23 March 2023

🔴 ASSEMBLY | Pope Francis receives the Bishops of the European Union: “advance the cause of peace”

Pope Francis addressed the Bishops of the European Union and their new Presidency on Thursday 23 March 2023. The Holy Father asked them to never lose sight of “the two great dreams of Europe’s founding fathers: the dream of unity and the dream of peace”. Read Pope Francis’ speech

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On the second day of the Assembly, the Bishops of the European Union were received by Pope Francis in a special audience dedicated to the role of COMECE as bridge between the Catholic Church and the EU institutions.

Pope Francis highlighted that Europe “cannot be a uniform, homogenising unity [but one] that respects and values the singularities, the peculiarities of the peoples and cultures that make it up”.

In the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine, Pope Francis stated that “war cannot and must no longer be considered as a solution to conflicts. If the countries of today’s Europe do not share this ethical-political principle – the Holy Father continued – then it means that they have strayed from the original dream. If, on the other hand, they do share it, they must commit themselves to implementing it, with all the effort and complexity that the historical situation requires.

Furthermore, the Holy Father exhorted the EU Bishops to keep being builders of encounter and dialogue, promoting the cause of peace with prophecy and creativity, never losing sight of “the two great dreams of Europe’s founding fathers: the dream of unity and the dream of peace”.

The audience was an opportunity to introduce to Pope Francis the newly elected Presidency of COMECE, composed of President Mgr. Mariano Crociata (Italy), First Vice-President Mgr. Antoine Hérouard (France), Vice-President Mgr. Nuno Brás da Silva Martins (Portugal), Vice-President Mgr. Rimantas Norvila (Lithuania) and Vice-President Mgr. Czeslaw Kozon (Nordic Bishops’ Conference). Click here to read the Press Release on the election.

We are convinced – Mgr. Mariano Crociata said to Pope Francis – that only by witnessing unity can the presence and action of the Church be effective in a European journey marked by ever new crises, most recently the war in Ukraine”.
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The President of COMECE warmly thanked the Holy Father for his support to the dialogue mission of COMECE in Brussels. It is a unique grace for us to be able to begin this new five-year term of service at COMECE by welcoming the gift of your word and blessings”, he said.

During the second day of the 2023 Spring Plenary Assembly, the Bishops of COMECE also had a dialogue meeting with H.E. Mgr. Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. Together, they had an extensive exchange on some of the most pressing challenges in Europe and on the international scene.

The Assembly also included a meeting with H.E. Alexandra Valkenburg, EU Ambassador to the Holy See, and session dedicated to the COMECE Youth Net, a consultative body launched by COMECE in October 2022 to promote the concrete participation of young European Catholics in shaping EU policies.

In the evening, the EU Bishops were received by H.Em. Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, President of the Italian Bishops’ Conferece (CEI). “We express our gratitude to the Bishops Delegates of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union for electing Bishop Mariano Crociata as President of COMECE”, reads his statementreleased earlier during the day. “We are convinced – Cardinal Zuppi said – that Bishop Crociata will be able to make a valuable contribution in addressing the many challenges our continent is facing”.

On Friday 24 March 2023, the Assembly will have a meeting with Antonio Tajani, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vice-President of the European Popular Party (EPP) and former President of the European Parliament.

Pope Francis’ address to the EU Bishops
COMECE President’s address to Pope Francis
Card. Zuppi statement on the election of Mgr. Crociata


Alessandro Di Maio
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The Catholic Church in the European Union

Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences
of the European Union