LVIV, Ukraine, JULY 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Representatives of bishops’ conferences from 27 countries gathered to discuss current issues such as euthanasia, adoption of children by homosexual couples and the Church’s relations with the media.
A press release from the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences reported today that the general secretaries from the various countries met at the Redemptorist Center of Bryuchovychi near Lviv.
This annual meeting, which began last Thursday and ended Monday, discussed certain current events “wounding the dignity of the human person.”
Participants discussed the case of Eluana Englaro, an Italian woman who was in a so-called vegetative state for 17 years and then died in February after being her feeding tube was disconnected.
Next, the discussion focused on the case of English Catholic agencies that are being forced under threat of closure to process adoption applications for same-sex couples.
The council’s statement noted the Church’s concern over these cases “due to the anthropological model they promote, as this is distant from the culture of life and from the natural model of the family.”
The secretaries acknowledged the importance of managing relationships between the Church and the media, and called for more expertise in this environment “which can be hostile.”
The meeting also reviewed plans for the next World Youth Day, which will take place in Madrid, Spain in 2011.
A section of the gathering was devoted to review Benedict XVI’s latest encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate.”
The general secretary of the German conference, Jesuit Father Hans Langendörfer, gave a presentation on the document.
He emphasized three main themes: the centrality of man, the economy’s social dimension, and globalization and the interdependence of peoples.
The priest pointed out that through the economic crisis, people have understood that “the market cannot count on itself, but must draw moral energies from other subjects.”
Thus, he said, human development cannot be separated from respect for life, religious freedom and protecting workers’ rights.
Father Langendörfer explained that the encyclical calls for global awareness in economic reconstruction, and thus, “the European economy cannot ignore Africa or Asia.”
In a discussion after the presentation, the secretaries expressed appreciation for the document, and the Holy Father’s clarity in assessing the current issues.
The statement noted, “With this optimistic but realistic encyclical, the Pope has had the courage to call to conversion the development and the way of thinking of men.”
The participants acknowledged the task to take this document to their conferences and countries, in order to apply it at a local level.
They sent a letter to the Pontiff to thank him for his encyclical and to greet him on his “Papal name day,” the feast of St. Benedict, which was celebrated Saturday.
The secretaries also welcomed Benedict XVI’s declaration of a Year for Priests, which began last month and runs until June 19, 2010.
Several participants spoke about the issues faced by priests today, and the council’s vocational commission gave a presentation.
The secretary from the Portuguese conference, Jesuit Father Manuel Morujão, stated that “the definition of a priest is not the function or the task he performs.”
He affirmed that a priest is a “human being who specializes in God” in order to serve others twenty-four hours a day.
Father Morujão added that the priest must be “an expert in the art of encountering God,” and for this reason he must know how to “draw on the Eucharist as his highest expression of fulfillment.”
Father Paul Conroy, general secretary from Scotland, called for a “life witness offered by the priests themselves,” to help families grow as a place where vocations can blossom.
The secretary of the Croatian conference, Monsignor Vjekoslav Huzjak, emphasized the need for priests to build communion with their bishops, colleagues and community.
He affirmed that a priest is a “collaborator of the Bishop, and not a freelancer.”
The monsignor underlined the role of a priest as a “maker of unity” within the community entrusted to him.
The countries represented at the meeting included: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, England and Wales, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Representatives from the International Bishops’ Conference of Sts. Cyril and Methodius were also present, along with the apostolic nuncio to the Ukraine, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic.
The meeting was hosted in that country after a joint invitation from the Ukrainian Bishops’ Conference– Latin rite — and the Synod of Bishops of the Ukranian Greek Catholic Church — Byzantine rite.
The meeting next year will be held June 10-13 in Rome.