Press Release

Assembly adopts declaration calling on the EU to offer a renewed vision for justice and peace

The Bishops of the European Union, gathered in Brussels for the 2023 Autumn COMECE Plenary Assembly, adopt a statement on peace in the context of the serious deterioration of international security, on Friday 10 November 2023. EU Bishops: “We call on Europe to offer a renewed vision for justice and peace”. Read the declaration [ENITFRCZ]

Bishops of the 2023 Autumn Plenary Assembly of COMECE, held in Brussels on 8-10 November 2023. (Photo: COMECE)

Bishops express their deep concern about the serious deterioration of international security and peace. The world seems to be regressing into a dangerous dynamic, reminiscent of some of the darkest hours of humankind which were meant to remain in history books– the statement reads.

With particular attention to Russia’s war against Ukraine, to the pain of the Armenian people in the Caucasus and to the suffering of civilians in Israel and Palestine, the Bishops of the European Union are also concerned about the repercussions of such international polarisation and regional instabilities for European societies, “stirring up fears, weakening dialogue and threatening social cohesion”.

H.Em. Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, participating via remoto in the COMECE Assembly. (Photo: COMECE)

The Bishops “strongly condemn all forms and expression of anti-Semitism, radicalisation and xenophobia, often […] resulting in violent extremism and terrorism”, which have been gaining ground in several European countries.

In this current context and in view of the 2024 European elections, the COMECE Assembly calls upon the EU leaders, as well as all European citizens, to work towards “a Europe which fully employs its potential to settle conflicts and to light lamps of hope, acting as a united, trustful and integrating force, cherishing democratic principles and the rule of law, within and outside its borders”.

COMECE also encourages European and national political representatives to play an active role in shaping and offering to the continent and to the world a renewed vision for stability, justice and peace.  “While not giving in to a logic of war, the European Union should open up new processes of dialogue and develop a coherent diplomacy of peace [and] show leadership in rebuilding a global architecture of peace rooted in effective multilateralism and respect for international law” – the declaration reads.

The declaration was elaborated following a series of stimulating exchanges with high-level EU and Church representatives. This dialogue offered the EU Bishops not only the opportunity to discuss ongoing crises in the European Neighborhood, but also to reflect on the socio-economic and democratic challenges in view of the 2024 elections.

Bishop Delegates of the EU Episcopates gathered in Brussels for the 2023 Autumn Plenary Assembly of COMECE. (Photo: COMECE)

H.Em. Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, together with His Beatitude, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, offered powerful insights concerning the current wave of violence in the Holy Land and as a result of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

Cardinal Pizzaballa urged to avoid falling in a fight of narratives, which depict a simplistic vision of a complex conflict. He also highlighted the crucial role of the Christian community in the region as peacemakers in this heartbreaking situation. Sharing the pain of his martyred Ukrainian people, Major Archbishop Shevchuk recalled that “Ukraine is a young state but an ancient European nation with a European identity”.

The 2023 Autumn Plenary Assembly of COMECE also featured the participation of Othmar Karas and Pedro Silva Pereira, Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament.

They outlined some of the main challenges that EU societies are facing in view of next year’s elections: peace and war, the fight against poverty and inequality, migration, environment. Read VP Othmar Karas’ speech

Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto, reconfirmed as General Secretary of COMECE for another 4-year mandate. (Photo: COMECE)

A panoramic view of the ongoing polarisation of the international community and of the delegitimisation of multilateral institutions was offered by Federica Mogherini, Rector of the College of Europe and former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The Assembly also confirmed Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto as General Secretary of COMECE for a second mandate of 4 years.

A Mass for Europe was celebrated Wednesday 8 November at the Église Notre-Dame des Victoires au Sablon in Brussels. The service was presided by H.E. Mgr. Mariano Crociata, President of COMECE, and co-celebrated by all Bishops delegated by the EU Episcopates and by H.E. Mgr. Luc Terlinden, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels. Read the homily offered by the President of COMECE

The next Plenary Assembly of COMECE will take place in Poland on 17-19 April 2024.

Statement of the Assembly: [ENITFRCZ]
Report of the COMECE President [IT]
Speech of VP Othmar Karas [IT]
Homily offered by Mgr. Crociata [IT]