Bioethics and Nostalgia for Communism Are in Spotlight

European Bishops Analyze Challenges

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ROME, JUNE 28, 2001 ( Euthanasia, prostitution and a «nostalgia for Communism» were among the problems addressed at the recent meeting of secretaries of European bishops´ conferences.

The leadership of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), meanwhile, has changed. Cardinals Miloslav Vlk and Karl Lehmann, and Archbishop Istvan Seregely Seregely have been replaced by Bishop Amedee Grab of Chur, Switzerland, president; and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O´Connor, archbishop of Westminster, and Archbishop Josip Bozanic of Zagreb, Croatia, vice presidents.

The new president took office during the secretaries´ meeting, held in Prague, Czech Republic, from June 21-25.

During the meeting, bishops analyzed the challenges posed by the defense of human life.

A press statement at the end of the meeting expressed the concern caused by legislative proposals in Belgium favoring euthanasia.

«The Church forcefully reaffirms the need to help terminal patients, including with palliative care, and reminds [the faithful] that life has meaning in every situation,» the statement said.

Conferees noted that the bishops´ conference in Germany has intervened in discussions on bioethical questions. Bishops there affirmed that human beings have dignity from the moment of their conception.

The Social Commission of the French bishops underlined the problem of prostitution, and the need to work with European institutions so that this type of veritable "slavery» will not be considered just another «job.»

Conferees also addressed the situation of Churches in Eastern Europe, where not infrequently there is «nostalgia for Communism, because of the economic situation and the loss of memory of the persecutions.»

As a result, the Church must promote «a new quality of evangelization and a more personalized faith, creating living ecclesial communities and focusing on the formation and commitment of the laity,» the press statement said.

The participants in the episcopal meeting held a «lively discussion» — in the words of Vatican Radio — on the Ecumenical Charter signed in Strasbourg, France, in April.

This document, the first of its kind, is a «young creature, which must go through reflection, decisions and activities at the local level,» the statement said.

The CCEE discussed the Symposium of European Bishops, set for April 22-24 in Rome, on the topic: «European Youth in Change: Laboratory of Faith.» More than 100 bishops, as well as youths, are expected to attend.

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