European and U.S. Bishops Meet to Foster Partnership

Address Wide Range of World’s Problems

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, SEPT. 23, 2005 ( At a first-of-its-kind meeting, Catholic bishops from Europe and the United States came together to reflect upon some of the world’s major problems within the context of the trans-Atlantic relationship.

The three-day meeting, which ended today, took place in Brussels.

«We are here to foster better understanding between the United States of America and Europe,» said Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, D.C.

Representatives from the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) met to explore a range of issues, including the cause of peace in the Balkans and the Holy Land; the promotion of development in Africa; and the need for interreligious dialogue with Islam; and the role of religion in public life.

The assembled bishops reasserted their support for the U.N. Millennium Development Declaration and renewed their hope that the United Nations undertake the reforms necessary to be able to tackle the problems that beset the world’s poorest and most marginalized people.


They called for a new momentum to remedy the ills on the African continent as they pledged to explore the possibility of working together to follow the agenda of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, focusing particularly on Africa.

Reflection took place upon the situation in the Balkans since the catastrophic wars of the 1990s.

In highlighting the persisting ethnic tensions, the unresolved status of Kosovo and the difficult situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the European and American bishops resolved to explore ways together to foster peace and reconciliation in the area, along with continuing to support the Church and Christian communities in the region.

Applauding recent progress in the Middle East Peace Process, the bishops reaffirmed their solidarity with the Church in the Holy Land.

The bishops addressed questions regarding the role of religion in public life, and the relationship between Christianity and Islam. They underlined that religious freedom and interreligious dialogue are essential to securing peace in the world.

The bishops, meanwhile, acknowledged the proper and respective roles of Church and state in society. Religion cannot be confined to the private sphere as it has a public dimension, they said. Religion has a key role to play in assisting lay people to fulfill their vocation of playing a responsible role in the public arena.

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