- Gathered in our Assembly in Poznań, Poland, as Bishops of the Council of European Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, to engage in a reflection on the spirit of solidarity in Europe, first of all we would like to express our closeness to the Holy Father Francis, offer him our prayers, thank him for the precious message he has sent us, and for having summoned the Presidents of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences from around the world – in February 2019 – to reflect together on child abuse. In his message, the Pope urges us to strengthen the bonds of communication and communion among European Churches, with a special focus on younger generations. Our profound gratitude also extends to the Archdiocese of Poznań and its Archbishop, H. Ex. Msgr. Stanisław Gądecki, who organized our annual Plenary Assembly in the best possible way. The fact that it was held in Poznań shows our renewed commitment to the evangelization of the human and Christian value of solidarity. As a matter of fact, after having provided the tragic backdrop to two world wars, Europe must develop a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, breathing the wholesome air of solidarity through both its Christian lungs –East and West.
- Our mission as Pastors brings us among the people and our hearts listen to the cry coming from intense physical and moral suffering, whether near or far. All this finds a deep echo in our hearts with joy and pain, at times. Among the many themes we had the opportunity to discuss, we paid special attention to solidarity, which led us to focus on volunteer work, whose relevance was illustrated by Dr. P. Wojciech Sadłoń, whom we thank wholeheartedly. Volunteer work involves millions of Christians in Europe. It is a remarkable and pervasive activity that can reach many poor and marginalized people who live in our opulent societies with a peculiar dynamism of love. This is a very lively chapter in the life of our Churches. Through the Christians who engage in volunteer work, they can be like the Good Samaritan of the Gospel. We wish to express our closeness, encouraging support, and gratitude to the Christians who engage in volunteer work, whether it is organized or spontaneous, structured or occasional.
- We want to make the formation that is required nowadays more intense and consistent, starting from spiritual formation as allegiance to our Lord Jesus Christ: the more we feed on His Word and the sacraments, the more the urgency of love and the quality of our testimony grow. We are deeply convinced that the experience of faith and the service of love must be closely interconnected, for the sake of all and the sake of creation. We are aware that this is the way to reach out to our many brothers and sisters in need, but also to revitalize our pastoral activity and evangelize new forms of poverty, as Pope Francis wrote in Evangelii gaudium: the lack of respect for life, the breakdown of the families, the imposition of gender culture, the limitation of our freedom, including religious freedom, and the plight of migrants and refugees. This is where ecumenical and interreligious dialogue come into play, and civil dialogue broadly speaking. They are so necessary in the current times our Continent is going through, due to the growing tensions it is experiencing. On this front too, Christians who engage in volunteer work can cultivate significant synergies in a framework of renewed solidarity for justice, peace, and active subsidiarity.
- Solidarity reflects Trinitarian Love: in fact, each person originates from the Trinitarian womb and carries its image, which gives each person an incomparable and inviolable dignity. As Church, we are called to continuously convert to Trinitarian Love, to experience solidarity and service, mostly as an exchange of the spiritual gifts that characterize our Continent’s Christian and Catholic traditions. On this point, and treasuring what has emerged during our Assembly, we need to identify additional avenues of collaboration among our Churches.
- The bishops also tackled the issue of migrations, considering the different situations and choices made by their respective governments and in the light of the Gospel. We are not geopolitical experts however, as Pastors, we are involved in the actual life of our communities in all circumstances. We acknowledge the great complexity of this theme, but we reiterate, together with the Holy Father Francis, that solidarity is the unavoidable path to solving national, international, and global problems. This path includes openness and integration in any possible form. Individualistic culture, which seems to be prevailing as a pensée unique, leads to a purely economic view of things where solidarity has no place, weaker individuals are considered burdens, and immigrants are viewed as foreigners.
To our Lady of Sorrows, whom we evoked during our Assembly, we ask the grace to protect the European Continent and support our endeavors with her motherly protection.