The Bishops of the European Union will gather in Rome on 22-24 March 2023 to elect their new Presidency. The election will take place in the context of the COMECE Spring Assembly, which will feature in its agenda an audience with Pope Francis and a dialogue session with the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani.
During the first day of the Assembly, on Wednesday 22 March, the Delegates of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) will elect a new President and four Vice-Presidents for a five-year mandate covering the period 2023-2028.
The future President will succeed to H.Em. Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, Archbishop of Luxembourg, who was elected in 2018 and held the reins of COMECE during a period marked by daunting challenges such as Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The four Vice-Presidents will be elected respecting the geographical distribution of the EU Bishops’ Conferences. Among them, the Assembly will elect a First Vice-President. The current Vice-Presidents are Mgr. Mariano Crociata (First Vice-President), Mgr. Jan Vokal and Mgr. Franz-Josef Overbeck. Mgr. Noël Treanor, former Vice-President of COMECE, was appointed by Pope Francis as Apostolic Nuncio to the European Union in November 2022. The election procedures are defined in detail in the COMECE Statute, which is available here. The list of the COMECE Bishops is available here.
On the same day, the EU Bishops will meet with H.Em. Pietro Parolin, Cardinal Secretary of State of His Holiness. His last participation to a COMECE Assembly dates back to October 2020. On that occasion, Cardinal Parolin shared Pope Francis’ message to the EU Bishops on the occasion of the 40-year anniversary of COMECE.
On Thursday 23 March, the new Presidency, as well as all EU Bishop Delegates and the members of the COMECE Secretariat and their families, will be received by Pope Francis. The audience will provide a welcome opportunity to discuss with the Holy Father some of the most crucial topics for Europe, with a particular emphasis on the promotion of peace, on EU migration and asylum policies and on the 2024 elections of the European Parliament.
On the same day, the EU Bishops will also have a dialogue meeting with H.E. Alexandra Valkenburg, EU Ambassador to the Holy See. In the afternoon, H.E. Mgr. Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States will address the Bishops of COMECE. In the evening, they will visit the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) and celebrate the Holy Mass with H.Em. Cardinal Matteo Zuppi.
On Friday 24 March, the Assembly will elect the Presidents of the COMECE Commissions. Currently, there are three Commissions: Legal Affairs, Social Affairs and EU External Action. Finally, the COMECE Assembly will have a dialogue meeting with Antonio Tajani, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vice-President of the European Popular Party (EPP) and former President of the European Parliament.
The COMECE Plenary Assembly is a closed-door event. Journalists and media operators interested in covering the event are strongly encouraged to contact the Press Office of COMECE.