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Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to open European conference on Catholic Social Teaching



‘Catholic Social Days for Europe’ - an international conference organized by the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) - is taking place in Gdansk, Poland from 8-11 October.  The aim of this conference is to provide an opportunity for Catholic laity to debate major anthropological and socio-ethical challenges at EU level, inspired by the social teaching of the Catholic Church.  The theme of the conference, the first of its kind, is: Solidarity – the challenge for Europe.
The objective of the conference is to provide opportunities to debate, discuss, interact and examine concrete examples of solidarity throughout Europe.  The date and venue of the conference are significant and symbolic: reminding us of the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939; the end of Communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989; and the first visit by Pope John Paul II to his homeland in 1979, which gave rise to Solidarnosc, the social movement of millions of Poles which started in Gdansk.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, will deliver the opening address on the theme The Concept and Reality of Solidarity in the European Union – a Reflection on the Basis of the Social Teaching of the Church.  Other speakers at the conference will include: Mr Hans-Gert Pöttering, former President of the European Parliament; Professor Gosta
Esping-Andersen, social scientist; Ms Eveline Herfkens, UN coordinator for the Millennium campaign; Tunne Kelam and Alojs Peterle both Members of the European Parliament; and Professor Dr Irena Lipowicz, Special Ambassador for German-Polish relations.

Delegates from the Bishops’ Conferences will constitute the majority of the expected 600 participants.  In addition, European Catholic networks and religious orders will be represented.  Half of the participants will be younger than 35 years old.
The themes to be examined during the conference are: (i) The Human Person; (ii) Europe’s Families; (iii) A European Socio-Economic Model; (iv) Europe – founded on solidarity; and, (v) The Global Common Good.