Pope calls on European bishops to be prophetic voices for peace

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While promoting dialogue and building relationships with European Union leaders contributes to peace, bishops in EU countries must also be prophetic in denouncing war and encouraging all possible efforts to restore peace, Pope Francis said.

“A principle must be shared by all with clarity and determination: war cannot and must no longer be considered as a solution to conflicts,” the pope said March 23 during a meeting with bishops participating in the assembly. plenary session of the Commission for Episcopal Conferences. of the European Union.

Pope Francis greets Bishop Mariano Crociata of Latina, Italy, newly elected President of the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Union, during an audience at the Vatican on March 23, 2023, with members attending the commission’s plenary meeting . (CNS Photo/Vatican Media)

“If the countries of Europe today do not share this ethico-political principle, it means that they have moved away from the original dream” of the European Union, declared the pope. “If, on the other hand, they share it, they must commit to implementing it, with all the effort and complexity that the historical situation requires.”

During the commission assembly, the members elected Bishop Mariano Crociata of Latina, Italy, as the new president. He succeeds Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, who has completed his five-year term.

Archbishop Crociata told the pope that the members of the commission “feel a strong responsibility” to unite their episcopal conferences with “the pope and with his indications, convinced as we are that it is only in the testimony of unity that the presence and action of the Church can be effective in a European journey marked by ever new crises, the latest being the war in Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine has shaken Europe, the pope said. “Neighboring nations have done their best to accommodate the refugees,” and Europeans have shown immense solidarity with the Ukrainian people, donating massive amounts of food, clothing and emergency equipment.

“This choral response at the level of charity should be accompanied by a coherent commitment to peace, but it is clear that this is neither easy nor obvious,” Pope Francis said, as the countries of the Union being “involved in multiple alliances, interests, strategies”, a single response to end the war has been difficult to find.

As a bridge between the Church and the institutions of the European Union, the members of the commission have the mission of being “builders of relations, encounters and dialogue. And this is already working for peace. But this is not enough,” the pope said. “It also takes prophecy, it takes foresight, it takes creativity to advance the cause of peace.”

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