COMECE, Slovakia, Ukraine

COMECE: “Deepening European identity” “Now seems to me the right time to take a look at ourselves and think about how we can do justice to the tasks and demands entrusted to us”, writes Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, president of COMECE, the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, in the introduction to the Annual COMECE report published a few days ago. “Over the years, the environment in which we work has changed”, His Eminence pointed out, although COMECE’s “role, goals, our mission and our way of working have become self-evident, tested and proven. The greatest change is linked to “the geographic expansion” of the EU along with a treaty framework which is “provisionally completed”. But the economic crisis, for the Cardinal, “raises the question of whether these treaties still match the needs and provide the institutions with the instruments they need” or whether “it is not, in fact, a further deepening of the Union that is required. On the other hand, wrote the President of the ecclesial body, this change calls upon COMECE bishops, “always experiencing a double tension” as “the delegates of our respective episcopal conferences, and members of a European ensemble” to “deepen our European identity even further and, in a change of perspective, to consistently develop a European view”. COMECE “enables the Bishops’ Conferences in the EU to engage with the institutions of the European Union jointly and in a coordinated manner”, through a “positive relationship”, states the Report compiled by the Commission of European Bishops. Analysing and processing information about the policies of the European Union, “in order to enable the Bishops’ Conferences to take active part in the European integration process” and “taking positions on current issues of the EU” are the tasks of COMECE, whereby the social and ethical challenges resulting from European political integration on the basis of Catholic social teaching are at the centre. This resulted in a wide range of activities carried out in 2012: plenary assemblies – that elected Cardinal Marx to the position held by Van Luyn and to the appointment of Fr. Daly as General Secretary, previously held by Fr Mazurkyewicz – ; four working groups on social questions, migration, bioethics and legal affairs, dialogue with the institutions. The Report can be consulted at Slovakia: grants to support Catholic massmediaThe Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia will support massmedia projects with the amount almost 148,000 EUR, collected in Catholic parishes of the country in May on the occasion of the 47th World Communications Day. The decision was made during the last week’s plenary assembly of the Bishops’ Conference under the presidency of Mons. Stanislav Zvolenský, archbishop of Bratislava and head of the Committee for Social Communications. Among the project approved by the bishops there are programs of Catholic Radio Lumen, Television Lux, Press Office of the Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia, magazine “The Road” published by the Greek Catholic charitable organizations, Lenten internet project “40 Days”, as well as documentaries about restoration of the Cathedral of St. Martin in Bratislava and about missionary service of Slovaks in Honduras and Zimbabwe. The prelates have also decided about the date of the following Catholic Massmedia Pilgrimage – it will take place on 31 May 2014 in Bratislava. Ukraine: meeting of religious leaders and politiciansThe representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO) met with leaders of the Batkivshchyna political party on 23 October. Participants of the meeting discussed the need to release former prime minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko, issues regarding the European integration of the country and the refusal to pass laws granting rights to sexual minorities. Although believing that convergence with the European Union is good, the representatives of the AUCCRO see one significant drawback in the European integration – legalization of same-sex relations, as the rights of the LGBT community represent a part of the Association Agreement. The president of the Ukrainian Bible Society Hryhoriy Komendant also objected that the text of the Association Agreement contains “direct and specific anti-Christian statements”. The meeting of leaders of Batkivschyna with representatives of the AUCCRO ended with a discussion about Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of this political party. In summary, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, parliamentary leader of Batkivshchyna said that “the government is playing a political game, wanting to release Yulia Tymoshenko only in words”. Yatsenyuk also touched on the rights of the LGBT community. “I think our opinion is the same – a marriage can only be between a man and a woman”, he said.

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