Bishops and delegates from European Bishops’ Conferences with responsibility for the Safeguard of Creation will undertake an “environmental” pilgrimage in five stages from Esztergom (Hungary) to Mariazell (Austria), passing by Bratislava (Slovakia), to “present to the world the Church’s view on the gifts of Creation”. Starting tomorrow, September 1st, (until Sunday 5) pilgrims will reflect on the theme indicated by Benedict XVI for the 2010 World Day of Peace: “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation”. Pilgrims will cross the Danube by boat, travel by bus and cover the final stretch by foot. Considering the entirety of factors. “A pilgrimage is above all a spiritual journey, a journey of conversion which begins by leaving one’s own environment in order to reach a particular goal indicated by divine intervention. It presupposes an openness to listening and to meditation, to recollection and prayer”, explained Fr. Duarte da Cunha, General Secretary of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) which is promoting the initiative. “The ecological crisis, understood as the irrational and irresponsible use of the gifts of Creation, which we are experiencing in Europe today, is not divorced from the continent’s current moral crisis, in fact one influences the other. The Holy Father himself has reminded us that real concern for the ecology of the planet cannot exclude a serious reflection on human ecology, a spiritual conversion and a change in life styles. Often the theme of safeguarding creation is focused on scientific, political and ethical issues. We think that is also important to remember the spiritual, theological and anthropological vision, which lies at the basis of a true concern for creation and is not tied to mere political and / or economic aims. We cannot continue to tackle the issue in segments. The human person is whole”.Presenting the Church’s outlook. Six years after the conclusion of the consultations on the theme of the environment and responsibility for Creation organized by CCEE, which led to the birth of a network of national delegates from European Bishops’ Conferences, CCEE intends to re-launch and intensify relations between the delegates in Europe to present to Europe the Church’s outlook on the gifts of Creation. “Concern for creation has always been part of CCEE’s work”- continues the General Secretary of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences – “as is shown by the work done by the CCEE and CEC at the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu in 2007”. “This daily concern stems from the awareness that the ecological issue has often been tackled in almost ‘apocalyptic’ terms and sometimes in a dialectical manner seeing the human person as an enemy of nature. Instead, we, as the Holy Father has often invited us, want to base our reflection and our work for the environment simply on the fact that safeguarding Creation, respect for nature, is at the basis of ‘the quest for authentic world-wide solidarity inspired by the values of charity, justice and the common good'”, he explained.The program. The pilgrimage opens tomorrow (September 1st) with the celebration of Mass and the blessing of the pilgrimage by His Eminence Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and CCEE president. On September 2 the waters of the longest river in the European Union, the Danube, will take the pilgrims to Bratislava. This will be an opportunity to reflect on the theme of water and energy (with a visit to a biodiesel refinery in Komarom). Upon their arrival to Bratislava the pilgrims will be welcomed by Archbishop Stanislav Zvolenský and by the Mayor, Andrej Durkovský. Friday 3 September His Eminence Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Ján Figel , Slovakian Minister for Public Works, will participate in a round table for reflection on formation in the protection of Creation. After transfer by bus to St. Pölten, in Austria, an ecumenical celebration will take place in the Cathedral, attended by representatives of Christian Churches and of local and international ecumenical bodies. On Saturday 4 September, the pilgrims will continue by train from St. Pölten to Bürgeralpe where they will attend the Mass presided over by Archbishop of Malines-Brussels and President of the Belgian Bishops’ Conference, Msgr. André-Joseph Léonard. Finally, pilgrims will continue by foot to Mariazell, where the pilgrimage will end on Sunday September 5 with the celebration of Mass presided over by His Eminence Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna and President of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference.
"Environmental" pilgrimage from Esztergom (Hungary) to Mariazell (Austria)