst ensuring integral human development. Only a truly human ecology can produce greater attention towards the environment”. Also the Christian ecumenical network for the environment, with the support of KEK, is actively engaged in this field, with the involvement of all the Churches in the continent (www.ecen.org).

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