The initiative was organized by the Commission of Bishops of the Conference of the European Community (COMECE), by the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), and by the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE).
MESSAGE OF THE CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE IN THE NAME OF THE POPE AT THE OPENING OF THE SOCIAL CONGRESS
(El Escorial, Madrid, May 12-13, 2002)
Vatican, April 25, 2002
1. I am pleased to transmit the Holy Father´s cordial greetings to the representatives of the particular Churches of Latin America and Europe, gathered in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, to attend a Social Congress that, sponsored by the Spanish Episcopal Conference, the Latin American Episcopal Council, and the Commission of the Episcopates of the European Community, proposes to examine, as the chosen theme states, the contribution of the Church to the joint collaboration of Latin America and the European Union for the universal common good.
The present Congress is an initiative worthy of praise and manifests, above all, how the Successors of the Apostles of Jesus Christ form a visible communion and promote “the activities common to the whole Church” (Lumen Gentium, 23), thus showing the faithful and the whole world their unity in the faith and in their common service to “enlighten all men with the light of Christ” (Ibid., 1).
2. The growing exchanges in the different particular Churches not only serve to understand better the universal dimension of the Church, but are an adequate way to be aware of the increasingly marked interdependence between peoples and continents, which today is described as a process of globalization. In this connection, I wish to encourage your respective organizations of cooperation to continue their work with a great spirit of participation and collaboration.
Moreover, the choice of Spain as host country of this Congress, a land rich in history and Christian roots, fosters the work of re-launching the ties between Latin America and Europe. The use of common languages, such as Spanish and Portuguese, which have been able to spread a distinguished Catholic tradition and carry it to all the countries of the American continent, allows these Iberian countries to be a bridge between two great regions of the world.
Europe, the Old World, and Latin America share the same Christian mark. This is a precious legacy that must be clearly reaffirmed at a moment of history in which the search for the meaning of life and the definitive direction of human existence is increasingly urgent for humanity.
3. It is significant that the Social Congress is taking place a few days before — when, in that same place — the second summit of Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the European Union will be held, thus emphasizing the Church´s attention to the world and, in particular, to the political class, whose most noble mission is always service of the common good. This determined orientation to the common good is precisely the key available to men and women committed in public life to re-establish a climate of trust among citizens and which, for different reasons, seems to be deteriorating in some of your countries.
The Summit of Heads of State and Government is a privileged occasion for the exchange of ideas, information and plans, as well as a favorable atmosphere for agreements on commercial, financial, ecological, social, and political aspects, in the framework of relations between the European Union and Latin America. On your side, dear Brothers in the Episcopate, do not neglect to study the burning issues that affect social justice, the promotion of life and the family, the defense of human rights, and the commitment against egoism and corruption.
4. I also wish to call your attention to the fact of regional integration through common treaties and institutions. It is to be hoped that the present process of rapprochement between nations of the same geographic area, with similar cultures and mentality, will be an important stage toward the “globalization of solidarity” (see Ecclesia in America, 55).
Such rapprochement must be carried out with a spirit of openness and respect toward each one of the countries. Indeed, if nationalism, which at times is certainly exalted excessively, was replaced by wider organizations, constructed to serve as authentic impregnable fortresses, humanity would gain little, solidarity would not increase among human beings, nor would the degradation of the created world diminish.
As opposed to a culture of death, mistrust, and rejection of the other, a culture of truth, trust, and effective commitment in favor of others, especially the needy, must be promoted.
5. The Holy Father assures you of his prayers for the fruits of this Congress, placing the works of the latter in the kind hands of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, he imparts to all the participants the implored Apostolic Blessing.
While I express my affectionate greetings to all the congress and assure you of my spiritual closeness, I take advantage of this opportunity to renew to you, Lord Cardinal, the expression of my attentive consideration and sincere appreciation in Christ.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano
His Holiness´ Secretary of State
[Original Text in Spanish] [Translation by ZENIT]