Bishops Prepare Contribution to European Convention

Appeal for Participation of Catholics, Especially Youth

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ROME, APRIL 29, 2002 ( The Symposium of European Bishops reaffirmed its intention to offer the Christian contribution to the process of European integration.

Europe cannot just focus on its currency and disdain its «soul,» the bishops said in a statement issued today at the close of the symposium.

The Laeken Declaration, which gave birth to the European Convention, a forum for political and civilian debate over the future of the European Union, makes «no reference» to the role of religions, they noted.

However, «the Churches and religious confessions present in Europe do not intend to neglect the imperative need to contribute responsibly to the Continent´s future,» the bishops stated.

In his address to the assembly, Archbishop Faustino Sáinz Muñoz, apostolic nuncio to the European Community, revealed that the Commission of the European Union´s Episcopal Conferences (COMECE) has established a group whose objective is to present proposals to the European Convention.

The group is headed by Bishop Attilio Nicora, vice president of COMECE. The nuncio announced that this June the study group will publish «a first document on the constructive and positive contribution to the European social model and on the ´values´ that, according to Christians, must be recognized and put into action by the European Union.»

Archbishop Sáinz Muñoz added that this effort aims at «improving the present situation, which is limited to respecting the status that Churches and religious confessions have in member countries.»

The archbishop gave special importance to Europe´s «Youth Convention,» scheduled for July 9-12.

Taking part in the meeting will be 210 young people, ages 18 to 25, including six representatives from each country (named by government officials and national Parliaments). They «will be called upon to participate actively in the ongoing debate on the future of Europe,» he said.

In this context, Archbishop Sáinz Muñoz invited Christian youth to participate «as groups and as individuals» in the initiatives open to them in the working area of the European Convention, in order «to make known the thought and desires of young Catholic believers.»

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