CCEE Assembly: “Family and the future of Europe” Assembly on “The family and the future of Europe” and an audience with Pope Francis: From October 2 to 4 European bishops will convene at Rome’s Domus Pacis for the plenary of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) to reflect on the current challenges that involve the family on the even of the special synod on the same theme. In particular, the presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences in Europe will attend a meeting in the Vatican will the Holy Father. The opening session of the Conference, held on the invitation of Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, CCEE Vice-President, will take place on Thursday October 2, followed by several panel speeches on the family institution, its crisis, and the prospects in contemporary Europe; the reflection of John Paul II on the family, pastoral dynamics and canon law on marriage. Lectures will be introduced by experts from various Countries, that include: Joseph Weiler, President of the European University Institute (Fiesole), Ludmila and Stanislaw Grygiel, Pontifical Institute John Paul II (Rome), and Msgr. Stanislav Zvolenský, Archbishop in Bratislava. A CCEE note points out: “Less than two months since the visit of Pope Francis” at the European Parliament (Strasbourg November 25) “European Bishops will address also a few question on” continental “politics with a speech by the Apostolic Nuncio in Brussels, by COMECE’s Segretary General, and for the first time, by the newly-appointed permanent Observer of the Holy See at the Council of Europe, Msgr. Paolo Rudelli”. Speakers during the three-day event include Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for the Bishops; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of the Federation of Bishops’ Conferences of Asia, Msgr. Gabriel Mbilingi, president of SECAM (Symposium of the Bishops’ Conferences of Africa and Madagascar) and Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Germany: the outcomes of the bishops’ plenary The autumn session of the plenary of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) took place last week. The bishops discussed a wide range of topics. Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of DBK and archbishop of Munich-Freising, presented the outcomes of the session, including the journey of prayer and ecumenical dialogue in view of the commemoration of the Reformation in 2017; the problem of abjurations and the abandonment of the Catholic Church; the future and the developments of the church tax; the topics that will be presented to the Pope in the next “ad limina” visit in 2015; the evolution of the crisis in Syria and Iraq; questions of faith and the answers to major moral issues today; the Synod of Bishops on the family; the concrete actions of German Catholics for the reception of refugees and displaced persons also from Ukraine. Card. Marx pointed out that it makes no sense to interpret the abandonment of the Church only as a result of recent international and national events. In reality, the Church – he said – is experiencing “the consequences of an epochal social change”. “Never before has man had such a wide freedom of choice” regarding almost all aspects of his life “and it was inevitable that this would have also hit the Churches”. Cardinal Marx highlighted significant progress, but he added that the Church should not “glorify the past” of Western Christianity and fight to “reconquer territories lost in the past”. On refugee issues, His Eminence said that “even among believers” sometimes there is great mistrust and rejection. He called for a common standard of law on asylum in the European Union”. Portugal: social communications, “A network of people” The national Days of Social Communication, that closed Friday September 26 in Fatima, highlighted the need to make greater use of synergies and products existing in the Portuguese Church, aimed at “authentic coordination between the various means of communication in this sector”. At the end of the meeting, focused on the theme, “A network of people”, the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Culture and Social Communications invited those in charge of Catholic means of communication to have the courage to face new challenges: “In the dioceses, there are numerous communication tools today, but very often the main interest is the functioning of the single means of communication, in which people only care about their own contribution”. For Msgr. Pio Alves, “the ideal of the encounter” proposed by Pope Francis should be created “in every single diocese, in every single parish”, by “sharing the content”, since “if the collaborative spirit doesn’t work at local level, it will hardly be realized at national level”. The risk is to consider the papal message as a mere slogan, unable to find a correspondence in the daily action of all those tasked with communicating the Christian message.