Cardinal Bassetti’s first official visit to the EU: a sign of courage and hope
“I dream of a new Europe based on solidarity and courage, capable of being a common home for everyone”, stated H. Em. Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti during his first official visit to the EU institutions as President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) on 22-25 April.
As a sign of the great interest of the Italian Church for the European project, Cardinal Bassetti, together with Mgr. Mariano Crociata, new Vice-President of COMECE, and Mgr. Gianni Ambrosio, exchanged with high-level officials on current EU challenges.
This 3-days visit allowed them to listen to the different concerns and sensitivities of the EU representatives and to share with them the perspectives of the Catholic Church in Italy on European affairs.
The CEI delegation discussed on migration, employment, fundamental rights, family and youth. Cardinal Bassetti emphasised the need “to urgently identify concrete solutions applicable to all and respectful of human dignity”. He also noted that policies should not address migration as an emergency situation when it has now become a global structural issue impacting all humanity.
In his warm welcome to the delegation, Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, recalled his attachment to Article 17 as a reliable tool for the European Union in its bilateral dialogue with the Church in a multi-dimensional religious and denominational context.
During a cordial meeting with Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the EU Commission, the delegation appreciated his assertion highlighting the important responsibility of the EU institutions in preserving and promoting the whole architecture of fundamental rights.
In the context of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, evoking recent developments aimed at criminalising circumcision, Cardinal Bassetti stated that “initiatives that undermine the right to freedom of religion pose a threat to the entire system of fundamental rights”.
Luca Jahier, newly elected President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), and the Cardinal agreed on the interconnection of social realities and demography. As an illustration, they recalled the link made by Pope Francis between job-friendly policies and the capacity for young generations to found families and to be an active part of society.
At the end of his visit, Cardinal Bassetti expressed his gratitude to the Italian nationals serving as Parliamentarians, as well as at the Permanent Representation to the EU and in Catholic NGOs.
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