At the first meeting of its kind, bishops from the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) met their counterparts from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 21-23 September in Brussels. "We are here to foster better understanding between the United States of America and Europe", said Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington DC. The bishops discussed a range of issues, including: the cause of peace in the Balkans and the Holy Land; the challenge of global security; the promotion of development in Africa; the need for inter-religious dialogue with Islam; the plight of migrants and refugees; and the role of religion in public life. The bishops agreed that co-operation between the EU and the USA is essential if peace and justice are to triumph over conflict and despair in the world. To this end they pledged to encourage continuing communication and collaboration between COMECE and the USCCB. The meeting provided the opportunity for the bishops to make a constructive contribution to the transatlantic dialogue from the basis of Church experience in society and Catholic Social Teaching as the EU and the USA enter a new phase in their evolving relationship. The bishops reasserted their support for the Millennium Development Declaration and renewed their hope that the UN undertake the reforms necessary to be able to tackle the problems that beset the world's poorest and most marginalised people. They called for a new momentum to remedy the ills on the African continent as they pledged to explore the possibility of working together to follow the agenda of the G7/8, focusing particularly on Africa. Reflection took place upon the situation in the Balkans since the catastrophic wars of the 1990s. In highlighting the persisting ethnic tensions, the unresolved status of Kosovo and the difficult situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the bishops resolved to explore ways together to foster peace and reconciliation in the area, along with continuing to support the Church and Christian communities in the region. Applauding recent progress in the Middle East Peace Process, the bishops reaffirmed their unwavering solidarity with the Church in the Holy Land. Efforts to secure a lasting and durable peace must be intensified at this critical time, with the support and intervention of the EU and the USA crucial to the final resolution of the situation. They also addressed the role of religion in public life, and the relationship between Christianity and Islam. The following bishops participated in the meeting: USCCB Bishops Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (Archbishop of Washington), Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio (Bishop of Brooklyn), Bishop William Murphy (Bishop of Rockville Centre, New York), Archbishop John Myers (Archbishop of Newark), and Bishop John Ricard (Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee and Chairman of the International Policy Committee). COMECE Bishops Bishop Josef Homeyer (Bishop Em. of Hildesheim and President of COMECE), Archbishop Hippolyte Simon (Archbishop of Clermont and Vice-President of COMECE), Bishop Adrianus van Luyn (Bishop of Rotterdam and Vice-President of COMECE), Archbishop Fernand Franck (Archbishop of Luxembourg), Bishop Piotr Jarecki (Auxiliary Bishop of Warszawa), Bishop William Kenney (Auxiliary Bishop of Stockholm), Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (Archbishop of Dublin), Bishop Giuseppe Merisi (Auxiliary Bishop of Milan), Bishop Peter Moran (Bishop of Aberdeen), and Bishop Leo Schwarz (Auxiliary Bishop of Trier and President of the European Justice and Peace Commission).
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