We must learn to be missionary and to ingrain in CCEE and in Europe the synodal style, not one against the other, but one with the other – said the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, who took part in the Plenary Assembly of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE). The meeting was held November 27-30, 2023, in Valletta, Malta, at the invitation of Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Metropolitan of Malta.
The meeting addressed three issues: the Synod, supranational structures, and the update of the Ecumenical Charter. Cardinal Mario Grech, General Secretary of the Synod on Synodality, presented the state of preparations for the second Roman session of the Synod, which will take place in October 2024. Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, CCEE Vice Chair and General Relator of the Synod of Bishops, presented the relationship between supranational structures and synodality. In turn, Cardinal Grzegorz Ryś, Metropolitan of Łódź, reported on the state of play of the working group for the revision of the Charta Oecumenica, the common document on cooperation between Christian Churches on the European continent.
Archbishop Gądecki noted that Cardinal Hollerich had posed two questions regarding universality and supranational structures and the future of the CCEE. “Responding during the various proposals to the first question, i.e. what supranational matters could be, Cardinal Hollerich pointed out that structures of this kind already exist, examples being the conferences organised in southern Europe, in Budapest, in the Balkan countries, which bring several episcopal conferences together. The Mediterranean is a recent example of this. Through modern means of communication, it is possible to save time and communicate online, which would be to the greater benefit of the dioceses themselves. As far as the future of the CCEE is concerned, in the face of secularisation, one sees the need to intensify the process of evangelisation and mission, which is the primary goal of the Church”, emphasised Archbishop Gądecki.
Chairman of the Polish Bishops’ Conference indicated that the CCEE structures are weaker than other continental ecclesiastical structures, such as CELAM and SECAM, and that in Europe there are far more languages than in the other continents, which results in a greater prominence of individual rather than community features. Archbishop Gądecki added that we must “therefore learn to be missionary and to ingrain in CCEE and in Europe the synodal style, not one against the other, but one with the other”.
The final communiqué of the CCEE Plenary Session reads, among others: “Among the challenges facing the Church were the defence of life and human dignity, the prominence of young people, new waves of migration, the hidden persecution of Christians in Europe and the new frontiers of artificial intelligence. The greatest challenge remains that of evangelisation, to proclaim in a Europe increasingly tempted by secularism, fundamentalism and populist nationalism, the joy of the Gospel that springs from the encounter with Christ”. Further on, the document indicates: “The European bishops also looked with concern at the current situations of war: the one in Ukraine, now in its second year, the scenes in Nagorno Karabakh and the conflict in the Holy Land, reiterating their “no” to war and renewing their call for a definitive ceasefire, for the release of hostages and for humanitarian corridors to be kept open in Gaza”.
At the end of their work, the bishops unanimously resolved to move the CCEE headquarters from St. Gallen (Switzerland) to Rome in 2024 and, at the same time, expressed their gratitude to the Swiss Church, and in particular to the diocese of St. Gallen, for the welcome and generosity with which they have accompanied the work of the CCEE Secretariat over all these years.
The following CCEE Plenary Meeting will take place in Belgrade on June 24-27, 2024.
CCEE / Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference
Translated by Marcin Turski / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference