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Pope tells EU Bishops to advance the cause of peace

Pope Francis addresses EU bishops who have just elected Mariano Crociata as their new president, and invites them to continue to pursue the cause of peace.

By Linda Bordoni

Pope Francis addressed European Union’s bishops and their new President, Archbishop Mariano Crociata, and asked them to never lose sight of the “the two great dreams of Europe’s founding fathers: the dream of unity and the dream of peace.”

Present for the audience on Thursday morning, were the Delegates of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) who elected Crociata on Wednesday at the conclusion of their Spring Plenary Assembly. On the same occasion, four Vice-Presidents were also elected: Bishops Antoine Hérouard, Nuno Bras da Silva Martins, Rimantas Norvila and Czeslaw Kozon.

The Pope invited the EU bishops to continue keeping their eyes on a horizon defined by the inspiring values of the Europe project: unity and peace.

Unity in diversity

On the first point, the Holy Father said, it is clear that European unity “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.”

Recalling their different nationalities and cultures, he likened the richness of Europe to “the convergence of different sources of thought and historical experience.”

“Like a river, it lives from its tributaries. If the tributaries are weakened or blocked, the whole river suffers and loses strength.”

Europe, the Pope said, “has a future if it is truly a union,” not just a synthesis of countries with their respective characteristics.

The challenge, he added, is unity in diversity. And is possible if there is a strong inspiration that goes beyond a technocratic paradigm and is capable of enthusing people and attracting new generations in the building of a common project.

Reflecting on how much has changed since the founding of the European Union, the Pope said the Church has the responsibility to “train people who, reading the signs of the times, know how to interpret the European project in today’s history.”

COMECE delegattes at audience with Pope Francis

COMECE delegattes at audience with Pope Francis

Cohesive commitment to peace

Regarding the dream of peace, the Pope said “Today’s history needs men and women animated by the dream of a united Europe in the service of peace.”

He recalled how after WWII the continent experienced the longest period of peace in its history. He decried the many wars that followed in different parts of the world, some of them “dragging on for years,” until now “one can now speak of a third world war.”

“The war in Ukraine is near, and has shaken European peace.”

The Pope noted that neighbouring nations have done their utmost to welcome the refugees and upheld the fact that all European peoples participate in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

“This choral response on the level of charity should be matched – but it is clear that this is neither easy nor obvious – by a cohesive commitment to peace,” he said.

Acknowledging the complexity of this that derives from the fact that the different countries of the European Union “are involved in multiple alliances, interests, strategies, a range of forces that are difficult to bring together into a single project,” the Pope said there is one principle should be shared by all with clarity and determination: “war cannot and must no longer be considered as a solution to conflicts.”

“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, then it means 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,” he said.

“War is a failure of politics and humanity.”

A bridge between the Churches and the institutions

Pope Francis concluded reminding those present of their responsibility to be “a bridge between the Churches in Europe and the institutions of the Union.”

“You are by mission builders of relations, of encounter, of dialogue. And this is already working for peace. But it is not enough,” he said.

“It takes prophecy, it takes foresight, it takes creativity to advance the cause of peace. Both architects and craftsmen are needed in this building site; but I would say that the true builder of peace must be both architect and craftsman.”

Pope Francis and the newly elected President and Vice-Presidents of COMECE

Pope Francis and the newly elected President and Vice-Presidents of COMECE

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