Churches meet with Italian EU Presidency
In the closing days of the Italian EU Presidency, Italy’s.Foreign Minister Paolo Gentilioni met with a joint delegation of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) on 18 December in Rome. Delegates present at the meeting urged the presidency for concrete action on youth unemployment, migration, and freedom of religion and belief.
The minister opened with the employment dossier; the delegation highlighted the constellation of social problems associated with youth unemployment, including overall working conditions and quality of work. The delegates asserted that a shared weekly day of rest, among the other practical measures they recommended, would contribute to improving this situation.
Deep concern was expressed for the treatment of migrants arriving in Europe via the Mediterranean and for their overall wellbeing. Crucially, Minister Gentilioni agreed with the delegation’s suggestion that search and rescue operations in this region must be an overall European responsibility.
Finally, on the matter of freedom of religion and belief, the minister’s attention was drawn to difficulties encountered by minority churches in Italy, often composed largely of migrants.
Minister Gentilioni assured the delegation that their concerns would be taken up in the priorities of the incoming Latvian Presidency in the first semester of 2015.
The meeting took place within the framework of Article 17 of the EU Treaty establishing a regular dialogue between churches and the EU.
- Bishop Gianni Ambrosio, Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio, Vice President of COMECE
- Rev. Luca Baratto, Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy
- Alessandro Calcagno, Legal advisor for Fundamental Rights, COMECE Secretariat
- Father Patrick Daly, General Secretary, COMECE
- Rev. Frank-Dieter Fischbach, Executive Secretary, CEC
- Rev. Dr. Guy Liagre, General Secretary, CEC
- Ms. Doris Peschke, General Secretary, Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME)
- Professor Venerando Marano, Head of the Juridical-Legislative Observatory of the Italian Bishops' Conference
COMECE is the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, and comprises 27 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.