Final press release of the COMECE Plenary Assembly
On the eve of a crucial decade for the EU:
The Churches inaugurate an « open, transparent and regular » dialogue with the EU in order to together take on the challenges of the 21st century
Gathered for their Plenary Assembly in Brussels from 18 to 20 November, the Bishops of COMECE congratulate Mr Herman Van Rompuy on his appointment as the first President of the European Council yesterday, as well as Ms Catherine Ashton on her appointment as High Representative for Foreign Policy of the EU. The Bishops hope that these two personalities will promote a European Union which is conscious of its historical vocation for Peace and Justice in the entire world and which is determined to represent a communion in diversity. They invite the two new political leaders to found their political action at the head of the EU on care for the common good and for human dignity.
After the election of a new European Parliament in June, the creation of this new European executive and the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on the 1st of December, the European Union is finally equipped to face the urgent challenges of the next decade. More than ever, COMECE intends to accompany the EU in this task on the basis of an "open, transparent and regular dialogue" which the EU Institutions will from now on conduct with the Churches on the basis of Article 17 of the Treaty.
Mgr Adrianus van Luyn, President of COMECE, welcomes the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. By means of Article 17, the EU recognises the identity and the specific contribution of the Churches and will conduct a dialogue with them on this basis. COMECE takes comfort from the already fruitful practice of Dialogue with the EU institutions, which from now on can be intensified.
Religious freedom is a Fundamental right which COMECE has been promoting for many years. The Council of the EU adopted on 16 November last a Resolution which restates the intention of the Union "to continue to give priority to the issues (of freedom of religion or belief) as part of the European Union's human rights Policy" especially at bilateral and multilateral levels. The COMECE Bishops welcome this priority given to Religious freedom. In order to clarify this concept and its implication, the COMECE Secretariat will publish in the coming months a contribution concerning the promotion of religious freedom in EU Policies.
Among the urgent challenges awaiting the EU at the end of 2009, the Bishops of COMECE have examined the issue of the Copenhagen summit on the occasion of their Plenary Assembly. They call on European leaders to keep to their responsibility in the negotiations. Climate change represents a threat to the future of Creation. Faced with this historical challenge, the EU must commit to clear and ambitious goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the EU must support the developing countries which are gravely affected by this phenomenon.
Finally, the Bishops examined the initiative of the International Catholic Movement for Peace « Pax Christi » concerning the renegotiation of the Treaty on non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. They tasked the COMECE Secretariat with the drafting of a contribution to be addressed to the EU aimed at accompanying the political process for the purpose of achieving a total ban of nuclear weapons.