Austrian Bishops meet in Brussels in a clear sign of support for Europe
For the first time ever, a meeting of a national Bishops’ Conference took place in Brussels. Under the Chairmanship of Cardinal Schönborn, the Plenary Assembly of the Austrian Bishops gathered together from 5 to 8 November in the COMECE premises to deliver a clear sign of support for Europe. “Europe needs Solidarity from all quarters “ explained Cardinal Schönborn.
“As COMECE President, I am glad that such a meeting is taking place in the EU capital,” indicated Cardinal Marx. “It shows that the Catholic Church is willing to accompany the project of European integration at all levels: the universal one, through the representation of the Holy See to the EU; the European one, through the activities of the permanent COMECE Secretariat in Brussels; but also at the national level, through the participation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in the political and ethical debates on the EU. My wish therefore is that this meeting inspires other Bishops from the EU Member States to follow a similar initiative.“
Besides their Plenary Assembly, the Austrian Bishops conducted dialogues with several representatives from the EU institutions, among whom were EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn and the Vice President of the European Parliament Othmar Karas. All Dialogue partners from the EU institutions welcomed this positive initiative of the Austrian Bishops. It was considered to be very helpful, as well as unusual, that Church representatives were seeking a dialogue with the EU on the basis of a genuine interest and commitment to the European peace project. The EU representatives emphasised that Churches were an important partner in promoting and communicating European values.
On Thursday the Austrian Bishops, together with MEPs, inaugurated an exhibition in the European Parliament dedicated to Hildegard Burjan (1883-1933). She lived in Vienna and she is the first parliamentarian in the world to have been beatified by the Catholic Church - in January this year. As a politician, social pioneer and founder of the religious order “Caritas socialis” she has become today “an inspiring example for all those who, in the spirit of ‘love thy neighbour’, act as an advocate for people in need” emphasised Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna and President of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference.
COMECE is the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, and comprises 26 Bishops representing all Member States of the EU. For more than thirty years now, COMECE has been accompanying the process of European integration, and offering its reflections. COMECE is now a partner of the EU institutions in the dialogue foreseen by Article 17 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.