Pope Francis sent a message to Europe’s bishops in the lead-up to their plenary assembly, encouraging them to lead the Church in Europe to be more and more an “outgoing Church.” He also praised the European bishops for their contribution to “fraternal and ecclesial relations,” and the building up of the “two lungs” of the Church, the East and the West.
Here is the text of the message, dated Sept. 26 and released today by the CCEE.
To His Eminence Cardinal Péter Erdő
President of the Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae
On the occasion of the forthcoming Plenary Assembly which will take place in the Principality of Monaco, I am delighted to send cordial greetings to the Presidents of Europe’s Bishops’ Conferences, with an assurance of my spiritual closeness. I wish to express my deep appreciation for the significant contribution which CCEE offers in the promotion of fraternal and ecclesial relations, which manifest the importance of communion and the joy of the faith. I encourage you to pursue with trust the path undertaken to provide a service to the peoples of the Continent, appreciating its “two lungs”, that of the East and that of the West. May your care enlighten the consciences of believers, offering them criteria for judgment and discernment, so as not to allow themselves to be led astray by a worldly culture.
I wish to express sincere thanks to you, Your Eminence, for the unselfish commitment given generously over ten years in guiding this meritorious ecclesial Body. You have been able to serve with meekness and foresight, putting evangelical charity before everything. Thank you for your pastoral zeal!
I assure you of my prayers so that, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary and of the Patron Saints Benedict, Cyril and Methodius, the Church in Europe may become more and more an “outgoing Church”, joyful proclaimer of the Gospel of mercy and witness of hope.
While I ask you to pray for me, I send my Apostolic Blessing to you, Your Eminence, and to the brother Bishops and their respective ecclesial communities.
From the Vatican, 26 September 2016