20 April 2004
Week of events to mark a united Europe
With the European Union on the brink of its greatest ever enlargement, the Bishops of COMECE will lead a series of events from 17 to 24 April 2004 to underline the responsibility of Christians for building a united Europe.
Beginning on Saturday 17 April, the bishops will lead 300 pilgrims from 25 different countries on the centuries-old camino to Santiago de Compostela, passing through Burgos, LeÃ³n, Ponferrada and other sites. They will be joined by religious and lay people from all walks of life who have responded to the Bishops invitation on 9 May 2003 . Each day will include a walk, an ecumenical prayer service, a mass and a lecture by a leading figure in European public life. Among the speakers and celebrants confirmed is Bishop Peter Moran of the Diocese of Aberdeen. A full list of other participating bishops and speakers is given below.
There will also be a video message from Prof. ROMANO PRODI , President of the European Commission. The mass in Burgos Cathedral on Sunday 18 April will be broadcast live by France 2 television.
After arriving in Santiago on Wednesday 21 April, the Bishops of COMECE will hold a congress entitled "European Union: Hope and Responsibility “ The development of European unity from a theological perspective". The speakers will include Michel CAMDESSUS , President of Semaines Sociales de France and Former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Cardinal ANTONIO ROUCO VARELA , Archbishop of Madrid, Prof. Peter SERRACINO-INGLOTT , Former Rector of the University of Malta and Member of the European Convention, Archbishop HIPPOLYTE SIMON , Archbishop of Clermont (France) and Vice-President of COMECE, and P. NOTKER WOLF O.S.B. , Abbot Primate of the Benedictines.
The week of events will conclude with the Spring Plenary Meeting of COMECE on 23-24 April, at which the delegate bishops from the new EU member states will participate fully for the first time. The main themes on the agenda will be the Inter-Governmental Conference on the draft EU Constitutional Treaty, the European Parliament elections on 10-13 June and the negotiations on the EU budget for 2007-2013.
Speaking today (20 April) from just outside Santiago, Bishop Moran who is leading a party of five Scottish pilgrims described the pilgrimage as "a hugely successful way of bringing people together which has allowed us all to focus on the aims of European unity, notably; peace, unity and tolerance." Bishop Moran added that although snow in the mountains on Monday had prevented the party covering as much ground on foot as they had hoped they were still managing to walk several miles a day.
Other bishops and speakers participating:
-Bishop ATHANASIOS of ACHAÃA Representative of the Greek Orthodox Church to the European Union
-Archbishop JULIÃN BARRIO BARRIO Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela
-Sr MADELEINE FREDELL O.P. Swedish Commission for Justice and Peace
-P. ANDRÃ‰ GOUZES O.P. Composer
-Bishop AMÃ‰DÃ‰E GRAB President of the Council of European Bishops Conferences
-MARY HANAFIN T.D. Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach representing the Irish Presidency of the European Union
-Bishop JOSEF HOMEYER President of COMECE
-HILDE KIEBOOM Community of Sant Egidio
-Bishop CARLOS LÃ“PEZ LOZANO Iglesia EspaÃ±ola Reformada Episcopal
-Bishop ADRIANUS VAN LUYN Vice-President of COMECE
-IÃ‘IGO MÃ‰NDEZ DE VIGO Member of the European Parliament and former member of the Presidium of the European Convention
-Archbishop MANUEL MONTEIRO DE CASTRO Apostolic Nuncio in Spain
-ALOJZ PETERLE Former Prime Minister of Slovenia and former member of the Presidium of the European Convention
-P. CLEMENTE SERNA O.S.B. Abbot of Santo Domingo de Silos
-Bishop ERIK VIKSTRÃ–M Lutheran Bishop of Porvoo, Finland
Note to editors, COMECE, (COM MISSIO EPISCOPATUUM COMMUNITATIS EUROPENSIS)
is the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community. It is made up of Bishops delegated by the Catholic Bishops' Conferences of the European Union and it has a permanent Secretariat in Brussels.
There are fourteen delegate bishops from the EU Bishops' Conferences : Austria, Belgium, England & Wales, France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Scandinavia, Scotland and Spain. The Bishops' Conferences of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland are associate members of COMECE.
- To monitor and analyse the political process of the European Union
- To inform and raise awareness within the Church of the development of EU policy and legislation
- To promote reflection, based on the Church's social teaching, on the challenges facing a united Europe
For further information, visit: www.comece.org
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20 April 2004