European Laity Discuss Promotion of Human Dignity

Seek Closer Collaboration With Pontifical Council

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BIRMINGHAM, England, JULY 22, 2010 ( Earlier this month, members of the European Forum of National Laity Committees gathered to reflect on human dignity and to discuss ways of increasing collaboration with the Vatican.

Delegates from 12 countries met July 6-11 in Birmingham at the study assembly of the forum, which draws together the national committees and councils of the Catholic laity in European countries for collaboration purposes.

The assembly’s theme was “Human Dignity in a Changing Europe — the Christian Response.”

Bishop William Kenney, president of Caritas Europa, gave the opening address.

Other speakers included: John Gerard Bruton, ambassador of the European Union to the United States; Jesuit Father Christophe Renders, director of Jesuit Refugee Services in Belgium; Jan De Volder, publisher of Catholic newspapers in Belgium; and Lidmila Nemcova of Bohemia.

New leaders were elected for the forum, including Belgian Peter Annegarn who was chosen as president; and Slovakian Katarina Hulmanova who was named secretary.

The new members of the steering committee are Seán O’Donnell from England and Wales, Magdalena Bogner from Germany, Wolfgang Rank from Austria, and Wlodzimierz Mier-Jedrzejovicz from a Polish community of Western Europe.

The committee underlined its objective to intensify cooperation with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, as well as to improve communication between members for working partnerships and idea sharing.

It noted the intent to “play a more active role in social and political affairs,” as Benedict XVI called for in a May 21 address to members of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

The leadership council announced the plans for its next meeting, which will be held next year in Minsk, Belarus.

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