A common thought

By CCEE and COMECE, envisaged as "a Church fact"

“Educating European Catholics” to “think European” and “promote common Catholic thought across the Continent, especially when it comes to fundamental values such as life, the family, religious freedom and social justice”. Upon the conclusion of the 40th CCEE general assembly in Zagreb Msgr. Giampaolo Crepaldi, bishop of Trieste and president of the recently established Caritas in Veritate Commission of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), outlined the key-message of the European Social Week (ESW) which the CCEE Commission intends to adopt “in a systematic and organic manner”. The project is the result of the meeting between CCEE president Cardinal Peter Erdö and Comece’s president Msgr. Adrianus Van Luyn, the Commission of the European episcopates, which promoted last year’s “European Social Days” in Gdansk. Which identity and which European future? Msgr. Crepaldi underlines the “urgent need to promote a European Social Week that is closely linked to Church Social Doctrine”, firstly because EU enlargement, along with plans of further enlargement, “brought the question of European identity and of the Continent’s future to the fore”. The drafting of the European Constitutional Treaty was “the occasion” to address the “uncertainties and reticence of European culture and politics in particular. According to the President of the CCEE Commission, also the changes in the international geopolitical realm require a reflection on the presence of Europe in the world. Furthermore, the numerous magisterial interventions of John Paul II and Benedict XVI “indicate the need to engage in Europe’s ‘new evangelization’, so as to highlight the cultural fruitfulness of Christianity, and not renounce Christian faith’s public role as the yeast of history”. The three components. Some European Countries are familiar with traditional Social Weeks – which in certain cases is secular and in others of minor duration – promoted at national level by Catholic laity in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Austria and Slovenia. By referring to these national experiences and pointing out that the ESW whilst highlighting them “should not mimic these events”, Msgr. Crepaldi pointed out “three fundamental elements” which the European and national events should be marked by. These are “a cultural element marked by high scientific relevance”; “a social component,” and a “pastoral element”. The ESW must also “explicitly and organically refer to the Social Doctrine of the Church, it must be a Church fact” with a clear “pastoral finality”. Thinking “European”. Whilst underlining “the European dimension of the social mission of the Church” the prelate explained that the ESW must aim at educating European Catholics to think in ‘European terms’, namely to address social problems not only within their national background but also at European level, with a global perspective”. Although European Catholic presence in the social realm is ongoing, “it is weak and fragmented”. ESW must be conceived in such a way so as to ensure “its visbility” – the prelate pointed out – whilst promoting “its potential and development. And most of all it should serve to clarify its contents and specificities”. As relates to the choice of a “European theme” Msgr. Crepaldi said that developing just any national theme at European level is not enough. The Week must be conceived at “enlarged level, namely, as an intense moment during the ESW, and preceded by meetings based on mutual sharing, prayer, celebration and pilgrimage”. In continuity with the European Social Weeks. Msgr. Crepaldi is thinking of a “simple and active structure, which is not a repetition of national experiences, although it goes in the direction of its enhancement”. Hence the proposal of a meeting in 2011 with the Presidents of the Social Weeks across the various European Countries was presented. The works will take place in continuity with the European Social Weeks held past October on the initiative of COMECE (the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community), in conjunction with the European Solidarity Centre. The meeting in Gdansk on October 8-11 2009 was dedicated to the theme of solidarity. Among the possible themes of the planned European Social Week figure: family and employment (considering the destructuralization process experienced by the former and the radical change in organization of the latter); time for work and for leisure (like relaunching Christian festivity); the economy of donation in tomorrow’s Europe (starting from the indications of Caritas in Veritate).

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