Autumn Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of COMECE:
The external action of the EU: current challenges and perspectives
Considering the desperate situation of Iraqi refugees – in particular Christians who are described as “most vulnerable” by the UNHCR – the Bishops of COMECE call upon the EU and its Member States to agree as soon as possible on the admission of more Iraqi refugees in the next two years. Furthermore, they asked, as a priority, that diseased children of refugees from the region shall be treated in Europe.
The Bishops of COMECE (Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community) met for their Autumn Plenary Assembly from 21 to 23 November in Brussels. The main topic was: The external action of the EU: current challenges and perspectives.
Besides the situation of refugees in Iraq, the Bishops delegated by the 24 Bishops’ Conferences examined also the state of play of the cooperation of the EU with Africa. On the question of the future status of Kosovo, the Bishops expressed their hope that the Member States of the EU will be able to preserve a common position with regard to the crisis.
On Thursday 22 November, Elmar Brok, MEP, (PPE-ED) presented the new instruments set out in the future Treaty of Lisbon, especially the creation of the position of a High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs who will also be vice President of the Commission. The Bishops of COMECE formulated the wish that these provisions would reinforce the cohesion and the effectiveness of the external action of the EU.
Since the future High Representative will also have to defend the respect for religious freedom in the different areas of conflict around the world, the Bishops of COMECE propose that s/he establishes a regular contact with the Churches and Communities of Faith. Another suggestion would be to establish a unit in the future External Action Service to take account, where necessary, of the religious dimension of the international questions.
In this context, the COMECE Bishops welcomed the Resolution adopted on 15 November by the European Parliament on “Serious events which compromise Christian communities' existence and those of other religious communities”.
Finally, the Bishops of COMECE are pleased by the growing number of Christian assemblies which marked the year 2007 in Europe. Together with the numerous pilgrimages and a great variety of other initiatives, these meetings indicate a convergence of European peoples and cultures, making the ‘Church in Europe more’ visible.
 Congress of COMECE and partner movements ”Values and Perspectives of the EU” in March in Rome, ecumenical meeting ”Together for Europe” in May in Stuttgart (Germany), 7th Convention of Gniezno (Poland) on ”Man – the way for Europe” in June, 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly ”The Light of Christ shines upon all ” in Sibiu (Romania) in September, Settimane Sociali in October in Pisa (Italy) on “The common good today”, Semaines sociales de France in Paris on “Living differently-For a durable and solidary development” in November.