The plenary assembly of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) is underway for the first time ever in the Holy Land and Pope Francis is encouraging the bishops’ leaders to use their time together to foster deep prayer and solidarity, while praying for the synod on the family.
The CCEE brings together the presidents of the bishops’ conferences of Europe, representing 45 nations on the continent.
The Pope sent a message to the plenary assembly, which began Friday and concludes Wednesday.
“As you reflect on the life of the Church in your various countries, I pray that your time together may be above all a time of deep prayer and solidarity,” the Pope wrote. “May your rest in the Lord renew you in holiness of life and in apostolic zeal for those entrusted to your care. May it also rekindle for you the freshness of the Gospel, from which ‘new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent sings and words with new meaning for today’s world.'”
The Pope also asked the episcopal conference leaders to pray for the synod on the family that will be held next month in Rome. He asked them to pray that the “Church may respond with ever greater urgency and generosity to the needs of the family.”
In choosing the Holy Land as the setting for the plenary assembly, the bishops’ officials have made the meeting a pilgrimage, according to Monsignor Duarte da Cunha, General Secretary of CCEE.
“From this land, Jesus’ disciples travelled throughout the world to bring the new message of Jesus. The Gospel arrived in Europe having set out from this land, too! When Europe goes to the Holy Land, it is going, therefore, to the place of its Judaeo-Christian roots,” he said.
There are two central themes to the meeting: the figure of Jesus and sharing about the challenges of the Church in Europe.
The presidents are also reporting on the situation in their own countries, as well as discussing some of the common challenges.