“We are at a decisive moment for the future of Europe”
This is the statement of Cardinal Reinhard Marx after his election as the new President of the Commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in the EU. The Archbishop of Munich and Freising was elected by the Bishop Members on 22 March 2012 for a 3-year term of office as the COMECE Chair. He will be assisted by four Vice-Presidents: Mgr Gianni Ambrosio (Bishop of Piacenza-Bobbio, Italy), Mgr Virgil Bercea (Bishop of Oradea Mare, Romania), Mgr Jarecki (Auxiliary Bishop of Warsaw, Poland) and Mgr Jean Kockerols (Auxiliary Bishop of Brussels-Malines, Belgium).
Cardinal Marx has been a member of COMECE since 2006, Chair of its Social Affairs Commission and Vice President of COMECE since 2009. He stated: “Regarding the economic and financial crisis, which is striking our continent, I strongly believe that the European Union has the powers and the potential to overcome this situation. A global crisis requires a common response. We need to rediscover the sense of responsibility and togetherness. This is a prerequisite for being able to solve our common problems. We are at a decisive moment for the future of Europe”.
Besides the election of the Presidium, the 23 Bishops who participated in the Spring Plenary Assembly (21-23 March 2012) also discussed the main topic of this session, “Active ageing and intergenerational solidarity” with several experts from the European Commission, from the academic field and from the Catholic lay community Sant’Egidio.
The COMECE Bishops would like to reaffirm that ageing should not be considered simply as a burden but as a benefit for society: elderly people are gifted with professional and life experience which has to be passed on to the younger generations. The willingness of elderly people to engage in volunteering activities, in civic movements and especially in pastoral work within parishes and church communities, is crucial for the common good of our societies. Generations cannot live only for themselves but they have to rely on each other. The Dialogue and Solidarity between elder and younger generation is the basis of the human development of our societies: it brings hope and personal fulfilment.
The key role of the family in looking after elderly people requires the support of the State and other public bodies. This can, for example, take the form of paid time off for care workers. It is also important to recognise the value, including the economic value, of family care in the home for elderly members. This must be reinforced by financial and other types of support. Furthermore, the time spent at home for family care commitments should be taken into account in assessing the terms for retirement and pensions.
Because the evidence suggests that people in Europe aspire to have more children than they in fact have, there is a need for policies which can turn these unfulfilled desires into reality. But the appropriate conditions have first to be put in place: for example, family-friendly fiscal policies, child-care facilities and other measures for a better balance between work and family life.
Presentation of the new Presidium here
The Cardinal and the 4 Vice Presidents will participate in a
Today at 14:30 at COMECE
19 square de Meeûs, 1050 Brussels
Press contact: Johanna Touzel, COMECE Press officer Tel +32 2 235 05 15