CCEE Plenary: Bishops’ message, “eliminating or denying citizenship to God is no guarantee to development, but the source of spiritual and moral impoverishment”

“Eliminating or denying citizenship to the God of Jesus Christ is no guarantee to development, it is rather the source of spiritual and moral impoverishment that characterizes our times and, in the long run, also generates social, economic, and cultural impoverishment”. The bishop-presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe issued this message at the end of their plenary meeting in the Principality of Monaco, during which they also elected Card. Angelo Bagnasco as their new chair, calling on Europe not to confine Christianity to a marginal role. “Religions, when authentic, always aim at being a factor of human growth and complete development”, the bishops wrote in their message. “In this perspective, we hope that even in Europe – where there are many socio-cultural signs pointing towards a marginal role assigned to Christianity through discriminatory practices – we carefully consider that a healthy secularism implies the recognition of the true value of religion in society and in the life of peoples”. During their plenary meeting, the bishops also dealt with the tragic urgency of the growing acts of persecution against many Christians in various parts of the world. “We strongly express our firm condemnation of these events – the statement reads – which affect human rights and especially religious freedom. These are manifestations of an irrational violence which is fuelled, too often, by a call to religious motivations that are an abuse and an insult to the very name of God”. The bishops went on to recall that Pope Francis had, on many occasions, denounced the “unjust reference to God in the practice of violence”, and made the following appeal to governments and world leaders: “As bishops gathered in Monaco and moved by a pastoral concern, we call on those who rule over peoples and nations, on a domestic and international level, to ensure the dignity and integrity of individuals and communities, especially the most vulnerable”. Then a thought for those Christians who are marginalized and persecuted on account of their faith: “To our Christian brothers and sisters who suffer from marginalization and discrimination, and especially to those who are persecuted, we express our closeness. We shall not be silent, and certainly we shall not forsake you. With our thoughts addressed to those who have died while confessing their faith in Christ, we remember the luminous value of their witness as well as the commitment of our witness”.