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COMECE to Pope Francis: “Concerns about Europe, peace, migrants, the populist threat”

“It was a very special moment of dialogue", Archbishop of Luxembourg, Monsignor Jean-Claude Hollerich, President of COMECE, told SIR: "We could perceive the Holy Father's serious concerns for Europe, for peace, for migrants, for the danger of populism. All this has a very important place in his heart.”

(Foto Vatican Media/SIR)

A concerned gaze on the drifts of disintegration in Europe and the consequences they may have on the stability of peace in Europe and the world. But also great interest in everything that is happening within the large borders of the European continent. With these sentiments Pope Francis received on 6 June the Standing Committee of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishop’ s Conferences of the European Union. The Pope was informed by the bishops on the outcome of the European elections and on the high voter turnout. “It was a moment of intense dialogue”, the Archbishop of Luxembourg, Msgr. Jean-Claude Hollerich, President of COMECE, told SIR.

“We could perceive the Holy Father’s serious concerns about Europe, peace, migrants, the danger of populism. All this has an important place in his heart.”

Only a few days ago, during his in-flight press conference from Romania, the Pope sent a message to Europe. “Please, do not let Europe be overcome by pessimism and ideologies. Because Europe is attacked not with cannons or bombs at the moment, but yes, with ideologies… Think of the divided and belligerent Europe of ‘14 and of ‘22-23 until ‘39, when the war broke out. But let’s not go back to this, please. We learn from history, we do not fall into the same hole.” The Pope is evidently concerned. Msgr. Hollerich pointed out that the Holy Father perceives the risk of backtracking on European integration and not because the Pope is a European federalist. It is not the task of the clergy to engage in politics, but it’s a reminder that European integration has delivered peace in Europe and it has also been a source of peace in the world.”

 

What would be of Europe without the European Union? “First and foremost it would severely impact Europeans – the Luxembourg Archbishop pointed out –because unfortunately conflicts between countries do still exist and if we no longer have this bond of integration that holds us together, Europe risks taking different directions. It would also impact world peace, because the European Union operates in the world according to the principle of multilateralism and with a procedure that doesn’t involve the use of armed forces. I consider this to be an element of stability for world order.

Most of all, it would have negative repercussions on the poor. Following Pope Francis ‘ teachings our primary focus must always be on the most vulnerable.”

The meeting of EU bishops took place on the day that world leaders met in Portsmouth, UK, for the commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Normandy landings, the crucial turning point of World War II. The Pope sent a message with an invitation to Europe, to “Christians of all denominations, believers of other religions and men of good will, to promote true universal fraternity, fostering a culture of encounter and dialogue, sensitive to the last and to the poor.” “The European Union – commented Fr Olivier Poquillon, Secretary General of COMECE – is a peace project between former enemies based on a common experience of sorrow. That sorrow was transformed into the foundations of life of future generations. Today we live a fraternity by capillarity. We are already together, whether we want it or not, we are all united by a shared destiny.”

 

In the past hours the European Commission released a shocking decision warranting an excessive-deficit infringement procedure for Italy. The charges include increased public debt, which rose from 131.4% of GDP in 2017 to 132.2% in 2018 and is set to rise again to 133.7% in 2019 and 135.2% in 2020. These figures represent an infringement of the European Growth and Stability Pact. Msgr. Mariano Crociata, bishop of Latina, Vice-President of COMECE, addresses the political world. “There are two requests”, he said. “First of all, not to exploit these tensions to engage in political struggles, as if there were still an electoral challenge. This does good to no one. And it must be also accompanied by serene language and arguments. In addition, our request is to avoid purely emotional reactions, resulting in a loss of appropriate judgment, in the failure to make a proper assessment of the problems and the ability to understand them and seek a solution.

Our interest is not the victory of a given political faction but for Italy to win, for the good of the Country to win.”

The common good is the matter at stake – the bishop remarked – for when things go wrong everyone suffers. Clearly, each party has a different vision, but the ideal approach is to seek encounter and dialogue, inside and outside.  It is not through confrontation or conflict that problems are solved.  The well-being of the nation, the well-being of all citizens – and notably the weakest ones for they are those who pay the highest price – is at stake,” concluded Crociata.”

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