COMECE Spring Plenary Assembly 18-20 March 2009
On Wednesday 18th March, the COMECE Bishops inaugurated the new COMECE premises by blessing the Chapel which is located at the entrance of the building - dedicated to the patron saints of Europe, Saint Benedict and Saint Theresa Benedict of the Cross (Edith Stein)- and the offices of the COMECE Secretariat. The Inauguration Mass was conducted by Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Archbishop of Malines-Brussels.
During the Inauguration reception, Bishop van Luyn, the President of COMECE expressed the wish that this new home will serve the soul and unity of Europe. The European Commissioner Vladimir Spidla said “I think it is important that we bring forward our exchanges on issues which are, I believe, at the heart of the construction of a social Europe (...) Churches can shine a light on the whole range of these questions.“ For the European Parliament, the German MEP Ingo Friedrich remarked that “Churches have always been and remain important and reliable partners for policy makers”.
This Plenary Assembly concentrated on the conflicts in the Middle East and in southern Asia. On this topic, the main keynote speakers were Fr. Klaus Krämer and Mr. Othmar Öhring (Missio Aachen), the NATO Secretary General Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Mr. Christian Jouret, from the EU Council General Secretariat.
The Bishop Members of COMECE also adopted a declaration in respect of the European elections of 4-7th June 2009. In the text they call on EU citizens, and in particular Christians, to exercise their responsibility as voters in order to contribute to a European Union where “all Europeans will feel at home”.
During this Plenary Assembly, the Bishops also renewed the Presidium of COMECE. Bishop Adrianus van Luyn was reappointed as the Head of COMECE for a second mandate. The vice presidents are Bishop Piotr Jarecki (auxiliary Bishop of Warsaw) and Bishop Reinhard Marx (Archbishop of Munich-Freising). Bishop Darmuid Martin has stepped down from his mandate as vice-president and COMECE Member for Ireland. He has been replaced by Noël Treanor, the Bishop of Down & Connor. Gianni Ambrosio, Bishop of Piacenza-Bobbio, is the new delegate of the Italian Bishops’ Conference to COMECE. The Bishops also nominated Mr Michael Kuhn as deputy secretary general of COMECE.
Concluding this Plenary Assembly, the Bishops of COMECE were given a presentation on the outcome of the European Council of 19-20 March by Mr Alexandr Vondra, deputy Prime Minister of the Czech republic, in charge of European affairs.
Attachment: Declaration of the COMECE Bishops in view of the European elections