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CEE holds meeting on Church in Europe
(Vatican Radio) Ten years after the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Europa", the operators of social communications have examined the challenges facing the Church's missionary work in Europe today. The annual meeting of the Spokesperson and Press Officers promoted by CCEE took place June 12 through 15 in Bucharest, Romania, at the invitation of the Archbishop of the Romanian Capital City and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Romania, Mgr. Ioan Robu.
Jesus Christ, who lives in his Church, is a source of hope for Europe. Today, more than ever, the message of hope of the Apostolic Exhortation seems prophetic and topical for Europe. Our Continent, in fact, seems to go through a time of bewilderment and dimming of hope. In this phase of crisis, many people feel confused and disappointed by the institutions and have lost the points of reference that had so far withstood our societies of the Old Continent. The Europe of 2013 seems to be run through more by a wave of uncertainty then by the desire of future. This crisis, though, is not only economic, but also cultural, anthropological, ethical and spiritual; it is an opportunity for Europe to get rid of practical agnosticism and religious indifferentism and take decisions about its own future out of the encounter with the Person and the message of Jesus Christ (cf. Ecclesia in Europa, 2).
The main challenge therefore is to understand who is the European man of 2013 and where he is heading to. How can the Catholic Church be at his side, help him to integrate the message of the Gospel in his daily experience and bring forward the proposal, with new words and modern tools, also in terms of communication, concerning the person of Jesus and the values which can be found in his gospel.
The Europe of 2013
Through the help of some experts - Prof. Andrea Pin, researcher and adjunct professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Padua, Italy, Mgr. Piotr Mazurkiewicz, official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and Prof. Manfred Spieker, who holds a chair of Social Sciences at the University of Osnabrück, Germany, the participants have discussed about the changes taking place in Europe today.
In the last few years, several elements testify the changes in progress in the fields of politics, economy and law. We are witnessing, for example, a multiplication of rights: the so-called new rights – i.e., individual rights – which are the very fruits of a society where individualism reigns, where everything that is possible must be made lawful by means of the law. These same new rights seem to have developed in parallel with the expansion of the logic of economy in our society. In fact, the current economic crisis and its answers clearly show how the economy is becoming the benchmark for evaluating rules and is subtracting decisional power to the individuals (and to democracy); economic programs (and not social issues) often hold the balance in general elections. Broadly speaking, the economy has become the highway through which individual rights find their way of access, whose paradigm of reference is an ethos that does not require to look into one's conscience about what is the truth. At the same time, this system is already showing off its limits. Our everyday experience testifies that these rights do not comply with what they promise.
Gender theory, euthanasia and culture of death
During the meeting we also analyzed topics such as the gender theory, euthanasia, and the language of the culture of death. It is particularly significant to note how often people use a law-based language – the right to reproductive health to justify abortion or the right to self-determination and to actively assisted death to justify euthanasia – to foster a practice, a culture of death which is the ultimate man's attempt to replace God: to be the masters of life rather than its mere administrators.
We have also analyzed from the perspective of communication some initiatives related to these themes, such as the "manif pour tous" (rally for everyone) and the campaign of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales against same sex marriage. The resulting picture clearly testifies to the "fracture" that has come about in these countries between representative democracy (the elect) and participatory democracy (the people who do not feel represented), thus showing how on these issues, the social debate is extremely necessary and, at the same time, how it poses new challenges to the Church.
In general, from the reflections and the debate in the plenary session, it clearly came out that the question is ultimately of an anthropological nature: what idea of man Europe wants to deliver to the future?
Copyright and Privacy
Thanks to the intervention of Ms. Elvana Thaçi, Head of the "Internet Governance" Unit - Directorate "Information Society and Action against Crime" (Council of Europe), we could check the state-of-the-art on the issues of copyright and privacy and their effects on the life of the Church (as an institution) and the faithful. The challenge is to regulate the relationship between two fundamental rights: the right to intellectual property and the right to freedom of expression. In fact, in many cases, especially with the expansion of the Internet, these rights eventually collide. Particular attention has been given to the protection and treatment of private data.
News.va and PopeApp
During the meeting, Mr. Thaddeus Milton Jones of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (Vatican) brought us the greetings of the President of that Roman dicastery, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, and presented the many activities of his pontifical council, particularly in the field of the new media (PopeApp, the twitter account Pontifex, etc.) and the union of the various instruments of communication of the Holy See in the multilingual portal .
The participants have been briefed on the situation of Christians in Romania and on the commitment of the Romanian Church in the field of social communications by Fr. Eduard Mihai Cosa, Secretary General of the Romanian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CER), by Msgr. Cornel Damian, Auxiliary Bishop of Bucharest, and by Fr. Francisc Dobos, spokesman of CER and co-organizer of the meeting. Romania, a bridge country between East and West, is a specific and very complex reality where we see a coexistence, not without tensions, of various Christian denominations (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant) and linguistic minorities (Hungarian and German). In recent years, the Catholic dioceses have invested heavily on communication, also thanks to the new means of social communications and the Internet. Virtually every diocese is equipped with a press office and a website.
The Bishops' Conference of Romania, which is bi-ritual, as it includes bishops of Latin rite and Greek-catholic bishops, is specially engaged in the preparations for the beatification (August 31) of the Venerable Vladimir Ghika (who died in 1954), a Romanian intellectual and priest, who suffered martyrdom under the Communist regime. The testimony of many Christian religious and lay faithful who suffered persecution during the dark years of communism was presented by Mgr. Mihai Fratila, Greek-catholic bishop of Bucarest, and Fr. Francisc Ungureanu, postulator of the cause of beatification of the Venerable Ghika. The testimony of these men and these women has allowed the Church to survive during the totalitarian regime and it is an incentive for leading to the fall of the masks of suspect which are still very strong in the country.
The meeting concluded with an open discussion on some particularly important events in the life of the Church in recent months (Vatileaks, the renunciation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis) and a presentation of the activities of CCEE and ComECE.