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Your Eminence, Metropolitan Emmanuel,
Reverend ladies, Reverend gentlemen,
It is with great joy that I greet you as the catholic archbishop of this city. Budapest is a place of encounter, coexistence and creative cooperation of people of different religious and cultural background.
I greet all the participants of this important general assembly also on behalf of the Council of European Catholic Bishops’ Conferences. Since its creation in 1971, our organization (CCEE) has had formal and fruitful relationships with the CEC. Many steps have been made in the dialogue and the deepening of relations and church, theological and spiritual traditions. We organized many meetings together. Of these, however, stand out the three European Ecumenical Assemblies in Basel (1989), Graz (1997) and Sibiu (2007). Our organizations have also formed a joint commission with the participation of the two presidencies. This commission has become a key element of the European Ecumenical cooperation over the years.
The CCEE looks, therefore, with great interest at this general assembly of Budapest not least because of its strategic importance. We hope that our two bodies can continue to build friendly and influential relations in the future. We all know that it is not the structures alone, but the people and the living communities who can bear an effective witness to the presence of Jesus in our world. But we know also that bodies that are truly at the service of the Gospel, represent a great help for the joint work of all those who, by following the clear will of the Lord, seek the full and visible unity of the Church. The unity of that Church which after the Second Vatican Council “is a sign and instrument of the unity of humankind” (cf. LG 1).
In Hungary, as in many other countries in Central – Eastern Europe, the dictatorship of the last decades sought, among other things, to prevent the transmission of the faith.
This is also why people have felt the desire for freedom and met the need of liberty. We considered important that the life of society is based not only on narrow written ideology, but also on the whole Truth. To this fullness of truth and reality, however, also belong to the supernatural values.
Meanwhile, the world around us has changed. The secularization of daily life today can make especially difficult the path to God. Sometimes it seems that the great promises of truth and freedom are almost impossible to realize. One has the impression that the expectations placed in the time of the fall of the communist system were not realistic. But Christ is in us and among us. In this way the Christian hope never disappoints. Christ lives in his Church as in the community of Christians. Even today, He is the source of hope for all of Europe. Pope John Paul II, ten years ago, gave a solemn encouragement in his apostolic exhortation at the end of the Second Synod for Europe: It is time that Europe decides again about its own future based on the encounter with the Person and the message of Jesus Christ (cf. Ecclesia in Europa, 2).
This papal thought agrees with the great vision of Vladimir Soloviev. When the Pope Peter, the starets John and professor Paul come together to reaffirm the faith, the Emperor asks, “what do you hold most dear in Christianity?”. The starets John also responds on behalf of others: “What we hold most dear in Christianity is Christ himself.”
With this thought, I wish you days of work and prayer full of success. Our Catholic community accompanies your work with prayer and Christian love.
Thank you for your attention.