Fears and Hopes of Eastern European Bishops in Regard to EU

Agricultural Policies a Key Concern

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, FEB. 8, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Eastern European bishops met European Union officials this week to try to ensure that enlargement of the EU does not come at the expense of weak social groups such as agricultural workers.

Bishops and experts of the Central and Eastern European countries, as well as representatives of the EU´s Commission of Episcopal Conferences, met Tuesday and Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the future of EU agricultural policy.

Bishops of Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania especially wanted to meet Franz Fischler, EU commissar for agriculture.

The bishops fear that the need to adapt to agricultural quotas might lead to such changes in the customs of Eastern European peoples that it will affect their cultural identity. The bishops´ concern is both social and pastoral.

Those in charge of agricultural policies discussed the latter with the bishops and outlined the future development of the 25-member European Union.

The bishops expressed «their hopes and concern for agricultural workers who at present are lacking prospects and a secure future.» Polish bishops expressed the greatest concern, given that Polish agricultural workers are the most numerous in the region.

The bishops agreed with the politicians that economic values alone are not sufficient to build a lasting European community. The prelates hope that the admission of new Eastern countries will contribute to the affirmation of Christian values, namely, the dignity of the human person, solidarity, and the principles of Church social doctrine, especially subsidiarity.

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