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COMECE: “Brexit will not succeed in shattering the fraternal relations with our British brothers.”

COMECE opened its plenary Assembly - that brings together the delegates of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union – in Brussels while London was voting against the last attempt of PM Theresa May to save the deal with the EU. “It’s not the responsibility of the Church to indicate technical solutions – said Msgr. Hollerich, President of EU bishops – but as we have often repeated, Brexit will not succeed in shattering the fraternal relations with our British brothers and sisters."

(Bruxelles) “Brexit continues to be a source of concern for the present and the future. We must not allow this difficult process to prevent our progress from moving forward. It is not up to the Church to indicate technical solutions but as we have often repeated, Brexit will not succeed in shattering the fraternal relations with our British brothers”, said Msgr. Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg and President of COMECE (Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union), in his opening remarks at the COMECE plenary Assembly – that brings together the bishops delegates of Bishops’ Conferences of EU member Countries – in Brussels. The meeting began while British MPs were voting against the last attempt of PM Theresa May to save the deal with the EU after a set of concessions had been granted from Brussels past March 11. The present season will also be characterised by the elections for the renewal of the European Parliament, scheduled to take place May 23-26. In the light of the afore-mentioned scenarios the President of COMECE said in his opening speech: “We have come together here at an important moment for the future of our beloved continent.” Moreover, the composition of the new European Parliament will deeply affect key-decisions at EU level along with the legislative activity of the next five-year term. European bishops are concerned about the projection of seats in the next European Parliament, amounting to “growing support to extremist political positions. The chaos characterising the discussions on Brexit – Hollerich added – is placing growing emphasis and uncertainty on the crucial moment that our Continent and its citizens are experiencing today.” At the COMECE headquarters it is constantly repeated that the Church has no technical solutions to suggest, nor ready-made miracles. “The Church – Hollerich pointed out – wants to be present: at EU level, at national level and to be near the people as much as possible.”

“In this context the main message that COMECE addresses to all citizens is to go to the polls.”

COMECE Secretary General, Father Olivier Poquillon, also commented on the Brexit issue. “We are witnessing a great confusion – he said to SIR -. It’s comparable to the chaos that preceded the creation of the world. The present moment can be destructive, but it could also become an opportunity to trigger a new dynamics. The Catholic Church hopes that a new dynamics between European peoples will be found. Also in the case of a final deal – whether “soft” or “hard” – we are all destined to live and work together in the full respect of everyone else’s choices and diversities.” The EU bishops gathered in Brussels extend their gaze to London because Brexit – according to Poquillon – “is not only a British question. When a part of our body is wounded, suffering, going through a difficult moment, the rest of the body suffers with it. At an economic level we see that the weakest brackets are those who suffer the most.”

Father Poquillon calls upon the men and women who are working on the clauses and timeframe of the Brexit to be “courageous.”

 

“They are faced with an unprecedented situation. I hope that unity prevails, I hope that concerns for the common good will guide their actions, and in any case we wish to say that the existing fraternal relations between us and them will always remain solid. I hope we will overcome the present crisis without having caused irreparable damage.”

COMECE is also actively engaged in a public-awareness campaign for the European vote. “The Church is not here to impart a lesson”, Paquillon pointed out. “If we had miracle-solutions we would certainly have shared them already.” The Church has at heart the development of “a more inclusive Europe, a social market economy and a new Christian humanism and she wants Europe to continue playing its role also in the rest of the world.” Social media have accustomed us to seek “simple solutions to complex situations, which can cause feelings of frustration.”

“It’s not a question of being for or against Europe. God has placed us in Europe. Europe is a gift from God.” The question is: “What do we want to do with it?”

“If we don’t vote then others will vote in our place and in that case we will have no right to complain if Europe should follow a direction that we disagree with. We have the opportunity to influence the political life of the next five years and to chose the people and the faces to whom we intend to entrust our confidence.”

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