Borders Should Never Spur Clashes, Say Delegates

Conclusion of European Episcopates’ Summer University

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ROME, SEPT. 13, 2002 ( A nation and its borders cannot be a cause of conflict for Christians, say delegates at a «summer university» promoted by European bishops’ conferences.

«As Christians, we must have the faith and strength to say that borders must not become the cause of a new conflict, discrimination or exclusion,» the young delegates said in their final statement.

The summer university, an annual event promoted by the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), took place in Celje, Slovenia, from Sept. 7-11.

The event gathered 35 delegates of the episcopates of 18 countries. They were assisted in their studies by professors, journalists, and officials of the European Union and COMECE. This year’s topic was «To Define Borders, Cross Borders and Live Peacefully: A Challenge for the Catholic Church in Europe.»

The document issued at the end of the meeting reflected the challenge represented by the forthcoming enlargement of the European Union and by the modification of EU treaties undertaken by the European Convention.

«This ‘Europeanization’ of the European Union, as John Paul II calls it, creates some problems in regard to borders: political borders are disappearing within the Union and new external borders will arise,» the statement said.

We often «speak of a Europe without borders, but these remain within the EU in terms of language, culture, temperament and also religion,» COMECE added.

In this context, «the Catholic Church can and must offer a special contribution to overcome borders within a united Europe, because its identity as a local and, at the same time, universal Church is an example of the richness that can be found in diversity and in community.»

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